Sunday, June 14, 2020 10:08 pm
By Nehru Odeh
The Senate minority leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe, has said if given a chance he would vote for Biafra in a referendum. He stated this in an exclusive interview with IrokoPost TV . “I will vote for us to actually be on our own … I think we are being dragged down by all the different things that weigh Nigeria down,” he said.
However, adding a caveat, he said before there can be referendum the 1999 constitution has to be jettisoned. “That means if you want a referendum, you have to go outside the constitution. Jettisoning the 1999 constitution requires having a meeting of all the different groups in Nigeria and having them agree to set that constitution aside and have a conference to agree on a new thing,” adding that it is going to be difficult because those who are benefiting from the current structure would always ignore that suggestion.
The senator representing Abia-South senatorial district also advised the various groups agitating for Biafra to unite and get their acts together rather than dissipate needed energy to focus and make the South-east a better place to live in. “While we look for getting out of Nigeria, we should also, at this time, use the resources that we have to be able to make our homeland a better place for us. Because if we are not doing anything with the resources that we already have, what is the guarantee that going into Biafra will give us a better frame of mind?” he asked”
The senator also spoke on Fulani herdsmen attacking communities across the South and the influx of Northern youth to the South. He said the elected officials are bothered about the situation “because we think that they may just be people who are coming as sleeper cells and can be activated anytime”
He however, reiterated the need for people in the South-east to come together and have a common and united response to the situation, using the tools available to elected governors and constituted authorities across the region.
“What we don’t want is a situation where you take your own personal action and it is tagged something else,”Abaribe said. “The type of stigmatization that they did to IPOB and all that, will also apply if we don’t go through the formal networks that the governors would have to institute. It will be seen as something else and when you now have a clash with the police and the army, of course, we know what follows.”
“Everything that happens in the South East is regarded as a different thing.” He warned that, “We do really want to solve a problem not to create another problem while solving it.”
Asked why that is the case, Abaribe said: “The civil war has not ended in some people’s mind in Nigeria.
“The government in power seems to have that mindset that whatever they do, that they are doing saraka (a favour) to us, that it is not our right, that we are just giving you what you don’t deserve.”
The leader of the Peoples Democratic Party in the senate also said because of the feudalistic system that obtains in the northern part of the country where there is a wide gulf between the ruling class and the masses, the rulers believe whatever they do they they are doing the masses a favour. But when they extend that to the South they get a different reaction.
“Sorry to say, in the North, there is a feudalistic mindset in which you have people up there and the rest of the people on the ground and whatever they do for them, they are just doing them a favour and when they extend it to the rest of us in the South and see our reaction, they cannot understand it.”
Abaribe then urged the youths to get involved in politics and hold elected officials accountable. When reminded that if youths are involved in the political process, they risked being killed, he maintained: “Getting involved demands sacrifice. Sometimes it is easier to do it from the cozy rooms in front of your laptop than to be on the street and march.
“We don’t avoid war because we could be killed,” he said, quoting an Igbo proverb. “We just have to continue to do what we need to do in terms of agitation because if we don’t, ultimately bad people will continue to do wrong things,” he averred.