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Biafra not In Igbo's Interest ~ Ex-Naval Chief, Akin Aduwo; IPOB, MASSOB fires back (READ)

Former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Akintunde Aduwo (retd) has bared his mind towards the calls for restructuring the nation and the agitation for Biafra, including the one of the Niger Delta Avengers who were agitating for a Niger Delta region.

Former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Akintunde Aduwo (retd)
In this interview with The Sun, Aduwo who was also a former governor of the defunct Western region, spoke on many issue concern the country, but below are some of the key points he said.

Looking at the state of affairs in the country today, there has been a lot of debates and arguments that all is not well, and that we need to restructure if things are to go right, what is your take on this sir?

I have been reading a lot of comments and debates about the present state of affairs of our nation. A lot of eminent Nigerians including former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, and former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku have been talking. Other political leaders including former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar have also been speaking.

To me, the clamour for restructuring  of Nigeria is not an issue that is just coming up or came up in the last couple of months, the clamour has been there for years. I think if I can remember correctly, it is one of those things that late Papa Obafemi Awolowo championed during his lifetime. Awolowo made repeated calls for true practice of federalism.

Therefore, there is nothing new in calls for restructuring. However, I believe something has to be done about it now. I think the agitations for restructuring is based on the feelings of neglect by different zones or regions in the country. Most of the Nigerian citizens, or let me say different regions or geo-political zones in the country harboured the feelings that they have been marginalized.

One thing I however believe is that these protestations or clamour will never stop unless something concrete is done. Nothing human in life can never be stagnant, therefore, I believe President Muhammadu Buhari should do something about the renewed calls and agitations for restructuring. There is no system that is perfect. Even in the United States of America, some areas and regions still complain of marginalization.
Restructuring to me is not a call for break-up of Nigeria. Restructuring can’t lead to break-up, and it should not lead to break-up of Nigeria.

Restructuring will help to promote unity in the country and also give everybody a sense of belonging in the country.
Life is like weather, today it is sunny and bright, but tomorrow hurricane may come, the weather may suddenly become turbulent. We should at all times be prepared for the vicissitudes of life.

Although it is not possible to please everybody 100 percent but at least there should be a sign that people’s grievances are under constant consideration. We need to restructure to give everybody a sense of belonging.

How can we resolve the resurgence of violence in the Niger-Delta, especially the bombings of oil installations by Niger-Delta Avengers?

What is happening in the Niger-Delta which used to be part of the defunct Eastern Nigeria where God-given crude oil is located is very unfortunate. You ask why I said God-given oil? Yes, the oil in the Niger-Delta is God-given. The oil there is not through the effort of any individual or anybody’s own making.

When I hear some people from the Niger-Delta saying our oil, our oil, I get annoyed, and it makes me to lose my sympathy for them. Although one needs to sympathise with them because of oil pollution. Oil production has destroyed the people’s ecosystem and generally their livelihood. But then, until such law or provision is made in our constitution that  oil producing  communities or individuals are allowed to lay claims to oil wells, and then  pay equitable tax to the federal government as it is being done in the United States of America, then it is illegal for any Nigerian, group or people to lay claim to ownership of crude oil in Niger-Delta. Oil in that region belongs to all Nigerians. It is insulting and highly provocative for Niger Deltans to continue saying our oil, our oil, our oil, they should stop saying so. The oil in Niger-Delta belongs to the federal government of Nigeria. It is the commonwealth of all Nigerians. It is just like an individual saying that natural air that we breathe belongs to him or her. The natural air belongs to God, so also oil. It is naturally provided by God, and it is by providence that geographically oil is found in large quantity in the coastal areas of Niger-Delta.

I still remember vividly how I led that famous naval landing operations in Bonny during the Nigerian civil war in an attempt to secure the lives and oil deposit in that region during the Nigerian Civil War.

That landing operation by the Nigerian Navy was historical, and it is also in the records of United States War College. From Bonny to Port Harcourt to Calabar, the Nigerian Navy secured the Nigerian coastal lines all in an attempt to preserve Nigerian sovereignty.

I believe we have come such a long way that what we should be thinking about is how to keep this nation as one entity instead of all these pockets of crises here and there which are threatening to put the nation asunder.
For the agitators of Niger-Delta and other geopolitical zones, federal government should listen to all of them and embrace dialogue. But where dialogue fails or voice of reasons fails to convince these agitators that break-up of Nigeria is not the answer, then federal government  should not hesitate to bare its fangs.
I believe that the Nigerian Navy, and the Military have the capability to crush the Niger-Delta Avengers or any other group making trouble. But like I said earlier, dialogue should be the first option. It is only whenever dialogue fails that other options  including military  options should be considered.

For those agitators, perhaps they were young or not yet born during the Nigerian civil war. Violence is not something that is good. Blowing up oil pipelines is criminal. No leader will fold his hands and watch situation degenerates – Sanity has to be restored.

What those blowing up pipelines are doing is condemnable – their nefarious activities should be curtailed before it snowball into bigger crisis. We can’t afford another civil war. If these young agitators were eyewitnesses to the Nigerian civil war, they would never have been indulging in what they are doing. If they are aware of the repercussion, I’m sure they would have back out of what they are doing. No nation survive two civil wars, and this is why I believe that the present nation’s leaders will not fold their arms while some individuals or groups want to plunge the nation into anarchy. The Armed Forces are there to protect critical national assets, and the job of any commander-in-chief is to act decisively whenever the corporate entity called Nigeria is being threatened by any acts inimical to her continued existence. A word is enough for the wise.

Does your advice or comment also apply to the agitations for the Independent State of Biafra being led by Nnamdi Kanu?

Kanu is also ignorant about the Nigerian civil war, and this is why he and other youths in his group are doing what they are doing. Like I said earlier, I pray to God Almighty that we should not witness another civil war again. I don’t know Kanu except his photographs I have been seeing or whenever they show him on television.

Late Odumegwu-Ojukwu, a highly intelligent officer, British Army-trained that led Igbos during the Biafra civil war believed strongly that if he had succeeded in the secession bid that he would go along with the other minority ethnic groups located  along the coastal lines of Nigeria or that those groups will agree to be incorporated as part of Biafra, but unfortunately those ethnic groups in the coastal areas refused to operate with him and that was one of the reasons he failed. Without the support of those coastal ethnic groups, the Igboland is landlocked, and that was why the federal troops were able to blockade Ojukwu and his troops during the war. The Biafrans became landlocked without access to the sea, and that was one of the major reasons the secession bid collapsed. I don’t think Kanu was a man by that time. He must have been a young boy. If he had read history he wouldn’t have embarked on what he is doing now. Millions of lives were lost during the Biafra war, so why would any reasonable person be calling for a separate state of Biafra again?

I don’t know whether to condemn Kanu or not, but what I know is that what he is doing calling for a separate nation or an independent country for Igbos is not in the best interest of the Igbo people. Assuming his dream even come to pass, the state of Biafra will be landlocked, it won’t have access to the sea, and that may pose serious economic challenge to the people. Access to the sea will be a failure. It will eventually become a burden to people. A big burden because the nation will be completely landlocked.

It is unfortunate that people like Kanu that are being pushed by inordinate ambition don’t have time to think deeper and reflect on the consequences of their actions. Biafra under Ojukwu in those 3 years during the civil war was a genius state – there you see people’s ingenuity, how automobiles were being run on oil, I mean palm oil, there were other inventions which the Nigerian government could have tapped into, and see how such things could have been used for our technological development. However, I still strongly believe that it will serve the larger interests of the Igbos to remain within Nigeria. It is not advisable for any group to seek secession now, rather we should look for ways to foster unity and development in the country.

Agreed there were grievances and feelings of marginalization by different ethnic groups, we should rather sit down and look for ways to amicably address these issues.

Contrary to that, The Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have condemned the above statement made by former Chief of Naval Staff, Akin Aduwo over Biafra agitation.

The IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary Mr. Emma Powerful while reacting to the comment said that Biafra agitation was informed by a sense of history, not ignorance of it.

According to him, “IPOB is well aware that if not for the role major world powers played because of their misunderstanding of the essence of Biafra, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Some people due to ignorance of history or cowardice failed to acknowledge the fact that Biafra is over 5000 years old while Nigeria is only 100. The grandfather of Nnamdi Kanu was not born a Nigerian, he was born a Biafran.

“Asking IPOB to abandon the quest for Biafra is tantamount to asking us to forget the history of our ancestors. Even Buhari’s father was not born a Nigerian. We should refer to the description of Nigeria by Chief Obafemi Awolowo who rightly affirmed that it is a mere geographical expression and not a country.

Frederick Luggard, a Scottish white British man with his lover carved a piece of territory through a series of conquests and named those within, Nigeria. Do you think it is proper for Europeans to allow a black man from Africa to create and name a country for them?

“There is something people misunderstand about our quest for freedom, it is not borne out of malice or hatred for other ethnic groups but out of innate calling to be free.”

On his part, the leader of MASSOB Mr. Uchenna Madu said the struggle for Biafra will continue irrespective of what others feel about it. His words: “As every revolutionary struggle has its own methodology, the current Biafran struggle for actualization and restoration will continue to unfold.

“The involvement of Niger-Delta Avengers and other Niger Delta freedom fighters in Biafra struggle will continue to hunt Yoruba and Hausa Fulani people. Nigeria days of existence are numbered as the current political, economical, religious and social war going on in Nigeria speaks high volume of Nigeria’ s imminent collapse.

“The Naval officer is among the hypocrites who go around deceiving Buhari with the assurance of military might against the people of Biafra. Nobody can crush Biafra, it is our existence, culture, future, until all Biafrans all over the world are crushed, then Biafra will die. MASSOB warns the man to shut up his mouth against Biafra.”

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