Simon Ekpa: Journey From Track Athlete To Prime Minister Of The Biafra Republic Government In Exile

Service to one’s country knows no bounds, and anyone willing to serve their people is welcome. This is the journey of Mazi Simon Ekpa, a former athlete and political activist who is now leading a movement to have his people exercise their human right to self-determination.

Born on March 21, 1985, Simon Njoku Ekpa hails from Ohaukwu, Ebonyi State, Nigeria. He is from the Igbo people, who reside mostly in Southern and Southeastern Nigeria. This region is part of what was formerly the Republic of Biafra, a state that was briefly independent and partially recognized from 1967-1970, a period known as the Nigerian Civil War. This conflict resulted in the deaths of millions of Biafrans due to famine caused by a military blockade of the region.

Nigeria is an amalgamation of British colonial territories in West Africa which became independent in 1960. It is a collection of vastly different cultures, with the Northern regions being mostly Muslim, while the Southern regions being a mix of Christians and adherents of traditional religions. As with many other instances in Africa, the former colonial powers’ lumping of different peoples and cultures under arbitrary country borders has resulted in long-running ethnic, religious, and cultural conflict, which has often erupted into violence.

Since the end of the Civil War, the Biafran people have been working to regain their independence, which is enshrined in the United Nations’ principles under the right to self-determination. A large number of the Biafran people reside overseas, fleeing violence and the lack of economic opportunities plaguing the region since the end of the war.

In his youth, Simon was an outstanding athlete, gaining recognition in his community for his athletic prowess, especially in the disciplines of sprinting, long jump, and triple jump. His performance caught the eye of sports authorities, and he was called on to represent Nigeria internationally multiple times. In the 2003 African Junior Athletics Championships, held in Cameroon, Simon won the silver medal in the Triple Jump.

Everything seemed to be going well, but Simon suffered a major knee injury, sidelining him from competition. According to Simon, many Nigerian athletes are left to their own devices when injured, which is why many athletes change nationalities. As for himself, he moved to Finland in 2007 to seek treatment and surgery for his knee. There, Simon found a new life and career, entering the law profession and starting his own family.

Settling down in the city of Lahti, Simon learned the Finnish language, gained Finnish citizenship, and completed his military service duties. He studied Law at Aberystwyth University, before joining the National Coalition Party of Finland and running for office in the 2022 Finnish county elections. He is currently a member and the committee chair of the transportation board at Lahden Kaupunki in Lahti. Simon has also served as the Chairman of the Playground Board, in the City Lahti, a position he held between 2017-2021. Overall, he has been active in Finnish politics since 2012.

Simon is also the founder and CEO of Ekpa & Co Oy, a law firm specializing in immigration law.
Despite moving to a new country, Simon never forgot about the land he came from and the struggles of his people. He remained active in Biafran circles, both in Finland and elsewhere, and continued supporting the independence movement. In 2021, Simon began rising in prominence, becoming a major figure in the independence movement. In April 2023, Simon was eventually elected Prime Minister of the Biafra Republic Government In-Exile, BRGIE. The BRGIE has more than 200 Cabinet ministers located across the world and liaison offices in countries across multiple continents.

The BRGIE is also in contact with de facto self-governing territories in Biafra, and is working to ensure the safety of Biafran people and protect them from violence. As Prime Minister, Simon is at the forefront of the movement, addressing the UN and other world leaders, building relationships, and opening diplomatic channels, to secure independence for his people.

“My people have been experiencing a lot of hardship, first under the colonial government and now under a government we did not consent to,” Simon says. “Our struggle has been ongoing for many decades, and I am honored with the trust and huge responsibility placed on me by the Biafran people to serve them and give them a voice in the international community.”

Starting in 2021, the Biafran people are engaged in civil disobedience activities, including large-scale sit-ins, which remain ongoing. A self-referendum, addressing the question of Biafran independence from Nigeria, was also started on February 1, 2024, and seeks to gain the consent of the people to move the process forward.