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The Mask Has Fallen Off, Northern Elders Support Arewa Youths’ Anti Igbo Threat

The Northern Elders Forum has backed calls by the Northern youths for the Igbo to quit the region before October 1 this year.

The spokesman for the NEF, Prof. Ango Abadullahi, in an interview with journalists in Zaria on Friday, said he supported the youths, who asked the Igbo to quit the North before October 1.

Abdullahi had on Friday insisted that Igbo residents in the 19 northern states must leave the region in full compliance with a three-month ultimatum handed down by a coalition of northern groups.

He also condemned the position of Northern Governors’ Forum on the matter.

The NEF’s spokesman, who said he was disappointed by the NGF’s stance on the matter, told journalists in Zaria that it was hypocritical for Igbo to continue to live in other parts of the country and still agitate for Nigeria’s disintegration.

Abdullahi, a former Vice-Chancellor of ABU, said, “I am disappointed in the decision taken by NGF disowning and condemning the agitation by this young agile and progressive youth groups.

“Let me ask, these Northern governors, whom are they representing, are they representing spirits, ghost or people of the North?

 “Recently, people from eastern part of this country, specifically Igbo, were busy calling for the Sovereign State of Biafra and from all indication, their leaders, including governors are behind them.”

But in an interview with Saturday PUNCH, the Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, as well as the Arewa Consultative Forum on Friday, disagreed.

The Convener of the CNPAPB, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, described the three months’ ultimatum given to Igbo to leave the North as youthful exuberance.

He noted that youths in northern Nigeria, perhaps more than anywhere else in the country, were disappointed and frustrated by the level of incompetence displayed by the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

Junaid said, “I know that this country as is it now is a hell of a difficult place to dissemble. I think all Nigerians need Nigeria and anybody who thinks that somehow others need Nigeria more than they do or that somehow, they imagine that they can blackmail the country into making certain political, economic and other concessions, are making a very serious mistake.

“I am not endorsing what the youths have done; I put it down to youthful exuberance and the reality of the frustration of the North with this government and its economic policies, which are clearly hostile to the North and the incompetence which permeates the government at all levels.

“We have a government of invalids, imbeciles and incompetent cabals, who are mostly members of Buhari’s family, cronies and friends. This is the least competent government in Nigeria.”

He also said, “When people who are inherently reckless like the Igbo see an opportunity like this, it is very difficult to imagine them not taking advantage of that opportunity.

“I hope in the future, saner counsel will prevail. Nigerians, even those Igbo, who imagine that they are indispensable to Nigeria, will realise that we all need one another and the only way is for us to have a competent government and justice arising from the policies of that government.”

On its part, the ACF said it had not changed its position on “appealing for caution over unguarded statements that threaten the unity of Nigeria.”

The ACF National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim, said on Friday that the ACF had nothing more to say on the matter than to stand by its earlier position, which was that it is better to settle grievances in court rather than to breach law and order.

He said, “We have made our position known, and we stand by it. No more comments.”

The ACF had noted in a statement on Wednesday, that it would not encourage any act by groups or individuals, which did not conform to the law and capable of jeopardising the “unity, peace and corporate existence of Nigeria.”

The Senate on Friday stated that Nigeria’s unity as a country is not negotiable. It vowed to move against those who are pushing for the country’s break-up.

The lawmakers made their position known at the valedictory session marking the second year anniversary of the 8th Senate.

In his remarks, Senator George Akume (Benue North-West), urged the Senate to take a firm stand against “irredentist movements” in different parts of the country.

“Whether it is Biafra, Arewa or those of Yorubaland, we must rise as a legislature to make a statement on what is happening. We will be failing as a major arm (of government) not to say something that will reassure the people. We are greater being together than going our separate ways,” he said.

Also, Senator Shehu Sani urged the Senate to take a firm decision on the growing regional agitations across the country.

He said, “In the words of J. F. Kennedy, in times of domestic crises, men of goodwill and generosity should be able to come together irrespective of party and politics. I believe that this Senate has been able to do that. As far as I am concerned, the challenge before this Senate is what we can do to address the very important political, social and economic issues that affect our country.

“This Senate has passed through the first two years and the next two years will be more challenging. And the challenge before us is that this country is faced with secessionist crisis from the southeastern part of Nigeria and sentiments from the North by anarchists and ultra- conservative nationalists.

“This Senate must make a clear statement that the unity of this country cannot be compromised and we are determined to remain one and we must remain one. I think we should know that a nation united by force is vulnerable and a nation united by justice is impregnable.”
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, in his closing remarks, stated that Nigeria’s unity was not negotiable.

He said, “This Senate must act clearly on the fact that there is only one Nigeria, which is non-negotiable and against division of this country. We must live by example and I want to commend all of us for the roles we have played in this area.

“The next two years will be more challenging and we must show leadership clearly to every part of this country. Anybody that toys with that is somebody that we will fight and defend the unity of this country.

“We must eschew bigotry, tribalism and see each other as one and together build a new Nigeria of our dreams.”

Also, members of the House of Representatives from the North disagreed with their South-West colleagues over the calls for the inclusion of a provision for referendum in the 1999 Constitution.

They spoke with Saturday PUNCH in reaction to a demand for a referendum by lawmakers from the South-East after the House rejected a bill seeking to establish the South-East Development Commission.

A member from Adamawa State, Mr. Adamu Kamale, said he would not support a referendum because those behind it were seeking the break-up of Nigeria.

Kamale argued that Nigerians needed to be more united than ever as their strength lied in their unity.

He added that it was the same reason he believed that the Federal Government should have long arrested and prosecuted the 16 northern youth groups which gave the Igbo a notice to quit the North by October 1.

Kamale, a member of the All Progressives Congress, said, “Much as the people asking for referendum are expressing their democratic rights, it is a joke taken too far. We are talking about how Nigeria can unite better, not to look for ways of creating division.

“Nigeria still has many good people, who are passionate about the unity and development of one Nigeria. A referendum is uncalled for and unacceptable.”

Another member from Kogi State, Mr. Karimi Sunday, stated that a referendum simply meant to divide the country.

He noted that while the agitation might be attractive to the agitators, when people were allowed to go their separate ways, there would be more problems.

Karimi, a Peoples Democratic Party member, stated, “Nobody is afraid of referendum; but can we survive it? People are calling for division of the country; that is what they want to achieve. We don’t need all these distractions; rather, let us build on the unity we have attained.”

It will be recalled that South-East lawmakers had called for a referendum provision in the nation’s constitution.

They had also insisted that Nigeria was due for restructuring and would be done, no matter how long it would take.

Christian leaders declare 30-day fasting, prayers

The Non-Indigenous Christian Leaders Network, Kaduna State, has asked Nigerians to embark on a 30-day fasting and prayers.

While condemning the position of the northern youths, Chairman of the NICLN, Revd. Joseph Ajayi, and Secretary of the group, Pastor Vitalis Yahemba, explained that it was imperative to declare prayers for God’s intervention in the land.

NICLN described the vacate order by the youths as evil, disgraceful and a serious threat to national security and unity of the country.

The group, in a statement, said, “The leadership of the Non-Indigenous Christian Leaders Network, Kaduna State, views with great concern and disappointment the ultimatum issued by a coalition of Northern youth groups to Igbos to vacate the region within three months.

“While the security agencies and the government are doing their job, we call on all Nigerians regardless of religious backgrounds to embark on a 30-day fasting and prayers for God’s intervention in our land.

“It is the constitutional right of every law abiding Nigerian to stay anywhere, live in peace, move freely and carry out legitimate duties in any part of Nigeria. What we are saying is that urgent steps should be taken to nip this satanic outburst in the bud.

“We appreciate the timely statement issued by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, on this volatile issue. We are also calling on the Igbos in the North and northerners living in the South-East region of the country to ignore the so-called ‘Kaduna declaration’ and remain where they are currently staying.

“We are in a democracy and freedom of association and speech are allowed. However, any association or speech by anyone capable of throwing the nation into serious problem must not be allowed.”

In a similar vein, the Hope Democratic Party had condemned the ultimatum given by the northern youths, attributing the threat to religious intolerance and ethnic chauvinism in the country.

National leader of the party, Ambrose Owuru, in a statement in Abuja on Friday, said that the division in the country should be addressed, stressing that various sectional groups were also hiding under religion to preach hatred and precipitate crisis in the country.

While calling for the regulation of religion in the country as a way of curbing extremism and social upheavals in the country, Owuru said that those agitating for Biafra lacked ideology and should not be taken seriously.

No cause for alarm – Ohanaeze youths

Against the backdrop of an ultimatum issued to Igbo people by the Arewa youths to leave the North, the Chairman, Ohanaeze Youths Council, Bayelsa State, Chief Chinedu Arthur-Ugwa, has said there is no cause for alarm.

Arthur-Ugwa, who stated this in an interview in Yenagoa on Friday, urged members of the group to remain law-abiding and peaceful across the country.

He said that preliminary investigations indicated that the purported ultimatum had no basis and should be disregarded as Igbo were an integral part of Nigeria.

The OYC chairman said, “The leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, under the leadership of Chief Nnia Nwodo, is on top of the situation and there is no cause for alarm following assurances from northern leaders; our people have no need to fear.

“In the coming days, the leadership of Ohanaeze will take a position but we in the youth wing of Ohanaeze, urge our people to refrain from panic because there is simply no need for it.

“The Ohanaeze Ndigbo has been working tirelessly to strengthen the bond of unity amongst Ndigbo and their hosts across the country and that has led to peace and harmony across ethnic divides.

“Further assurances have also been given by the Minister of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.), that there is no cause for alarm.”

The youth leader noted that reports of the ultimatum were a distraction to Ndigbo, who he described as having a history of peaceful coexistence with their host communities in every part of the country.

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, had earlier condemned the statement and ordered the arrest of the Arewa youths that purportedly issued the ultimatum.
Read More:http://punchng.com/anti-igbo-threat-northern-elders-back-arewa-youths/

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