Former Biafran secessionist leader, Odumegnu Ojukwu, says he plans to return to Nigeria and bring a symbolic end to the civil war which gripped the country from 1967 to 1970.
SCU General Ojukwu talking to BBC reporter Martin Young (3 shots)
OJUKWU: "I am seeking my return to Nigeria. I am seeking through the constitution established by the military regime. I am seeking it through a national party in Nigeria, a party that transcends ethnic considerations. I am in fact a partner of other parts of Nigeria, the leader of the party for which I am standing as a northerner -- there are many westerners, there are easterners in that party. I am in fact seeking a return, legally and constitutionally, into Nigeria, into a new Nigeria that I think I can serve."
YOUNG: "But, nonetheless, the very fact that Ojukwu comes back must mean a reopening of the old wounds, it must be a symbol of the war that took place?"
OJUKWU: "No, actually I don't think it is. I don't think it in any way is. First, the war. The war was not Ojukwu's war. I happened on the Ibo situation at the time of the conflict. I did my duty to the best of my ability and I am glad that Nigerians generally recognise this fact. One man could not have held the entire Nigeria and her allies for three years. The Ibo people felt threatened.
YOUNG: "Why don't you go back to Nigeria now and fight the election in person?"
OJUKWU: "I would like to. I would very much like to, but I have already mentioned the obstacles that are being put in the way of a candidate to be a Member of Parliament. I'm not seeking political office, I'm not seeking political office, I'm not seeking government office. Just to represent my people ten years after the war, obstacles are being put....even people who just signed my papers are being imprisoned. It would be foolhardy for me at this stage to step into Nigeria. But I will go back. Once I become a Member of Parliament, once I can take my seat in Parliament, I will go back and I will take my chance with my parliamentary immunity."
YOUNG: "Are you seriously saying that all you want to be is an M.P. Don't you want to be President?"
OJUKWU: "Once I have decided to go into politics then I want to serve the nation in the highest capacity within my ability. If as a politician it comes my way that the party of which I am a member designates me as a presidential candidate, I would be extremely proud and I would certainly contest."
REPORTER: MARTIN YOUNG
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Background: Former Biafran secessionist leader, Odumegnu Ojukwu, says he plans to return to Nigeria and bring a symbolic end to the civil war which gripped the country from 1967 to 1970. In an interview in Parison Wednesday (4 July), General Ojukwu said he intended standing as a candidate in absentia for this month's national elections in Nigeria, which are aimed at returning the country to civilian rule. The 45-year-old general fled Nigeria in 1970 after leading his Ibo people in Biafra in their bloody struggle for independence. He told BBC reporter Martin Young he hoped to make his return legitimately.