Reports indicate that a company listed on the Europe-based GXG stock exchange, KILIMANJARO CAPITAL, has, on behalf of BIAFRA, has bought mineral rights from Biafra. Kilimanjaro’s capitalized cost for Biafra Rights was $45,000, according to its own report. Kilimanjaro capital was set up by the trio of Zulfikar Rashid, a Canadian of Asian descent, Jonathan Levy of Washington DC and Clement Chigbo from Port Harcourt in Nigeria.
These rights were obtained under what is called “Future Contingent Licenses” with the Bifran “Government In Exile”. Although there is the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), there are as yet no reports of any connection between this organization and Kilimanjaro.
It is significant that these reports are coming at a time when there is heightened interest in Nigeria about the consequences of Nigeria remaining the way it is; with the Senate President calling for what he called a “Conference of Nationalities” albeit with a proviso that the only area not open for debate should be what he called the “dismemberment of the country”.
President Jonathan is also under pressure to agree to such a conference. While political observers may dismiss these calls as mere deflections and diversions from pressing political matters as well as avenues for political survival, that the “Government In Exile” of Biafra has begun to sell mineral rights are indications that President Jonathan and Senate president Mark may have more than just the survival of their political party or their own individual survival to tackle.
Along with the Biafra venture, the “Government in Exile” of Cabinda in Angola and Bakassi Peninsula were also involved in these sales. It will be recalled that the Bakassi Area, inside Nigeria declared its own autonomy with its flag and anthem in 2012 even though the entire Bakassi peninsula had, by virtue of of a ruling by the International Court at the Hague, declared it a Cameroonian Territory.
Observers also note the contiguity of these areas.
Biafra starts from the Niger Delta areas of South East Nigeria up to the border with Cameroon. Bakassi lies within Cameroon’s Atlantic coastline and Cabinda is very close by, geographically. The entire region is flush with oil deposits hence the possession of these rights is a potential gold mine for the owners, a fact stated by Michael Judson. He is the chief executive of Forest Gate Energy, an investor in Kilimanjaro with stakes in these licenses. He stated that Forest Gate knows it is putting “money on a horse at very very long odds, but that the stake was so small it was worth it. That the investment cost pennies but the potential returns are off the scale”.
This area is also contiguous with Sao Tome and Principe as well as Equitorial Guinea, The total area may be considered as Africa’s “Oil Region”. History may be repeating itself as one of the main fronts in the colonization of what is now known as Nigeria was the “Oil Protectorate” located in today’s Niger Delta and based on oil plam produce abundant in that Region. These “Governments in Exile” may be replicating that experience.
The odds are on how these “Governments in Exile” will become de facto and de jure Governments in those areas.
During the quest for Angola’s independence, there was a Government in Exile, at the time run by Jonas Savimbi, who was later exposed as working for Portuguese Intelligence Service determined to crush the Angolan Independence Movement. There was also a Cabinda self-determination movement whose aim was independence from Angola. Nigeria fought a war against the declaration of Biafra as an independent country, the effects which are still hounding both Biafran and other Nigerians after almost forty-three years.
The odds, then are based on the capacity of these independence movements to forge a “united front”; united not only by geographical proximity but also by oil.
This is also not new in the history of the “Scramble for Africa”. A new “scramble” may as well be on the horizon in this “oil belt”. Even though both Rashid and Levy deny thier involvement would promote violence and MASSOB always proclaim its adherence to non-violence, Kilimanjaros’ “Advisory Board” belie these claims.
Ebenezer Akwanga is an activist with the Southern Cameroons Youth League, who escaped from prison in 2003, after being sentenced to 20 years and calls himself President of the Government of Southern Cameroons. Joel Batila is the “Head of Government of the Front for the Liberation of Cabinda Enclave” and Colonel Simon Wilce, who is part of the “Burma Rangers” seeking the overthrow of the government of Burma. Another member is former Yugoslav, Darko Trifunovic who authored a report denying the Srebrenica massacre.
It will be interesting how violence will be avoided with these “advisory body”.
For his part, Jonathan Levy has participated in lawsuits for the recovery of bonds allegedly defaulted on by the KMT while it was in power in mainland China as well as against bthe Vatican claiming redress for Holocaust victims.
Into this mix comes the other agitations in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, with long years of devastation caused by the international oil companies with every Nigerian government turning a blind eye. These agitations eventually led to the judicial hanging of one of the foremost advocates for justice in the Niger Delta, Ken Tsaro Wiwa in 1995. Since then, the agitations had taken on a new violent form, with armed militias attacking oil installations and making demands for either greater control of their resources or outright independence.
As at the time the previous government of Umaru Ya Ardua granted amnesty for those militants who would lay down their arms, the spate of attacks became drastically reduced such that at this time, those militants have been re-absorbed into the mainstream of political life. Some have been granted licenses to secure the vast oil pipeline network in the Niger Delta while others have been sent to different countries of the Western world for educational purposes.
With Kilimanjaro’s background, it is not too far fetched to discover the connections between international capital and a new scramble that may be in the offing in the Delta; even as MASSOB claims affinity with non-violence, Biafra, as defined at the time of its 1967 declaration, included the area now known as the Niger Delta–and the definition has not changed.
Furthermore, in spite of President Jonathan’s Ijaw origins, he has surrounded his presidency with largely Igbo loyalists prompting some observers to identify the connection between the demands of the Niger Delta and those of Biafra.