In a reaction to ongoing peaceful protests by youths in Nigeria’s Southeast and Southsouth geopolitical zones, the Secretary-General of the Lower Niger Congress (LNC), Mr. Tony Nnadi, affirmed that the quest for self-determination underlies the street mass action being embarked upon by pro-Biafra groups. He remarked that the incumbent Minister of Information, Mr. Lai Mohammed, recently described the agitations of the Southeast/Southsouth (SESS) youths as legitimate, even though he wrongly fingered the underlying cause for the massive protests to be the harsh economic conditions facing the protesters rather than a concerted demand for an independent Biafra.
Thousands of youths, most of them unemployed or underemployed, emptied into the streets of SESS cities in reaction to the arrest and detention of one Mr. Nnadi Kanu by the Nigeria security services. Mr. Kanu was apprehended last October as he arrived Murtala Muhammed International Airport, on a London-Lagos flight. The detained pro-Biafra activist is being accused by Nigeria’s central government of operating a London-based radio station from where pro-Biafra and anti-Nigeria messages are being broadcast into the country. Even though the accused has since met the tough bail conditions required of him, he is still held by the Department of Security Services (DSS) without being given the option of an open court trial in contravention of international law and the Nigerian constitution. Escalating agitation led by members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), MASSOB and other self-determination groups demands for Mr. Kanu’s immediate release from an unjust detention. The Igbo apex sociocultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndiigbo, also has added its voice in calling for Mr. Kanu’s unconditional release after a recent closed-door meeting with various Southeast stakeholders and pro-Biafra protest leaders in Enugu, the former capital city of civil-war Biafra.
The LNC, an organizational platform dedicated to spearheading the self-determination quest of the indigenous peoples of the Lower Niger, is not directly associated with the mobilization effort for ongoing street protests in Nigeria. But, according to its Secretary-General, LNC is concerned primarily about transitioning “the entire commotion into a program that will end in a Referendum vote so that the sacrifices of the street protesters will deliver a result” consistent with their self-determination quest. The
Lower Niger territory encompasses today’s Southeast and Southsouth geopolitical zones which consists of civil-war Biafra, on the eastern half and the 1st Republic’s Midwestern Region, on its western half. The LNC is aligned with the Movement for New Nigeria (MNN), a Lagos-based national movement which is committed to an equitable devolution of overcentralized political power in the country in a manner that shall make for the emergence of 4 new autonomous federating units to replace the current unacceptable 36-state structure.
Barrister Nnadi, who is a Lagos-based lawyer, is certain that the rising demands for indigenous peoples’ inalienable right to self-determination have become inevitable and if sensibly and wisely handled, can lead to a nonviolent solution to the many existential headaches confronting all parts of 21st Century Nigeria. He intimated our reporter that the LNC, at its Port Harcourt Solemn Assembly on April 27, 2015, had resolved to set the dateline of 1st Quarter of 2017 for the conduct of the Lower Niger Referendum for Self-determination in compliance with an earlier resolution on the matter by the June 30, 2011 MNN Lagos convention.
With existence of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Barr. Nnadi considers it self-defeatist for Nigeria to be allowed to degenerate, once more, into anarchy and senseless violence as was the case during the Civil War when such a clear international mandate on the universal right of all indigenous peoples to self-determination was nonexistent. In pursuit of future peaceful coexistence of all concerned, the LNC scribe urges pro-Biafra agitators, the political class and all the constituent ethnic nationalities in Nigeria to embrace the doctrine of utilizing grassroots-based Referendum as the veritable conduit for resolving the outstanding geopolitical and constitutional conflicts bedeviling the country since 1966.
Tony Nnadi laments the paucity of required resources and funds which have caused the LNC and its affiliates to unduly delay the full implementation of crucial aspects of their ongoing program, particularly the scheduled 2017 Lower Niger Referendum. Rather than dissipate time and effort in proposing “suggestions of what next to do in a raging field of bloody battle” in streets of the SESS and elsewhere nationwide, the LNC Secretary-General strongly urges all the Lower Niger indigenes, within Nigeria and the Diaspora, to rally in support of the many advanced plans already put together for a successful conduct of the scheduled Referendum.