Leaders of thought from the South-South geo-political zone have berated President Muhammadu Buhari over his “dot in the circle” statement and his assertion that some South-South leaders told him they wouldn’t let Ndigbo access the sea.
The president in an interview on Arise Television had declared that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) whom he regarded as belonging to the Igbo ethnic group are like “a dot in the circle”. According to him, South-South leaders comprising youths and elders have distanced themselves from any alignment with South-Easterners.
Notable South-South leaders such as Annkio Briggs, Dr. Don Pedro Obaseki, Tony Nnadi, Col. Tony Nyiam (rtd) and Rear Admiral Geoffrey Yanga (rtd), jointly decried the statement in a virtual conference organised by Njenje Media TV titled: “Addressing ‘The dot in the circle’ in Buhari’s interview, A return to 1966?”
The leaders, in the Zoom conference anchored by Maazi Tochukwu Ezeoke, bemoaned what they termed “the divide and rule” tactics of President Buhari, stressing that it was a ploy to cause disaffection between the Southeast and their South-South siblings.
Annkio Briggs, popularly called the ‘Amazon of the Niger Delta’, in her submission, said it was offensive for the president to refer to a people that have an identity as ‘a dot in the circle’.
“It doesn’t matter if the Igbo, Ijaw or the Itsekiri are only 10 people or 100,000 people. You don’t refer to them as a dot in the circle. That already shows very clearly the mindset of the person of President Buhari,” she said.
On the claim by Buhari that some South-South leaders assured him that they would not align with the Igbo, she said: “First of all, I don’t even recall any access or non-access to the sea during the onslaught of the Civil War.
“It was the federal government that came through the sea and the creeks. There are millions of elders and there are millions of youths in the Niger Delta, and there are ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta that make up the south-South.”
According to her, those who told him such cannot represent the region and therefore spoke to give him pleasure because he (Buhari) is attempting to divide and rule both the South-South and the Southeast.
She further said that IPOB and the Igbo people are not the same, affirming that the ties between the Niger Delta and the Igbo remain ever strong.
A former Managing Director of DAAR Communications PLC, Dr. Don Pedro Obaseki said the South-South and the Southeast are united in the struggle for survival against the existential threat of the Buhari-led administration.
“The President himself has posed himself as an existential threat to the Nigerian nation and ethnic nationalities that populate the space.
“There are 65 ethnic nationalities as defined by some of our leaders in the entire South-South and the man comes on public television and says he speaks to two elders, and some youths. It is laughable,” he stated.