Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has described pro-Biafra agitators as miscreants who should be ignored.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Punch at his Hilltop residence in Abeokuta, on Wednesday, Obasanjo described the agitations by the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra and other self-determination groups as misplaced.
According to Obasanjo, equating the agitations by pro-Biafra groups with the agitations that led to the Civil War amounted to making a mountain out of a molehill.
He said, “This is a fake agitation. You people make a mountain out of a molehill. These are boys who want to take people unaware and get money out of them in the name of Biafra. These are the people you should ignore, I don’t talk about Biafra. (Philip) Effiong came and said Biafra ceased to exist and since that day, Biafra has ceased to exist.”
It will be recalled that the Biafra leader as of the time the war ended, Philip Effiong, surrendered to Obasanjo by calling off the war.
Obasanjo said that in the spirit of “No victor, no vanquished,” the Nigerian nation absorbed Igbo people into the civil service and the military after the war, adding that there were no promises made to the then secessionists that the Nigerian state had not fulfilled.
He said, “We absorbed those we should absorb both into the civil service and into the military. Even those we didn’t absorb, who we initially regarded as being retired without benefits, later on we even gave them their benefits. Abandoned houses were returned. Within 10 years of the end of our Civil War, an Igbo man became the vice-president of our country.
“It took the Americans 100 years before they got to that point. So, what are you talking about? They have held all the ministerial positions existing in this country. We have Igbo as the Governor of Central Bank, Igbo has headed many parastatals in this country.
“That’s why these miscreants should be ignored. They want to get money and they go round and say, ‘We are still being victimised. We are still being treated badly in Nigeria,’ so that they can take money from people.”
Absolving Igbo leaders of complicity in the agitation, Obasanjo said they (Igbo leaders) were not in support of the agitation.
“I won’t blame the Igbo leaders. I will ignore them (the agitators). Igbo leaders that I’ve talked about, I mean the ones I’ve mentioned; Joe Irukwu won’t go out and do that type of thing, and many of them. The people who are doing this are the same people you will find in 419 business, they are the same people you will find in drugs all over the world. To them, this is another source of money for them as far as they are concerned,” Obasanjo said.
When asked his comment about a new book, InterInterventions, by Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, in which the laureate called him a child of circumstance, Obasanjo said, “Did he? I’ve not heard anything like that,” with a wave of hand.
Although he said an end would not be put to Boko Haram by the military, Obasanjo said it was necessary that President Muhammadu Buhari gave the military a target.
He said, “You have to have an objective, otherwise, if you say go and don’t have an objective, that’s not good enough for a leader but an objective is not cast in concrete. Look, I want you to finish a job in two days, though you know it could take probably four or five days, but you must give an objective.
“I believe that what President Muhammadu Buhari will get, and which he knows he can get, is that he can get the upper hand; the military will get the upper hand over Boko Haram and of course, I think we are working towards that. But we will not get the end of Boko Haram in three months or in six months.
“And even when you get the upper hand militarily, you have to do what you have to do – the socio-economic aspect.”