Anioma, Not A Part Of Biafra – Press Release.
The attention of Ndi Anioma of Nigeria, the umbrella body covering Anioma people at home and in Diaspora has been drawn to the recent protest associated with a group of people, in the name of Biafra, in which protesters of South East origin are calling for the secession of a separate state of Biafra from Nigeria.
The purpose of this dissent, they have admitted, also relates to the deserved arrest of a UK-based Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the man behind the venomous Radio Biafra. Like most observers who followed the nature of Biafra in 1967, Ndi Anioma is of the view that Biafra died permanently in 1970 with the surrender speech made by Philip Effong in which he emphatically stated ‘Biafra ceases to exist’, following Col. Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu’s flee to Ivory Coast.
In spite of this circumstance, a few resentful people of South-East origin who are attempting to exploit a non-existent opportunity to make the present democratic dispensation ungovernable, have keyed into MASSOB’s long-time motive designed to secede their people. Worse still, some people of that region have gone on a wild chase of goose, making diagrammatic representation in an irredentist manner where important territories outside the South-East, including our Anioma have been included in their inventive maps to convince the world on the expansiveness of Biafra and probably for the benefit of oil in Anioma.
These people have made a long journey from their South-East region to Asaba, the Delta State capital, blocking off major roads to give the false impression that the Anioma people have agreed to be part of Biafra. But for posterity, Ndi Anioma must make its position clear thus:
1. Anioma has never been part of Biafra in history or administration. For record purposes, Anioma was first situated in the Western Region, then Midwestern Region, Bendel State and now Delta State in the South-South. We cannot for any reason afford to be forcefully strong-armed into any region, outside the region within the South-South geographical zone, where it is presently located or any other government outside the Nigerian control now or anytime in future. In order words, we belong to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and no other country.
2. To buttress the above, our people accompanied Chief Obafemi Awolowo-led delegation of Western and Mid-western leaders to Enugu, in May 6, 1967 just before the outbreak of the civil war to discourage Col. Chukwuemeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu from declaring Biafra because not only did we foresee it as an exercise in futility but because it was certain that it was bound to invite massive loss of lives, properties and sufferings and so it was. This stance of Anioma fathers and people of our region remain the same till date.
3. There was never a time, place nor venue, the leadership or representatives of the Anioma region, whether the political or traditional council, technocrats, student union nor social-cultural organization of Anioma extraction met and agreed to enter into any form of alliance with the people of the South-East or any region in existence, whether within or outside Nigeria to belong to or actualize a separate state of Biafra.
Henceforward, the representation of Anioma in different maps of Biafra does not and cannot amount to Anioma being part of Biafra. That can only be in the figment of the imagination of desperate irredentist adventurers who creatively made such maps to satisfy their thirst for empire-building. They may make Anioma to exist in their maps, but the world must note that it does not have our consent as we reject that tag, vehemently.
4. The Anioma nation challenges pro-Biafra advocates to provide any evidence or agreement in which Anioma leaders allied with them to secede from Nigeria and become part of Biafra for the entire world to see.
5. Pro-Biafra groups should understand that barricading our roads and shutting down socio-economic activities in our region cannot earn them our backing nor patronage, the reason we appeal to them to leave our people out of their struggle and concentrate efforts in the South-East where their agitation has not even received a nod from Ndigbo.
6. Asaba remains the capital of Delta State and Delta State remains one of the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
7. It is most irrational that pro-Biafrans who claim to fight for their freedom should invade our land and deny us freedom of movement, freedom of association and the right to engage in socio-economic activities thereby subjecting our people to hardships and sorrows. That is an overt attempt to make our people their slaves overnight. We will not tolerate any further infringement into our region. The River Niger is a natural boundary they must respect.
8. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is not familiar to the Anioma region and we cannot remember any contribution he has rendered towards the growth and development of our region. We cannot also remember him attending a mere social function of the Anioma people as to warrant our people to die for him. Frequent announcement that Anioma is part of Biafra on Radio Biafra is far from being a favour because we are not prepared to be dragged into any situation that may threaten the territorial integrity of Nigeria nor to prosecute any war. Anioma is Anioma, not Biafra!
The case of Nnamdi Kanu, is one in a million examples that once again compels us to wonder why we should always be remembered in times of their selfish needs. They had better understand that we are not their Messiah as we also have our own challenges bordering on marginalisation to deal with. So do other ethnic groups in the country. But we have not threatened to burn down our nation.
48 years ago, the reckless drive into Anioma territory by Biafrans led to the Anioma genocide in which several Anioma people were massacred in Asaba, Ibusa, Igbodo, Ogwashi-Uku, Otulu and Isheagu of the former Asaba Division. To keep silent on this current incursion into Anioma territory can only demonstrate that Anioma people have learnt nothing from their past. Memories of that war in which our people lost everything is still living with us. We remember with horror, during the Civil war how fleeing Biafrans destroyed the River Niger bridge, leaving our people to face the rampaging federal troop, resulting in near annihilation of our people. If the people of the South-East require any alliance with our people, such alliance should be rested on the development of the Anioma area within the confine of Nigeria and not a confederation to prosecute a war against the Nigerian state.
In conclusion, we advise those in the South-East who are agitating for a dead cause on the following:
1. Any attempt to secede will result in a war which will not only shatter their region but will definitely make the 1967-1970, a child’s play
2. The challenges of the people such as complaint of marginalization and poor state of federal roads are real but it is not expected that conflict be used to solve it. It becomes imperative that the people of these region put their representatives on their toes to deliver to the region and committedly key into the agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari to address these challenges and many more.
Finally, we cannot deny the fact that certain adventurers of Anioma origin still exist who have barefacedly and rapidly given their interest to Biafra seekers but we must warn that these people are far from speaking on our behalf. The attitudes of some of our youths, most of who did not experience the last civil war and innocently crave for one, can only be considered as a dangerous juvenile act. Our people cannot see the path to development and choose war for any reason.
By this timely warning, Ndi Anioma of Nigeria, the registered socio-cultural organization of the Anioma people shall begin to encourage other Anioma organizations to give our people proper orientations on this development. With this statement, Anioma people are putting the world on notice and at the same time, placing it on record that Anioma is not and cannot be part of Biafra despite the frequent use of the region’s name by such advocates.
We pledge our total and unalloyed support to the Federal government of Nigeria. On one Nigeria we stand.
God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria
God bless Delta State
God Bless Anioma
Duly Signed by :
Harris Pen Ogbolu
Lawrence Sc Egwali