INDIGENOUS People of Biafra (Ipob) leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has offered the federal government an olive branch saying he will be happy to sit down and have a dialogue over his agitation for a breakaway state in exchange for a referendum on self-determination.
Since 2015 when President Buhari assumed office, calls for the recreation of the breakaway republic of Biafra that existed between July 1967 and January 1970, have grown. Ipob has led the campaign for the creation of a sovereign state, accusing the Buhari administration of marginalising Igbos when it comes to appointments and infrastructure.
As a result of his agitation, Mazi Kanu was arrested and tried for treason but in September 2017, he jumped bail and fled Nigeria. Last month, Mazi Kanu’s mother passed away in Germany but as a result of the arrest warrant out for him, he cannot come to Nigeria to bury her, leading to calls for a resolution of the crisis.
Ipob spokesman Emma Powerful, said, however, that Mazi Kanu was ready for a dialogue if the federal government will consider a referendum on self-determination for the Biafran people. He also insisted that the meeting should take place at a neutral venue and organised by the United Nations.
Mazi Kanu said: “Even now, if a Nigerian government was willing to talk honestly and openly about our demands and to consider a referendum on self-determination for the Biafran people, in a neutral space provided by the United Nations, I would be there at the table. Look around Africa today, there are some countries with a functioning democracy, where the rule of law is respected and free and fair elections allowed but not Nigeria, so our struggle for self-determination is the struggle of Africa’s post-colonisation from Algeria to the Cape.
“If we can achieve this, perhaps we can lead other African countries to bring democracy and respect for law and human rights into the lives of African peoples. The soldiers who came to my family home in September 2017 came to kill me because if they wanted to arrest me or question me, they would have sent the police or agents of the Department of State Security.
“Why send soldiers trained to kill, if not to kill? I had wanted my day in court in 2017 but the military response tells me that the rule of law in Nigeria has collapsed. The attack took its toll on my parents as my mother suffered heart complications as a result of the trauma and stress of the Nigerian Army’s invasion of my house.
“She became very ill and died earlier this year. It would not be an overstatement to say that the primary cause of my mother’s death was Operation Python Dance Two. I have lost a mother, while my father, a strong man, a chief among Biafrans, has lost his life’s companion.
Sadly, we have watched his health decline since the attack on our home and my mother’s death. I mourn my mother, I mourn my entire Ipob family members who have given their lives to protect mine.”