Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has tackled President Muhammadu Buhari over his dismissal of the call for a referendum on Biafra’s self determination, saying referendum does not require presidential approval but an enabling law by the National Assembly.
President Buhari had at a media event in New York, USA on September 24, 2016 reportedly asserted that there would be no referendum on Biafra’s independence.
But in a statement jointly signed by the IPOB spokespersons, Emma Nmezu and Dr. Clifford Iroanya, the group said Buhari’s stance on Biafra’s referendum has demonstrated that he lacks full grasp of the full meaning of referendum and its modus operandi.
“If we assume that the various media reporting of this assertion from Buhari is true, then there is no better way to exhibit ignorance on the typology and application of the concept of Referendum. We will like to use this opportunity to educate and enlighten Buhari and his ilks on Referendum.
Referendum is a method of expression of the will of the people in matters concerning their welfare, existence, and association. A referendum is created normatively by an act of parliament (legislature) and is not dependent on the aversions or preferences of the President or executive arm of government,” IPOB said.
Delving into history to cite successfully conducted referenda in several countries, including the recent one in Africa which led to the independence of Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1999, IPOB said even in brutal regimes like was in Greece under Col Georgios Papandoloulos a successful referendum was conducted on November 15, 1968.
Said IPOB: “In a presidential system like the one practised in Nigeria, referendum process is not subject to the dictates of the presidency or executive arm of government. In other words, Buhari has no business or legal right or claimed superiority to determine if there will be referendum or not. Even the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) is unequivocal on the inalienable rights of indigenous people to decide on how they want to govern themselves. Affirmatively, Nigeria is a signatory to the UNDRIP.”
The Biafra self determination organisation said Mr. President should not have publicly displayed “deficient knowledge and understanding of the concept of referendum due to lack of grounded education” but instead “he should have consulted with his aides and his political appointees who are supposedly educated enough and abreast of the thinking behind the concept of referendum.”
“They should have tutored him well enough to make him understand that the presidency cannot make any sweeping statement on referendum because it lies within the domains of the legislature or at the behest of the citizenry.
“We assert that if at all Biafrans decide to choose referendum as an option to exit from Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari cannot stop it, Q.E.D,” the IPOB insisted.