Determined to douse the tension arising from the three-month quit notice to Igbo residents in the north and restore the country to the path of peace, a coalition of ethnic nationalities have sued for calm amongst Nigerian youths.
This came as some leaders of Igbo and Arewa students paid a visit to the national Deputy Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Comrade Chuks Ibegbu with a message to be conveyed to Ohanaeze, calling Ndigbo to forgive the Northern youths that provoked them by calling for their eviction in the North; even as Nigerian Christian leaders called on the Federal Government to arrest the situation before it develops to something unmanagable.
The coalition of ethnic nationalities also called on the Federal Government to urgently convoke a national youth confab, which would have Acting President Yemi Osinbajo in attendance.
Rising from a meeting in Abuja yesterday, the groups also called for a ceasefire among the various youth groups in the country.
In a communique raised at the end of the meeting, the groups said that the constitution of Nigeria guarantees Nigerians the right to live in any part of the country of their choice.
They added that the confab would provide Osinbajo an opportunity to hear the grievances of the youths, stressing that it would also calm frayed nerves and restore the country to the path of unity.
According to the groups, their resolve to toe the path of peace was hinged on the intervention of former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi who they said advised them to remain calm.
The communique was signed by Comrade Eric Oluwale of Yoruba Youths Council Worldwide and Secretary General, Ethnic National Youths Leaders; Comrade Emma Zompal of the Middle Belt Youth Council Worldwide; Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council; Barr. Oweilaemi Ereotubo of the Ijaw Youths Council; and Arewa Northern Youths Assembly led by Alhaji Musa Abdulahi.
The communique read in part: “Good citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we wish to express our concern over the quit notice to Igbos by Arewa youths last week. Nigeria’s Constitution gives right to citizens of Nigeria to freely move to any part of the land and choose where to live without any form of discrimination and denial. We hereby declare the quit notice unconstitutional and treasonable.
“We condemn the quit notice served by Arewa youths to Igbos resident in the North and have resolved for peace to reign in all quarters. The meeting has, however, instituted the peace process of reconciling the north and the south east
“We are still insisting on restructuring of the country so as to guarantee an equitable federalism for peaceful co existence.
“We have resolved to toe the line of peace, owing to the fatherly advice from the former governor of Anambra State, Chief Peter Obi, the Okwute Ndigbo. The youths, without hesitation, are ready to heed his advice considering his towering reputation beyond the shores of Nigeria. He remains in history as the best governor Anambra has ever had and for that singular reason, his intervention is welcome.
“Obi has made it clear to the youths that there is futility in disunity and songs of war. He has convinced us that we are better off together, united.
“In the light of the above, we call for immediate end to further verbal exchanges on the above matter. This is the time for us to unite and champion a common course for Nigeria’s unity.
“However, the youths hereby resolve that there will be a national youth confab in order to address fundamental problems. “The confab must have in attendance, the Acting President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. This shall be an opportunity for him to calm frayed nerves and restore the country to the path of unity.”
Igbo, Arewa student leaders visit Ohanaeze Ndigbo
The student groups under the auspices of the World Igbo Students Association, WISA, and Coalition of All Arewa Students, COAS, lauded Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership led by Nnia Nwodo for the manner they piloted Ndigbo not to over-react over the statement by Arewa youths.
They also lauded Igbo governors, leaders and people in the North for the mature manner they have been handling the matter despite the provocation.
They appealed to Comrade Ibegbu to convey their message of goodwill to the new Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership and urge it to continue to build bridges of understanding between Ndigbo and other Nigerians. They reminded Ndigbo of the historic political relationship between them and the North in the 60s and also during the second republic.
‘The relationship between the North and Ndigbo has deepened so much that the vituperations of some misguided youths in the North cannot thaw it’, they noted.
In his reponse, Comrade Chuks Ibegbu thanked the students and assured them that he will convey their messages of goodwill to the Ohanaeze President General, Chief Nnia Nwodo and Ohanaeze leadership. He urged the youths to continue to work together to build a prosperous nation as the future belongs to them. He acknowledged and lauded the solidarity from all parts of Nigeria and the international community to Ndigbo since that statement and noted that Ndigbo will again take it as one of those challenges and sacrifices they have been making for nation building.
The delegation was led by Comrade Odera Udutchey for WISA, Comrade Tijanni Yusuf for COAS, Bala Usman for Arewa Youths and Nnamdi Chukwu for Igbo youths
Northerners in S’East applaud hospitality of their Igbo hosts
Meantine, Northerners in the South East under the aegis of Coalition of All Northern Peoples in the South East CONPISE, have dissociated themselves from the clamour by some Northern youths for Igbos to quit the North. The group called on Ndigbo in the North to disregard that provocative statement and go about their normal businesses.
The group also urged Northern leaders to caution the unruly boys who want to pitch them with Ndigbo, noting that they have been living in peace with Ndigbo since ages and will not want the relationship to get sour.
They appealed to Ndigbo to forgive the misled Northern youths, noting that the Igbo are one of the most hospitable people on earth and have done a lot to develop the North.
They however called on the pro-Biafra groups to reconsider their stand on Biafra and see how to forge a better Nigeria. Their spokesman, Alh Bature Mohammadu also called for the arrest of the deviant youths.
Beware of the ides of July, Christian leaders warn
Similarly, Nigerian Christian leaders have called on the Federal Government to arrest the situation before it develops to something unmanagable.
The gospel ministers drawn from across the nation condemned the quit order, urging the Federal Government to make haste to arrest all those behind the ultimatum and sponsors of such infractions which they perceive, is at variance with the spirit of the 1999 constitution of the federation.
The clerics further warned the political class to beware of the ides of July, stressing that the unfortunate Nigerian civil war of 1967-70 which claimed over two million lives, started on July 6, 1967.
They described the Kaduna declaration as reckless and a grave danger for the nation’s fledgling democracy as it takes us back to events of 1966-67 preceding the civil war.
Dr. Chidi Okoroafor, General Superintendent, Assemblies of God Nigeria, maintained that they believe in the unity and corporate existence of Nigeria as a nation and called on the northern youths to sheathe their swords and pursue peace for the growth and development of the nation.
“We also call on the northern political and religious elders to take decisive stand on the issue. This is not good for the corporate existence of Nigeria. There should be mutual respect among many diverse ethnic groups that make up Nigeria,” Okoroafor stated.
Rev. Yakubu Pam, chairman, CAN in 19 northern states and Abuja told our reporter that Christians in the 19 northern states and Abuja are not part of the call.
“We are not aware of it and we are not part of it. We believe in the unity of this country. We also believe that it’s time for government to call all stakeholders in Project Nigeria to sit down together and agree on the way forward because these agitations from different groups or regions of this country; if not handled properly, will eventually grow into a chaos that we will not be able to control.”
Bishop David Bakare, who spoke on behalf of Christians in the North-West described the call as a reckless, dangerous, declaration of war, which should not be ignored as a child’s play by any responsible, caring government regardless of who said it.
Rev. Monsignor Gabriel Osu, Director of Social Communications at the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos said there was no other way to describe what the quit notice portends for Nigeria, but total anarchy. “It stands to be condemned by any reasonable human being in totality.”
Osu urged the government to do more to arrest those behind the call, so that any other group that has similar ideas or ideals will think twice.
You’re on your own, S/E cattle breeders tell Arewa youths
Also yesterday, the South East leadership of cattle breeders, under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) told the Arewa youths that they were on their own on the quit notice given to the Igbo residing in the north.
In a statement in Awka yesterday, the group’s chairman, Alhaji Siddiki Gidado, demanded that those behind the quit notice should be brought to book.
The cattle breeders said though they were not comfortable with the agitations of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and MASSOB, it did not call for a quit notice to Ndigbo by Arewa youths.
“We condemn in its entirety, the aspect of the Arewa Youths’s communiqué that insists that Igbos should leave north. This position is unacceptable to us in the Eouth East because we feel at home in this zone.
“It is worrisome that some people who are safely seated in their comfort zones seem to care less about the safety of many of their kiths and kin at the other side of the divide as they make statements or engage in acts that can cause mayhem.
“We advise that both Arewa group and Biafra agitators should sheath their sword and seek better ways of making Nigeria a better place for all of us.”
The group said that unity of the country should be paramount to everybody than the divisive calls, noting that the South East governors had been at the forefront of such unity in the country.
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