Salihu Tanko Yakasai, a former Special Political Adviser to former President Shehu Shagari, has spoken on leaders of indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB), Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, (MASSOB).
He also said agitators fighting for Biafra are yet to map out a strategy on ethnic groups and specific areas they want to join their republic.
Recalling how the struggle started, Yakasai said: “The agitation for Biafra started soon after the demise of Major-General Aguiyi Ironsi. So the name is not new. The only difference is that the old Biafra actually was intended to occupy the whole of southern region.
“It was a scheme for getting the entire southern Nigeria to break away. The intention was to block the North from access to the sea. If that happened, the North would be starved of many things coming from the port, including fuel and imported items we rely upon. So that was the old Biafra.
“Because of that, when they were preparing to declare Biafra, southern minorities from the present day Cross River and Akwa Ibom led a delegation to the North to plead with General Hassan Usman Katsina, the then military governor of Northern Nigeria, to plead with the central government not to allow Biafran secession to succeed because, according to them, if it was allowed to succeed, they would remain forever as second class citizens in what would be known as Biafra.
“The young men are not agitating for the five Igbo-speaking states to constitute Biafra, rather, they are thinking of the old Eastern Region, with the four minority states, together with five majority Igbo-speaking states. You don’t dismiss idea by a wave of hand. But the practical aspect of it is very difficult because all along there has not been love lost between the Igbo and their minority”.
“This agitation started right from the time of Obasanjo, with Uwazurike as its leader. Now, I think Uwazurike has realised that it is an impossible task to realise their dream; that is why he is more or less quiet.
“This young man, Nnamdi Kanu, was just a broadcaster. I don’t know whether he was under Uwazurike or on his own, but he was not a leader on his own. He was a broadcaster. I believe he got some of their people in the United States, collected their money and set up a radio station, which I think is being broadcast from America and beamed somewhere in West Africa.
“The boy became popular after his arrest. I think what they are trying to do is to develop the agitation into a political movement and try to gather support from the Igbo and any of their sympathizers.
“The issue to be addressed is whether the present Biafra would include the former Eastern Region, whereby the four minority Igbo-speaking states would join forces with five Igbo-speaking states and form new Biafra? That has not been spelt out. The only thing I heard was that Rivers would not be part of the Biafra; I think Akwa-Ibom too.
‘But it is not clear yet whether the four minority Igbo-speaking states have openly declared that they are not going be part of Biafra. This is the immediate challenge the agitators for new Biafra will face”, he told naijawakeup.