Monday, April 30, 2012

Conversations With Devin Bly

"How're you doing today," Devin would throw at me while his girl wraps around him with the "what's up" kinda look. The hard working 24-year-old in da hood kinda hip-hopper swinging in Los Angeles ain't playing in the world of Hip Hop and determined to be the next sure thing happening to Hip-Hop.

Born on May 27, 1987, Devin wants to take Hip-Hop to another level since his joint master-tape release with J-Nug The Boss called "That's Us." Devin was inspired by Lil wayne, working now on his solo mixtape due to be released before the Summer gigs begins of which he is no new comer, featuring in several gigs in the Los Angeles-Hollywood area pubs. Swag, dope and da music -- Devin wants to shake Los Angeles with his new approach on how to direct Hip Hop, whether it's underground or straight out of the master's voice - the dimension is gloomy and the time to rock LA full time is coming with a new mixtape.

 There is nothing about life now to hate for Devin - he's been working hard ever since he played that opening slot in a Hollywood gig and the duo mixtape with The Boss. On "That's Us" Devin explains he'd come up with something big while going solo and a mixtape that is about to be released within the summer. While we are at it, Devin says he couldn't wait after Capitol Records executives listened to his tape, and when I asked him about it, he said they all liked it and now waits on the next line of action. For his birthday, Devin drove to Las Vegas to treat himself before heading back to the studio for his upcoming release; and the Cream video is sure bet he's taken that step to rock Los Angeles in every way it flows and the next big blast at Samaka Studios.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Senate President David Mark Returns To Nigeria From Medical Treatment

David Mark at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, returned from his medical treatment in Tel Aviv, Israel, and was received on arrival by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminul Tambuwal, the Deputy Senate President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and several ministers including members of the senate and house of representatives. Mark had been in Israel for complicated medical examination...In his first press statement, Mark said: "I thank God I am now hale and hearty and back to my feet. I will continue to be faithful to God and my commitment to the service of my fatherland."

Nigeria: A Disappearing Lagos

The Church Missionary Society Bookshop house and tower (CMS Bookshop) was built in 1973 by G Cappa and designed by Architects Godwin and Hopwood with sun screening and windows to reduce the heat load on the air-conditioning. It is still one of the few buildings in Nigeria to have a facade correctly designed to exclude direct sunlight between 9am and 5pm with a consequent astonishing 75% saving in air-conditioning loading on the office floors, in Lagos, Nigeria. What is predicted to become the most populous city in Africa was initially ignored by the Portuguese explorers who first dominated it, served as a hub for a brutal slave trade and once held the hope of a continent that even now struggles to overcome its colonial past. Date: April 01, 2012. Image: Sunday Alamba

Commercial buses park in front of the gothic style designed Chrit Church Cathedral, which incorporates Brazilian details and motifs with the foundation stone laid by Prince Edward in 1925, but was not completed until 1948. It's imposing tower dominates the road junction and this part of Marina in Lagos island, Nigeria. Date: April 01, 2012. Image: Sunday Alamba

In this photo taken Sunday, April. 1, 2012, Doherty Villa, was built in 1895 by liberated slaves returned from Brazil and known as the Amaro who tended to settle on the island in Lagos, Nigeria. What is predicted to become the most populous city in Africa was initially ignored by the Portuguese explorers who first dominated it, served as a hub for a brutal slave trade and once held the hope of a continent that even now struggles to overcome its colonial past. Image: Sunday Alamba

Thursday, April 19, 2012

This Phase Of Igbo Genocide

By Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

The concept “failed-state” carries an understandable melodramatic import! It refers to the inability or failure of a state to fulfil some of its key roles and responsibilities to its people(s) and others domiciled within its territory and consequently to its neighbours and the wider global community of states. State failure materialises at three broad spheres of the lives of the people(s): social, political and economic. The following would feature among the key empirical determinants of this failure:

1. The state’s inability to provide security to its population – crucially, a catastrophic failure as the state’s primary existence is predicated on this provision of security to its citizens. This failure may have arisen because the state no longer exercises control across part/parts or all of its territory. Several factors could account for this including, for instance, calamitous breakdowns in vital internal sociopolitical and economic relations, intra-regime fractionalism and rivalries and the unmanageability of natural disasters. As we shall note shortly, it could also be due to the state’s actively pursued violation of the human rights of the people(s) including, most gravely, a deliberate state policy to embark on the destruction of one or more of its constituent nations/peoples/religious groups, etc., etc.

2. The state’s inability to provide essential social services (communication infrastructure, health care, education, housing and recreation, development of culture) to its people(s) or the state’s deliberate policy to deny or partially offer such services to some of its constituent nations/peoples/religious groups…

There remains a lack of consensus among scholars studying the failed states of contemporary Africa on the terms of the evaluative parameters of this enterprise including the critical constitutive timeframes of assessing and therefore concluding when this or that African state ‘began to fail’ or/and when indeed it “failed”. There is a tendency by many to arbitrarily circumscribe the limit of the focus of interrogation to the so-called African post-conquest epoch (i.e., post-1 January 1956, following the presumed restoration of independence date in the Sudan) with the underlying presumption that the state, as formulated and constituted on the eve of the “restoration of independence”, has a definitive and enduring internal logic to its being. Of course what such a staggeringly ahistorical arbitrariness does to this scholarship is that it attempts to freeze layers and layers of vital record and practice off sustained scrutiny as it wishes to project this era of all-Africa external conquest and occupation as “largely unproblematic”. Undoubtedly, as has been demonstrated all too clearly since January 1956, a post-(European)conquest African Studies corpus built on such a blatantly contrived edifice is hopelessly trapped in a debilitating and eventual terminal crisis.

1945 & 1953

For Nigeria, the country at the focus of this roundtable, it is at once a failed and genocide state. It is to Jos, a city in its northcentral region, that we locate the start of the trajectory to its “failed state” status. The year is not 2000 or 2001 or any other year in this last decade nor indeed in any of the three years of the current decade but 1945, eleven years before 1956 and fifteen years before 1960 – the year of the “termination” of the British occupation of the country. In October 1945, in the wake of a very successful anti-occupation countrywide strike, Hausa-Fulani muslim north regional leaders, those much endeared clients of the occupation-regime who were not only opposed to this strike but also the ultimate goal of Nigeria’s liberation from the British conquest in which Igbo people played a vanguard role, organised and launched a pogrom against Igbo immigrants in Jos and the surrounding tin mining towns and villages on the plateau. Hundreds of Igbo were murdered during the massacre and tens of thousands of pounds sterling worth of their property looted or destroyed. No perpetrators of these murders were ever apprehended or punished by the occupation-regime. As a result, emboldened Hausa-Fulani leaders organised yet another pogrom of Igbo immigrants in the north, this time in Kano, 180 miles further north, in May 1953, which coincided with the heightened debates among Nigerian politicians on the possible date for the formal termination of the occupation and the restoration of independence. Hundreds of Igbo were murdered during this massacre and tens of thousands of pounds sterling worth of their property looted or destroyed. Once again, no perpetrators of these murders were apprehended or punished by the occupation-regime.


On the contrary, as the world would witness 13 years later, these dual pogroms became dreadful dress rehearsals for the most gruesome, most devastating, and most expansive stretch of state-organised mass murders of a people not seen in Africa since the German-organised genocide of the Herero, Nama and Berg Damara peoples of contemporary Namibia in the early 1900s. Beginning 29 May 1966 to 12 January 1970, the composite aggregation of the Nigeria state – military officers, the police, Hausa-Fulani emirs, muslim clerics and intellectuals, students, civil servants, journalists, politicians and other public figures – planned and executed the Igbo genocide, the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. This is also Africa’s most destructive genocide of the 20th century. A total of 3.1 million Igbo people, a quarter of this nation’s population at the time, were murdered during those harrowing 44 months. Most Igbo were slaughtered in their homes, offices, businesses, schools, colleges, hospitals, markets, churches, shrines, farmlands, factories/industrial enterprises, children’s playground, town halls, refugee centres, cars, lorries, and at bus stations, railway stations, airports and on buses, trains and planes and on foot, or starved to death – the openly propagated regime-“weapon” to achieve its heinous goal more speedily. In the end, the Igbo genocide was enforced, devastatingly, by Nigeria’s simultaneously pursued land, aerial and naval blockade and bombardment of Igboland, Africa’s highest population density region outside the Nile Delta. The genocidists also sequestrated and pillaged the multibillion-dollar Biafra economy, one of the most advanced and enterprising hubs in Africa of the era.

Most of Africa and the world stood by and watched, hardly critical or condemnatory of this wanton destruction of human lives, raping, sacking and plundering of towns, villages, community after community in Biafra and elsewhere... The consequences for Africa have been catastrophic. In this genocide of the Igbo, Nigeria inaugurated the “age of pestilence” that defines contemporary Africa. Several regimes elsewhere in Africa are “convinced” of the conclusions that they have drawn from this crime by their Nigerian counterpart: “We can murder targeted constituent people(s) at will within the state we control … Haul off their prized property and livelihood … Comprehensively destroy their cities, towns, villages, communities – precisely their agelong, priceless, inheritance ... There will be no sanctions from Africa – and the world”. As a result, the Igbo genocide becomes the clearing site for the haunting killing fields that would crisscross the African geographical landscape in the subsequent 40 years with the murders of additional 12 million Africans, since January 1970, by regimes in further genocide in Rwanda, Darfur and Zaïre/Democratic Republic of Congo and other killings in Liberia, Ethiopia, Congo Republic, Somalia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Chad, south Sudan, Burundi.

One would perhaps be forgiven if they thought that, after such a frenzied indulgence in indescribable depravity in mass slaughtering and a trail of destruction, capped by its occupation of Biafra, Nigeria would tire out of its appetite to continue the murder of Igbo people. No, not really. This obligatory haematophagous creature continues its murder of the Igbo unabated – almost routinely and ritualistically during the course of subsequent years, signposted here by the eerie columns that chart the contours of fresh pogrom outrages: 1980 ... 1982 ... 1985 ... 1991 ... 1993 ... 1994 ... 1999 ... 2000 ... 2001 ... 2002 ... 2004 ... 2005 ... 2006 ... 2007 ... 2008 ... 2009 ... 2010 ... 2011 ... 2012. According to the December 2011 research by the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule Of Law, a human rights organisation based in Onicha, 90 per cent of the 54,000 people murdered in Nigeria by the state/quasi-state operatives and agents since 1999 are Igbo people. Since last Christmas Day, the Boko Haram islamist insurgent group spearheads these murders. At least 80 per cent of people murdered by the Boko Haram across swathes of lands in north/northcentral Nigeria since then are Igbo. Hundreds of thousands of Igbo families have abandoned homes and businesses in the affected region and have returned to Igboland. Arguably, the Igbo are the world’s most brutally targeted and most viciously murdered of peoples presently. Not since 29 May 1966-12 January 1970 has Igbo life in Nigeria acquired such a gripping existential emergency…

The Boko Haram now issues its threats to murder quite habitually, at times on a daily basis, and, true to its words, executes its mission most ruthlessly, most remorselessly. After each of its outrages, Boko Haram acknowledges responsibility and does this most dispassionately… The regime in Abuja appears cruelly powerless to protect Igbo people (and others) emplaced within the jurisdiction of the supposedly sovereign state it controls with the well-known consequences in international law that this shocking relegation of responsibility entails. Regime-head Goodluck Jonathan says as much in a recent astonishing radio and television broadcast to his country and the world: “Boko Haram is everywhere in the executive arm of [my] government, in the legislative arm of [my] government and even in the judiciary. Some are also in the armed forces, the police and other security [services] … Some continue to dip their hands and eat with you and you won’t even know the person who will point a gun at you or plant a bomb behind your house”. Following from Jonathan’s proclamation, it is conceivable that right there closeted in his regime, there are operatives deeply complicit in these ongoing murders. And it doesn’t appear that the regime can halt the
murdering nor the insurgency. On the contrary, Jonathan is essentially saying in his broadcast: “I don’t know how to solve this problem; I can’t solve this problem”. The seriousness of this situation cannot be exaggerated. Presently, Nigeria is a grave danger to itself. Nigeria is a grave danger to its constituent peoples and nations, to its neighbours, to the west Africa region, to Africa and the wider world. Nigeria has indeed now run the course of its bloody trail in history. The ongoing murders have exposed, particularly, the lethal fissures in a hitherto seemingly compact genocidist monolith. This fractionalisation cannot be contained.


Whilst Jonathan’s broadcast is undoubtedly a desperate acknowledgement of helplessness if not hopelessness, it however opens up an historic opportunity to overcome this tragedy. There is undoubtedly a silver lining over this cloud. What is critically at stake here is the right of the peoples domiciled in Nigeria, each and every constituent people, to democratically decide their future. This right to self-determination for every people is inalienable and is guaranteed by the United Nations. No people is exempt from exercising this right. To proceed to the realisation of this goal, two key features are called for forthwith:

1. The requisite institutions of the world must now embark on initiating the process for an internationally organised, supervised, and binding referendum across Nigeria for the peoples, themselves, to decide whether they wish to remain in Nigeria or form new state(s) of their choice.

2. To support Igbo people’s participation in this referendum, Igbo intellectuals should double up their efforts to work for the restoration of Igbo sovereignty, Biafra. The Igbo genocide is one of the most comprehensively documented crimes against humanity. Nonetheless, Igbo intellectuals must contribute, robustly, to continue to inform the entire world of the nature and extent of the genocide, examining, particularly, the variegated contours of the expansive trail of this crime, the parameters and strictures of the monstrosity of denialism of the crime (especially by some clusters of the core perpetrators of the crime in Nigeria and their collaborators abroad including some in academia and media) and the debilitating and oppressive burden of 40 years of occupation.

Let it never be forgotten that, four decades ago, Igbo intellectuals, many very talented and widely accomplished men and women in their varying fields of expertise (writers, academics, artists, students, diplomats, military officers, scientists, physicians, lawyers, engineers), contributed most profoundly to the eventual survival of the Igbo during phases I and II of the genocide, 29 May 1966-12 January 1970, when only few in the world thought that they would accomplish such an improbable feat. We surely have an historic legacy to contend with.

*(Paper presented at “Roundtable on Nigeria’s future: The challenges to security and economic development caused by Boko Haram and the way forward”, held at E. Franklin Frazier Center for Social Work Research, Howard University Law School, Washington, DC, United States, Thursday 12 April 2012. Roundtable moderator: Robin Renee Sanders, former US ambassador to Nigeria and Republic of Congo; other roundtable panellists – Pat Utomi, professor and senior fellow, Lagos Business School, Pan-African University, Lagos, Nigeria; Augustine (Gus) Fahey, senior desk officer for Nigeria, Bureau of African Affairs, US State Department, Washington, DC; Oguchi Nkwocha, physician, Biafra Foundation, Los Angeles; Michael Maduagwu, professor and senior fellow, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Nigeria and Eric Guttschuss, Nigeria researcher, Human Rights Watch, Washington, DC; roundtable coordinator: Chima Korieh, professor of history, Marquette University, Milwaukee; roundtable co-sponsors: Apollos Nwauwa, president of Igbo Studies Association and professor of history, Bowling Green State University, Ohio; Kanayo Odeluga, physician and executive director, Igbo League, Chicago and Mike Mbanaso, professor and director, E. Franklin Frazier Center for Social Work Research, Howard University, Washington, DC.)

Please follow Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe on twitter: @HerbertEkweEkwe

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

2012 Time's 100 Most Influential People In The World

When Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan made the list for Time's poll to pick the magazine's top 100 people that influence our lives, there was this feel that Time magazine editors had begun to recognize a volatile and troubled state that is Nigeria. Jonathan had been picked on "the twin imperatives of trying to end a bloody northern Nigeria Islamist rebellion led by Boko Haram and dismantle the fuel subsidies that are one of the country's main sources of corruption, requires bold leadership of Jonathan, who is finishing his first year in office."

However, the opening shot for Time's 2012 100 most influential people was the wonder Asian-American kid, Jeremy Lin picked against all odds that nothing is impossible. According to the Time editors, the 100 most influential people in the world are "the people who inspire us, and change our world -- from politicians and revolutionaries, to statisticians and roboticists. Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan made the list.








Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Memorable Images And Time (West African Leaders)

Jacqueline Kennedy chats with Mrs. Houphouet-Boigny (right) as they pose for photographers prior to a state dinner given by President and Mrs. Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivory Coast in honor of the Chief Executive and Mrs. Kennedy here tonight.Date: May 24, 1962. Location: Washington, D.C. Image: Bettmann

7/28/1966- Washington, DC: State visitor. President Johnson chats in his office with President Leopold Senghor of Senegal today after the African Chief Executive arrived for a nine-day visit. President Johnson welcomed President Senghor as "the head of a very friendly and vigorous African nation."

President John F. Kennedy greets the first Nigerian Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa at the White House.Date: July 25, 1961. Location: Washington D.C. Image: Bettmann

7/24/1958-Washington, D.C.- Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana shown during his White House visit with President Eisenhower today. He later told newsmen that the President was "sympathetic" to the economic problems of his newly independent African state.

Friday, April 13, 2012

James Brown, Godfather of Soul, Pace-Setter and Funkmaster

James Brown is the originator of funk and a major figure of 20th century popular music and dance. Brown profoundly influenced the development of many different musical genres.As an adult, Brown legally changed his name to remove the "Jr." designation. In his spare time, Brown spent time practicing his various skills in Augusta-area stalls.

In 1952, while Brown was still in reform school, he met future R&B legend Bobby Byrd, who was there playing baseball against the reform school team. Byrd saw Brown perform there and admired his singing and performing talent. As a result of this friendship, Byrd's family helped Brown secure an early release after serving three years of his sentence. The authorities agreed to release Brown on the condition that he would get a job and not return to Augusta or Richmond County

In 1955, Brown and Bobby Byrd's sister Sarah performed in a group called "The Gospel Starlighters". Eventually, Brown joined Bobby Byrd's vocal group, the Avons, and Byrd turned the group's sound towards secular rhythm and blues. After the group's name was changed to The Flames, Brown and Byrd's group toured the Southern "chitlin' circuit". The group eventually signed a deal with the Cincinnati, Ohio-based label Federal Records, a sister label of King Records. Brown's early recordings were fairly straightforward gospel-inspired R&B compositions, heavily influenced by the work of contemporary musicians such as Ray Charles, Little Willie John, Clyde McPhatter and Little Richard.

And all in all, Brown set the pace when Bobby Byrd found him and the rest would be history in what would evolve over the years and without Byrd I'm not sure if Brown would have emerged. But Brown's amazing talent with the help of Byrd wou...ld influence upcoming folks in the likes of Sly and His Family Stone, Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, Booker T. & the M.G.s and casts at the eruption of Motown and a Michael Jackson that would emulate the moves and dacesteps...His legacy lives!!

The would be Soul Brother #1, Godfather of Soul and Minister of New, New Super Heavy Funk, James Brown taps, jumps and performs on The Lloyd Thaxton Show at the KCOP-TV Studios in Los Angeles, February 1962

Godfather of Soul James Brown performs for US Soldiers in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Date: June 01, 1968

James Brown and The Famous Flames rocks the Apollo Theater. (L-R): Johnny Terry, Bobby Byrd, Bobby Bennett and James Brown (Summer 1964)

James Brown stands before his private jet. Date: July 18, 1968.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Nigeria: Lagos Black Heritage Festival: Lagos Water Regatta

A group of traditional dancers perform on a ferry in Lagos on Sunday, April 8, 2012, a boat regatta as part of the ongoing Lagos carnival.

Boats parade during the regatta in Lagos

Men dressed in costumes parade during a regatta in Lagos, Nigeria on Sunday, April 8, 2012. Organizers held a boat regatta Sunday as part of the ongoing Lagos Carnival. The carnival will come to its height Monday as dancers and masqueraders walk through the streets of Lagos' two main islands. Image: Sunday Alamba/AP

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Nigeria: Easter Car Bomb Explosion In Kaduna kills 38

People gather at the site of a bomb explosion at a road in Kaduna, Nigeria on Sunday, April 8, 2012. An explosion struck Sunday in Kaduna central Nigeria that has seen hundreds killed in religious and ethnic violence in recent years, causing unknown injuries as diplomats had warned of possible terrorist attacks over the Easter holidays.

"The explosion badly damaged the nearby All Nations Christian Assembly Church and the ECWA Good News Church as churchgoers worshipped at an Easter service, the possible target of the bomber. Witnesses said it appeared the explosive-laden car attempted to go into the compound of the churches before it detonated, but was blocked by barriers in the street and was turned away by a security guard as police approached."


Saturday, April 07, 2012

Malawi: Banda Sworn In As President

VOA News

Malawi's vice president, Joyce Banda, was sworn in as president Saturday in the capital, Lilongwe, following confirmation that President Bingu wa Mutharika died suddenly on Thursday.

Ms. Banda, who is Malawi's first female president, was expelled from the ruling party in 2010. But she kept the vice presidency and now ascends to the presidency by constitutional mandate. In her inaugural speech Saturday she called for unity, saying “there is no room for revenge.”

She said she had a good meeting with the cabinet earlier in the day and called the discussion a starting point for healing the wounds of the nation. And she thanked all Malawians for respecting a peaceful transition to the presidency.

Though President Mutharika had his fatal heart attack on Thursday, the government delayed official confirmation of the death until Saturday, while rumor and unconfirmed reports circulated. The delay gave rise to concerns that the late president's supporters were maneuvering to install a member of the ruling party as president.

President Banda has announced that the nation will observe 10 days of mourning, during which flags will fly at half-staff and broadcasters are asked to play somber music.

Mr. Mutharika died of a heart attack he suffered at home on Thursday, despite emergency treatment at a hospital in the capital, Lilongwe.

He was elected president of Malawi in 2004 and won a second term in 2009. Once hailed as a leader in improving food security in African countries, he fell out of favor after suppressing anti-government protests in July. Nineteen people died in the violence.

An economist by education, Mr. Mutharika was a World Bank official before working his way up through the ranks of Malawi's government. He formed the Democratic Progressive Party, which now has majority control over parliament.

Mali: Junta Agrees To Return Nation To Civilian Rule

Mali's military junta leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo signs documents as the junta and the West African bloc ECOWAS announced a deal that includes the lifting of sanctions and an amnesty for those involved in last month's coup at the Kati military camp, near Bamako, on April 6, 2012.

"Restoring order in Bamako is urgent for Mali and for the world, so the country and its international partners can get on with tackling the crisis in the north, now occupied by Tuareg rebels and Islamic militants. Aid agencies have been forced to suspend operations in the region, where tens of thousands of people have been displaced. Amnesty International said on Friday that northern Mali is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster."


BNW Face-2-Face: MASSOB Leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, Takes the "Hot Seat"

On Sunday, September 8, 2002, MASSOB Leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, took the BNW "Hot Seat" and answered burning questions about MASSOB, the group's recent leadership crisis, and the Biafra Movement. The questions were compiled from a list submitted by members of BiafraNigeriaWorld Forums

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Let's begin the conversation by asking you to introduce yourself. Tell us when and where you were born, where you went to school, and what you do for a living.

Chief Uwazuruike: Okay. My name is Ralf Uwazuruike. I was born in Okwe, Okigwe Province around 1958, 59, 60. I attended the Okwe Primary School, and the Okigwe National Secondary School before I proceeded to India. I studied Political Science at Punjab University, and read law in Bombay University. Then, I came to Nigeria and went to Nigerian Law School and was called to bar on the 6th of June, 1991.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: You say 1958, 59, 60. Are you unsure about your date of birth?

Chief Uwazuruike: Yes. In those days, people did not always have birth records. But, through my parents and people that I have been told were born the same time that I was born, I know I was born during that period.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Did you do any sport at school?

Chief Uwazuruike: Yes, I was a goalkeeper throughout my school years.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Why did you opt to study in far away India?

Chief Uwazuruike: I studied in far away India because I had the mission of understudying Mahatma Ghandi. As I said before, I went to India and my interest in Biafra started when I was about nine years old, when my sister Mary died in my lap during the civil war, when my mother went to buy medicine for her and my father when to “Comb in” [reconnaissance] to search for Hausa enemies in the bush with others, a little girl left to die because she was suffering from kwashiorkor. After her death, I felt that I should start the issue of Biafra again when I realized that we had lost the war. Millions of other children died of the same deprivation, and of the same injustice.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: You had mentioned earlier in another speech that you began the MASSOB Movement following the failure of the Obasanjo administration to appoint Igbo ministers into key positions. And now you are referring to a much earlier period in the sixties when the War had just ended as the beginning of your quest for Biafra. Which one is it?

Chief Uwazuruike: Both. I saw the 1999 incident as a launching pad. Otherwise, I consummated the idea right from 1966 or thereabouts. It was in 1970 when the war ended when I said I would revisit the issue again. So between that time and after I finished my school, I was looking for an opportunity and when in 1999 Obasanjo could not appoint Igbos in any meaningful position in his administration, I felt the time had come for me to pick up the struggle.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: How did a young man like you end up being addressed as "chief"?

Chief Uwazuruike: I was coronated a "chief" by my people in Lagos following what they perceived as my good work to the people and to the community in Lagos. I was not the only person. The coronation was organized by the all Igbo-speaking states in Lagos, and seven of us were coronated at the same time. I represented Imo State. Prominent people in Igboland were there. Ojukwu was there; the Eze from Delta State was there; and the former Chairman of the Eastern Council of Chiefs from Enugu was there. It was a big occasion.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Do you hold a chietancy title that has its origin in Okigwe?

Chief Uwazuruike: Why not? The thing is that I don't like these chietancy title things. Since I assumed the position as the MASSOB leader, I told myself I would never take any title. Since then, I have received 15-20 chieftancy title invitations and I didn't attend any of them.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: How would you respond to the allegation that you started screaming "Biafra, Biafra!" because your candidate, Ekwueme, lost to Obasanjo at the primary? In other words are you using Biafra as a bargaining chip and/or cheap blackmailing tool and are you willing to settle for less than Biafra?

Chief Uwazuruike: I am not using Biafra for blackmail. As I said, Biafra came up right from the time we lost the war. It was in my mind that I would one day bring up the issue again, and I was looking for an opportunity to do that when the issue of Obasanjo's 1999 election came up and his failure to appoint Ndi'Igbo to good positions in his government. I'm not into MASSOB to serve anybody, neither Ekwueme nor any other person. I am into MASSOB for the general interest of my people and for the emancipation of Ndi'Igbo from the slavery status in Nigeria.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: How come you didn't take long to join the "Igbo president" bandwagon? Are you not worried that you might come across as being inconsistent?

Chief Uwazuruike: No. The Igbo Presidency wagon is of right. Nd'Igbo deserve to be the president of Nigeria in as much as Nd'Igbo form part and parcel of Nigeria. What I am saying is, for the past 30 years after the end of the civil war, no Igbo man has been the president. If there is any other president in Nigeria, it should be an Igbo man. An Igbo president should not stop MASOB from its agitation for Biafra. I would rather we redouble our effort for Biafra today if an Igbo man is president. And we would prefer an Igbo man as president rather than a Hausa or Yoruba man.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: From the threats you issued on Iwuanyanwu and one "Chief" Martin Okeke, it does appear your organization is acting more like a glorified errand boy for Ohaneze. Is MASSOB responsible for the dirty jobs of the high and mighty in IgboLand?

Chief Uwazuruike: No, there is nothing like that. Our position is that Ndi'Igbo or Igbo leaders should not use the newspapers, radio or television as a platform to reconcile themselves or to settle their scores. If there is any problem, Ndi'Igbo should go to Ohaneze or stay in Igboland to settle whatever differences they have. No Igboman should come to the public to say no Igboman should be president of Nigeria or start working against the general aspirations of Ndi'Igbo. If we find out that we should discipline that person, that is a problem in Igboland today. There is nothing that any Igboman regards as virtue as far as Ndi'Igbo are concerned. Rather, every Igboman would like to work for a Hausa or Yoruba man, but we never work for another Igboman. We are saying that no Igboman is bigger than the whole generality of Ndi'Igbo. And if you think that nobody should talk to you or discipline you, MASSOB is there to discipline you. That is why we chose somebody like Iwuanyanwu who people feel is mighty overlord and all that. For saying that, we said we must strip you naked and parade you in the streets, and he ran to America. And if any Igboman does that tomorrow, we shall do that to him.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: What is your relationship with Ohaneze and do you think they share your goal of Biafra actualization?

Chief Uwazuruike: Yes, I have a good relationship with Ohaneze. By Ohaneze, I mean the present-day Ohaneze under the leadership Eze Ozobu, because he is a disciplined man and he has shown a sense of responsibility to Nd'Igbo through his leadership. We see the present day Ohaneze as a leadership by example and it is a body that MASSOB can work with. We don't believe in Igbo leaders who go to Abuja to look for contracts. Chief Ozobu, being a retired justice, has some honor and has some credibility and we feel that we can work with him. And you must remember that Ohaneze represents Nd'Igbo and Nd'Igbo are one of the ethnic groups in Biafra. Biafra embraces those who are not Igbo-speaking, but Ohaneze, being the umbrella organization of Nd'Igbo and Nd'Igbo being the majority in Biafra, has a lot at stake.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: You were at the last WIC convention in Houston, TX right?

Chief Uwazuruike: Yes.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: What do you think was achieved at that congress? Someone said it was a showcase of unity in diversity meaning pro Aremu, pro IBB/Hausa fulani and pro Igbo/Biafrans gathered together. Personally, how did you feel sitting on the same table with Ojo Maduekwe and Omar Sanda Nwachukwu?

Chief Uwazuruike: Like I said, these people you have mentioned are Igbos and they are my brothers. Their views may different, but my sitting with them does not matter. What matters is the view of MASSOB, which I represent. They are entitled to their own views, but their views will not influence my own view if I feel that their views are wrong. The World Igbo Congress is a platform for Nd'Igbo to come and express themselves, and we were all there, including the ministers campaigning for Obasanjo, but they saw in the World Igbo Congress that the majority of the people support the Igbo presidency and they did not make any impact.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Who is your Igbo candidate for the presidency of BiafraNigeria and why? Would you support Ike Omar Sanda Nwachukwu, were he to beat the other Igbo candidates?

Chief Uwazuruike: I have no Igbo candidate and I am not interested in who becomes the president of Nigeria from Igbo stock.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Would you support Ike Omar Sanda Nwachukwu were he is to beat the other Igbo candidates?

Chief Uwazuruike: MASSOB is not supporting ANY of the candidates.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Are there still any MASSOB members in detention, and what are you doing to secure their release?

Chief Uwazuruike: Yes. As of today we have about 58 MASSOB members in detention. About 28 of them were arrested in Onitsha after MASSOB held its rally at Onitsha and about 30 or 31 were arrested in Owerri after MASSOB had its rally in Owerri. MASSOB sent their new national legal advisor from Onitsha to secure the release the members who are currently being detained in Abuja. And our lawyer was arrested as well. He is still in Abuja now with the rest of the members.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: What is your lawyer's name?

Chief Uwazuruike: B. Alue.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: You mentioned 58 members in detention. You also mentioned rallies in Onitsha and Owerri. When were those rallies held in Onitsha and Owerri?

Chief Uwazuruike: We hold general rallies once a month. The one in Onitsha was held on the 10th of July and the one in Owerri was held around the 15th of August, and on the 13th of this month, we are holding a rally at Enugu.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: So those arrests were made during those recent rallies held this year?

Chief Uwazuruike: Yes.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: This may be a bit redundant in light of the answer you just gave. But, I will ask anyway. What is the current status of MASSOB vis a vis your purported suspension by Uche Okwukwu and co.? Is your organization still active? What are some of its latest activities?

Chief Uwazuruike: My organization is most active now because the organization grows day by day. Like I said before, in law, we say “Nemo dat qui non habet” (one does not give what one does not have). So neither Uche Okwukwu nor Logenius has the right to suspend me because I was the person that brought in Logenius Orjiako into MASSOB and gave him an appointment and I was the person who recruited Uche Okwukwu as our legal adviser. And an employee of the company cannot sack the managing director or the chairman of the company. That is a ruse. It is only on the Internet that that has weight. On the ground, nobody knows them.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Are you saying there is no mechanism in place today for removing you as leader of MASSOB?

Chief Uwazuruike: This is a revolution. After 30 years, no Igboman talked about Biafra. I came out to talk about Biafra. I have my modus, my techniques, my principles. If you think my principles are not okay with you, go and form your own organization. It is there for the public. If they like what I'm saying, what I am doing, to follow me. If they don't like it, they'll reject me. But you cannot come to my organization and say you have suspended me or want me to follow your principle, which is not in line with what I am advocating.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: There were strong accusations against you by some of your erstwhile lieutenants, which we would like you to address mainly: Self-enrichment by using MASSOB's resources to build homes in Okigwe and taking bribes from the Imo state deputy governor.

Chief Uwazuruike: First and foremost, all the properties used by MASSOB are my properties. The house MASSOB is using in Lagos as their secretariat is my personal house, and the national secretariat of MASSOB in Okigwe, which was burned by the government last December is also my house. And for the past 3 years that these properties have been used by MASSOB, nobody has paid rent to me.

Secondly, before MASSOB was inaugurated, I single-handedly funded MASSOB before these people came on board, and I am doing that for my interest. I'm not asking anybody to pay me for it. And if you say that I am using MASSOB resources to build a house, all these houses that are used by MASSOB, did I use MASSOB resources to build them? I bought them. I built some of them with my money and if somebody is saying that I am using MASSOB resources to build a house, from where did the resources come from? Who contributed? Did we levy any money for anybody to pay, or did the government give me money? Did any country donate money to MASSOB? You ask such person, where did the money come from?

BiafraNigeriaWorld: What about the deputy governor?

Chief Uwazuruike: I don't have any relationship with any governor or deputy. Do you understand it? Like I said about my house.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: So you did not take any bribe from the deputy governor of Imo State?

Chief Uwazuruike: Why should I take any bribe from a deputy governor? I can change a car. Or somebody can give a car to me. Somebody donated a car to me. But it was not a deputy governor. A businessman donated a car to me. When the police came to Akigwe, stormed my house and vandalized a bus I was driving. I was walking the streets and somebody saw me, an Igbo man who felt what I was doing was good for the Igbos and bought me the car. So this idea of deputy governor is just nonsense.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: You mentioned that most of the money spent by MASSOB is your own money. I asked you earlier what you do for a living. I don't recall that you answered that part of the question. Do you mind answering it now?

Chief Uwazuruike: I am a legal practitioner. I have practiced law for more than 10 years now. Throughout my practice I was into property. I buy and sell land and houses. Before MASSOB, I had five houses in Lagos and when MASOOB started I sold one and later I sold another one which I'm using to rebuild a house in my village after they destroyed my house in Okigwe. Before MASSOB I had five vehicles. I was driving 3, my wife was using two. I sold the two vehicles of my wife and sold one of mine for MASSOB. Today, the two that are remaining are vandalized by the police and are immovable. All these things are my personal things.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: So, those are the sources of all the funds you personally expend on MASSOB.

Chief Uwazuruike: Yes. Sure.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: You have also been accused of aligning yourself with some of the eastern governors and compromising the safety of MASSOB members.

Chief Uwazuruike: It’s funny. I have no direct dealing with any eastern governor. As a matter of fact, you ask any of them if I have ever come to their office for the first day. The only governor whose office I have ever gone to is Orji Uzor Kalu, and that was when Longenius Orjiakor was alleged to have bought guns given to MASSOB members to fight against Bakassi. Then, two Bakassi men were killed by MASSOB men, and four MASSOB members were killed by Bakassi. Then, Orji Uzor Kalu summoned me and I went and they said, look, what is happening? Then we discussed the issue and I investigated and Longenius Orjiako told me that actually he bought some guns and gave them to our members to challenge Bakassi because Bakassi people were terrorizing MASSOB members. Then I asked him where he got the money and he said his junior brother gave him the money. He said 1.3 million Naira. He said he was sorry. I said no, you don’t' do things like that. If you want violence, you have to form your own organization. If I'm the leader of MASSOB, I have to control MASSOB. Then, I suspended him according to our rules and regulations, non-violence, that's all.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: You have been accused of exhibiting dictatorial tendencies in running MASSOB affairs.

Chief Uwazuruike: I'm not a dictator, and no other person will say it. If I were dictatorial, I wouldn't have given all the powers and privileges I gave to them. Twice I came to America, I brought them; I gave them open hand. Today, I'm in America and they are not with me.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Why did you make the statement that you are bigger than MASSOB, and that if anybody doesn't like what you are doing, they should go and form their own organization? Do you intend that you will always be bigger than MASSOB?

Chief Uwazuruike: As a matter of fact, I'm sorry I made that statement. I made that statement in anger. I was trying to tell the world that every and each member that is in MASSOB today is there on the belief that the government has tried so many times to bribe me and I couldn't be bribed. Some of these members I took to some of the negotiations where money was offered to me, and I rejected. They saw this, they told others. People said if this is the case, here is an Igbo man who could not be bought and they came into MASSOB. People tried to see me because of the things they hear about me, and people are into MASSOB because they know I cannot betray them. So for somebody to come and say he has done this and that, I tried to tell him, look man, Uwazuruike formed MASSOB and MASSOB is synonymous with to Uwazuruike as Biafra is synonymous to Ojukwu, as ANC is synonymous to Nelson Mandela. As India National Congress is synonymous to Mahatma Ghandi. So, MASSOB minus Uwazuruike is shaky. There was no time that a group of people came together to form MASSOB, no.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: We understand that you are very important to MASSOB. But today, Mandela is not heading ANC. And in India, Ghandi was shot and killed and the party he headed continued. What program do you have in place for succession in MASSOB? It has been observed that your name is synonymous with MASSOB and you take it (MASSOB) wherever you go, leaving nothing behind. For example, all our forum members who have been home lately agree that MASSOB activities in the East has been on the lowest ebb since you migrated to Lagos. How do you respond to this?

Chief Uwazuruike: I don't think there is anything like that because this information is wrong. MASSOB today in the east is the talk of the town. As I'm talking to you here now there are rallies all over the east. We have covered the local government areas and we are into all the wards in the east. And I don't like playing to the gallery, newspaper advertisement. We don't like it because that brings the security against us. We are on the ground, and there are migrating to Lagos. All these rallies are not being held in Lagos. I was in Onitsha against the security directive that I should not come. I was in Owerri and two armored tanks were placed on Okigwe Road to keep me from coming but when they saw all the crowd they quickly ran back to their barracks. As I'm going home now, I'm going directly to Okigwe. My family is in Lagos. Once in a while I come into Lagos to see my children and my wife. Then I go back to my base.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: What program do you have in place for succession in MASSOB?

Chief Uwazuruike: We have a hierarchy in MASSOB. But what I have refused to do is to say that this is my executive, this is my financial secretary, this is my treasurer, this is my deputy. Because once I do that, the government will catch up on that and bribe some of them to scuttle the movement. So if I'd had an executive where perhaps Uche Okwukwu or Longenius Orjiakor was my secretary or my deputy, the government would have used them to scuttle MASSOB.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: So, if something happens to you today, who would succeed you?

Chief Uwazuruike: If something happened to me today, MASSOB hierarchy knows the next in line. We don't expose all these things in the papers because of security implications.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: You live in Ijeshatedo. Is that correct?

Chief Uwazuruike: Yes.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Don't you think it is absurd for a leader of the Biafra movement to reside outside Biafra and in enemy territory?

Chief Uwazuruike: Before I started MASSOB, I was in Lagos. I have properties in Lagos. I'm not a tenant. I have kids who attend school in Lagos. My wife is also in Lagos. East is the warfront. They burnt my house in Okigwe. Suppose my wife and children had been there. I am in the warfront. Must I go to the warfront with my wife and my children? I have lived in Lagos since I came back from India. From Lagos I started the movement and I am fighting and struggling.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: There are many pro-Biafra groups in operation today and there does not seem to be much co-ordination. Do you think that the emergence of so many groups compromises the message?

Chief Uwazuruike: Not at all. Rather, it is a welcome development. Today, we have the BF, Ekwenche, Igbo USA, BNW, we have PANDEM. We are partners in progress. But there must be a consensus, a working relationship, an umbrella, something that makes us sit together once in a while to review the progress we have made. The issue is the actualization of Biafra. The more the merrier. That is what I told my subordinates, Uche Okwukwu and Orjiakor. Go and form your own organization. If it is a Biafra oriented organization, I will work with you. But you must have your own agenda. If you are not comfortable with non-violence, go and form your own organization and do whatever you like there.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Why has MASSOB not been restructured after some of last year's turmoil?

Chief Uwazuruike: It has been restructured. When Uche Okwukwu and Prince were there, we had an eastern coordinator. But immediately after that, we introduced a provincial system. Ojukwu had twenty provinces. Today, we added four provinces covering Delta, Agbor, Warri and Ughelli. These places were not part of Biafra during the war, but today, they are Igbo areas and they have shown interest. We included them. Today we have directors who serve as ministers. We have fifteen directors of MASSOB covering director of education, director of welfare. Administrators serve as governors of these provinces. We call them provincial administrators. Then at the local government level we call them districts. At another level we call them ward officers. All these things were not there before.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Are there any other of the allegations by Uche Okwukwu and his group that I have not mentioned that you would like to address?

Chief Uwazuruike: Yes. According to the findings of the committee set up to investigate why Longenius bought guns, which he admitted, we found out that one Igbo politician living in Abuja working for Obasanjo, recruited the two of them to (1) fight against Orji Uzor Kalu, two.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: When you say two of them, two of whom?

Chief Uwazuruike: That is Uche and Prince. … to fight against Orji Uzor Kalu. The politician is from Abia State, Aba in particular, working in the presidency. Then, to fight against MASSOB. And Prince himself, admitted that to me in the office of one of my relations called Prince Chibeze. And it’s the same Prince and some of my relatives begging me to come and forgive him and all that. I don't act on hearsay. He admitted to me once that his brother gave him 1.3 million Naira to buy arms, and later we found out that the money was actually from one of Obasanjo's men. So they were sponsored to scuttle the objectives of MASSOB.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: It is very desirable that a leader understand the temperament of his individual team members in addition to knowing himself. Can you seriously say you knew Mr. Okwukwu's temperament, especially now that you have gone through last year's controversy with Mr. Okwukwu?

Chief Uwazuruike: Yes, I would say that. If I knew him as I know him today I wouldn't really have appointed him as our legal advisor. Or if I knew Longinus Orjiako as I know him today, I wouldn't have appointed him eastern coordinator then. We learn every day, and experience is the best teacher.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: You said earlier that they had apologized. Does this mean that they are now back in the fold? Or does it mean you have forgiven each other and everybody is doing their own thing now?

Chief Uwazuruike: Well my friends called me. There is one Sam Obi that lives in Aba who is my childhood friend told me that Longenus came to him and asked him to plead on his behalf that I should forgive them, he wants to come back to MASSOB. Then one provincial administrator with Chief Osechukwu also said Longenus came to him and was begging that he should be recalled and all that. This is not a private decision. I have to consult my members, and I'm consulting with them and I have to see their opinion.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Are you concerned that your strained relationship with Okwukwu could hamper the interactivity of Ikwerre Igbo and Okigwe Igbo for instance?

Chief Uwazuruike: Today, Port Harcourt, in the last rally, Port Harcourt came fourth as the zone where MASSOB is at its highest. We count that by counting how many buses each zone came with. So Onitsha came first, Aba came second, Owerri came third, and Port Harcourt came fourth. But that was at Onitsha. Then in Owerri, Onitsha came first, Aba came second, Port Harcourt came third, before Owerri. Then you begin to talk Enugu, Umuahia and all that. So Uche Okwukwu doesn't mean anything because I have people in all the local governments in Rivers State. And Uche was working as our legal advisor, he was not working as an officer, or as a ward officer or as a provincial officer. He was our legal advisor. When we had cases, he would go to court and we would pay him. There was no case he did for us that we didn't pay him for. As a matter of fact, when we were here in the US, in this room, the morning we were leaving to go back home, I shared money to them. Uche was demanding N5,500 for each detained member, as opposed to the N2,000 we used to pay for each. That was where we started having problems. I said no, we can't do that. I gave them money to hold on to until we reached Nigeria, and up to this day they are holding it. Come to the east and you will know what is happening, I'm not exaggerating. Come and see what is on the ground. If Uche Okwukwu and Prince could rock the boat for MASSOB, I would never dare sack them, because MASSOB and Biafra are important to me.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Now that the other faction has metamorphosed into the Eastern peoples' Congress (EPC), will your MASSOB be willing to extend the right hand of fellowship to them since you are both sworn to protect Biafran interest?

Chief Uwazuruike: Why not? Inasmuch as they are for the actualization for Biafra, they are my best friends. I would only look the other way if they started singing another tune or saying that they are for Nigeria and they are not for Biafra. They are our brothers. Why not?

BiafraNigeriaWorld: We know that in your last few "detentions" by the BiafraNigerian government, you were "detained" at Abuja Nicon Noga Hotel where you were locked in negotiation with a key government functionary (Jerry Gana). Keen observers believe you were intimidated by the opulence of the environment and intellectual wit of Obasanjo's representative, and that you emerged out of that detention a thoroughly changed man with no more stomach for the struggle. Is this true?

Chief Uwazuruike: First of all, it was not really Jerry Gana who was talking with me. It was an official from the presidency. I don't like mentioning peoples' names. It was in Abuja. I was in Abuja under detention. They burnt my house. Why did they burn the house? Because I did not agree to their terms. That was about the third time they were offering me a bribe in Abuja. They have offered my bribes three times in Abuja, two in Lagos. In Lagos, one was in FESTAC extenstion, the other in my own house. So this last one, it was like come here and we shall deal with you. So they burned my house. The newspaper carried the story on the front page. They showed it to me and I said okay, fine. You have burned my house can you let me go?

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years. Yet, he and the ANC emerged victorious. Have you prepared yourself and MASSOB to withstand that type of ordeal?

Chief Uwazuruike: Let me tell you. I will be very happy in my grave if I die in this cause much less going to prison, I'm ready to die. And you know, I'm not afraid. If I was afraid, I would have stopped. I'm ready to go on terms of imprisonment for 40 years, and I above that I'm ready to die the next minute for MASSOB and Biafra.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Let's discuss your relationship with the Diaspora Igbo intellectuals. There was a recent development published in a pro yoruba website where a Yoruba professor called Bolaji Aluko was alleged to have contacted a US agency website to request the removal of militant OPC from the list of terrorist organizations. Do you see the need for your MASSOB to draw from the intellectual pool of such orgs as BF , BLM, BAF, Ekwenche US, Ndigbo Gen. 60-70+, BNW etc.? Do you know these groups and are you carrying them along?

Chief Uwazuruike: I'm already working with these groups, and as far as I'm concerned, I saw this morning. My brothers and sisters are those who believe in the cause of Biafra. And in as much as a group believes in the actualization of Biafra, that group is my darling, that group is my friend, my everything. I'm prepared to work with them. That is why I'm saying we should have an occasion where we can see ourselves, talk together because so many of these people, I have not seen them. All the times I've been to the US, I have been sponsored by all these bodies. And I can't do without them.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: How many phases are there in your plan for Biafra Actualization and at what stage in that plan are you at the moment? Can you give a breakdown of the first stages that you have already gone through and a quick run down of what to expect in the future?

Chief Uwazuruike: Yes. We have 25 stages in the actualization of Biafra. We are now in the fourth stage. The first stage had to do with recruitment and mobilization for members of MASSOB. These things go from one state to the other. The second stage had to do with declaration of Biafra. Which I did on the 22nd of May, 2000 at Aba. The third stage had to do with the development of the primary aspects of sovereignty. We instituted the Biafran court, the Biafran police, the Biafran intelligence agency, and other infrastructures and other bodies. Today we are in the fourth stage which is civil disobedience. This civil disobedience will take us some time because it has to do with disobeying government laws, doing things that we want in Biafra without recourse of what the Nigerian government is saying. In this stage we have put in place the Biafra Liberation Front. This Biafra Liberation Front is an alternative government. With this Biafra Liberation Front, we have provinces we call the Biafran Territory and we have directors serving as ministers and they do the same work that Nigerian ministers and Nigerian governors do.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Would you commit to providing a full list of all the 25 stages to go on your website?

Chief Uwazuruike: No. Because if I do it, the government will know my stages and they will scuttle it.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: So you don't want the stages to be public material?

Chief Uwazuruike: No. This is sensitive information, and that is what saves MASSOB. Do you know, if Uche Okwukwu and Longenus had known our stages, they would have stolen it. They would have used it as their own platform, their own agenda. I don't tell anybody, including my mother, my wife, the stages.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: So the stages are announced as you reach them?

Chief Uwazuruike: Yes, the stages are announced.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: In the past, MASSOB indicated that there would be no elections in Biafra. Later that statement was modified to mean that there would be no federal elections in Biafra. What is MASSOB's stand today?

Chief Uwazuruike: Today we have the same stand. Elections will be held in the local governments and states in Biafra to allow our brothers and sisters to take control of our states because they remain in a vacuum. But as far as federal elections are concerned, elections into the national assembly, the presidency, MASSOB has also modified that position. We say that if an Igboman, and by Igboman, we mean that if all the six parties go to Igboland and pick their presidential candidates, we will allow the election. But if all the six parties fail to go to Igboland as they did to Yoruba in 1998, and choose their candidates, we will not allow any elections.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Thank you for the interview and we wish you a safe return to BiafraNigeria.

Chief Uwazuruike: It was my pleasure.

Friday, April 06, 2012

World Cup: Brazil's Victory

Jubilant team members hug Pele (10), who scored the winning goal for Brazilians in their World Cup victory over the Swedish soccer team. Date: June 29, 1958. Location: Stockholm, Sweden

World Cup: Sweden 1958

Brazilian soccer star Pele (right), waves his arms triumphantly after scoring his country's fifth goal in the World Cup Final against Sweden. The final score was 5-2 in Brazil's favor. Date: June 29, 1958. Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Memorable Images: Boxing: Jack Johnson Vs. James Jeffries

The first colored heavyweight champion in American history was Jack Johnson, who held sway from 1908 to 1915. In 1910, James Jeffries, hog-fat and long past his prime, attempted unsuccessfully to come out of retirement and beat Johnson. In contrast to Joe Louis' universal popularity today, Johnson's reign was resented by white fight fans who yearned for a "white hope" to depose him. Date: July 94, 1910. Location: Reno, Nevada.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Nigeria: The Annual Lagos Black Heritage Festival

Women dance during black heritage festival at Freedom park in Lagos, Nigeria on Monday, April 2, 2012. Lagos is hosting its annual Lagos Black Heritage Festival this week, which this year includes a look at relations between Nigeria and Italy, a popular spot with young migrant workers from Africa's most populous nation. Image: Sunday Alamba

Performers with traditional statues on their heads wait to perform at the Lagos Black Heritage Festival in Lagos, Nigeria on Monday, April 2, 2012. Image: John Gambrell

People in costumes prepare to perform at the Lagos Black Heritage Festival in Lagos, Nigeria on Monday, April 2, 2012. Image: John Gambrell.

A performer attempts to guide the 'spirit' within a large costume at the Lagos Black Heritage Festival in Lagos, Nigeria on Monday, April 2, 2012. Image: John Gambrell

Women with traditional feathers dance around a man embodying a spirit in a costume at the Lagos Black Heritage Festival in Lagos, Nigeria on Monday, April 2, 2012. Image: Sunday Alamba

Masquerade dance at the Lagos Black Heritage Festival. Image: John Gambrell

Images Courtesy of Associated Press

Nigeria: Lagos Black Heritage Festival

Nobel Laureate professor Wole Soyinka, left, and Babatunde Raji Fashola, right, Lagos state Governor attends the Black heritage festival at the freedom park in Lagos, Nigeria on Monday, April 2, 2012. Lagos is hosting its annual Lagos Black Heritage Festival this week, which this year includes a look at relations between Nigeria and Italy, a popular spot with young migrant workers from Africa's most populous nation. Image: Sunday Alamba


Welcome back to the BiafraNigeriaWorld Hot Seat. This is the conclusion of our interview with Honorable Emma Okocha, Publicity Secretary for Ohaneze and Author of Blood on the Niger.

Hon. Okocha: Before now, Ohaneze had been taunted, you don't have a candidate, you made a declaration. Suddenly we are approaching zero hour, and suddenly we have about five candidates, credible candidates.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Who are they?

Hon. Okocha: We have General Ojukwu who has declared his intention to run. He is a credible candidate and a credible member of Ohaneze. We are proud of him. We have Vice President Ekwueme. There is every indication that he may try again under the platform of PDP. Remember, he was the leading candidate at the last election before the coalition forces of northern generals, America and the retrogrades of Nigerian politics pulled Obasanjo from prison to pit him at Jos. We have Dr. Idika Kanu, a World Bank expert who has expressed his willingness to run. We have Senator Right Honorable Chuba Okadigbo.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Have you mentioned John Nwodo?

Hon. Okocha: Go ahead, put his name there.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Are those the people that you think will make good candidates or are those people who have actually said that they would run for president?

Hon. Okocha: They have indicated their willingness. And you know in politics forty-eight hours are enough to overthrow the vote. So what we're saying is that these candidates, any day, before any theatre, before any audience, give them any pulpit, before any studio against Obasanjo, and they will floor him on any issue. Economics, governance, vision, charisma. I don't see Obasanjo standing on the same platform with any of those candidates on any issue. Now nobody will say Ohaneze has no credible candidates. We have passed that stage.

In Ohaneze, we try as much as possible to have a level playing field because, as I told you, it's an amalgam of all that. Once you are an Igbo man, we'll accommodate you.

Put Senator Ikeze in there because I think he did make his intention known. He was a soldier that fought against Biafra. And you're saying that because of that he should not be qualified?

BiafraNigeriaWorld: He is qualified to run?

Hon. Okocha: Yes. But, he should not be qualified to flag the Igbo platform.

: That wasn't the question. The question was would Ohaneze deem him unqualified?

Hon. Okocha: We have in Ohaneze, in order to reach a consensus, because now it's going to be difficult to get a consensus candidate before now the political parties will go for their own political nominees. What we're going home to do now as a result of our meetings with World Igbo Congress and talking with people like you, will be to bring all these candidates, line them up and ask them the following questions: 1) Who is your father? 2) What is your educational background? 3) Can we see your manifesto? 4) Can you define the Igbo interest? 4) How do you intend to win this election? 5) Are we sponsoring you? Crucially, 6) what type of Christian church do you attend? 7) Does he have a history of Sharia conduct? 8) What have you done over the years for your community to convince us that when you get there, you will continue in that regard? 9) What have you done for your community? And then finally, 10) are you ready, after you win the presidency, six months after, one year after, to face a panel? Because we're going to have a serious panel headed by a bishop and retired justices

BiafraNigeriaWorld: What bishop? Which denomination?

Hon. Okocha: We'll get a bishop. It could be an Anglican bishop or a Catholic bishop. It will be a panel independent of Ohaneze to ask these questions. There'll be marks. And then afterward, these people will, through short circuit television, address the Igbo people. What are you going to do? What have you done before? What type of church do you attend? Who is your father? Most of the time, we don't know who these people's fathers are. Who is supporting you? How do you intend to win the election?

So when these questions are asked, and they are answered by these candidates, we'll probably be able to arrive at a consensus candidate.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: What would be an example of a bad source of support?

Hon. Okocha: A bad source of support?

BiafraNigeriaWorld: For an Igboman who is running for president, when you ask the questions, "who is backing you?" "who is funding your campaign?" what would be, quite frankly, a wrong answer?

Hon. Okocha: If the candidate is unable to identify his source of support, because most of the time these people are supported from external group that are anti our interests. I'm talking about Northerners, international groups, Obasanjo supported a lot of our governors, a lot of our senators. He's anti-our people. We'll prefer somebody that is independent.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: So, basically, any candidate who is being funded by Northerners or any of these external groups that you mentioned would be disqualified?

Hon. Okocha: Not necessarily. If we have a candidate being supported by a Northerner, just for the mere fact that the candidate may not have the money, enough financial engine, to satisfy the conditionalities that you must scale to be able to get to the Nigerian people; you have to pay for media, you have to pay for some logistics. Supposing he has a sponsor from anywhere, he has to explain. We don't want any stitches.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Why cant' Ohaneze sponsor its own candidate(s)?

Hon. Okocha: Put it down for me. That's a new one. That's great. We can then decide that we don't want you to get the sponsor, we don't understand it, we don't know the agreement behind it. But, we want to sponsor him. Can we, can Ohaneze, paternity of the Holy Ghost, in Switzerland, in Japan, in Alaska, in Mexico, in South Africa, Mozambique, Cameroon, Bamenda, can we sponsor this candidate?

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Why not?

Hon. Okocha: I think we can. So all the Igbos in America, all of them are asked to put in a $100 each. I think we'll have enough money.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Now would be a good time to ask you. How is Ohaneze currently funded?

Hon. Okocha: Ohaneze is not being funded by anybody. That's why we have only one computer, and they've been fighting to keep business as usual. The young Igbos of London, a group just like the professionals, are on the London government houses, the British government. Most of them were born there. Their parents were those that didn't come back to BiafraNigeria during the Biafran/Nigeria war. They could not come back. Because of the war, they cannot come back. They speak a smattering of Igbo. They would like to speak Igbo. They have Igbo language clinics. They are ready to make Ohaneze interactive so that people will know about anything we're doing in Enugu. They are ready to donate facilities with computers. But there was some opposition back home.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Who doesn't want that?

Hon. Okocha: We hope when I come in now because of the great meetings I've had with our people here, I'll go in there and this time, I don't have to spend a lot of time to consult convince people. I'm putting the computers there, employ people to start working. Most of these un-traditions will be taken care of. Like you told me about They don't think like that.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: They don't think globally?

Hon. Okocha: One governor will give them one million, they'll pocket it. Whereas the opposing group, the Afenifere, the Yoruba group, every governor every month has an obligation to donate N1.5 to Afenifere. The members of the congress, the senators of the assembly put N500,000 every month, and so on down the line. So they have enough cash to do their jobs. We don't have such things. So we're not having any major funding from governors.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Now that you have this idea of Ohaneze itself sponsoring its own candidate, and you're going to propose that all Igbo groups from around the world donate money, what kind of system of checks and balances do you have in place to ensure that there will be no questions of embezzlement, funds will be protected and used for the purposes for which they were collected?

Hon. Okocha: This is your idea. You have to advise me. This a new idea that just in. You know why the Igbo couldn't come out in time? Because they were looking at their war chests. They couldn't raise N1 billion individually. Its not like they were not ready to come out, but they couldn't.

Obasanjo in the North coalesced. They were looking at the election by how much money they had. This system solves the problem, so you have to work on it and tell us what to do after it is done.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Okay, let's continue. What structure does Ohaneze have in place for punishing erring members and do you think Ohaneze as presently constituted, has any clout, especially if Igbo senators could decide to ignore you and go ahead to choose Obasanjo as a candidate?

Hon. Okocha: Ohaneze is in the process of sanctioning erring members. As we've established here, Igbos are republicans. We are not government. We don't have sanctioning powers. Culturally, that's why we're going with the chiefs and going with the Igbo unions. Those unions will be on parade in Aba for the first time. We intend to enforce our sanctions from now on. In fact, we were to de-robe some of them who went to Otah to ask Obasanjo to run for reelection and came to Umuahia. We allowed them to mingle with us. Right now we are in support of the MASSOB declaration that those people will no longer be accepted in Igbo meetings.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Are there any other kinds of sanctions?

Hon. Okocha: Not yet. They are working on it.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: How do you propose to enforce the sanctions that you do have? What type of mechanism do you have in place?

Hon. Okocha: We are thinking about it, knowing that we cannot, by law, just because somebody defaulted. We can't. But we want to have a relationship with MASSOB group and Bakassi. Remember the reaction in Aba during the killings in Kaduna. I will not tell you what Ohaneze did, but there was a reaction. We are at that stage now.

Secondly, if the senators go on top of the precipice with us during this election year, after the election year, we will see who will default anymore against Ohaneze. That is all I want to say on this point.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Are you saying that Ohaneze has laid down the law?

Hon. Okocha: We cannot spit fire anymore and not follow it up.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Do you plan to teach them what leadership is all about? Does Ohaneze plan to show these governors how to be leaders?

Hon. Okocha: Some governors have done well. Others have not done well.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: We are asking because many of the Ohaneze chieftans were governors and are experienced.

Hon. Okocha: No, we don't plan to lecture them on governance. Our job is to monitor the different public officers to see if they are performing according to the interests of the Igbo people. Ultimately, the people will decide whether these governors performed or not. It is the job of the electorate. Our job is not to go and lecture on how to govern. As far as we are concerned, it is for us to let out the issues. Our governors are messing up. They have not been able to give the people the hope. There is a difference between winning elections and establishing good governance. We haven't seen it.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: So a lot of them haven't been able to follow through with keeping their campaign promises?

Hon. Okocha: That's right.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: What is your take on the view expressed by some that the Igbo governors should pull resources together for some public, tangible projects like Power generation and Waste management?

Hon. Okocha: More than that, we believe that the Biafran revolution, people were able to go into manufacturing during the exigency of the war. We were able to manufacture our own war arsenal. We were able to manufacture home-made facilities. We were able to manufacture matches, bricks, bicycles, cars, anything to survive the war. We were able to feed our people despite the blockade. We were able to organize a land army; we were able to refine our own oil. How is it that presently, with all the advantages Eastern Nigeria could not reinvent the Biafran record in agriculture, governance and industrialization? The scientists are there. So we are disappointed. We don't need Abuja, we don't need the World Bank. The resources are there because there are people all over the world, in England, in America. These governors should be out there attracting these brains who are working in all these environments. They have not done that. All they are doing is genuflecting in Abuja, celebrating power, everyday going to chieftancy titles, organizing political meetings. Since the campaign started, it has not ended. They have not sat down. They are just taking the same cocktail from the presidency. Everybody is traveling around the world, so we are disappointed and we thouhgt the governors in the Southeast, the Igbo governors, should not be part of the Nigeriana, the celebration, and the wastage that has become the fulcrum of the PDP government.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: You fully acknowledge that these resources are available. How do you plan to use them? Do you have a plan for ensuring that in the future, these governors start utilizing these resources that are there to improve the situation?

Hon. Okocha: We hope so, as Ohaneze gets into the forefront. I've told you how we have organizational problems. We've just gone into the activist part, now we are given a political role to play. As we emerge from one sector into another vista, we believe an Ohaneze political committee, government and administration should be able to advise the governors to go look for the Okigbo blueprints on how Eastern Nigeria developed to that stage. Before the war, Eastern Nigeria was regarded by the World Bank as the fastest developing nation in the world. Our economy was farther in rating than Malaysia, the Asian Tigers, Singapore. Palm produce was Eastern Nigeria's major export. What has happened to palm produce in Eastern Nigeria? All governors are going to Abuja every second, having all these PDP meetings. All they are interested in now is coming back for a second term when they have not performed for four years. We can excuse the other governors of the other states. But an Igbo governor, knowing the history, deprivation of the people, should have not become part of this adage.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: So you don't have a definitive plan right now?

Hon. Okocha: That's what we are saying. Those questions, what is your educational background, what have you done for the community? All these things are encapsulated in those two crucial questions. The new people coming in to contest elections either in the local government area or as a gubernatorial candidate should be able to answer these questions, and then we'll know where they are coming from.

The major Igbo interest, as I told you, apart from checking erosion and getting back to the language, is meritocracy. That is our abiding faith. Igbo believe in merit. These governors, and not only the governors, but the public officers and those in the assembly, must have merit. Look at Anyim. If you're not careful, you look stupid looking at him. If he appears here, his stupidity will infect you. So we don't want such characters to lead the Igbo race. What has he done now? Four years are gone. He's very popular in the senate, but he makes sure that the senators go around the world. He gives them all the oil that they need. But what has he done in Abakiliki? Abakiliki is a fruit basket. Abakiliki could feed the entire Western Africa. You can plant anything there, cabbage, rice. He hasn't done anything. Look at the roads. So this is what we're talking about and next time around. Not only the governors, the public officers of Igboland, whether in the local government, whether in the national assembly, and the ministers, have been colossal failures.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Let us shift the focus a little. Ohaneze has been criticized for failing to publicly and boldly condemn murders and other atrocities committed against Nd'Igbo throughout Nigeria. What is your response to that criticism?

Hon. Okocha: That is a fallacy. I told you I have a petition. Ohaneze is the first Igbo group that went and petitioned the federal government, and even asked for indemnities, damages, and accused the federal government of genocide. We were in Enugu, at the public hearing. That was the greatest showing of Ohaneze under the sun. I don't know whether this is debatable. Whoever told you that, it is a fallacy. Continuously, we have been fighting this.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: There were specific incidents, like the killings in Kaduna. When the killings started in Kaduna, it brought out a lot of the anger that you see now. It was the killings that really spawned a lot of the Biafra movement. Much of it started after the Kaduna massacre of 2000. Before then, some people that didn't even care about Nigeria or Biafra, decided, enough of this nonsense. Take your stupid country and go. At that time, Ohaneze was really nowhere to be seen. You didn't know there was any group called Ohaneze. You heard people like Orji Uzor Kalu step up and say if you kill anymore Igbo, we're going to retaliate. Where was Ohaneze in 2001 following Kaduna?

Hon. Okocha: Ohaneze, as I told you, is very conservative. Before Ohaneze makes any statement, the convention is that it has to be cleared. Nobody comes out and makes a statement on behalf of Ohaneze. Even I, as the Publicity Secretary, cannot come here and make a statement. Before I started talking to you, I had to consult with Enugu, and Enugu had to clear certain groups such as your group. So that nobody comes tomorrow and defaults a statement I make. There's no dictator. Ohaneze was on top of the Kaduna crisis. They made sure that these long buses, Ugbo Ndi Jews, made sure that the owners of those vehicles, "Ekene Dili Chukwu" and "The Young Shall Grow" went to the North and brought back people free of charge. We did a lot.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Did Ohaneze pay Ekene Dili Chukwu and The Young Shall Grow to defray their costs? We've read that the cost of transportation actually doubled that day when the massacre was going on.

Hon. Okocha: Yes, you can trust Igbos to make money out of blood. We are talking about what Ohaneze did. I don't know what Igbos did. Ohaneze intervened. Certain Igbos, as usual, will do what they are known for. They will make money out of blood.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: I guess that's a sore spot. What effort has Ohaneze made to help our veterans who fought in the Biafra/Nigeria war? Is there a program to help alleviate their sufferings and pains?

Hon. Okocha: No.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: You haven't addressed that issue?

Hon. Okocha: No, but the claims, in fact I'm going to get you copies of the Ohaneze petition, they made claims. Ohaneze is ready, if after the Oputa panel white paper is published, and those claims are not addressed, we are going to the World Court.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Why has Ohanaeze failed to address the issue of a memorial to fallen Biafran heroes and heroines? In 2000, there was to have been a re-burial ceremony at Uli and Obasanjo and some Igbo men, that some of us call efulefu, including Governor Mbadinuju thwarted those plans. Is that the last word on the re-burial?

Hon. Okocha: No. I'm an executive member of Ohaneze, I was on the other side as Ojukwu that there must be a memorial. Even in my book, I am a victim of the genocide. I support totally the Uli exercise.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Your parents?

Hon. Okocha: Yes. What happened was there was division in modalities. Some people said there should be a symbolic re-burial; others said there should be physical remembrance in the way of building a monument. Then there was intrusion from the federal authorities mainly because of the impact such an exercise will have on their purported control of our soul. So they fought it. The last is not out. The young Turks in Ohaneze are working on it because we believe remembering those departed souls will help build our spiritual bonding. That will help in our movement in reclaiming our dues in Nigeria.

Nigeria must pay for that. There should be a standing monument, openly, remembering the departed heroes of the Biafran revolutionary war. But those foreigners, there were black Americans who flew planes there and got shot down. There was a black American family that came to the Uli airport in their own airplane and they were shot and killed there. The plane crashed. There were countless Catholic missionaries, Caritas, nuns and reverend fathers who lost their lives. There were others who were bringing in food, the Red Cross. We are due for a monument and we shall support it. I want to assure our people that we don't have to wait for Ohaneze to do these types of things. Any group and come and set up a monument. I don’t' see anybody doing it. Must it be Ohaneze? Why should we wait for any government? Anybody can set up a monument. Set something up somewhere. Whoever has support from the village or wherever they're offered land. We can build the monument somewhere in Lanham here. What do you think?

BiafraNigeriaWorld: In Lanham? We have to build the monument in Biafra, in Igboland. Don't we?

Hon. Okocha: So is not Ohaneze putting Mbadinuju up to it.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Well, Mbadinuju was the one, who, as governor of Anambra State, opposed the reburial at Uli. Did he not?

Hon. Okocha: He's from Uli.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Right and he came up with an excuse why it wasn't going to happen. And when Igbo Day came, Ojukwu was in Umahia and Ohaneze was in Enugu because Ojukwu wanted to go to Uli and was thwarted.

Hon. Okocha: So it was not just an Ohaneze problem.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Did Mbadinuju not go to Enugu? He was in league with Ohaneze. Was he not?

Hon. Okocha: No. There was no governor there. I was there. I was the M.C. There was no governor available. Everybody was afraid to identify with Igbo Day. Ekwueme wasn't there. I went to Lagos at 2 am to fetch the MASSOB leader. And then I was sacked the following day. Why did I bring MASSOB? They queried.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: You were sacked for bringing MASSOB?

Hon. Okocha: Yes. They wouldn't entertain me any longer as the Chairman of Publicity. But later on my case was made. When Uwazurike came, he took the whole Enugu in and when he finished his speech, he went into the crowd and that was the end. And there was nobody to move the crowd, in my thinking, if Ojukwu had to go to Umuahia. Okadigbo was slated to speak. Okadigbo turned tail and all the governors abandoned ship.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: So Uwazurike was in Enugu and not Umuahia?

Hon. Okocha: He was headed to Umuahia. I told him if he didn't come to our own, Ohaneze would be finished. We would lose credibility. So he came to Enugu because Umaya was not a show. The governor didn't want to identify with Ojukwu equally.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Why did Ohaneze fail to speak up when a responsible Igbo with family was publicly humiliated and flogged for drinking a beverage of his choosing after we had been told Sharia was for Muslims only? The opinion out here is that notable Ohaneze members go underground during the Sharia upheavals only to resurface when all is calm and the Igbo mass grave has been covered. Do you think such people are deserving of Igbo trust and do you think it is fair to deny Igbo the dead bodies of their loved ones for a befitting burial even at a so called democratic peace time?

Hon. Okocha: These are not dire options, because you are talking about Gideon, the man that was beheaded. All these cases were forwarded to the Oputa panel and we had complete hearings on them. Witnesses organized by Ohaneze testified.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: We have been waiting to read a press release from Ohaneze condemning the recent insult on Ojukwu and Igbo by an awusa-fulani in denying Ojukwu the right to an award in a university in Igboland. Why are you taking so long? If Abubakar Rimi, the unapologetic jihadist will receive a University of Calabar award, why on earth will somebody even think of denying the former Governor of the Eastern Region and former head of State of Biafra an award in his clan?

Hon. Okocha: What award is it?

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Ojukwu was recently recommended for an honorary doctorate degree at the Nnamdi azikiwe University in Awka.

Hon. Okocha: I really want to know in which area of study, but we do not support the fact that he was denied the honor. I believe Ojukwu is as qualified as any Nigerian to get it. Ohaneze will not support any denial to such a prominent Nigerian. We didn't make any statement because we don't make statements on personalities. We make statements on the Igbo interests, if there is something serious on the Igbo interest. Ojukwu, like any other Nigerian, should never be denied what is due him by universities. Universities are independent.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: The reason given for denying him was that Ojukwu might use the opportunity to campaign for and Igbo president. So that would make it an Igbo issue. Don't you think so?

Hon. Okocha: I think Ohaneze condemns such attitude. If it is from the federal government, we condemn it, even if its coming too late, we condemn it.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Are you going to do something about it?

Hon. Okocha: What can we do about it? What I'm saying is that this is not a crucial Igbo interest that somebody is made a doctor of something. A prominent Nigerian, a prominent Igbo leader, we don't accept that. I don't think it is as crucial as killing Igbos or denying Igbos their rights. We are interested in general Igbo core issues, not individuals.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Ojukwu is a little bit more than just an individual in Igboland. He is a symbol for better or for worse, with all his failings and his strengths and successes, and when Ojukwu is slighted in Igboland, especially when the slight carries a Hausa-Fulani face and signature, it is a slight on Nd'Igbo as a people. Ojukwu is not just another Igboman. I'm sure if it was another Igbo, say one of the One-Nigerianas, he wouldn't have been denied the award. Don't you see that?

Hon. Okocha: I agree with you. I'm sure it has been condemned by other Igbo. It doesn't have to be Ohaneze. Let us have a focus. Many things have been denied Ekwueme, Zik before he died, much worse. He was called names.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: In Igboland?

Hon. Okocha: Yes. We have our perspectives. You can't expect Ohaneze to go out every time any Igbo any individual is denied his rights in Nigeria to go out to the microphone, talking about it. We are talking on Igbo interests, and I'm telling you serious issues like erosion, language, denial of our Igbo top commanders in the army and airforce. These are the areas we talked about, not individuals. Individuals are not that important.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: The Igbo soldiers being denied promotions in the Nigerian army, are those not individuals? I am spending more time on this because when it bodes ill for Igbo people when the Hausa-Fulani are able to block an Igbo from receiving a degree in Igboland, a degree that is not going to put him in power over anybody. You say you want to take control of Igbo territory, then what do we have when outsiders call the shots about who may be honored in Igboland? In this case, we read that the Vice Chancellor of that university already approved the award.

Hon. Okocha: So what stopped it?

BiafraNigeriaWorld: You don't know? What stopped it was that somebody, a Northerner named Ali, saw it as something that wasn't just being done to Emeka Ojukwu, but to Nd'Igbo. The Hausa-Fulani Chancellor of that school got involved. Didn't you know that? If it is so important to the North, why not to Ohaneze?

Hon. Okocha: Why should Ohaneze's condemnation be of any relevance? They should go ahead and give the honor and if they refuse they should go to court. Even if we condemn it so what? What I'm saying is that we don't approve that he was denied his right.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Now that we are talking about General Ojukwu, what is the extent of his involvement in Ohaneze?

Hon. Okocha: He is one of our leaders. He was at Umuahia. He is always prominent in many of our monthly meetings. I will follow it.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: I mean what is his position in the organization?

Hon. Okocha: He is one of our leaders.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: You said earlier that you had a chair person, etc.

Hon. Okocha: No, he doesn't belong to the cabinet. He is above the cabinet. What is he going to be, secretary? He is one of the leaders. Anywhere we want to go, if we want to talk to President Obasanjo or if its anything big, he is always there. Most of the time he speaks on behalf of Ohaneze.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Some Igbo feel that AlaIgbo has evolved in a most negative dimension. Ala Igbo was seen as one where every man ruled his own house and the sanctity of human life was upheld. Egwu and Anyim disagree in Ebonyi and a lot of Igbo lives are wasted; Nnamani and friends disagree and lives are lost in Enugu. Pray, tell, what is going on? When did AlaIgbo become a feudal kingdom where talakawas or almajris give their lives for the pleasure of the feudal lords? What do you think is responsible for this trend?

Hon. Okocha: This situation is a big worry. The big worry to Ohaneze and to the majority of Igbo is that our ability to govern has gone down the precipice. We cannot control thugerry as I was saying earlier. These entities, these states, especially Enugu and Ebonyi have been invaded by Abuja directed Igbo politicians. Initially they were appointed to big positions in Abuja and given the blank check to go and unseat these governors. It has been a running battle between Abuja based Igbo politicians and their own governors. We in Ohaneze have over the years intervened, and we have not been able to achieve any compromises. These governors and the advisors from Abuja have declared implacably their position. They are not ready to compromise. And specifically for Enugu, it used to be Chimaroke Nnamani, governor of Enugu, against Nwobodo. And Nwodo, was supporting Chimaroke, Nwodo - the Nsukka Group leader, Okwesilieze Nwodo, made it as secretary General of PDP. Governor Chimaroke, did not lobby for Nwodo to become Secretary General. Right now, the positions have changed. Now it is at daggers drawn. It is Nwodo who has gotten support from Nwobodo.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Nwobodo is supporting Nwodo?

Hon. Okocha: Yes. They are now fighting a Nnamani. All these are based on just ego and this come-back syndrome either by the governors or by the honorable members of the house who also want to come back. In the case of Abakiliki, Anyim was given all the support by the Obasanjo regime. So, that at this time the Anyim bandwagon should be able to corner some votes for Obasanjo, if Obasanjo chose to seek re-election. That was the plan. That was why Okadigbo had to go. Eventually, that also played out with great casualties amongst our people. That has worried us a lot.

And Ohaneze intervened in the case of Ebonyi, in the case of Enugu and we never got any results, not because we are not influential but because we thought when parties in conflict are so implacably posited, we allow them to play it out. Either we have a cohesive outcome or a resolution will be made by one party overwhelming the other. But then there is the issue of intervention. The federal government is bent on getting their way in not only Enugu, in Ebonbyi, but in Anambra, even in Abia despite that fact that these governors are not really performing according to the expectations of the people. So, that is the dangerous issue and the future is really fraught with great dangers. Ohaneze has a lot of limitations because we are dealing with political parties. We are no longer dealing with brother Igboman, we're dealing with their political parties and there are limits to influencing political decisions. So that is the issue. As I'm talking to you now, there are a lot of killings in Enugu. There is a lot of thugerry going on in Abakiliki on both sides and Umuahia, Abia, imposed by these turncoat ministers in Abuja. We are expecting a lot inflammation in the future.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Why do the majority of the Ohaneze leadership retire to places outside Igbo land? A Shehu Shagari retired to his Shagari village and ditto others, but our so called "Igbo leaders" retire to Lagos and lately to Abuja. Don't you think that is why some basic amenities are lacking in ala-Igbo? It is believed that if these Igbo who are in government feel they'd retire to their village, then they'll do their best to attract the most basic amenity to the place. Atiku Abubakar was less than six months in power when NITEL went to his little known village with a digital line. How does that compare with Ekwueme's four years in the same position?

Hon. Okocha: I totally agree with you. But I disagree that Ohaneze leaders retire to Abuja and Lagos. The chairman of Ohaneze Nd'Igbo, Justice Ozo Ozobu, resides in , same GRA where we have the Ohaneze headquarters, Arthur Nwankwo. Former director of the Biafran Bank of the Exchequer, the Biafran Central Bank, Dr. Sylvester Ugo, They are all living in Enugu. I don't see any visible Ohaneze leader living outside Enugu or Eastern Nigeria. Those are leaders of the Ohaneze, or was it Dr. Okigbo before he died, he had a house in Lagos but most of the time he was living in Enugu. But some Igbo politicians, former leaders, that could be correct for them. Even Ekwueme is resident at Oko, his village. He has the biggest house there even though at any moment now it may disappear because of erosion incursion.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Do you not worry that contrary to what some of our loud governors are saying, investment is actually going away from AlaIgbo?

Hon. Okocha: Yes. I worry because I have a crusade. In general, we are not satisfied with this government, not only because of the resources that are coming in, but because of how the resources are being used. The investment influence is not there because security, as you have noted, is not there. We have the Bakassi in Onisha; it is critical in Enugu State and Ebonyi. In the work force, there is no motivation. Most of the people in Igboland are not being paid, not teachers, not workers. The middle class is totally disappearing. We have Okada all over the place. I don't know why these governors are not concerned.

That is why Ohaneze has said, four years is enough. The Igbo is bidding for the presidency and again all public officers, including local governments, including members of the assembly, states, the national assembly, the senate, including governors, four years all of them should go away. That is the major area of their communique in Omuahia last month. I don't know if anybody has changed it. But for those of you who think that Ohaneze is conservative, I cannot say anything more radical than that. No body, no other group in Nigeria had been able to stand and say all these people should go away and allow new blood.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Ohaneze has an office in Enugu. Is that the only office you have?

Hon. Okocha: That is the only office we have.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Is that enough, and how do you coordinate you activities?

Hon. Okocha: That is where all the Igbo magic, all the Igbo industry comes in. We are hoping to improve on the services. We are hoping to get more computers, more facilities, more administrative executive officers, and volunteers to man our offices because of our expanding responsibilities, and that office in Enugu must be expanded in every ramification, not only in terms of personnel but in terms of information. We want to relate to Igbo in Australia, UK and America. For us to attain this lofty goal, this lofty interest, this lofty objective, we need to open up, we need to make use of our resources all over the world.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Here come the softie questions. Are you related to the J.J. Okocha who was just playing for the BiafraNigerian team in the World Cup?

Hon. Okocha: Is he related to me? Is he related to me?

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Okay, is he related to you?

Hon. Okocha: Is he related to me? That's my answer.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Okay, so there's no relation?

Hon. Okocha: Seriously, J.J. Okocha is an Enugu boy. But being a West Niger Igbo, when I was playing for Rangers, he had not come up. It was his brother, Emma Okocha (my name sake), who was playing for Vasco, that asked Christian Chukwu who asked him to come play for Rangers because if you haven't played for Rangers, you haven't started. So when I was leaving for the U.S., that is how he started. That's the mix-up. So, I when I went to Lagos, having played for Julius Berger and Nigeria, people mixed us up because we are from the same area, I am from Asaba and he is from Ogwashi Ukwu. All of us started in Enugu, Nnamdi Nwokocha who played in the World Cup. I'm the first Nigerian that came back from the U.S. and said that's the best player in the Nigeria, if not in Africa. People were saying oh that's because he is your brother. Look at him now. Look at the last World Cup. If we had Oliseh defending mid field, Okocha could be released up front. We could have had more pep in our offensive. We would have been playing like Cameroon, Senegal. But Okocha was dropped to play defensive midfield and there was no firepower up front, nobody to give complementary attacks to Julius Aghahowa. So there was no one there. So I'm subscribing to the view that the coach should resign honorably.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Honorably? Oh he's been removed. They took him out as coach and put him somewhere in the back office.

Hon. Okocha: They should have allowed the other man to continue. He could have won the World Cup.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Still on soccer, what year did you play for the Enugu Rangers and for BiafraNigeria?

Hon. Okocha: I was there, playing for the university, that was 79 - 81. I played for Julius Berger the same year. For the World Cup 75 we were only two. Do you know Forster Ikeagu, who just died? Obi Okoye, the Nigerian football center halfback for many was our coach in CKC. I was in Father Tiko's team. And the people playing our soccer now is Cameroon. We played power football. See Cameroon, they were just unlucky. If they had beaten Ireland, they could have gone very far. They don't waste time. They don't have something like Kanu's type of football. Kanu is so soft. We need power football. We need Sango from Cameroon, big boys. See their height, they eat only plantains. Do you know they pound it? I know that because I used to be there. And after dealing with you they take you to their clubs, see their girls dancing makossa. Usually they bring us to the club before the match. When we finish dancing they just beat us 6-0.

So Nigerian football has been improved upon. The Africans believe in strength, stamina and speed. That's the only advantage we have against Europeans. We cannot be playing like Brazil. J.J. Okocha and Kanu, no. We can mix it up. There was no speed, no attack. Senegal has combined it but we cannot afford it. Senegal has about five finesse players that can let go power, but Cameroon is total power.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Now, the biggest softie; it seems that you would make a good candidate. Why aren't you running for president?

Hon. Okocha: I am not running for president because the Western Igbos are not united yet on issues. There are certain issues that Western Igbos need to resolve, 1) Western Igbos since 1939, when Enugu was the capital of the Southern Protectorate, it was the vision of the colonial master that the Asaba and Abor divisions should be carved into the same place. But, because of their minority disadvantages under the Western Region, it has been a constant agitation. In 1975, the Minna province woke up and started agitating for Niger State, that was a State we campaigned for. In 1956, at the Amai Declaration, Western Igbos also asked for a separate identity. Groups from there have been asking to be carved into their own identity. That is why you call them and some of them say they are not Igbos. It is for all of us to ask those people why they are saying they are not Igbos. During the war, they fought the Biafran war more than any group. They were the people that went over to Onitsha and Nnewi and never gave an inch. The Biafran army collapsed through the Southern sectors. Port Harcourt, Aba, Umuahia, etc.

BiafraNigeriaWorld: Hon. Emma Okocha, thank you for taking the time to speak with BiafraNigeriaWorld. BiafraNigeriaWorld wishes you luck in your bid for the governorship or a senate seat in Delta State.