Founders of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), yesterday, explained why they submitted a memorandum to the National Assembly requesting for devolution of powers and restructuring of Nigeria into six autonomous regions.
One of the founding members of the group, Emeka Emekesiri, a lawyer, who spoke in Enugu, said that the decision was taken after the IPOB team made several delegations to the British government asking for assistance for restoration of an independent state of Biafra, but was turned down by the former colonial masters.
He said that Britain was interested in Nigeria remaining one country, adding however that they suggested a devolution of power that could recognise the existence of six regions as enshrined in the 1963 Constitution
He added that other world powers like China, who were contacted, were also interested in protecting and preserving their economic interests and investments in Nigeria, stressing that “under that kind of situation, you must give the struggle some time.”
He said: “So, we asked them how do we solve the problem of incompatibility, as people of the North-East and North-West were unable to leave harmoniously killing themselves because of differences of ideology and lifestyle. Worldviews are different, how do we do it so that the clashes will stop?
“They asked us for our proposal and said that as far as they were concerned, they want Nigeria to be one. We were there as Biafrans living in Nigeria and our movement is Movement of Biafrans in Nigeria (MOBIN). We had made it clear in our suit versus Nigeria that we are Biafrans living in Nigeria. So, we are Nigerians by citizenship, but we are Biafrans in indigenous identity.”
“So, we approached the British government as Biafrans in Nigeria who surrounded their sovereignty to Nigeria and whose indigenous identity cannot be denied. We are who we are. The British said fine, what do you want? We came back to consult our elders and we drafted a memorandum to be submitted to the British parliament.
“We sat down with elders and said we can’t fight with Britain as world power but that we can as well copy the British nations of nation model that maintains their indigenous identities such as Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland. We went to the British archives and got the British government policy of 1969 and used it to draft a memorandum, which we presented to Britain.
“In the memorandum, we accepted that Nigeria should remain one, but that the model as it is in Britain, let be also in Nigeria. The Britain is four nations in one, in Nigeria, we want six in one and that is the South-East, South-South, South-West, North- Central, North-West and North-East. And that the six geo-political regions shall now become six nations in one Nigeria and every nation will govern itself in one Nigeria; control its resources, develop at its own pace and we pay an agreed percentage tax to the centre.
“That is the issue of devolution of power or regional government or restructuring that we are talking about now. The politicians call it restructuring but we the Biafra activists are calling it devolution of power to the regions.”