From Magnus Eze, Abuja
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, has said the late Biafran leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, went to war because of restructuring.
Apparently reacting to the new narrative after President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent broadcast in which he made reference to his Daura meeting with Ojukwu in 2003, Iwuanyanwu explained that Ojukwu never contemplated secession in the first instance.
He said the war was forced on Ojukwu by the then military government of General Yakubu Gowon (retd), which declined to keep to the accord signed at the Aburi Conference in Ghana in1967.
The elder statesman, in an interview in Abuja, at the weekend, said: “Igbo have never mandated anybody to go and talk about secession; and let me make it clear that our political leader in Igbo land, the former president, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, was close to me until he died. He told us we must embrace one united Nigeria, he did not tell us that we should secede. Ojukwu was my boss during the war, I was a soldier under him, people misunderstand him, Ojukwu was never for secession; the war was forced on him.
“If you remember, what Ojukwu was asking for was restructuring; when he went to Aburi for the conference, he was asking for a restructuring under one Nigeria and that was refused, and the military government that imposed it on him caused the war.”
Iwuanyanwu further said Ojukwu could not have asked the Igbo who fled northern Nigeria to go back to their bases after the military coup, when the Igbo were killed the first time in the region.
“When assurance was given, Ojukwu told them to go back and they went back, and they were killed. Now, the younger ones are being deceived, people are saying that the coup was an Igbo coup. That coup of 1966 had nothing to do with Igbo, the coup leaders were patriotic Nigerians who were not happy that a great leader like Awolowo was in prison; the plan was to bring Awolowo out from prison, but people turned it as if Igbo wanted to take power,” he stated.
He expressed worry over agitations by some groups calling for balkanisation of the nation, but said the call for restructuring was appropriate to address the festering national question.
Contending that restructuring was not equivalent to division of the nation, he posited that the National Assembly could make the process simple by revisiting the reports of the previous conferences convoked by former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan.