If you read between the lines of what the Northern youths, some of their elders have been saying, you will notice that their grand design is to isolate the South East Igbos from the South South Igbos and cut a South East independent Biafra off from access to the sea, then impose crippling export duties, trade, travel and emigration restrictions on it. In their recent letter to Acting President Osinbajo, the youths stated,
“The Igbo from all over the country and in the Diaspora should be advised to converge in their region in the South-East – notice they did not add South South where Igbo Land has Asaba, as well as the ports of Port Harcourt (Igwe Ocha), Onne, and Bonny (Igwe Ngaa) – for a plebiscite to be organized and conducted by the United Nations and other regional bodies for them to categorically to decide between remaining part of Nigeria or having their separate country. That government should at the end of the plebiscite implement whatever is agreed and resolved in order to finally put this matter to rest.
“Lastly, we pray His Excellency to study the references forwarded with this letter dispassionately and decide who is more in the wrong between those who openly pledge allegiance to a country other than Nigeria backing it up with persistent threats of war and those of us whose allegiance remains with the Nigerian state but simply urge that the secessionists be allowed to actualize their dream peacefully throw universally entrenched democratic options”.
Unfavourable Customs Union
If the South East allows itself to be deceived, the trade marginalization that they will impose will be worse than any marginalization of Igbo traders currently, because such a landlocked new country carved out from only South East will depend on Nigeria for every item they import or export. If the economy of such new country is growing, some people can just sit down in Abuja and decide to impose punishing tariffs on certain goods, making your goods too expensive in the international market, sabotaging all your efforts.
Ojukwu would turn in his grave if that kind of Biafra emerges- his idea was a Biafra with access to the sea, not a Biafra surrounded by a mighty enemy willing and able to squeeze it to death. In such a country, Igbo foreign investors will be deported at will from Lagos, and you cannot sue the Governor as you sued Fashola because he will say you are foreign imigrants, not bonafide citizens of his country.
The government of such new country would not dare make too much noise because if they annoy the Nigerian government, it can close the borders, and your people won’t be able to import anything until you beg for forgiveness (how humiliating). If you use your advanced military to invade, foreign powers that hate Igbo excellence will pounce on that and say you are invading a sovereign country and treat you how they treated Saddam when he invaded Kuwait. They wouldn’t mind imposing a permanent peacekeeping force (made up of the Nigerian Army), ‘to keep your government from invading any sovereign country again’. Would that be true independence?
Currently, South East based Igbo traders can use their constitutional right as citizens of Nigeria to import and export goods freely from Lagos or Port Harcourt ports and their enemies can’t stop them. Currently, Igbo entrepreneurs can move to Lagos or any part of Nigeria and set up, because they are citizens. But if you hold the kind of referendum that they are dangling before you, they are sure to insist that ‘only the Igbos of the South East are Igbos’, and only them should participate.
Any new country that will emerge from such will be an enclave surrounded entirely by an enemy nation willing to suffocate it. They will deport many of Igbos there, and starve the new country of funds to employ them. They will impose trading quotas or high tariffs to control the Igbo mainstay of trading. Before you know it, tempers may rise within such an enclave, and some world powers that hate Ndigbo in the UN will then ask Nigeria to send in peacekeepers into the surrounded Biafra on a permanent basis. You would have lost your independence, because it would only exist on paper.
Igbos should ignore this ‘referendum gift’ and remain in Nigeria and fight for their rights, because Biafra without Igbo ports of Port Harcourt (Igwe Ocha), Onne, or Bonny (Igwe Ngaa), would not be viable, and enemies of the Igbo will laugh. They will come on forums like Nairaland to mock you mercilessly.
If you chose to agitate legally, which is your right (I for one believe we should give Nigeria another chance), then, agitate democratically and make sure you gain at least a port for the country you want. If for any reason you can’t do that, better remain in this house that Zik built (where you have 5-7 Igbo controlled states in SE and SS and give Nigeria a chance to succeed.