With their principal leader Dr. Ralph Uwazurike imprisoned, ill and purportedly tortured since October 2005 under orders from just replaced President Obsanjo the leaders of the Ibo, Igaw, Ogoni, Igibo and other nations agreed this summer to the establishment of the Republic of Biafra provisional government in exile.
In 1967 just a few years after the declared independence of Nigeria, the peoples of Biafra–about 30 million strong–declared its independence of Nigeria and the formation of the Republic of Biafra. With immense force and food blockade that resulted in the starvation of more than a million Biafrans the British organized Nigerian military and security forces attacked. Providing a blockade was the British navy. In three years of violence and starvation, the peoples of Biafra were defeated, but remained adamant about taking their freedom. The children of Biafra 40 years after the first Declaration of Independence have reaffirmed the decision of their mothers and fathers: the Peoples of the Federation of Biafra have RESOLVED to actualize, renew, re-affirm and continue with the Declaration of Biafra Independence of May 30 1967. The new government represents the 40 million citizens of Biafra living in Biafran Territory southeast of Nigeria as well as the diaspora Biafrans living in South Africa, United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada and Austria. This government has broad based support.
An array of Biafran leaders meeting in Washington, D.C. including Ambassador Cyril Ogbonna and Special Adviser Dr. Oguchi Nkwocha were led by Biafran leader Dr. Emmanuel Enekwechi announced the formation of a new Provisional Government of Biafra in exile at the National Press Club on 28 August. Asked why the announcement was made in the United States and not in Biafra Dr. Enekwechi explained that the government of Nigeria’s military and secret security forces would capture, torture and kill known leaders. “It is necessary to conduct Biafra’s government in exile to ensure that Biafra’s voice is not intimidated and snuffed out as we work to regain our freedom and full powers of self-government in our homeland.”
Biafra’s governmental charter echoes the peoples’ claim to the right of self-determination and freedom to live as a distinct nation:
We the Peoples of Biafra in praise of our God do hereby proclaim this government of Biafra by the power and authority of our common law founded in the expressed free will of our peoples. We do solemnly declare the promise of Biafra’s posterity and our common commitment to the freedom, liberty, respect of human rights, prosperity, happiness and fulfillment of ourselves and the generations of Biafrans to come. (Biafra Charter 28 August 2007)
Seeking a non-violent and peaceful transformation of Biafra’s political identity as a free and independent nation, Biafra’s leaders have taken up the torch of their ancestors to reclaim their voice as free and distinct peoples. Not since the Portuguese invaded their territories in the 15th century and taken millions for slaves to South America and the United States have the peoples of Biafra and their neighbors truly known freedom–the ability to govern themselves and make choices freely without intimidation. With the decision made this summer and the announcement of the Biafran Provisional Government in Exile the children of Biafra have again expressed their desire to be a free people.
What does this freedom mean? Freedom to choose their own culture, their own social development, their own economy and their own political development without interference. The Biafrans have acted to exercise their power of self-determination.
With their own government the Biafrans invite the Nigerian government to enter into serious government-to-government discussions to mediate their differences and facilitate the transformation of Biafra into an independent nation. The newly installed Nigerian government–though electorally challenged by fraudulent elections–of Umaru Yar’ Adua has an opportunity to establish an equitable peace in Biafra through peaceful negotiations. That opportunity presents itself now!
Adua must avoid vague platitudes and instead speak directly to the reason why Biafra has broken away: Nigerian economic, social, cultural and religious violence against Biafrans. Biafran wealth is stolen–Oil. Biafran environments are being spoiled by greedy and careless oil companies and the Nigerian Oil ministry. The political rights of Biafrans have been repeatedly denied through stolen and fraudulent elections. Biafrans have been denied the right to enjoy their own natural wealth and resources. Religious intimidation and violence has been foisted upon the Biafran peoples. Nigerian governmental violence against Biafran communities has persisted. The Biafran War in 1967 itself is sufficient reason to negotiate a peaceful and systematic separation of Biafra from Nigeria.
Adua must declare an amnesty for all Biafran leaders immediately and release all prisoners of war including Dr. Ralph Uwazurike. The Biafran government must declare a truce and the secession of violence against Nigeria and oil companies preparatory to official discussions.
Adua and the leaders of Biafra are now well positioned to open discussions of an agenda mutually defined and agreed to as a basis for formal negotiations. In accord with Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions, Nigeria and Biafra must undertake supervised negotiations (perhaps in Geneva or Johannesburg). These negotiations ought to be overseen by a guarantor third party and independent observer non-governmental organizations.
Separate negotiations must be undertaken between the Biafra government; and the oil industries and the various external governments seeking to receive oil from Biafra: China, United States of America, European Union.
The Biafran government offers a civilized and reasonable alternative to violence through the conduct of government-to-government discussions and Geneva Protocol II negotiations. Nigeria’s opportunity cannot be clearer. Biafra’s children have grown to mature and responsible leaders in the last forty years. The message remains the same now as it was before: Let Biafra go freely.This Fourth World nation can lead the rest of Africa to peaceful transformation.
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