Biafra Resurgence: What Ojukwu Told Ralph Uwazuruike In My Presence .
by Franklyn Isong
I have received several telephone calls from my siblings, extended family members and friends in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on the riot being orchestrated by some elements under the guise of Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
My callers have informed me that today’s protest has claimed lives of innocent people, while proper worth several millions of Naira have been destroyed.
Interestingly, from 1999 to 2004, being an environmental rights activist, I was one of the vocal youth activists in the South South geopolitical zone of the Niger Delta region; and I was one of the youth leaders in the South South People’s Conference (SSOPEC), a platform that was used by people of the region to champion the struggle for Resource Control and emancipation of the people of the Niger Delta region. SSOPEC was chaired by Late Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye and co-chaired by Chief Edwin Clark.
I recall vividly that in one of our national congresses held at U. .J. Esuene Sports Stadium, Calabar, Cross Rivers State’s capital in 2001, which I was in attendance, that a resolution was taken by the people of South South states under SSOPEC, rejecting the inclusion of the region in a purported Map of Biafra by the group(s) agitating for Biafra Republic.
I can also recall again that sometimes in 2002, in another national congress of SSOPEC held at PTI Efuru, Warri, Delta State, which I was in attendance, a position was taken to dialogue with the people of South East region, under the platform of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, in order, to form a common front for the unity of Nigeria; and to among other things, produce a Nigerian President of either South-South or South-East extraction in the 2003 presidential polls.
For the record, the meeting between South South and South East took place and gave birth to a group called “South Eastern Mandate (SEM)” with Late Major Philip Effiong as Co-Chairman, which I also attended in Owerri, Imo state.
I want to say here that in one of the meetings of the SEM held at the Presidential Hotel, Enugu, sometimes in 2004, which I was in attendance, that Chief Odumegwu Ojuku and Major-General Philip Effiong (both men now of blessed memory) who led the Biafra soldiers in the civil war openly disowned the resurgence of the Biafra struggle under any guise.
Ojuku who founded the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and emerged its presidential flag-bearer in the 2003 polls, in one of the meetings of the SEM warned the leader of the MASSOB, Raphael Uwazuruike, to end the activities of his group forthwith. Ojuku in very clear terms advised Uwazuruike to campaign for peace and unity of Nigeria, asking him; “when I fought the Biafra – Nigeria civil war, how old were you?”
It is with tears that I am using this media to appeal to all those championing the insurgency in the south south/south east states in the name of Biafra to please respect the memories of our fallen heroes like Chief Odumegwu Ojuku, Major-Gen Philip Effiong and the rest, who sought after the unity of Nigeria.
Franklyn Isong is a journalist, public affairs analyst, and social critic. He lives and works in Uyo. You may connect with him on Facebook.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.