As the defunct Federation of Nigeria wobbles in throes of its demise and as we march towards a Referendum to decide the future of the Peoples of the Eastern half of Southern Nigeria (Lower Niger), gathers momentum, the flurry of inquiries from many quarters concerning what is being canvassed as “Biafra Referendum”, has necessitated the shedding of light upon the subject with a view to providing some guidance all concerned.
May I therefore state as follows:
(1) That the Week-long Washington Retreat of September 1-5, 2017, from which emerged the WASHINGTON CONSENSUS of September 6th, 2017, was an undertaking by the LNC to receive into its fold, all the genuine Biafra Agitation Groups which had, as at August 2017, embraced the LNC Referendum Template, towards delivering the collective Self-Determination aspirations of the Peoples of the Eastern half of Southern Nigeria, as encapsulated by the 1885 Ethnolinguistic Map of the Territory encompassing the combined Territories of Biafra of May 1967 and Nigeria’s Midwestern Region of May 1967.
This was after over 3 years of intensive engagements with the Leaderships of the various identifiable Biafra Agitation Groups including MASSOB, IPOB and fully involving Nnamdi Kanu as the Leader of IPOB.
Everything went well until the trademark dumb, deliberate falsehoods leading to a quick succession of shenanigans and shifting of goalposts, set in from the IPOB Control Tower, culminating in a staccato of suspensions, expulsions and sweeping off most Members of the then Collegiate Leadership of IPOB known as the Directorate of State, DOS, including the IPOB Spokesman, Dr Cilfford Iroanya who single-handed and painstakingly midwifed the Meeting I had with Nnamdi in Kuje February 2017, four years after the LNC and myself had given up hopes of finding common ground with Nnamdi and his Biafra-or-Death wing of IPOB, following my 2013 Meeting with him in my Lagos Offices that lasted 4 hours plus.(There are at the least 3 wings, in the public domain including Dr Dozie Ikedife’s IPOB-Customary Government).
From that 2013 Meeting, there were 5 key issues upon which Nnamdi (and therefore his wing of IPOB) disagreed with me (and therefore the LNC), namely:
(1) SHOOTING DOWN THE FRAUDULENT 1999 CONSTITUTION:
While the LNC considered the collapsing of the 1999 Constitution as central to ending Nigeria’s Occupation of Eastern Nigeria since 1970, for which reason it floated the MNN undertaker outreach to take down the so-called “1999 Constitution”, the Nnamdi-led IPOB dismissed that Strategy as nonsensical and irrelevant to the “Restoration of Biafra”. He said I was still discussing Nigeria.
(2) REFERENDUM AS THE MECHANISM FOR LANDING THE SELF-DETERMINATION WE SEEK FOR THE REGION:
Despite LNC’s documentary back-up to show the near-nil involvement of Nigeria and its INEC, the Nnamdi-led IPOB dismissed the LNC Prescription of a UN-Backed Referendum on the claim that Nigeria will rig any Referendum.
(3) THE QUESTION OF THE EXACT MAP OF THE TERRITORY THAT SEEKS SELF-DETERMINATION AND WHAT UNDERSTANDINGS HD BEEN REACHED WITH THE VARIOUS PEOPLES OF THE TERRITORY:
Whereas the LNC had the 1885 Map showing the exact boundaries of the “Lower Niger Territory for which it seeks Self-Determination, and has extensively engaged the various Peoples of the Territory, reaching an understanding that was encapsulated in the watershed Resolutions of Solemn Assembly of the Peoples of the Lower Niger, April 27, 2015 in Port Harcourt, which adopted the said 1885 Map that clearly delineated the 6 Broad Ethnolinguistic Groups that constitute the Lower Niger, and which also Mandated the distillation of a Charter of Relationships to define the Protocols, inter se, as well as the pursuit of a UN-Backed Referendum for the Territory to decide its future from the defunct Federation of Nigeria that collapsed since 1966.
(The 1885 Map is posted below).
On the side of both the Nnamdi-led IPOB, and the rest of the Biafra Restoration bandwagon, not one of them had/has any Map beyond the Map of 1967 Biafra (which did not include Asaba, Agbor and the rest of Anioma in today’s Delta State) and the various distortions of it. Worse still, none of them had any evidence of having gone to sit down with the various Nationalities of the Niger Delta in Town Halls, like the LNC had done, to deliberate on a possible political future with the hinterland Igbo.
He simply dismissed the Niger Delta as those who sabotaged Biafra before.
Niger Delta will fall in line, I was told.
(4) THE QUESTION OF THE CAMPAIGN NAME-TAG OF “BIAFRA RESTORATION”
Whereas the LNC was/is fully conscious of the very strong, undying sentiments attached to the name “Biafra”, almost like some kind of a lost Paradise that must be regained, and for which no price was too high to pay, the LNC is also acutely aware of the volatile, combustible and highly inflammable contents of the “Biafra” name and phenomenon, both in Nigeria and in Western Circles.
Guided by both extremes, the LNC put aside the name-tag “Biafra” from the initial stage of the Campaign until we reach the Milestone of the aforesaid Charter of Relationships at which point the collectivity of the constituent components of the Lower Niger, will by Consensus, decide the name by which the Territory will enter its Independence.
I had indicated that the LNC will not only support the name, “Biafra”, but will in fact be glad to Propose same, provided that Consensus has been reached by the Constituent Component Nationalities; and that until then, the LNC would focus its energies on dismantling the fraudulent 1999 Constitution, the aggregation of the Peoples of the Lower Niger towards a shared vision and the precipitation of the Referendum we seek.
The Nnamdi-led IPOB on the other hand, clung to the campaign name-tag “Biafra” and the mantra of Biafra-or-Death, for the entire Route to it, unwittingly damaging much of, and unsettling and upsetting the delicate consensus and buy-in the LNC painstakingly built over a long period in the Region, aimed at reversing the South-East/South-South divide-to-rule bifurcation imposed on the Region by Nigeria.
(5) THE QUESTION OF AN ORDERLY TRANSITIONING FROM THE PREVAILING CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER.
Whereas the LNC had/has in its Grand Script, a clear Transitioning Plan which would accommodate existing Governance Structures until the changes we seek are worked out and emplaced, the Nnamdi-led IPOB canvassed a Strategy it called “Conquer-and-Occupy” in which the existing governance structures will be overwhelmed, dislodged and replaced by mass action. There can be no better recipe for anarchy, in the view of the LNC and we saw a glimpse of the deployment of that disastrous Strategy in the 2015 “Biafra” Street Actions that trailed the arrest and and incarceration of Nnamdi.
The outcome of my February 28, 2017 Kuje Meeting with Nnamdi, was his reversal of these positions he took, 2013, on these 5 Project Issues, chief of which was his acceptance of the Referendum Template and Route as the way to go, a decision he expressly and unambiguously communicated to the rest of the Soludo-led Nzuko Umunna Delegation to Kuje, right there in my presence.
What is now been presented as “BIAFRA REFERENDUM PATHWAY” is the miserable attempt by elements, categorized by the LNC, post-Washinton 2017, as rogue Biafra Franchisees, to hijack, plagiarise and market as their own, a Script they neither fully understand nor possess the requisite capacity to drive.
It is intended to sustain the dumb, falsehood- driven, illicit trade in the blood of the ill-informed Igbo innocents, (the Biafra-or-Death footsoldiers) by the rogue Biafra Franchise, totally different from the genuine Biafra Agitation.
The Washington Consensus created a clearing house it named Lower Niger Independence Movement, LONIM, to receive genuine Biafra Agitation into the Lower Niger Referendum Train.
Encouraged by the progress it has made in the push towards securing a UN-Backed Referendum for the Territory, the LNC already set in place, January 1st, 2017, a Registration Process for 3 million Referendum Volunteers to be processed and deployed to various tasks pertaining to the Referendum, involving a prospective Voter Population of about 60 million. (Aside from the 3m Referendum Volunteers Registration separate Referendum Voter Registration Exercise to cover the 60m Prospective Referendum Voters, will be undertaken later when the Date for Referendum would have been slated. That Date will not be unilaterally fixed by the LNC outside the discussions on the subject at the UN).
The Registration Portal which was shuttered for most of 2017 to allow time for discussions and accommodation of willing groups/interests, will in the be reopened early in 2018 as we advance the progress towards the Referendum Milestone. The public will be duly informed of the aforesaid reopening and participation details will be furnished.
Tony Nnadi is an Attorney and Secretary General of Lower Niger Congress (LNC)