The cordial relationship that had existed between The South-South and South-East geo-political zones has come under severe threat as the two regions are set to clash over a statement credited to the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (POB) against the South-South leader, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clarke.
IPOB, in a statement by its spokesman, Emma Powerful, on Friday described Clarke as not worthy to speak on behalf of the millions of the Niger Delta people clamouring to be part of Biafra.
In its response, the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) weekend, described the statement against its leader, Clark, as “idiotic and foolhardy”.
PANDEF said that the statement by the separatist group would erode any sympathy they had hitherto received from the South-South Geo-political Zone over the years except an unreserved apology was tendered to the elder statesman and the people of the Niger Delta by Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership.
“Let us restate, without any equivocation, that the Niger Delta Region is not part of Biafra and that no inch of the South-South geopolitical zone shall be part of any imagined ‘Republic’. It’s rather puerile for IPOB or any other group to consider that Niger Delta Region would be part of any arbitrary contraption. If it becomes necessary for the Niger Delta people to pull out of this country, we shall do so, on our terms,” PANDEF said.
The statement, which was signed by Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, National Chairman of PANDEF and former Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, said it was needless to mention the privileged credentials and contributions of Chief Edwin Clarke “whose life is a rich source of inspiration to many, within and beyond the borders of Nigeria.
“Nevertheless, it would suffice to state that the influence and significance of Chief E. K. Clark transcend the South-South Zone and the Niger Delta. He is an unswerving voice that resonates across Nigeria; for decades, speaking out against oppression, discrimination, and marginalization in the country.
“Working with other patriotic Nigerians, including the leadership of the apex Igbo Socio-Cultural Organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and eminent personalities of Igbo extraction, towards the realisation of a better Nigeria, where Equity, Fairness, and Justice would reign, and which, he remains doggedly committed to, even at age 94.”
The Niger Delta group said it would assume no well-meaning Igbo son or daughter would sanction the aspersion by IPOB on the South-South leader, “however, we would insist that the leadership of the Igbo nation denounces the irresponsible statement by IPOB and tender a public apology to the elder statesman, and, indeed, the entire Niger Delta people, in the interest of healthy relations between the South-East and South-South zones. Anything short of that would be inferred to be tacit approval of the balderdash of IPOB.