On Friday, TROPOB nominated Okah, who is in Kuje prison and is standing trial on the allegation of masterminding the 2010 Independence Day bombing, to lead their surrender of the Biafran flag to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Responding on Monday, Okah expressed surprise that he, a non-Igbo, was picked to “lead the Igbo group to the Promised Land”. He said, like TRIPOD, he had “embraced change away from the concept that Biafra has to do with secession from our Fatherland, Nigeria”. The full statement below...
My dear fellow Biafrans,
1. My nomination by two splinter groups from the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) – The Rebranded Indigenous People of Biafra (TRIPOB) and the Renegade Indigenous People of Biafra (RENIPOB) – as their Leader was brought to my attention in Kuje Prison by my lawyer, Mr. Timipa Jenkins Okponipere, Esq.
2. It came to me as a pleasant but welcome surprise that two pro-Biafra groups, which are more or less synonymous with the Igbo tribe, could consider a non-Igbo to lead them to the Promised Land. This was however, not until I got to understand that TRIPOB had a refreshingly different ideology and approach to the Biafran question.
3. Following my nomination by the two splinter groups who have since merged, and adopted the name: TRIPOB; I took some time to go through their mission statement. I was impressed. And, after consultations with my immediate family and with several stakeholders from across the length and breadth of Biafraland; it is with a sense of history and utmost humility that I, CHARLES TONBRA OKAH, an Ijaw-Biafran from Amassoma in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State do hereby accept to lead TRIPOB.
4. I decided to align myself with TRIPOB because of its respect for the other tribes and indigenous peoples who make up the rich and diverse ‘Biafra region'; indeed, by virtue of its mission statement, thoughtful ideology and cultivated approach TRIPOB has shown that, Biafra is not just an Igbo affair.
5. The passionate, colourful and determined members of TRIPOB have not allowed self-pity and a post-civil war victim mentality to rub off on them. They have embraced change away from the concept that Biafra has to do with secession from our Fatherland, Nigeria.
6. My compatriots in TRIPOB view and see Biafra as a metaphor for greatness within a united Nigeria where the defunct “Biafra Republic,” particularly its endowed land, people and territory can now be transformed into a renaissance of great minds, spirit and enterprise as it contributes in making Nigeria greater and the region a model.
7. Biafra does not belong to a single tribe. It is erroneous therefore for any tribe to single themselves as owning Biafra and to say they have been marginalized.
8. This misconception is deceitful, ungrateful and wicked considering the giant strides my Igbo brothers and sisters continue to make in Nigeria today. From those who own tank farms as captains in the oil and gas sub-sector of the Nigerian economy, to those who have dominated the local movie industry (otherwise known as “NOLLYWOOD”), exporting their culture and language to all parts of the globe. It will only serve the interest of a few persons to deceive the majority of blind followers to start believing they are slaves in this land of opportunities though tongue and tribe may differ.
9. Under my leadership, TRIPOB will help to change the misconception and instead, free our minds to know that the ‘Biafran’ can begin from the villages to the cities of our various states to make them attractive and at the same time, hold our public office holders to account for their stewardship; instead of blaming President Muhammadu Buhari for the ills which have befallen our society.
10. A lazy workman will want to blame his tools. Blaming the Directorate of Security Services (DSS) or the APC-led government for the emergence of factions in IPOB is an insult to the average Biafran who thrives on courage and a mind of their own. Some of the women who left the Women Wing of IPOB did so because they could not understand why Mrs. Uchechi Kanu would be shopping almost every day on the expensive Oxford street in London with proceeds of donations pouring in from donors around the world who have been deceived that their money will help to ‘liberate’ Biafra, when a fraction of that money spent on shopping can upgrade the businesses of those women roasting corn and groundnut by the roadside in our beloved Biafra.
11. Humility comes before honour. Even in prison, not a few concerned persons, particularly Biafrans have argued that Nnamdi Kanu believes he is already the “President of Biafra” and goes about with an ‘entourage’ and is addressed as “His Excellency”. That is a fact I have witnessed myself. This Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) was enough to drive away so many of his admirers who have since flocked in droves and thereby swelled the teeming number of TRIPOB members.
12. Indeed, my administration shall commence by using donations received from Donors to create jobs and upgrade existing small-scale entrepreneurs starting from the markets and roadside from all across the Biafra region. For instance, under my leadership, the woman frying akara (bean cake) on the streets of Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Awka, Onitsha, Calabar, Okigwe, Owerri, Aba, Enugu, etc., will do so in style; complete with all the tools, training, exposure, apparel and standard of a modern fast food enterprise. She can only achieve this with our support.
13. To our hardworking professionals and other migrants from the Biafra region resident and doing business in the Diaspora, my message to them is simple: “DO NOT BE DECEIVED BY IPOB AND NNAMDI KANU’S ANTICS!” Your numerous donations cannot bring about a secessionist “Biafra Republic”, but they can change the mindset of our people. Your donations and financial support can also help to improve the standard of living of our people when they are channeled into training and loans. Anyone suggesting to you that they want to start a second civil war to ‘liberate’ us is a con artist. Even an Igbo President in Nigeria today will never seat to negotiate a break-up with anybody. A word is enough for the wise!
14. Finally, as the new Chief Executive of TRIPOB, I hereby issue EXECUTIVE ORDER NUMBER 1: That the planned ’surrender’ of the Biafran flag scheduled for January 15, 2017 is hereby cancelled. All preparations towards the ceremony must be put on hold with immediate effect.
15. The surrender of a people can only come from the inside. A man may surrender outwardly, but remain defiant inside. The spirit to be ‘free’ cannot be suppressed. We, as a people can only be bound by our mind and our fears.
Long live the Biafra Spirit!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
CHARLES TONBRA OKAH