By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI—A chieftain of Ijaw Peoples Assembly and a human rights activist, Miss Annkio Briggs, has expressed worry over what she termed “the induced differences between the South East and South South geo-political zones of the country”.
Briggs, made her feelings known yesterday, during the first South East/South South Conference in Owerri.
“Our traducers not only balkanized the former Eastern Region, but also injected false and jaundiced propaganda that has effectively left us where are today”, Miss Briggs said.
While saying that she is a very proud Ijaw woman, Miss Briggs however insisted that nobody should coerce her into being a better Nigerian without necessarily being a patriotic Ijaw woman.
“There is a lot of misinformation in the land. We must be determined to save ourselves from the grip of those who hate us. There must be a time we must sit down and work out a way to drive this unification project”, Briggs pleaded.
She recalled with grief that the two zones were making huge sacrifices to keep Nigeria afloat, pointing out that all the federal allocations to the states and local government areas are skewed in favour of the North.
On the issue of grazing land for herdsmen, Miss Briggs said it was the most senseless thing for any state to do.
Speaking also, an elder statesman, Dr. Uma Eleazu, reasoned that “we have several groups pulling us in different directions, adding that “what we need is self determination as distinct from sovereignty”.
In his own presentation, one of the conveners of the conference, Chief Aloysius Osuji, lamented that the South East/South South zones are the worst hit in the present federal system.
“Why are the Port Harcourt, Warri and Calabar ports not functioning? Why should our traders be forced to use only the Lagos ports? The Federal Government should please give us the answer”, Osuji said.