Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has said that contrary to insinuations in some quarters, he does not intend to be president when the Republic of Biafra was eventually actualized.
Kanu told Vanguard that he always preferred to operate from the background, pointing out that if the pioneer leader of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Chief Ralph Uwazurike had remained consistent with the struggle, he would not be doing what he is doing with IPOB.
Insisting that the actualization of a Republic of Biafra was a foregone conclusion, the IPOB leader said he also sympathized with the South East governors and some other political office holders' position on Biafra, attributing it to their fear of losing their positions and political relevance in Nigeria.
He, however, said the fear being entertained by such Igbo leaders was neither here nor there because the Biafra Republic would be founded on the principle of justice, equity and fairness.
He was also happy that some Igbo leaders were already identifying with the struggle and encouraged them to remain steadfast.
He said: "I am into this struggle because of leadership vacuum. I am into this struggle because my people are suffering; they are being denied their rights and privileges and nothing will stop this fight. I want to assure our people that we are almost there.
"The Biafra Republic is almost here with us. Even if one is from Sokoto, he can be a Biafran once he believes in our value system of equity, justice and fairness.
"Biafra will be a home for all people who agree with our values, whether you are from Kano or Sokoto.It will be a place for good things for good people. Therefore, those who are distancing themselves from the Biafra struggle will regret it. If you don't join the struggle, you will be irrelevant in the end because Biafra Republic is sure."
Kanu described Afaraukwu -Umuahia where his father is the traditional ruler as being part of the headquarters of Biafra where the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu had the popular Ojukwu bunker and operated from till the end of the Biafra war, adding that there was therefore no way he would abandon his father's land which served Biafra in time of need.
MASSOB, BIM plan big
Also yesterday, the leadership of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB and Biafra Independent Movement, BIM, said they have concluded plans to commence a week-long celebration, to mark the golden jubilee of the birth of Biafra and the 18th anniversary of MASSOB.
The Owerri zonal leader of MASSOB, Chief Canice Anojuru, disclosed this, while briefing newsmen in Owerri.
"The week-long programme will start with street rallies in all the major cities across the South East and South South states, on May 22, while church services will hold May 28. The celebration will be wrapped up with football matches on May 30, 2017", the zonal leader said.
Anojuru further disclosed that scholars of international repute, would deliver lectures on the imperatives of non-violent philosophy, during the celebration.
Answering a question, Anojuru promised that all pro-Biafra agitators, who are loyal to Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, would continue to uphold a non-violent posture, even as he regretted that the activities of some agitators "are giving a negative image to the rest of us".
The zonal leader further explained that they would try to mirror the past, especially what they experienced during the 30-month war and the activities of MASSOB since May 22, 1999, when Chief Uwazuruike hoisted the Biafran flag.
"The two pro-Biafran groups founded by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, are non-violent and we will remain so, as we continue to highlight the gross marginalization faced by Ndigbo in Nigeria, for the world to see", Anojuru said.
"There will be free movement of people and commercial activities will not be disrupted throughout the seven days of the jubilee celebration."
We are not fighting to be President of Nigeria tomorrow - MASSOB
In Abakaliki, the leadership of MASSOB/BIM weekend stated that the long agitation put in place by the group was not because of its desire to produce the next president of Nigeria but to be free from the enslavement and bondage of the country.
Briefing newsmen on the preparedness of MASSOB (BIM) to celebrate the declaration of Biafra in Abakaliki, the leader of the group in Ebonyi State and Ebonyi North senatorial district, Mr. John Nwifuru added that no amount of intimidation from security agents would prevent members of the group from celebrating the declaration of Biafra in the state.
He urged members to maintain law and order during the celebration as MASSOB remains a non-violent Igbo movement in the country.
"We have our anniversary on the 22nd of May and you know that formally, we do it on 30th but this time around, we feel like doing it on 22nd because we are now at the new Biafra. Old Biafra is 30th May because our former leader, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, Eze Ndigbo Gburugburu 1 declared Biafra on 30 may 1967. Now, Uwazuruike declared his new Biafra 22nd May. That is why we decided to do it from 22nd to 30th ; 22nd is the full anniversary as everywhere will be filled with Biafran jubilation while 30th is our football match at Abakaliki township stadium to end the celebration.
"We want our members to maintain non-violence because that is what we are known for. There is nothing like sit at home; you can't sit at home and be celebrating; we must come out and do so. We urge our members to maintain the rule of non-violence during this period of celebration because we are not violent."
Uwazuruike not against IPOB sit-at-home order - Omenka
Responding to the perceived conflict between IPOB's sit-at-home order and MASSOB's celebration, leader of MASSOB/BIM, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike said he is not against IPOB's sit-at-home order, adding that his group's decision not to sit- at- home is not to spite or frustrate IPOB as every Biafra agitating group has its own programme with the same intention for the actualization of Biafra.
Uwazuruike who spoke through his personal assistant, Emmanuel Omenka reiterated that he has been vindicated on his claim that Igbo are being marginalized in Nigeria which prompted the struggle for Biafra state, with the involvement of prominent Igbo people who went for the release of Nnamdi Kanu and now want to identify with him.
He said that they have suddenly realized that the Igbo are being marginalized and are now speaking out and showing solidarity with Kanu.
Don't kill us as we mark Biafra Day
Meantime, in Calabar, MASSOB, has called on security agencies not to engage in unnecessary show of force by arresting or killing members of the movement as they mark the 2017 Biafra Independence Day.
Mr Samuel Okah, the MASSOB leader in Cross River State stated this at the weekend in Ikom when the organisation kicked off activities for the annual celebration with a rally which he said would climax with a grand football match with the Bayelsa State wing of the movement on the 22nd of May, which is the final day of the celebration.
"We call on security agencies not to engage in any show of force by killing members of MASSOB who are celebrating Biafra Day because it is a peaceful event to honour Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu who on 30th May 1967 declared Biafra independence to free his people from the yoke of bondage which they were subjected to," he said.
Mr Okah added that the celebration of the 22nd of May started when Chief Ralph Uwazuruike , the MASSOB leader in pursuit of a non violent struggle for the actualization of the Biafra nation declared the Biafra Independence Day in the year 2000.