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Items filtered by date: February 2017

Ogonis, Other N’Delta Ethnic Nationalities Reject Biafra

  • Published in News

Recent developments are indicating that it is not yet uhuru for the self-determination quest of the Igbos of the South East geopolitical zone of Nigeria to have a country of their own under the name, Biafra, as several factors have continued to constitute an obstacle towards achieving their goal.

 

 

Not only is there a split in the leadership of Biafra, several ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta region hitherto listed among areas delineated as part of Biafra have continued to distance themselves from their struggle.. The Ijaw ethnic nationality, which spread across Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ondo, and Rivers States last week, disowned the struggle, saying they were never part of Biafra.

 

 

The Ijaw ethnic group comprises smaller groups such as Abua, Degema, Engenni, Ibani, Kalabari, Obolo, Odual, and Wakrike in Rivers State, while Nembe, Brass, Yenagoa, Sagbama, Ekeremor, among others are in Bayelsa. They are also found in other Niger Delta States. Leader of the Supreme Egbesu Council, Werinipre Digifa had last week declared in a chat with TNN that the Ijaws were not and can never be part of Biafra.

 

 

Several other ethnic nationalities across the Niger Delta have also told TNN they have nothing to do with Biafra. This runs contrary to the position of the Biafran protagonists that the Niger Delta region was part of their territory. On the map being bandied about by the Biafran separationists, communities such as Annang , Eket, Ikot Ekpene, and Uyo in Akwa Ibom State; Yenagoa in Bayelsa State; Calabar and Ogoja in Cross River State; Agbor, Asaba, Ughelli and Warri in Delta State; and Ahoada, Degema and Port Harcourt in Rivers State, all in the Niger Delta region, were shown as part of Biafra territory.     

 

 
Other areas shown on the map as part of Biafran territory include Aba and Umuahia in Abia State; Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha in Anambra State; Abakaliki in Ebonyi State; Enugu and Oji River in Enugu State; and Okigwe, Orlu and Owerri in Imo State.

 

 
There are currently three different groups agitating for the actualisation of Biafra Republic: the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) led by Ralph Uwazuruike; Biafran Zionist Federation (BZF) led by Benjamin Onwuka; and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu.

 

 
In different interviews with TNN, representatives of different ethnic groups across the region all distanced themselves from the agitation of the Biafrans.

 

 

Oron Nation: Biafra is meaningless distraction

 

The Oron nation in Akwa Ibom State dismissed the idea of a Biafra struggle. In a chat with TNN, president general of the Oron Union, Dr. Effiong Edunam described the Biafra agitation as “a meaningless distraction”.

 

 
In his words: “What is Biafra? We have more important things to worry about than to worry about Biafra. Are you aware that Oron is not even classified as oil producing? And yet it produces 80 per cent of oil credited to Akwa Ibom? Is that not more important to us than Biafra? We don’t want to be associated with that. It is a meaningless distraction”. 

 

 
“We were never Biafra before and we will not be so why do you worry? Those who want Biafra know where Biafra is. When the real Biafra was here did we accept it? Is it this artificial Biafra that we would come to accept? We have more pressing things to bother ourselves about than to worry about Biafra,” he stressed.

 

 Ikwerre People: We have nothing to do with Biafra 

 

The Ikwerre ethnic group in Rivers State also distanced themselves from the Biafra struggle. A member of Rumuigbo traditional council in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state, Chief Alex Wele said “the Ikwerres are not part of Biafra. We are not part of them. Yes, there may be one or two persons who identify with them in their personal capacity and you agree with me that they are entitled to that. But the Ikwerre ethnic nationality has nothing to do with Biafra”. 

 

 
On the recent protests by Biafran agitators in Port Harcourt, Wele said “it is borne out of the false perception that not just Port Harcourt but Rivers State is part of Biafra. But they are wrong. Rivers State is not and cannot be part of Biafra”.

 

Calabar: Don’t Associate us with Biafra 

 

Toeing the same line, the Efut nation also declared it was not part of Biafra. The Muri Munene of Efut nation in Calabar South of Cross River State, Effiong Mbukpa said “I do not advocate that Cross River should be part of Biafra, I will not.

 

“I know the ordeal we went through during the civil war, so I do not know if God has changed the minds of the Igbos. I do not also know whether the Ijaw people - Rivers and Bayelsa - are ready to be part of Biafra. Frankly, it was an ugly experience during the civil war. I am not ready to be part of Biafra and I don’t see it working”.

 

 
“I don’t advocate for Nigeria to break up, the more united we are, the stronger we become. We should remain as one, we should not split. Very soon the Yoruba’s and other areas will join and once you do not Nigeria will be no more. It is better we stay together and manage our problems, though tribe and tongue may differ but unity should be our strength,” he added.  

 

 
Ogonis: It’s an insult on us

 

Also reacting to the issue, president of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Legborsi Pyagbara Legborsi said the Ogonis have their own struggle which is clearly spelt out in the Ogoni Bill of Rights and as such cannot be part of the Biafran struggle.

 

 
He declared that the “Ogoni people do not belong to Biafra. We are not part of Biafra. We are Ogoni and we remain Ogoni.

 

 
“The Ogoni people have launched their own struggle and their issues concerning them are clearly spelt out in the Ogoni bill of right. If some people have chosen to go on their own struggle, they cannot coerce us into their own agenda. We have our own separate struggle which is clearly defined. We cannot go with the Biafra”.

 

 
“Everybody has a right to their own agitation. They have a right to seek justice and their own right. But they should know that other people have their own right. They should respect the right of others to say we are or we are not part of you. We cannot say we are now part of another process. Our issues are well defined. In the Ogoni bill of right, we did not say we will belong to any other province”.

 

 
“It is an insult because they do not recognise us to be different. They didn’t even seek our consent. He who seeks equity should do so with clean hands. There have not been any consultations. For me, it is an insult. We never said at any point in time that we cannot do it alone. We can do it alone,” he stressed.

 

 Annang Nation: We can’t suffer in their hands again

 

The Annang nation in Akwa Ibom State has also disowned the Biafra agitation. In a chat with TNN, chairman of Eket chapter of Ati Annang, a socio-cultural group of the Annang people, Ime Akpan said they can never be part of the Igbo in a political structure.

 

 
Recounting their experiences in the hands of the Igbos during the civil war, Akpan said never again would they suffer in their hands. He listed exploitation, hate, murder, oppression, sabotage, language discrimination and persecution by the Igbos as some of the sad experiences they witnessed at the hands of the Igbos.   

 

   

 

Reliable sources have hinted TNN that some leaders of the Biafra struggle have been feeding their fellow Igbos overseas with assurances that the Niger Delta region was part of the struggle for self-determination. They also hold that they are in talks with key stakeholders in the region and are positive that they would support them when the time comes.
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How To End Biafra Struggle - Emmah Isong

National publicity secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and general overseer of the Christian Central Chapel International (CCCI), Bishop Emmah Isong, in this interview with some newsmen in Calabar, spoke on the economic recession in the country, the killings in Southern Kaduna, restructuring of the country, among other emerging issues. UBONG INYANG was there for TNN. Excerpts:

 

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari will mark two years in office anytime from now, how do you think he has fared so far?

 

I hate to assess a government. This is because the assessment of a government is not an individual criterion. It is a mass criterion. In the first place what is a democratic government? It is a government of the people, for the people and by the people. You and I know that the Buhari-led government has done very well in the area of anti-corruption with a lot of question marks and has done very well in the area of transparency of governance-freedom of information. But it has done very badly and very poorly, almost to the point of failure in the area of economy. It is no more a secret both in public and private domain. Even the APC chieftains have agreed that this government is the worst government in economic formulas. It has not been able to put food on the table of ordinary Nigerians. They have goofed, stumbled and fallen in the area of cash circulation, fiscal policies, baking regulations and basic commercial laws. They have failed woefully in the area of commerce. I think the question answered itself even before I answered. You can put what I just said on public opinion and tell them to vote, and you will see that it would be the same result. Everyone is feeling the pains of the stringent and almost lack of economic policy. It has never been like this. We are lacking good hands around the President, intelligent, experience men around the President who has the wherewithal to advise him economically for Nigeria to come out of recession which has ravaged every sector of the economy. Even the President's kinsmen are complaining- this is no more one man's voice, even the President himself confessed that things are tough and Nigerians are hungry. I believe that what this government lack is that they were politically prepared to take over government but they were not economically armed to manage government. Winning of an election is different from managing of an economy and this is a big lesson for future governments. To win an election and constitute a government does not tantamount to having key players that can drive the economy.

 

How can the country get out of recession?

 

I have proffered one solution- we lack mature and experienced hands to advice Mr. President. He (Buhari) may have good intentions but wrong inventions- I mean the way to go about it. Just having a good heart is not enough for Mr. President. Just being a good man, just being nice and wishing Nigeria well does to tantamount to economic development.

 

What is your take on the killings in Southern Kaduna?

 

The issue of Southern Kaduna has three dimensions which Nigerians don't know- it has dimension of tribe, it has a traditional dimension because it is an age-long tribal feud. It has religious dimension- the perpetrators on one wing are Christians, the other wing unfortunately are Muslims. It also has political dimension. Politicians have capitalized on the issue to perpetrate their political aggrandizement. So the Southern Kaduna crisis is a traditional old dog that can bite, it has a religious name but is always woken up by political noise. If you are intelligent enough to mix what I just said you can see that it is a scenario that is manipulated. Kaduna crisis happened before some of you were born; it has been there for years. There is only one way to solve the Kaduna crisis. One- all plans by any religion in Nigeria to show Supremacy, a certain religion is calling the other people our slaves, our tenants, have you seen where the traditional angle comes in?  Just like if we have some Muslims in Akpabuyo and we call them our slaves, that will continue to detect how we treat those Muslims in Akpabuyo. It is a traditional angle not yet religious. It is religious when the politicians who are pursuing their selfish interest decide to divide the electorates into religious divides- if you don't believe it is more political than religious, how come more than 800 people were killed in one night even when there was curfew. There was curfew on the day of killing showing that the killers had permission to move freely, showing that the killers were not civilians. Every civilian during curfew were locked in, who are the killers- the killers are people that were allowed to move, permitted to move or people whose movement were known. There were enough military and security guard in Kaduna during the killings. It is either some demons fell down from somewhere and started killing or people who are on uniform had used their good offices to perpetrate the killings.

 

Still talking about the killings in Southern Kaduna, recently Apostle Suleiman made a statement which some people feel could trigger ethnic and religious crisis. As a leader would you advise Christians to resort to self-help on issues like this?

 

You cannot beat a child and expect him not to cry. Which is more criminal? To kill 808 people and nobody was arrested or to comment that you should defend yourself? And somebody was picked up by DSS- We should think about this thing. You killed 808 people and DSS didn't arrest anybody up till now. No suspect is paraded then somebody now spoke carelessly about that killing, he is to be killed, he is to be arrested. People say he is making hate speech. When you push a man to the wall, slap him and burn down his house the hate speech principle does not apply again. I ask again, which one is more criminal? To kill 808 people and no one is arrested and to raise alarm over the killings. It is not right. If you had grabbed the killers and parade them it would have been a different thing because we would have been convinced that they are handling the issue. You are not handling the issue. Of course, Suleiman himself is a former Muslim- I am not saying he should have spoken like that but I am saying that punish the people that carried out the killings and then come and punish him (Suleiman). Government should not seem to be biased on enforcement of law, and government should not seem to be religious or prejudice in apprehending hate speech. A lot of northern and Muslim leaders have made a lot of hate speeches. Somebody woke up one day and said tell the Igbos to go to hell we don't need Biafra - that is a hate speech. Another religious leader said the other day if you arrest a Boko Haram members please don't kill them bring them to me-somebody has said that, it is on the news. A Muslim leader had said the other day that if somebody stops you from practicing your religion kill him. This is discriminate application of Nigerian laws - it is showing that the Nigerian nation is not one- it is showing that we are laying foundation for terrible upheavals and division of this country. You cannot magnify someone statement of that level and make it look as if the whole world has collapsed when there are hundreds of such statements.

 

It is just like the probe of the PDP campaign funds which I am still saying the government is right to probe it. It is not right if they used our oil money to invest in their election- I condemn it. But can I also have another roll call of APC Campaign funds. Where did APC get money to do their elections- nobody is talking about this? Where did PDP money come from? We all know that it came from Billions of dollars through the office of the National Security Adviser- that is quite clear. So where did APC get their money from. The person that won spent more money than the one that lost. Where did that money come from? I want an answer as a Nigerian- my name is Bishop Dr Emma Isong. Give me answer. The country is not one. We are not using the Nigerian law to treat people equally. Maybe our laws are good but the execution of these laws are biased, prejudiced, and tribalized which is not good for the running of the nation.

 

Do you agree that Islam is a threat to the world?

 

Nations that are 100 per cent Muslims have no peace. Mention one Muslim country that has peace? So I tell my Muslim brothers in Nigeria if they want the whole Nigeria to be Islamized, you want to deep the Koran in River Niger? You want all of us to convert to Muslim? I am ready. If you want everybody in Nigeria to be Muslims so that we have peace then I am ready. Me and my family we can become Muslim but are you ready to answer one question. After this nation is fully Islamized, would we have peace? But you will be shock that the country will be even more violent than Syria, than Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and Yemen. Recently, a group of Muslim terrorist tried to bomb the grave of Mohammed; five meters the bomb missed the grave. You could imagine bombing the grave of your revered leader. So I am ready to be a Muslim if they can convince me that there will be peace. Turkey, Yemen is 98 per cent Muslim but there is no peace. Islam has been infiltrated by a group of radicals, senseless bigots who are not themselves Muslims.

 

Just recently Pastor Adeboye's wife said Christian leaders are the worst leaders, what is your reaction to this?

 

I was with Pastor Adeboye few days ago in his office, we sat together and talked. What she meant by worse leaders is that in Christianity we should learn to bear one voice. Like in other religion, if one of them speaks it is the final say but in Christianity if one of us speak who is a leader there are divergent views under that one view. We are not ready to obey. For instance, if Christian leaders come out to say we are not going to work on Monday, Christian A will ask why we are not going to work, Christian B will comment me -I am going to work I don't know what you people mean- there will be no convergent and synergy to speak in one voice. That is the meaning of what Adeboye's wife said, not that we are bad leaders in our endeavors. Bad leaders in terms of we don't listen to one leader. For instance Papa Ayo Oritsejafor, who is a Christian leader, speaks now the other people may fight him. It does not happen in other religions. No matter who you are you can never oppose the voice of your revered leader.

 

There have been calls in some quarters for the restructuring of Nigeria in line with the report of the 2014 National Conference, are you also in support of restructuring?

 

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has sent a message to Buhari that he should implement the 2014 national confab report and I think that report clearly stood for restructuring. Most of the national issues we are debating now were answered at the confab and they were jointly from north, south, east and west. The Biafra case will die if you implement the report, Niger Delta crisis would die, and even the Boko Haram will end if you implement that report. Even the Yoruba nation, their eyes are on that report, they want the report out. Call any governor now that you want to see him, the answer would be that he is in Abuja. All the governors spend their time in Abuja. What are they doing in Abuja? Pursuing their allocation, national wealth, following the money. All local government Chairmen are not in the local government, they are in the state capital.

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What You Need To Know About One Coin – Ekpenyong

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There are opportunities for high yielding investments, seamless international transactions and cost cutting payment processes by investing in cryptocurrency, especially the rave of the moment, One Coin. One Coin is valued currently at 7,5 Euros and is gaining strength and acceptability across the globe with its multifaceted advantages.

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Dickson's Many Lies Will Soon Be Exposed -Kimse Okoko

For close to an hour, Prof Kimse Okoko, a former president of the Ijaw National Congress and currently, pro chancellor, University of Uyo, fielded questions from some journalists in Port Harcourt, basically on some pressing issues in his home state, Bayelsa. He was as blunt as he has always been. TNN was represented at the media briefing by OFONIME UMANAH. Excerpts:

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Dismissed Police, TIMARIV Officers Extorting Motorists

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The Rivers State command of the Nigeria Police Force has accused dismissed policemen and former staff of the defunct state traffic management authority (TIMARIV) for the incessant cases of extortion of motorists on the streets of Port Harcourt, the state capital and others parts of the state.

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Etche Rerun: Rivers APC Heads For Tribunal

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Controversy has continued to trail the just concluded federal and state legislative rerun elections in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State as one of the main contenders in the election, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has vowed to challenge the outcome at the tribunal. The party is reacting to the confusion surrounding the announcement of the results of the polls by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

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Rivers Assembly Considers BMH for Varsity Teaching Hospital

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The Rivers State House of Assembly may soon approve the Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMSH) as take-off centre for the State University of Science and Technology Teaching Hospital being proposed for the state. This is due to the overwhelming support for such by residents of the state who voiced their opinion on the issue.

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