Former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke has dismissed the agitations for an independent Biafran Republic, arguing that it was the dream of another generation that has ultimately given up on it.
He said this when he officially declared to contest in the 2019 presidential election during an interview with Deutsche Welle Africa on Friday, June 8, 2018. Duke said that Nigeria doesn't need to separate but rather to make its union work in a way that the country will benefit by developing.
He said, "I don't believe in that (Biafra). I think that is a dream that belongs to another generation and that generation, it seems, absorbed itself of that dream.
"There's strength in our union; the important thing is to make the union work. Structure the union such that it's not held back in its development."
The agitation for the south east region of Igbo people to secede from the Nigerian state led to the bloody civil war of 1967 that lasted for three years and led to the death of between 500,000 and 2 million Biafran civilians. Even though the secession didn't happen, several groups in the region continue to agitate for separation till today.
Nigeria must restructure or get worse
Donald Duke also warned that it is important for Nigeria to restructure because it ensures progress. According to him, the country has always been restructuring since it started as three federating units, and must continue to do so without fear.
He said, "I don't know why we're worried about restructuring. Some people get very nervous when they hear about it.
"You restructure yourself everyday: you wake up and say, 'I'm not going to do this,' 'I'm going to change this,' I'm going to do this better than I did yesterday'; that's restructuring. Corporate organisations restructure.
"If you don't restructure constantly, you will stagnate and when you stagnate, you retrogress and when you retrogress, you'll eventually eclipse. I believe we ought to restructure; it's not the first time.
"We started this nation as three regions, federating units, then we had the civil war and it was restructured to 12 states, then eventually 19 and 21 and then 27, 36, or whatever, and we moved our capital. We shouldn't be afraid of it (restructuring).
"I think the corner of the fear for restructuring is revenue distribution."
Donald Duke's party remains unknown
Duke failed to disclose on which political platform he'll run for president next year, but he served as Cross River State governor between 1999 and 2007 and tried to run for president in 2007 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, since the PDP has officially zoned its presidential ticket to the north, Duke is most likely to contest on the platform of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) which is the political party that has been adopted by the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) of which he is a founding member.
If he wins his party's primary election, he'll face stiff competition from others like incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari; former vice president, Atiku Abubakar; former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Kingsley Moghalu; management consultant and leadership expert, Fela Durotoye; Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore and a host of others.