The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has described the Indigenous People of Biafra clamouring for secession as a dot in a circle that has nowhere to go.
The President spoke during a rare interview with Arise Television aired on Thursday.
He said, “I was encouraged about what I heard. Nobody told me this, two statements from the South-South one by the elderly people. They said this time around, there would be no secession.
“Again, the youth made the same statement; so that means IPOB is just like a dot in a circle, if they want to exit, they would exit to nowhere and the way they are spread all over the country having businesses and properties, I think IPOB does not know what they are talking about.
“If we say we would talk to them in the language they understand, we will organise the police and the military to pursue them, that is what we can do and we will.”
But the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Thursday chided Buhari for the statement, saying that he had a choice between dialogue or an avoidable war against the Igbo.
Ohanaeze justified the agitation for Biafra by Igbo youths through various pro-Biafra groups, adding that Buhari’s nepotistic and sectional government reinforced separatist agitation in the South-East.
The group in a statement titled, ‘Buhari: A choice between dialogue and war,’ signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, said Buhari since inception of his regime has not hidden his disdain for the Igbo that failed to vote for him en-masse in 2015.
The statement partly reads, “Ohanaeze Ndigbo has followed with deep concern the security sequence targeted at the Igbo; the deliberate posting of northern military and police officers at the various strategic locations in the South-East.
“The Special National Security Council Meeting, where major decisions are taken for the South-East and the South-South to the utter exclusion of security personnel from the South-East of Nigeria; the ominous launching of the ‘Operation Restore Peace’ in the South East and South-South and the shoot-on-sight order by the Inspector General of Police targeted at Igbo youths.”
The group added, “Ohanaeze Ndigbo has cautioned that the unprecedented lopsidedness of the Nigerian government in favour of the Fulani, to the exclusion of other ethnic groups, especially in the security architecture, will rather exacerbate the internal security challenges in the country. History shows that leaders who espoused ethnocentric ideology, especially in Africa, had often created more problems than they intended to solve.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo believes that the agitation by the Igbo youth over marginalization is justified. In spite of the orchestrated alienation of the Igbo, we are committed to a diplomatic approach towards a restructured Nigeria that guarantees equity, fairness and rule of law.
“President Buhari has a choice between dialogue on the one hand and an avoidable war against the Igbo on the other. Again, history shows that our thoughts are very infinitesimal to the immutable Law of the Universe.”
Also, IPOB’s National Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, in a statement on Thursday, said Buhari’s threat would not stop the group from actualising Biafra.
He said, “The President’s threat would make IPOB and the Eastern Security Network stronger.
“They have been doing that before now. Threats cannot change IPOB. He can stay in Aso Rock threatening Nigerians. but not IPOB and ESN.
“Fulani terrorists and their leader’s threat can’t remove or change our resolve to restore Biafra freedom from Nigeria.”
Likewise, the Association of South East Town Union, after its emergency meeting in Enugu on Thursday, said it was appalled by the President’s statement against Ndigbo.
The National President of the group, Chief Emeka Diwe, said, “It is appalling that President Buhari who has never spoken strongly against the atrocities of the Fulani herdsmen and bandits is threatening to visit another festival of blood on Igbo people.
“We demand that he retracts that statement, tenders an apology to Ndigbo and puts off all arrangements geared towards enforcing that genocidal threat.
“We equally wish to put the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the African Union, ECOWAS, United States of America, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Israel on notice of the public encouragement given by the President to uniformed officers and the general public to engage in genocidal behavior against Ndigbo.
“We call on the Federal Government to immediately convene a national dialogue to resolve the many fundamental questions which have continued to breed crises in Nigeria.”