CHUKWU: I Want To See Biafra In Igboland Before I Die
Chief Timothy Chukwu is a member of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The agitation for the enthronement of Biafra appears to be his only trade. He fought in the war, and is fully involved in the recent protests by the group that wants Biafra State. He told LAWRENCE NJOKU why the protests must endure.
What does Biafra mean to you?
BIAFRA started, because of the injustices and marginalisation of Ndigbo in Nigeria. These injustices triggered the Civil War of 1967 to 1970. Those of us, who went to that war, were very much convinced that we were fighting to liberate our people and we were prepared to give it our all. It did not matter whether we died in the process. All we wanted was for the system to address the lopsidedness. But the war stopped when the United Nations sent its peacekeeping force and the declaration of “no victor, no vanquished.” The UN peacekeeping force went as far as visiting us in our various sectors with the appeal to stop the war. We believed them, when they said that issues bothering us were going to be discussed in a roundtable for the sake of peace and unity, but that has not been the case. Look at the way President Muhammadu Buhari has made his appointments, it is purely skewed against Ndigbo and even at this age, I still feel I should fight again if that can remedy the situation. I want to see Biafra in Igboland before I die. They should give us Biafra and that will settle the entire thing.
You want Biafra as an alternative country different from what we have now in Nigeria?
When the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu declared war against Nigeria, what we wanted was a separate country called Republic of Biafra. We have not shifted from that goal. We are not looking for a Nigeria to exist alongside, but another country from what we have now. We want to go, we want to remain on our own, because of the injustices that have been so entrenched that the Igbo man no longer has future in Nigeria. What was happening then was child’s play compared with what Ndigbo are going through now. If Ojukwu were alive, I know he would have declared another war, which perhaps, would have been the departing point in Nigeria. I am not afraid to die, I am passionate about Biafra and I want to die fighting its cause.
Many think the agitation is against President Buhari, who has only spent few months in office
We have always agitated. It was from peaceful agitation like this that led us to war. It is not targeted at Buhari. We have always had our agitations right from the days of Obasanjo. What could be said is that, we have resisted violence, because we don’t want to break the law. But as it is now, we are prepared either to get Biafra or die fighting for it. This country is no longer structured to accommodate the Igbo man and the earlier we liberated ourselves, the better.
Where does Radio Biafra come into this arrangement?
That is part of the process. I listen to Radio Biafra and will support it with all my life. It had always been there. There was Radio Biafra during the Civil war, and now, it has returned, telling you that we are not resting until we achieve Biafra. It is this level of injustice that brought about Radio Biafra and it has continued to sensitise Ndigbo on the injustices by the Nigerian government against us. Radio Biafra has told the world what is happening and that is why government is not comfortable with it. If what they are doing is right, why won’t they allow the radio to continue? There is nothing wrong about what the radio is doing, because the government is holding us down.
But can these peaceful protests solve the problem?
What we are doing now is to sensitise people and create awareness about our problems. We have refused to carry arms, we have refused to be violent, but we have so far succeeded in what we are doing. That is the way to begin. The way this has gone will tell you that it is not a joke any longer. We are all humansChief Timothy Chukwu and grieving over our situation. I am a sad man and my only wish now is to see Biafra before I die. I fought the war till it ended and I’m not afraid to go into it again, if that will give Ndigbo, Biafra. Our problem is the Nigerian government, which has continued to frustrate Ndigbo. We are suffering even on our home soil and I think there is an end to everything. We are treated like slaves and that is what we are against. What is happening now is a kind of bottled anger over a long-term plan to perpetuate our marginalisation. Several members of MASSOB, BZM, IPOB are clamped in prison for doing nothing. It does not seem anybody wants to listen. So, nobody should blame us if we decide that enough should be enough. We will continue our thing in peaceful manner.