Biafra’s former ally in the 1967 secession bid, has ruled out any support for the secession of any part of the country, particularly Biafra. In an interview with The Guardian, France’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Denys Gauer, said his country would not in anyway work with any group agitating for the dismemberment of the nation, adding that France was working with Nigeria and supporting it as a country.
“We are working with Nigeria and we are supporting it as the only country. This is absolutely clear and I don’t think there is any kind of future for Biafra. They are part of Nigeria and Nigeria has to remain as the only country.”
Speaking against the backdrop of France’s previous support for Biafra during Nigeria’s civil war, Gauer pointed out that Nigeria has evolved since the civil war. Leader of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Uchenna Madu, however, told The Guardian that the struggle for Biafra “is real and cannot be stopped by any man created by God” “We in MASSOB do not believe what he said because that does not represent the position of France. France is a friend of Biafra and even during the Nigeria/Biafran war, they assisted us so much.
“In this current agitation for Biafra, France has sympathy for us. We advise our people to disregard what he said. We think that the Nigerian media misinterpreted what the French envoy said. But the French envoy further pointed out that there is no future for Biafra and urged proponents of secession or Biafra to continue to be part of the country.
He also disclosed that France is working with the country in its fight against insurgency, saying the fight against Boko Haram has brought the two countries together, more than before. The envoy further explained how France helped the former Goodluck Jonathan government to organize a regional meeting with neighbouring Francophone countries, Chad, Cameroon, and the Republic of Benin, in Paris, in 2014, following which the Multinational Joint Task Force, MJTF was established to fight Boko Haram.
“Apart from encouraging neighbouring African countries to cooperate with Nigeria, we have also developed a strong bilateral relationship with the Nigerian Armed forces. In May 2015, the Defence Ministers of Nigeria and France signed a cooperation agreement between the two armed forces, which we did not have before. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai, recently warned those agitating for an independent state to forget it as that won’t happen in his lifetime. Buratai who disclosed this Speaking in Abuja after receiving an award conferred on him by a coalition of over 80 civil society organizations (CSOs), said the army would not condone any act that could lead to the disintegration of the country.
“Those individuals and groups that are bent on destabilizing our country I think they have to wait till may be the next three or four millennium for them to do that. That is, maybe the next generation of officers and men will allow them at all,” he said.