Referendum or no referendum, Biafra will not stand — Gov Masari

One of the issues raging in the country at the moment is the agitation by some Igbo elements to take the South-East out of Nigeria. Where do you stand on the Biafran agitation?

It means we are developing. And agitations are bound to continue. Yesterday, it was Boko Haram trying to create an empire. Before then, we have the OPC (Oodua Peoples Congress). The Biafran agitation is part of the freedom of expression, and we don’t know whose turn it will be tomorrow to agitate. The average Igbo man, when you talk to him about Biafra, he will laugh, but Nigeria is bigger than Biafra, it is bigger than Igbo, it is bigger than Hausa, it is bigger than Yoruba. A marriage of over 100 years is no joke. We are human beings. Some people want to be heard either politically or in some other ways. Those who are arguing, you have even among them some people who want to levy war on another platform.

Some Igbo people, among them Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, are canvassing referendum to resolve the Biafra question while some other people say a National Conference is a viable solution. What do you think?

Referendum on what? If we are to have a referendum on Biafra, it will fail; even if it will win, it will only be in the South-East zone which has only five states against 31 other states. On conference, we have had so many conferences. I was in a Constitutional Conference during Abacha era. In that conference, some people were agitating for 8-state-structure, devolution of powers, this and that. There are certain aspects of devolution of powers and responsibilities that I support. I support anything that will lead us to the correction of the mistakes of the past. Forget about these people, they are agitating from the outside; when they come into conference, they do something else. We were there. Obasanjo had his own conference. Where is the report? Obasanjo should have made the report of his conference public. Jonathan should have made his report public. The Buhari government has not organised any Constitutional Conference, or have we done one? So, why are you asking us to give you what we don’t have? If we have done a conference, then it would be right for you to ask us to give a report. Why was it that Jonathan was not able to implement the report of his conference? Why was it that Obasanjo was not able to implement the report of his own conference? There are some people who make noise for attention and there are those who are sincere. But those who sincerely make noise are few. Go through the history of agitation and you will find a disturbing pattern in which agitators of today become the proponents of tomorrow. It all depends on the position in which you find yourself. If you are out of power, then the roof must collapse. If you are in power, you don’t want to lose it. It is a Nigerian bahaviour that once you are out of power, let the roof collapse. I think what we need to do is to work towards providing the basic necessities of life for the people. If you do that, all these agitations will significantly reduce. But we the elite who are opportune to be in the position of authority are using that to divide the people because once the people are united, they start looking at us. But if we create this confusion, then it is in the elites’ best interest. Look at the Niger Deltans, have they examined themselves? They are the richest people in this country. Name any institution, they are the owners. The Hausa man, what does he have? What do we have?

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