South-East, South-South alliance under threat as IPOB, PANDEF feud over Edwin Clarke

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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.

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“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.

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“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.

“Over the years, the highly respected chief who was a Federal Min­ister of Information, and Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic, has in his capacities as an edu­cationist, politician, public servant, lawyer, lawmaker, community leader and na­tionalist, continued to play vital roles to stimulate uni­ty, peace and development in the Niger Delta Region, and Nigeria, at large.

“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.”

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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.

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