Secretary-General of the Lower Niger Congress (LNC), an aggregation of several self-determination ethnic nationalities spread across the pre-1966 Eastern and Midwestern Regions of Nigeria, Tony Nnadi in this interview speaks on the insecurity situation in the country. The LNC scribe who is also the co-convener of the Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS) which recently protested in front of the United Nations building in New York also discussed how the 1999 constitution sustains insecurity in the country.
NINAS held a protest at the United Nations in New York in September to among other things call the international community’s attention to the need for a referendum to determine the future of Nigeria. How do you rate the outcome of the protest?
We have a plan and anybody asking how things are going would do the little homework of looking at what our plan is, it is in writing and available on our website. We had a 20-year-plan that began in 1999 right after the 1999 constitution came out; we first called a meeting of the owners of the land from the South to the North, including the Fulani, of which Muhammadu Buhari and Sa’ad Abubakar were part of the delegation that came from the North. From that moment on, that conference yielded a consensus that we must go back to being a federation or we will be forced to dismantle the union because the constitution by which they are doing their democracy is holding us against our will in the union of death that Nigeria has become under the 1999 Constitution. Progressively, the people who were causing most of the problem, the caliphate began to go towards their own plan and Shari’ah, so the rest of us moved on without them with the Movement for New Nigeria that has now matured into NINAS.
The first thing organisations under NINAS did having liquidated the 1999 Constitution was to say they will not hold another election under the constitution. We didn’t go to the United Nations, we were outside, we were only there to inform the international community that our union is in distress and that we have declared a dispute that could lead to the dissolution of the union so that they can understand it when it begins to unfold. We wrote them a letter addressed to the Security Council; contact has been made and it is being interrogated and they have made contact with us.So the international community is following what is happening?
If you recall in 2019, the United Nations raised a rapporteur team that visited Nigeria and that team pointed out that the constitution is full of injustices responsible for the killings that are widespread and making Nigeria a danger to the global community and security because 200 million people will get into distress in terms of seeking refuge if Nigeria snaps; that was a major concern to the United Nations. Seven months before this, we had gone to Capitol Hill in the United States and they interrogated this. The only people among everybody else not following what is happening are the Igbo. The Yoruba and the Middle Belt have joined in rejecting that constitution on account of the violence meted against them by the caliphate that now has ISIS in their fold. The President and Commander-in-Chief remains the grand patron, in fact, lifetime patron of Miyetti Allah, which is directly responsible and claims responsibility for the actions of Fulani herdsmen adjudged the fourth most deadly terror group on earth. If you put all this together you will discover that our government is the sponsor of the terror we are talking about.Are the various ethnic nationalities really on the same page with NINAS’ plan? Ilana Omo Oodua for instance is talking about an independent Yoruba Nation while Afenifere is talking about restructuring?
Until it goes to a referendum, you can’t say whether they agree or not. This is not about Afenifere or any other group; we are talking about people that are in trouble. What has Afenifere done all these while about the problem consuming their people? Ilana Oomo Oodua led by Prof Banji Akintoye, a close confidant of Pa Awolowo came up because Afenifere has not done anything. If Afenifere has an alternative proposition they should tell us. They should, for instance, put a meaning to the restructuring they talk about. We have put meaning to our movement, we said the first order of business for NINAS is the complete jettisoning of the 1999 constitution before we ask the questions: Yoruba do you want to remain in this union? It is if they say yes that you begin to talk about the constitutional arrangement to be in that union.
Afenifere and Ohanaeze do not want to look at what the problem is and what the solution should be. Nnia Nwodo as President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo signed up to NINAS proposition, look at what George Obiozor is doing in the name of the same Ohanaeze. Nnia Nwodo called a full time Obi meeting, he did not say he was signing for Ohanaeze but he informed them that there is an engagement with this problem and that there is a solution that will come by way of constitutional Force Majeure. Nwodo did all that before he signed off, but look at the mess that Obiozor has created, he left the whole place for those who say they want a Biafra that they cannot define. We already had a plan that will deliver self-determination to not only our people but also to other ethnic nationalities caught in the same mess that has been discussed at the United States and the United Nations and you suddenly came out to say you want Biafra.You were saying NINAS is against holding another election under the 1999 constitution, but as we speak, political parties are already holding congresses and preparing for their convention ahead of the 2023 general election?
We are not talking about the Anambra State governorship election or any off-season election but the 2023 general elections, and we are not talking about boycott. We are saying that political parties must be persuaded by whatever means to stop the journey to the elections. We have to stop the 2023 election so that we can go through a transition because if the election holds, the winner will govern by the same constitution. The only thing the political parties are doing is renewing the life of the 1999 constitution because no matter who wins, they will govern by that constitution and all our problems will remain with us.How do the people get political parties to see things their way?
The people who are in danger of extermination will take it up with them. The only reason they had succeeded was that people didn’t know they are the ones holding the ladder for the people killing us; now that the people know they are going to be treated as if they are the ones doing the killing themselves. The life of the 1999 Constitution is sustained by the periodic elections and it is only political parties that contest elections in Nigeria. Therefore, if the political parties choose to sustain this constitution at the time their people are facing death, those currently facing death will face them and make sure the AK47s turn on them.The South East is currently plagued by insecurity blamed on unknown gunmen, yet some also say it is IPOB / ESN; what is your take?
Is it in doubt that it is IPOB that became ESN? Our people have become so dishonest and they want to pretend that ESN has nothing to do with unknown gunmen. It was in our presence that IPOB became ESN and in no time ESN became unknown gunmen. Nnamdi Kanu was making broadcasts every day and mocking the soldiers being killed. Why is it that it is unknown gunmen that enforce the sit-at-home that IPOB and ESN issue?But IPOB has since called off the sit-at-home?
But do people go out on Mondays? These are the things we are talking about. The world Igbo Congress took out advertorials in newspapers to hail the emergence of ESN. You have governance and constitutional order in place as bad as it is, but until you find a way to de-legitimise it, it is there. In the midst of all this, you jump in and say you are doing ESN. If somebody sets up a situation whereby anybody at all, including herdsmen, government people looking for ways to infiltrate and eliminate everybody, can become an unknown gunman, you have to trace the problem to where it began and who began it. To that extent, unknown gunmen is a product of ESN and ESN is a creation of IPOB, which is not in doubt.Whose interest does this sit-at-home serve?
The people declaring this sit-at-home order should think of whose interest they serve, but you and I can see that those people who have been looking for ways to destroy Eastern Nigeria since 1967 to kill our people and destroy our economy will be happy to see more of it happen. So, those who say that is their strategy of achieving Biafra should explain how the destruction of our economy, the killing of our people and the introduction of terror into the South East will help them. It is not serving the interest of the South East, rather it is serving the interest of those who want to exterminate us. They have now put us in a situation where that enemy will be the one to decide when to stop it. It is the IPOB and ESN that has thrown them into this mess where they are killed at will and their businesses destroyed by the Nigerian state.Do you subscribe to the Federal Government’s branding of IPOB as a terrorist organisation?
I’m not concerned with what Abuja said or why they said it. I’m looking at what IPOB is doing in Igboland; it amounts to terror in my estimation. So, I’m not saying they are terrorists because Abuja said they are terrorists. I’m looking at the actual things they are doing, that people are being made to close their shops, that people are killed because they didn’t close their shops? What they are doing is plain terror and I’m saying so because of what they are doing.What is your word for ethnic nationalities in Nigeria?
The remedy available to them in the danger that surrounds them now is called self-determination. They can recover their sovereignty and begin to organise their lives. We have deployed a plan that can deliver that; those who have interrogated the plan have embraced it and those rights are inalienable and don’t depend on Abuja or the National Assembly agreeing with you. Those who want to come out of the dangers that confront them should embrace our plan because it has been discussed at the United Nations and the United States. The ethnic nationalities can embrace this plan and rescue themselves from the death and extermination being visited on them by the invading Fulani. As long as that constitution remains in place, the guns will remain where they are.What is your take on the state of insecurity in the country?
We have identified the cause and nothing will change if you lock down arms and ammunition exclusively to the Federal Government that is dominated by the Fulani. If we remove arms and ammunition from the exclusive list in three months, insecurity will disappear because everybody will take care of their own security as it is done in federations everywhere. The problem is engineered by those interested in holding all the guns in the land and then pointing them at others, killing them and taking their lands. We are making a direct charge on the president and Commander-in-Chief and the army that there is a collusion; insecurity did not fall from the sky; it came from an orchestration, there is an ethnic cleansing campaign to kill off the owners of the land because the Fulani want to relocate from across Africa to this place.