It has come to the attention of the Benue State government that the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu made some reckless and misleading comments about the good people of Benue State. In the Vanguard Newspaper of July 20, 2017, the IPOB leader claimed that the Federal Government offered him Biafra comprising the 5 South Eastern States when he was in prison but he rejected the offer along with an oil block and a mansion in Dubai all in a bid to induce him to abandon his secessionist movement. He was reported to have made the wild and unsubstantiated allegation while playing host to a coalition of Igbo Civil Society Coalition led by Prof. Obasi Igwe who paid him a solidarity visit recently at his Umuahia home. Kanu claimed that he turned down the offer as he wanted Benue and a South-South State included in Biafra.
We completely and strongly reject his mischievous claim that Benue is part of Biafra. Benue State is not part of any secessionist bid to dismember our great country Nigeria. The Benue State government and its people are committed to the unity, peace and progress of Nigeria under the purposeful leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari and Acting President Yemi Osinbajo. The administration of Samuel Ortom would never subscribe to any ulterior and ill-advised agitation to undermine the unity and security of our country. There are lawful laid down procedures for people, groups or any legally recognized organisation to advance their interests and draw attention to their demands in a peaceful manner.
If indeed the IPOB leader made such claims, we doubt strongly if the Federal Government ever made such a strange offer in the first place. The Nigeria Civil War of 1967-1970 is an event that should not be allowed to repeat itself again in this modern era where dialogue, consensus building and consultation achieves much more than violent conflict which could result into avoidable loss of lives and destruction of property. The history books are full of the exploits of gallant members of the Nigerian armed forces of Benue State origin who fought in the 3 years civil war to keep our great country united. Some of these brave patriots paid the supreme price as they laid down their lives fighting alongside other Nigerians to keep the nation as one indivisible entity.
Nnamdi Kanu is advised to desist henceforth from using Benue State as part of his Biafra actualization agenda. Benue State is a State located in the North central geopolitical region of the nation and is not part of the South east even though we see all Nigerians as brothers and sisters but we definitely are not part of the Igbo ethnic group who we regard as our brothers and sisters in a united country. Benue State has a distinct language, culture, tradition and ethnicity. All hands should be on deck to make our democracy a model in Africa as it offers the best platform for different groups including minorities to express any perceived marginalization and injustice. Every state in the federation has an elected governor and representatives at the National and State Assemblies. These democratic institutions and public servants are there to canvass federal and international attention to issues affecting their people.
The recently released IPOB leader should endeavor to keep to his bail conditions and refrain from making diversionary and sensitive statements capable of overheating the polity at a time our leaders are working hard to correct the ills of the past. His call of a boycott of the November 18 2017 election in Anambra State unless a referendum is organized is at best anti-democratic. Nigerians have the right to vote in their leaders at constitutionally stipulated period. We recognize that there are issues of perceived marginalization, alleged social exclusion and other issues associated with a developing country such as ours. Those pushing for redress are encouraged to tow the path of peace, non-violent approach and always resort to lawful means to gain attention. The government and people of Benue State would continue to pray for the quick recovery of President Muhammadu Buhari and for the Acting President in the discharge of his duties.
God Bless Benue State!
God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Lawrence Onoja Jnr
Hon Commissioner for Information and Orientation