Mr. Emeka Emekesiri, the man that “founded and nurtured Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, before it was hijacked,” has said some stakeholders in the South-South led by late rights activist and author, Ken Saro-Wiwa, sabotaged the Aburi Accord.
Emekesiri, a legal practitioner, said this in his presentation to Igbo Congress at the 3rd Quarter Board/HOD Meeting, adding that Saro-Wiwa’s actions led to the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon(retd) splitting the South-East Region into three states on May 27, 1967.
Aburi Accord refers to the set of agreements reached at Aburi, Ghana, between January 4 and 5, 1967 by delegates of the Federal Government led by Gowon, and the Eastern delegates, led by late Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu, at the height of political unrest, precipitating the Civil War.
He said: “I am aware that many people have blamed General Yakubu Gowon for the failure to implement the Aburi Accord. Yes, the buck stopped at his desk.
“But many people who are crying today joined in the betrayal and subversion of the will of the people expressed in the Aburi Accord.
“Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa, in his book, ‘On a Darkling Plain’, (Pages 61 to 62), said as follows: ‘When news came that general agreement had been reached at a cordial meeting in Aburi, there was general elation.
“‘Ojukwu returned and spoke in glowing terms of Aburi. He had virtually achieved his confederal aims; if the decisions of Aburi were implemented, there was little doubt that peace would return to Nigeria.
“‘The generality of Igbo were cock-a-hoop about Aburi— it was inconceivable that an Igbo would go to bargain with Hausa and fail to win.
“‘The non-Igbo, on the other hand, were dismayed: it looked as though the nation had sold them to the Igbo. In Rivers circles particularly, there was great agitation. Some showed their dismay openly’.”
Emekesiri said according to Saro-Wiwa, the non-Igbo were not happy with the Aburi Accord, which created a confederation of regional governments.
He continued: “In the book, he told the story of how he took some of the chiefs in the riverine areas, went to Lagos and defected to the Nigerian side.
“He told General Gowon that the non-Igbo in Eastern Nigeria did not want to be joined with the Igbo in the same region and did not want Biafra.
“Consequently, General Gowon violated the Aburi Accord and divided the Eastern Region into three on May 27, 1967 by creating three states: East Central State, with headquarters at Enugu; Rivers State, Port Harcourt, and South-Eastern State, Calabar.
“Three days later, on May 30, 1967, Ojukwu declared the Republic of Biafra. This was a wrong move in political calculations because the region had already been divided three days earlier.
“It was a masterstroke by General Gowon. The Rivers State and South Eastern State had been given their own separate political identities three days before Biafra was declared
“The whole Eastern Region was no longer one entity on 30 May 1967. Mr Ken Saro-Wiwa said that their rejection of Biafra and rejection of being together with the Igbo in the same region was based on their fear that the Igbo people would dominate over them.
“In fact, he used a phrase that the Nigerian Government had sold them to the Igbo as slaves by signing the Aburi Accord.”