On Sunday, a former Niger Delta militant leader, Asari Dokubo, out of the blues, and without warning signs, released a statement through one Uche Mefor, announcing the creation of Biafra defacto Customary Government, shortened as BCG.
Mefor, who identified himself as the Head of Information and Communication of the new government, also informed the World that Dokubo is the leader of BCG and that George Onyibe will be the Secretary, while Emeka Esiri will be in charge of the legal matters.
Asari, in the statement, blamed injustice and marginalisation on the Igbos found in various zones of the country as the reason for the new government.
“I thank God that it’s time for us to do our duty and our service to the motherland, I have accepted this role. I have dedicated my life a hundred percent to play this role.
“I want to call on our brother, George Onyibe to come on board to join as the secretary of the defacto customary government of the State of Biafra. He will take care of the administrative, day-to-day administration of the Biafra State. I also call on our brother Emeka Esiri to take care of the legal needs of this nascent government.
“My brothers and sisters, the four of us will kick-start the process, others will come on board. We want volunteers who are committed, we want volunteers because there is nothing anymore. We are the people who have volunteered to salvage ourselves and the rest of us.
“I also call on Biafrans in the various province of the Biafra nations in Aba, Abakiliki, Anang, Awka, Calabar, Degema, Eket, Enugu, Nsukka, Ogoja, Oji River, Okigwe, Onitsha, Opobo, Orlu, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Umuahia, Uyo and Yenegoa province.
“We are going to proceed to set up provincial structures of government starting with provincial assemblies and provincial governance and administrators. Let nobody be mistaking that Biafra will be worse than Nigeria.
“Nobody can stop us. Nobody can block us as they did in the first war. We’re not going to fight any war with anybody, we’re walking to freedom. We will not shoot any gun with them, they will prepare their weapons, but they will have nobody to kill with their weapons,” Asari said in the statement.
The former militant leader came into national consciousness with his Niger Delta Peoples Volunteers Force, through which he, alongside others, fought the Nigerian Government for resource control, an agitation that took on various forms of criminality, including attacks on oil assets and kidnapping before the administration of President Umaru Yaradua offered the militants amnesty, a smart move that saved the nation’s economy from total collapse.
With the amnesty in place, Asari, who had been arrested and detained by the previous administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, became a free man, and started living large in a sprawling mansion in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), especially during the administration of former President, Goodluck Jonathan.
Except for occasional outbursts on national issues and trivialities, which many considered as visibility stunts, Asari had been relatively quiet, making many to wonder what propelled his new Biafra venture.
It is even more surprising that Asari, who had over the years, appeared to be more of an Ijaw champion, has suddenly risen to champion the creation of a Biafra government, a feat even the controversial leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu has not been able to achieve.
For many Nigerians, the declaration of Biafra Customary Government is a mere joke taken too far by Asari and should not be taken seriously, while others see him as only engaging in theatrics for the purpose of attracting attention to himself once again.
Leading Nigerians to dismiss the BCG and Asari, is the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who spoke on behalf of the Federal Government.
“I am sure you have heard of the theatre of the absurd, that is the best way I can describe it.
“If Asari Dokubo wants to form and run a fathom government, I think he is free to do so.
“This administration will not be distracted because we still have a lot to do.
“We are not ready to give any attention or time to a joker like Dokubo who is just looking for attention.
“We will just take it as one of these entertainment things.
“The beauty about Nigeria is that it is never a dull country, you must have one thing or the other to entertain you,’’ the minister said.
Curiously, a large section of Nigerians, for the first, seem to agree with the position of the Federal Government on Asari, as many online and in chats with DAILY POST, dismissively labelled him as merely seeking for cheap attention.
Others, however, see him as a rival to Nnamdi Kanu, who is seeking to reap where he did not sow.
Several Nigerians reacted on Twitter, dismissing Asari.
@dayohaas wrote: “Make this one go siddon jàre, if them give am money now na to shut up”, while @Isahmahe2 wrote: “Yeye talk just to notice u,,,,will need good news,,,, jare”.
For @CallmeKene, ”the new Biafra government is nothing but a new business idea for Asari and his cohort” while @pedrophilly wrote: “They called Nigeria zoo… I think the only zoo right now is the coup plotting biafra nation… smh”
@Ohizeyaks wrote: “The last time I saw him with “Sapele Water” I told him, to take it easy, because the one he is taking, is undiluted Sapele Water. Asari DoKubo should stop taking “Sapele Water”, while @Lbgobo wrote: “He needs money. He can start kidnapping, FG will pay him. Clowns everywhere.”
For @bigmoneybanger, Asari’s action only amounts to sabotage. He wrote: “Don’t mind this big fool that used Niger-Delta development funds to build a university in Ghana and established himself alone. It’s a fool that will take him seriously. Another janjaweed slave trying to sabotage Biafra independence and he will not succeed because biafra is bigger than him.”
[email protected], what Asari has done qualifies for a coup. She wrote: “Fresh coup in the federal republic of Online Country of Biafrans,” while @trueAFIOCIONADO wrote: ”Asari is simply saying that the stipend you gave him has finished. You need to reimburse again. You know nah, stomach infrastructure.”
Similarly, a Biafra enthusiast, Mazi Ibe, is of the opinion that Asari Dokubo is only trying to cash in on the rising popularity of the Biafra agitation. According to him, the former militant leader is a commercial agitator, who will never get involved in anything that will not bring financial reward.
In a chat with DAILY POST, Ibe said: “I think Nigerians and the Government should understand Asari by now. He is not a serious minded person when it comes to agitations. He is only interested in financial rewards or windfall. He is also a man who obsessively wants to be in the limelight. He loves visibility and he would do anything to achieve that.
“You may want to ask yourself, why is he suddenly interested and keen about Biafra? What has he done in the past to identify with the plight of Igbos that he is now declaring himself as the new Biafran leader? Who made him the leader? Do you just wake up suddenly and assume leadership of a people, whose cause you have never identified with in time past?
“It is also instructive to note that Asari is in cohorts with Uche Mefor, a known associate of Nnamdi Kanu before they fell out. That tells anyone with keen interest in the Biafra movement that the new supposed Biafra government has sinister motives that are not targeted at the interest of the people. They cannot be taken seriously.”
For Mr. Nicholas Anyanwu, the declaration of the Biafra government by Asari Dokubo is a serious distraction in the agitation of the South-East to produce the next President of Nigeria in 2023. According to him, South-Easterners are not interested in a disintegrated Nigeria but an equal federation, where everybody has a sense of belonging and can aspire to any office no matter where he or she comes from.
Anyanwu said in a chat with DAILY POST: “I believe this is a distraction meant to derail the quest of the South-East to produce the next Nigerian President. We are already making in-roads into the ruling party just as we have good presence in the major opposition party in the country. So whichever way it goes, we are well represented.
“Igbos must see and treat the Asari declaration for what it is, a distraction that cannot favour us. Who is Asari to unilaterally declare a government for Biafra and make himself the leader? Is that how lowly he thinks of us? Can anybody just wake up and confer leadership on himself without the people behind him and expects to be taken seriously? That is not possible!
“I will, however, appeal to the people of the South-East, especially out teaming youths to disregard Asari and his phantom government and treat him more as an irritant that deserves no attention whatsoever. We have agitated for the presidency for far too long to allow some attention seeking commercial freedom fighters to derail it.”