AID-DE-CAMP to Dim Chuk- wuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu during the civil war and head of Rock Family Church, Bishop Obi Udezue Onubogu, has revealed what Ndigbo must do to produce the next President of Nigeria in 2023. He also gave reasons for the continued agitation for Biafra by different groups in the South East and the unwillingness of the world to see the massacre, which characterized the civil war as genocide. He spoke to JUDE CHINEDU in Enugu.
Nigeria is at crossroads; looking back to the independence of 1960, how do you feel?
I’ve said it in the North, I’ve said it down here and I’m repeating it; the difference between now and then is we used to talk with one another. We didn’t have permanent enemies. Where we miss it, we are corrected, we come to what is called roundtable. Roundtable does not exist now, it is no more there. The modern thing they call it is dialogue. You bring your position, I bring my position and we try to find out a meeting point and a solution. This does not exist any longer. We no longer dialogue with the youths, with opponents, with the opposite sex and so on. There’s no dialogue between the haves and have not’s; the rich and the poor. No, there is misunderstanding in the land. There is a situation that can be solved by talking but we deny ourselves the solution. I want to bring my faith into it. I’m a bishop, an ex-policeman; an ex-soldier. I have seen things. I saw the war, I partici- pated in the war. I went to the front; I saw the suffering, the hunger and the challenges, the malnutrition and the risks. So, after that, Nigeria has not really learnt a lesson of listening to one another and seeing the various possibilities that God has for us. We didn’t create this land.
There’s an owner of this land and he is Jehovah in heaven. As long as we keep acting and believing that we don’t need one another, we will soon find that we ourselves will not be able to stand even alone. Let me tell you again, there are three things that we need to do, whether as academics, whether as politicians, whether as students or profession- als for us to start seeing solutions to our everyday lives in this nation. The first thing is dialogue, the sec- ond thing is dialogue and the third thing is dialogue.
What is your view on calls for restructuring and president of Igbo extraction in 2023?
These revolve around dialogue also. Both restructuring and the possibility of having Nigerian Pres- ident of Igbo extraction in 2023 can only be achieved through dialogue. Ndigbo cannot do it alone. The people that think it is their turn should also come to the table as Ndigbo and present their case. We should try to win one another by explaining the importance of having our own to be in charge of the affairs of the country. In short, I am so deep into it that every situation that has happened in the country, I see the need to talk to the people concerned. If you don’t like the word dialogue, let me reduce it to discussing with the people; discussing with people who might even oppose your views, those that agree with you and those that may have a different idea about the pressure that we are all facing.
Asaba recently honoured their people that were killed by federal forces on October 7, 1967. How come the world has not seen what happened in the Nigeria-Biafra war as genocide?
It was a clear genocide. It’s not only that; the massacre in the North was genocide. People were killed and railed down to us here in coaches. Bodies were received here in Enugu. I was a serving police of- ficer here, so, I can give you first- hand report or information about that. The world turns their eyes away from certain sensitive events in the lives of people because of their interests. Many nations in Africa suffered the same thing we suffered but they were highlighted and written about. I personally think that the world ought to know. The way to get things right and settled is to speak the truth about what happened. That you don’t teach history in schools means that certain things will be hidden away from the young generation. But, I will assure you that it can’t last forever. There will be a generation that will come that will unearth all these things and speak of it boldly. People who survived it are still alive. And even though the world does not want to talk about it or publish it or draw the attention of people to it, there are some publications already in circulation. I stand with the people of Asaba who chose to draw the attention of ev- erybody to that incident. They are not celebrating death but are just pointing out an incident, which we should never ever allow to happen anywhere else in this land.
The Army has changed the code name of the exercise in South East from Egwu Eke to Atilogwu Udo; does it make any difference?
If the expression is anything to go by, then, yes. We know that Python Dance is aggressive and demonic. Python is a serpent. Atilogwu Udo is a dance of peace. Do they act in peace? You don’t wage war and call it peace. If the military says it’s peace; the responsibility is on them to show the people that they are approaching them with peace. The people need peace. No- body is going to fight against peace but how sincere are we in offering that peace. Is it genuine peace or is it camouflage? That’s what we need to find out.
What advice do you have for the South East governors on how to bring the Igbo together?
These men are doing their best. They are faced with very difficult work conditions. The church should be in prayers at every moment. We should lift them up in prayer and support the various good projects they have. What we have is that those who are in every good position are under serious attack and criticism and so on. But we elected them into that position so we should assist them to make their mark. That doesn’t mean that when they do wrong we will not speak out against it but if they do things that are against our interests and welfare, we should speak out against it. We elected them into that position but we should be very careful not to take the position of opposition from the beginning. You want to oppose their views, you want to oppose the projects they have, you want to oppose their suggestions, no, that’s not how to do it. As long as they do not take the views of the people for granted or ignore the views of the people, we should come around and make suggestions and appreciate them when they do good.
We hear all manner of things about actualization of Biafra; is Biafra the route to Eldorado for the Igbo?
Our people are very excited about freedom. You may call it any name you like but it’s a quest for freedom. The freedom to decide our own things, do our own things, develop our land the way we want and join the rest of the world in doing exploits. So, there are so many radical things showing up. The thing is that things majorly at stake are not addressed. Get round a table and dialogue. Put the cards on the table and discuss and know where you stand. It is only when you can’t be contained in the arrangement, maybe you are evicted, rejected, obstructed or not wanted; then, you begin to seek your own land and space. They are absolutely not wrong in thinking like that. But from what I have said, let’s have dialogue first. The Igbo say that he that is rejected by others does not reject himself.