Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday assessed the ongoing protests for a breakaway sovereign state of Biafra and came to the conclusion that some people had turned the Biafra agitation to a business enterprise to enrich themselves criminally.
“There is even some suspicion that the agitators embarked on the act in order to extort money from outsiders and to also extract financial support from the government”, said Mr. Obasanjo, who accepted the instruments of surrender of Biafra during the bloody three year Nigerian civil war, which was the first attempt at secession, during a lecture he delivered at an event organised by the Yar’Adua Centre and Nextier’s Development Discourse to commemorate the 2016 Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
“The commercialization and exploitation of Biafra agitation is obscene to the point of criminal fraudulence.
“Or, how do you explain the issuance of the so-called Biafran passport that takes anyone to nowhere and for which unwary people are being charged exorbitant prices.
“We must neither allow evil to find work for our youth nor to fill their unoccupied minds with satanic ideas, thoughts, decisions and actions”, Obasanjo stated.
The former president also suggested that good governance driven by fairness, justice, and a complete wellbeing of the citizenry at all levels, could be a veritable tool of quelling the agitation.
While warning that the country could not afford another civil war or insurgency similar to that being fought in the North East of the country under any guise, Chief Obasanjo called for the youth leading the current agitation for the creation of Biafra to be educated on the implications of their actions.
“Above all things, good governance at all levels is the key solution. The welfare and wellbeing of the citizenry with equity, justice and fairness must be the main pre-occupation of government at all levels. It must also be the pre-occupation of the family and the community and all hands must be on deck”, he said.
“Nigeria cannot afford to go from Boko Haram insurgency to any other insurgency under any name or guise. And on no account should we wittingly or unwittingly allow this to happen again. Youth education, welfare, well-being, empowerment and employment for ever must be our collective duty, obligation and responsibility”.
The elder statesman, therefore, called on the leaders of the country, particularly in the South East, to take the lead in the drive to educate the youth.
“In my part of the world, when a young person behaves uncharacteristically, people ask, ‘Are there no elders in your family’. It means that he or she has not been given an education and an awareness that is more than school education. Let us speak well of ourselves collectively and cohesively among ourselves”, the former President said.
While dismissing the agitation for Biafra as “futile”, “hopeless” and one that could only have a disastrous outcome, Obasanjo said he sees the present agitation as a “cry for attention” and a call for the improvement of the socio-economic condition in the South East.
Although he acknowledged that agitation as an approach to equitable socio-economic realities might not be a bad thing all together, he warned that such should not be over-stretched.
“Biafra as a secession issue is dead and nobody should follow that way. It can again only lead to disaster”, said Obasanjo. “But I see this resurgent Biafra agitation not for secession or creation of an independent entity from Nigeria but as a cry for attention, amelioration and improvement of socio-economic conditions and situation especially of the youth in Nigeria in general, but in the South-East in particular – a call by the youth of that region for transformation. I see it as a platform rather than a cause”.