BY KAZIE UKO
President Muhammadu Buhari has equated the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) with the Igbo people of South East region, Nigeria.
IPOB professes non-violence but declared as terrorist organisation by the Buhari administration. It is a separatist group within the South East, a region peopled by the Igbo tribe of Nigeria.
The group, led by fugitive Nnamdi Kanu, has continued to agitate for the sovereign state of Biafra that would be made up of, primarily, the five states that constitute the South East zone, and parts of other Igbo-speaking neighbouring states in Nigeria.
Notwithstanding that majority of Igbos, as represented by the foremost Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, have expressed desire to remain in the Nigerian federation, President Buhari still found it convenient to equate IPOB with the Igbo people of South East.
In an exclusive sit-down-interview on Thursday with a team of the Arise TV, the first with any local news medium in recent memory, the president described IPOB as a dot in a circle that has nowhere to go.
He said, “That IPOB is just like a dot in a circle. Even if they want to exit, they will have no access to anywhere.
“And the way they are spread all over the country, having businesses and properties, I don’t think IPOB knows what they are talking about.”
President Buhari referenced earlier statement he made on Twitter that was eventually deleted by the tech giant, leading to the suspension of its operations in Nigeria, that Nigeria will talk to IPOB in the language “they understand”.
Said the President: “In any case, we say we’ll talk to them in the language that they understand. We’ll organise the police and the military to pursue them.”
Buhari also said that he has been assured by “the elderly people” and “the youths” from the South-South part of the country that their region has no intention of seceding.
He said IPOB will not have “access to anywhere” even if they eventually secede from the country, reiterating that IPOB members will be treated in the language that they understand.
“I was encouraged by what I heard, nobody told me. Two statements from the south-south. One by the elderly people, they said this time around there would be no (secession). And again, the youth made the same statement; such encouragement,” Buhari said.