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No decent person will support agitation for Biafra – Dr. Amin Oderaa Igwebe

Dr. Ustaz Amin Oderaa Igwegbe is an Igbo man with a vast Islamic knowledge. He was the Chief Imam of Imo State and the Director…

Dr. Ustaz Amin Oderaa Igwegbe is an Igbo man with a vast Islamic knowledge. He was the Chief Imam of Imo State and the Director of Administration, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). He is now a senior lecturer of Food Science and Technology at the University of Maiduguri, Borno State. He urged the pro-Biafra to embrace dialogue.
How did you become a Muslim?

 I became a Muslim at the age of 12. Within that period I was able to go to Libya, where I schooled until I got a master’s degree in Food Science and Technology. I lectured in the University of Tripoli for six years. I came down to Nigeria in 1996 and became the Chief Imam of Imo State between 1997 and 2002. 
You have been in the University of Maiduguri for some years despite insurgency; what has encouraged you?
As a Muslim I believe what Allah (SWT) says: “We are very aware that anywhere you are, death must surely come to you even if you are in a fortified tower.”
My mission to Maiduguri started shortly after I became the Director of Administration, NSCIA. I met a good brother and friend of mine, the former register of the university, Dr. Lawan Bukar. In fact, I can say he is one of my mentors. He met me where I was preaching to pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and he was very surprised and impressed, to the extent that he didn’t believe I was a Nigerian, let alone an Igbo man. He approached me and I told him my mission and how I spent some years in Libya. I also proved my knowledge of the Arabic language and etc.
Initially, he did not know I was a specialist in Food Science and Technology. He thought I was a theologist until the end of Hajj when he asked what I did for a living. I also told him that I had lectured in Libya. He actually encouraged me to come to the University of Maiduguri, not only to be part of the university but at least to conclude my PhD. And he facilitated that process. So I started my PhD programme in Food Science, which I concluded about four years ago. Now, I am a proud PhD holder and a lecturer.
I feel that the University of Maiduguri is where I can impact positively on people and share knowledge with not only my Muslim brothers, but the generality of the people from Borno State, made up of both Muslims and Christians, but the majority are Muslims. I feel that I should be able to impact the so-called western and Islamic education here. I deliver lectures and many other things to the Muslim Students Society (MSS). I am encouraged by the fact that we have majority of Muslims here. My children are very free to practise Islam here, which was not very easy for them when we were in Imo State. Bringing them to Maiduguri enabled them to continue as good Muslims. And the environment looks like the one they lived in Libya. This is one of the things that actually encouraged me to come here.
What is your take on the anti-corruption fight of President Muhammadu Buhari?
I am happy that the president is fighting corruption. I personally did some write-ups which I sent to the Buhari Organisation. We thank God that President Buhari came at the right time. All we need is to support him. On insurgency, at least in Maiduguri, we can now boast that there is peace. We pray that this peace would last.
You are from Imo State in southeastern Nigeria; what is your opinion on the agitation for a sovereign state of Biafra?
I witnessed the Biafran war as a child of about 15 years. Many of the present agitators of Biafra don’t know anything about that war. We suffered during the Biafran war. As children we were schooling under trees and bushes.  These people now agitating were not even born. During the war, we ate all sorts of insects, rats, lizards. It was a terrible experience, but by the special grace of God we survived. I think God wanted us to learn a lesson: there’s nothing as good as an indivisible Nigeria.
My advice to those people is that they should go for dialogue. The best way to achieve any meaningful development is through dialogue. God has made Nigeria an divisible country. Anyone calling for division is not part of us. I am part of the Igbo nation. At my age, I think I know what is good for an average Igbo man. My children are Igbo.
What we are looking for is a united Nigeria. That is what the present administration is trying to achieve and we need to give our support. As we are told in Islam, let us be bold enough to present our grievances to our leader. That is the best form of jihad. We cannot afford to hide under the pretext of marginalisation and start creating problems. I don’t think any decent person would support the so-called agitation for Biafra. What we want is an indivisible Nigeria.

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