A close associate of Second Republic vice president Alex Ekwueme has told to Naijiant.com what the 84 year old former politician and architect thinks of the current agitation for secession of his home region, the southeastern part of Nigeria, from the rest of the country.
Ekwueme spoke to the associate this week and the conversation started with the source asking how the old man was doing. The former Nigeria Number Two started by saying things were really “rough” in Nigeria. Then the discussion moved to the current demand led by Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for a referendum on Biafran independence from Nigeria.
Ekwueme who met Kanu in the former’s home in Enugu, southeastern Nigeria in May, said in reference to Biafran activists: “Those hoodlums want war and when they see war”, he then reverted to Igbo saying “my hand won’t be inside”. This means “I would have nothing to do with it” or “I don’t want any part of it”.
However, in public statements after he met Kanu, Ekwueme said: “I will make my best counsel available to him (Kanu) in his very onerous task of leading an organisation that is committed to bringing justice and equity among people, especially for our people.”
Kanu said at their meeting: “I have come to tell you that we find you invaluable in our advancement of our people and in our course to also make life better for the public and for the masses.
“So, I am humbled and delighted to be here and also to bring you up to speed as to what we have been doing, what motivated me, and what motivated the IPOB to do what we have been doing.
“It (IPOB) is, more or less, today, an expression, a political expression to the yearnings and aspirations of the society – that’s what we are trying to do.
“The sum total of the struggle by the IPOB, which I am leading, is to ensure that there is dignity of life.
“And for us to fulfill that very mandate, we must be diligent, we must be focused, and we must be sincere. So, I have come here to brief my father as to why we do what we do, and to get his blessings.
“Anything he tells me is what we are going to do, in so far as it advances our political course as a people.”
Many Nigerians have wondered why Igbo elites and the intelligentsia, as personified by the likes Ekwueme, who has degrees in sociology, history, philosophy and law, as well as a Masters and PhD in architecture, have not been leading the charge for Biafran secession or been vocal in their support for Kanu.
While some of Kanu’s supporters believe this is because the elites are benefiting from the inequities of Nigeria, others argue that older heads like Ekwueme witnessed the horrors of the civil war, unlike Kanu, who was born after the war ended in 1970. One of the most popular Igbo names at the end of the civil war was Ozoemena (which means “let it not happen again”).