Boko Haram & Ethnic Agitation in Nigeria: Anarchy is coming, Says Uwazurike
Irrepressible leader of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazurike sees no end to the bombing and armed violence going on in the Northern part of Nigeria. He is of the view that since 1914, Nigeria has been living a lie. According to him, since the only language the federal government of Nigeria understands is violence, many more groups may soon take up arms to press home their demands. Uwazurike spoke to our correspondent in Owerri. Excerpt:
Instability in Nigeria.
The things happening in Nigeria are supposed to happen. Nigeria has been governed with falsehood over time, since 1914. Today, the people have come to realize that this falsehood can no longer stand. It is retarding the progress of Nigeria. If you look at India, you realize that India started making progress only when Bangladesh and Pakistan were removed from India. So no part of Nigeria will make any progress if the Northern Nigeria is not alienated from Nigeria. We are not the same. We never agreed to be the same; the British through Lord Lugard brought us together forcefully and against our will. Not until that separation takes place, there will be anarchy in Nigeria; there will be constant shedding of blood; there will be neither peace nor progress in Nigeria until Nigeria is bifurcated. So it should not surprise anybody in Nigeria today that people are being killed and bombs are being detonated on near regular basis, because their dissatisfaction and disaffection for Nigeria; they do not want Nigeria. They want to stay on their own in an Islamic nation. They should be allowed to go and since the Igbos wants Biafra, same should apply. For goodness sake, why should you insist on maintaining a marriage that cannot work?
The Federal Government should quit trying to placate or appease any person or region as the current situation goes beyond that. The Niger Delta on their part seems to be quiet now because one of their own is President, but I can assure you that if Jonathan ceases to be president tomorrow, the Niger Deltans will return to their trenches to demand their oil. So, Nigeria is merely trying to postpone the evil day. The truth is that Nigeria has reached a breaking point and must divide. It is the only solution out of the looming catastrophe.
Does any of these justify the bombing and killing of innocent people?
The United Nations maintain that any ethnic nationality that is dissatisfied with happenings around them should seek independence in whatever means they want including violence. The UN charter recognizes the use of violence to achieve self determination. So, that MASSOB has adopted non-violence does not stop anybody from adopting violence to achieve his own aim. We do not make rules for others. If the North wants to use violence to achieve their own independence, I cannot stop them, I cannot criticize them. This is because the Nigerian government does not respect non-violence. What have we achieved for the past decade with our non-violence? The Niger Delta two years ago clamoured for oil rights; they shot some people, kidnapped some and blew up a few oil installations and the federal government called them for a parley and granted them amnesty. I am not against that but perhaps the Boko Haram people have seen that violence is the only way Nigeria can listen to people. Perhaps, if the Niger Delta did not take up arms, nobody would have listened to them, so the Boko Haram have now seen it as the best option to take and have adopted it and I am being asked if violence is the best option. And I say yes, it is the better option in Nigeria because the only language the federal government of Nigeria understands is violence. They listen to violence, so if you want to be invited for talks by the federal government, start shooting first. In the light of this fact, nothing stops MASSOB from adopting violence because we want to be listened to.
Can the Nigerian security system adequately contain this bombing campaign?
Nigeria has no security system! What we call security here is mere camouflage and travesty of what should be. All these security personnel we think are guarding and protecting Nigeria are actually not interested in securing the country; they are only guarding and protecting ethnic interests. There are no patriotic security personnel in Nigeria. They tend to be patriotic only when they gain from the establishment. So there is nothing like security in Nigeria. What we have is northern army, western army and eastern army as the case may be. And most of these security operatives you are talking about are bona fide members of Boko Haram.
Just the other day, I was reading in the newspapers that the Inspector General of Police says he knows those who bombed the Force Headquarters. Fine! Perhaps the truth is gradually beginning to emerge and if he does not know the people, who else will? If he did not know the people, how could they gain access to his convoy? It is most unusual for an unknown person in an unmarked vehicle to get access to the convoy of the Inspector General (IG) of Police unchallenged. So who is fooling who? It then goes without saying that the IG is yet to tell Nigerians the whole truth about the Boko Haram episodes. More so, why has he not arrested them since he knows them? Perhaps he lacks the will and courage to arrest them but will always bounce on Uwazurike with glee for telling them the truth. We cannot forget in a hurry all those who threatened to make Nigeria ungovernable if political power eludes them. One of them was even quoted as saying that those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable. We know all these and the Nigerian security agencies are still going round in circles.
Could there be any political solution to the situation?
The only solution to the present problem is the bifurcation of Nigeria, anything else would be cosmetic. In 1967, General Ojukwu declared the republic of Biafra and a civil war ensued. In 1970, the Nigerian Government said they have defeated Biafra, but what are we still talking about today? Is it not the same Biafra? You cannot kill the aspiration of a people. As long as the Boko Haram people say they want their own independent Islamic state, even if you kill their leader, which they have done, you cannot quell the struggle. It is just like thinking that if you kill Uwazurike, MASSOB will end. You would be kidding! It is not about individuals, it is about the convictions and collective aspirations of a people. The problem with Nigeria is her inability to face the truth. For instance, a road gets bad; the government would not repair the road until thousands of people die on the bad road. Only then would they repair it. Now until millions of people die in Nigeria through Boko Haram and other ethnic agitations, they may never listen to the call for the division of Nigeria. The fact remains that until Nigeria is bifurcated, there is no stopping of Boko Haram; there is no stopping of MASSOB; there is no stopping of the Niger Delta militants. And neither can they stop the OPC. The final solution to the matter is that we are all tired of Nigeria and want to go our separate ways. All the efforts of the government to stem the growing turmoil across the country are but cheap makeshift and short-term palliative measures.
Are you not bothered that your stance on these issues may expose you to harassment by security agencies?
A friend of mine called me up recently to warn me that the security agencies were threatening to arrest me if I did not stop talking on these issues. That is the typical Nigerian security agency; they would not concentrate on the Boko Haram or 'Boko Harass' (which ever one it is), that is harassing and embarrassing them. They would rather prioritize arresting a non-violent man. I am not perturbed. As long as they keep harassing non-violent people, the violence and Boko Haram that have been harassing them would persist. Boko Haram and its likes are part of the consequences Nigeria is facing for side-stepping the truth I have continued to tell them. It started from Borno, now Bauchi and Abuja have been included and it is spreading. Even the North-South Bridge was a bomb target, is the message not clear? So if the government would leave the nagging subject matter to harass me, then they are welcome.
Would the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference be the way out?
Some people are mooting the idea of a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) but frankly it cannot solve Nigeria's problem. What we need is the dissolution of Nigeria. If we convene the SNC now, the moneybags who benefit from our oil if the status quo remain, would bring out their money to buy over the delegates and yet again foist the existence of 'one Nigeria' on them through the back door. The solution is for Jonathan to convene a meeting of selected leaders of all the major ethnic nationalities, with the sole agendum of dissolving Nigeria. Outside this, Nigeria will not only continue to be a failed state but also a dangerous place to live in because the way things are going, anarchy is coming and coming big. No one knows where and when the next bomb will go off as all the areas we hitherto thought were safe havens have been defied by the recent developments. Today, the innocent people are being killed on the streets and nobody cares, but when those in the parliament begin to die, and these boys start getting access to the parliament to detonate bombs, then they would sit up and take notice of the dangerous precipice Nigeria is currently tottering from.
What would be the fate of Igbos residing in Northern Nigeria?
The lives and properties of the Igbo man would be preserved if there is an amicable dissolution of Nigeria. Meanwhile, we enjoin them to protect themselves by any means available to them and bear in mind that we are monitoring the situation and would give them assistance when the need arises. They must be watchful and vigilant knowing that the times are bad. However, as long as Igbos are attached to Nigeria, whatever happens to them in the North is merely viewed as internal matter from the viewpoint of the international community but if the country is bifurcated, any assault against them and their properties, as Biafrans, would fall under international laws.