The Biafra agitators last week ordered their supporters to sit at home in commemoration of the declaration of State of Baifra by Ojukwu 50 years ago. Do you think Baifra dream is still achievable?
Baifra is a name derived from a goddess from Kalabari River. That river leads you very close to Abonnema. It is called ‘Ereya- toru’. Abonnema is Akuku- torlu proper. Ereye- toru is where Baifra derived its name. We The Kalabaris, the Ijaws, don’t need Baifra State, country or whatever you call it. So whatever is happening there in Baifra is a fight. They are finding a way of addressing their agitation. As far as I am concerned this is a democratic dispensation. In Nigeria, everybody is entitled to agitate, to argue, to discuss issues which they think are dear to them. But if it on the issue of Baifra that we fought for during the civil war, it has been defeated and is dead and gone.
What is your view on those that want it resurrected?
And for anybody to now try to resurrect it, I will advise those involved in it to pursue other more serious issues to channel their energy. When they talk of Baifra and include part of Rivers State, Port Harcourt and other parts is non starter. River State before it became a political entity had been a socio-cultural entity where the Ijaw communities and all the riverine communities, such as Kalabari, Bonny, Okrika, Andoni and the upland communities, including the Ogonis and so on interacted; we have been brothers and sisters. We intermarried hundreds of years ago. For instance, I have blood relations in OgbaegbemaNdoni and we are happy living side by side with our friends.
Are you saying that Baifra is dead?
The Ojukwu Baifra is dead and gone. We fought a civil war here and I led a special security delegation here alongside the military. We represented Nigeria’s united interest which General Gowon represented. We all served here and the war was fought and it was over and Gowon declared no victor no vanquished verdict and that concept is still there. We are living very happily with everybody. Port Harcourt is the capital of Rivers State from time to time, the issue of Port Harcourt has been a subject of agitation. Port Harcourt was one of the issues the so-called Biafra demanded and this matter was discussed in Kampala.
I don’t know why people are bothered about Baifra and want to resurrect it and create tension which is totally unnecessary. Those that are staking interest in Port Harcourt have no locus standi whatsoever. We don’t want to resurrect things that will create tension in this country. Like I said earlier, everybody has a right to agitate but to agitate on somebody else’s territory is wrong. So, if anybody wants to cede Port Harcourt, the person is looking for trouble. We should not look for trouble anymore. Those of us who were old enough and saw the Civil War which was unnecessary, created by Ojukwu who wanted to separate from Nigeria. The Civil War took a lot of innocent lives. We don’t want to see it repeated. The agitation for Biafra should stop. I’m not saying that they should not agitate but they should not do it in somebody’s territory. They should remove Port Harcourt from it.