From Magnus Eze, Enugu and Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Igbo leaders as well as several groups from the South East, have descended on President Muhammadu Buhari for deriding Ndigbo in his television interview on Thursday.
They attacked the President for equating the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) with the whole region when he called the pro-Biafra group “a dot in a circle.”
They also flayed him for threatening to deal ruthlessly with the people of the zone and his endorsement for continued open grazing by herders.
Their reactions came as the Federal Government, yesterday, hurriedly dispatched a delegation consisting of Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (rted), his Interior Ministry counterpart, Raul Aregbesola and the Service Chiefs, to discuss the security situation in the zone.
The meeting was attended by all the Governors of the South East; other political and religious leaders as well as traditional rulers held at the Government House, Enugu.
Ohanaeze told President Buhari that he has a choice between dialogue and waging an avoidable war against Ndigbo.
The apex Igbo body counselled him that it was better to toe the path of dialogue as it has continued to canvass.
It added that what the country needed “as a matter of urgency is dialogue, mutual toleration and shared values; and not the use of force.”
Ohanaeze recalled that Obiozor had at a world press conference in Enugu on June 4, reiterated the Igbo position “that Ndigbo will not support the break-up of Nigeria but Ndigbo will not be victims of Nigerian unity”.
For clarity, Ohanaeze stated that the sustained agitation for secession by the Igbo youths, especially the Nnamdi Kanu-led IPOB became heightened by the obvious exclusion of the Igbo in the President Buhari government and Mr. President has not in any way hidden his disdain for the groups that failed to vote for him en-masse in 2015 and 2019 general elections.
“President Buhari has a choice between dialogue on one hand and an avoidable war against the Igbo on the other.”
Similarly, the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) and Association of South East Town Unions (ASETU) said that Buhari had not repented in his avowed threat of annihilating the Igbo.
ADF advised him to play the role of a nationalist and a patriot instead of looking for excuses to play up his Fulani supremacist agenda. It also admonished Buhari to drop his fondness for ethnic profiling, and wondered what mortal sin the Igbo had committed to deserve annihilation in Nigeria.
The group’s spokesman, Abia Onyike said: “He is making a mistake by equating the IPOB with the Igbo ethnic nationality. If he says the IPOB has investments all over Nigeria; that is ethnic profiling. IPOB is only an organization in Igboland. Why is Buhari so bent on making war with the Igbo? That would be genocide and it has its repercussions with the international criminal court. What crime has the Igbo committed that war should be declared on them? Many people believe that Buhari had always wanted this war against Ndigbo because he sees them as the only viable opposition against his Fulani supremacist agenda.”
Also, ASETU National President, Emeka Diwe and National Secretary; Gideon Adikwuru, who addressed newsmen in Enugu, said the statements from Buhari were troubling and not presidential.
“By reminding Ndigbo of our assets that are scattered across the country, President Buhari has only succeeded at giving a tacit support to the rest of Nigeria to be hostile to the Igbo and our interests wherever they are found. This is unfortunate.
“The threats which we are now getting from President Buhari suggest that there is a plot to commit another genocide against our people. We demand that President Buhari should immediately withdraw those threats against Ndigbo, tender apologies to our people and put off every plan for their execution,” ASETU said.
Meanwhile, former Military Administrator of Delta State, Air Commodore Luke Ochulor (rtrd) has warned that militarisation of the issue at hand will only lead to another problem.
He said: “Killing people will never solve the problem, no amount of military operations can solve this, the best thing is to dialogue, but that doesn’t mean people should be causing problems, attacking police stations, it’s wrong for anybody to do that”.