- Former Biafran President General Ojukwu met with the US Consul General in 2003 as detailed in Cable ID: 03LAGOS2354_a. We have extracted valuable excerpts from this document as reveal Ojukwu’s invaluable opinions
Consul General and POLOFF (notetaker) met with former Biafran President General Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and his assistant Prince Bob J. Onyema on 10 November, 2003.
Ojukwu discussed court cases contesting the results of the 2003 national election; the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) party’s consultations with the [Buhari] All Nigeria’s People’s Party (ANPP) and the 2007 presidential election; national reforms and economic development; Biafran independence groups; and politics of the South-South and South-East.
I Oppose Obasanjo…Buhari Would Need Competent Judges To Win In Court
“I oppose the presidency of Obasanjo, that is what I do generally,” was his opening greeting to the CG when asked of his current activities. Ojukwu speculated on pending court cases contesting gubernatorial elections, believing that the results could be overturned in APGA’s favor in two states in the South-East and one in the South-South. He commented that Governor Muhammadu Buhari’s contest of the 2003 presidential election “will take a long time” because there is “no capable judge or one who has the courage to pronounce” a decision against Obasanjo. Ojukwu prophesied a two-year court battle, resulting in no “dramatic change.” Ojukwu concluded by saying that the President’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) “didn’t do very well; they won, but they didn’t do very well.”
We [APGA] Are Considering Working With Buhari’s ANPP To Battle PDP In 2007
Ojukwu turned his attention to the 2007 presidential election. He does not believe that Buhari and the ANPP will win the national election, but believes the party will consolidate its position in the North. A “viable alliance” between the north’s ANPP and the east’s APGA might improve ANPP’s chances and he stated that APGA is already “seeing what we can do.” Although Ojukwu said there are many things that the ANPP and APGA agree upon — such as stamping out corruption — he foresaw stumbling blocks in regards to economic development, and appointments based on quotas instead of merit. Furthermore, Ojukwu does not believe there can be any compromise on Shari’a between the devoutly Catholic Igbos and northern Muslims and he questioned why Nigeria should be a member of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC). On the economic front, Ojukwu said that the continued marginalization and slow to non-existent economic development in the Niger Delta and South-East would not be alleviated by the ANPP. However, Ojukwu views the consultation between the ANPP and APGA positively and believes that continuous dialogue will improve conditions in the long run, despite their disagreements.
We Must Stop Putting Ethnicity First: We Need To Redesign Nigeria Via National Conference
Everything in Nigeria is destroyed, because Nigerians first think of their ethnicity and not of their country no matter how large or small the event is. “Until we can find that polity, we will not progress. We need a national conference to redesign Nigeria for Nigerians as opposed to a patchwork of Nigeria to suit British commercial interests. We were handed Nigeria in that form and we are too shy to do something fundamentally different.”
Optimism: Nigeria Can Be Best African Country; We Must Decentralize This Country
Ojukwu showed great optimism for Nigeria, believing it could become “the biggest and most dynamic country in black Africa, but first it must become a cohesive nation. No one can do it for us, but ourselves.” He stressed the need for constitutional reform and decentralization, saying “it should be written into the constitution that there must be a constitutional review every five years. If we don’t, we are mortgaging the future of the next generation based on the ignorance of the previous one.” However, Ojukwu expressed sadness in the fact that any cause he were to champion would be colored by the Biafran War and perceived as a means to lead Biafrans again. Nevertheless, Ojukwu concluded, “I am still alive. I am still Nigerian and I will continue to make suggestions.”
Biafra Agitators Are Hungry, Frustrated Youth; Obasanjo Should Help Them Or Niger Delta Crisis Would Be Child’s Play in Comparison
When asked about Biafran independence groups, Ojukwu said that they represent mostly youths exercising freedom of expression. He did not believe that they can succeed in the short-run and was not alarmed by their assertions. He did, however, describe this movement as a reflection of the frustrations of the people in the region, highlighting the economic deprivation and unemployment that plagues the nation and the Igbos of the East. “Even in democratic practice, we should learn to tolerate things unpleasant,” Ojukwu opined. He recounted that in a meeting with President Obasanjo, Ojukwu could not denounce these groups as “they are Igbos and have some justifications.” He advised the President to listen to them and find ways to alleviate their problems. “It is a cry; and as a President you should do something to help them.” In the east, the most dangerous development is hunger. Ojukwu observed that distended stomachs were becoming a common sight in the East and he worried that when properly enraged, these people may make the troubles in the Delta seem minor by comparison.
Conclusion: Nigeria Will Be Beacon In Africa, But Must Decentralize Government
Anambra, in Ojukwu’s opinion, reflects a core problem in Nigerian politics — too much power rested in the Federal Government. Ojukwu heavily advocated decentralization, saying that states only exist when based on constitutions that derive power from within the state, not from a “proclamation from the center.” He identified a first step as giving powers to the already existing zonal structures, or regional groupings of states. In reflection, Ojukwu tied decentralization to his own political ghost of Biafra, believing that the GON’s biggest but erroneous fear is that decentralization would reopen these old national wounds. “That was not the reason for the war,” he pronounced. Ojukwu concluded that when politicians and individuals accept responsibility and address problems that need to be addressed, “Nigeria will stand as a beacon to the rest of Africa. I want to tell the people who are living here now that we haven’t arrived there yet, but we will.”