A former militant in the Niger Delta region, Alhaji Mujahid Asari-Dokubo on Saturday announced himself as the leader of the new Biafra de facto Customary Government, citing “injustice and marginalisation” on the Igbo people found in various zones of the country as the reason for his aspiring for a “better life for his people”.
According to a press statement released last weekend, Dokubo named Alphonsus Uche Okafor-Mefor as Head of Information and Communication of the new Biafra; George Onyibe as Secretary; and Emeka Esiri as the officer in charge of its legal matters.
While Dokubo is not a new name when it comes to pro-Biafra activism, thing is, no matter how hard he tries, he is not as infectious as Nnamdi Kanu, the diaspora-based leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
This is also applicable to Mefor, the estranged Deputy-Leader of IPOB.
Asari-Dokubo and Mefor's latest collaboration is nothing but an association of disgruntled rivals of Kanu. Recall Asari-Dokubo in June 2020, openly declared that he 'cannot work with Nnamdi Kanu because of his divisive tendencies'. He labelled Kanu an idiot.
Broadcasts on Biafra Human Rights Radio by Mefor have been met with disapproval.
This writer monitored Mefor's recent broadcasts and discovered that many commenters on his page posit that the UK-based activist does not have the personality of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu - whom he is rugby-tackling.
To be candid, Mefor lacks the charisma of Kanu - by a mile. His addresses are drab.
Mefor's standpoint as it concerns the Biafra struggle might be appropriate, but what you do not have, you cannot give.
Kanu, 53, made a special broadcast last December where he formally announced the formation of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), and Biafra apologists followed his orders without reservation.
Kanu, over time, has attained a god-like status and commands a cult-followership of irate, easily angered individuals who make up the IPOB group.
The Abia-born activist indeed has an infectious personality.
Kanu - though controversial and arguably toxic - has been praised for his sharp wit and intellect.
Many believe that is the reason he commands such humongous respect from his devotees who literally worship him.
Kanu has been campaigning for an independent state called Biafra in south-eastern Nigeria.
In 2015, Kanu was charged by the Nigerian government with "criminal conspiracy, intimidation and membership of an illegal organisation" - charges that could amount to treason.
Nnamdi Kanu was a relatively obscure figure until 2009 when he started Radio Biafra, a station that called for an independent state for the Igbo people and is broadcast to Nigeria from London.
Though he grew up in Nigeria's south-east and went to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Kanu moved to the UK before graduating.
Soon after setting up IPOB in 2014, he spoke to gatherings of the large Igbo diaspora, calling for Biafran independence.
Kanu is currently facing charges bordering on treasonable felony instituted against him in response to years of campaign for the independent Republic of Biafra through IPOB.
After being arrested and detained for more than 19 months without trial on treason charges, he was granted bail in April 2017 for health reasons but skipped his bail after reportedly flouting all the conditions given to him by the court.
Owing to his absence in court at a time, Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, the judge who granted him bail, revoked it and ordered that he should be arrested.
But Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor argued that he left the country due to the invasion of his family’s residence in Abia state by soldiers during a military exercise.
Despite the court’s insistence on his appearance, the IPOB leader has remained abroad, and once said he jumped bail to pursue the cause of Biafra.
“Their problem is Nnamdi Kanu and the solution to their problem is referendum. They gave me conditional bail to cage me and IPOB, but I refused,” he had said during a broadcast.
The Nigerian civil war ended in January 1970 with the surrender of the Republic of Biafra, which dissolved and was reincorporated into Nigeria. The federal government’s “no victor, no vanquished policy” was promoted to foster national unity.
But today, the pro-Biafra movement is back and louder than ever.
Dozens of pro-Biafra activists have been arrested in cities across southeastern Nigeria.
Nigerian federal government officials say the country must remain united.
“They say that secession is the answer to the charges of marginalisation,” said Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo during a Biafra civil forum in 2017 in Abuja, the nation's capital.
“Brothers and sisters, permit me to differ and to suggest that we’re greater together than apart.”
Many Biafrans say Nigeria has failed them, identifying themselves rather as Biafrans.