Thursday, 15 June 2017

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Igbo list grievances at Aso Rock

Igbo list grievances at Aso Rock
Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, yesterday, gave insight into the meeting South-east leaders had with Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, in Aso Rock.

The meeting was in continuation of consultations embarked on by Osinbajo with leaders of thought, at the State House Conference Centre, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
It held against the backdrop of an October 1, 2017 quit notice issued by a coalition of Arewa youth groups to Igbo, last week and the separatist push by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
Speaking on Politics Today, on Channels Television, Okorocha said the South-east tabled some grievances before Osinbajo who, he said, promised to address them.
“The focal point was talking about the unity of this country, which is paramount. Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable. Igbo have expressed dissatisfaction with lopsided appointments, infrastructure deficit, the Second Niger Bridge…
“No one supports secession of any form. We support a Nigeria that is indivisible and indissoluble.”
Asked if Igbo have been marginalised, Okorocha replied: “I would say so, in terms of lopsided appointments and the South-east needs attention, which is understandable…
“The acting president did a good analysis of political appointments so far, but there’s need to look at that side of the country and give them a sense of belonging.”
On IPOB agitation and the October 1 eviction order by Arewa youths, he said separatist groups did not represent anybody except themselves.
“Sovereignty within the Nigerian nation is unacceptable…You cannot ask someone to leave the North and go back to the South-east…You cannot ask someone to leave the country, it makes no sense. It was a faulty statement.
“These are groups of people. It was Arewa youths, not the entire north and when you talk of IPOB, it’s not the entire South-east that wants to secede; its not the entire South-east talking. I’ve personally condemned those statements…Let’s see it as youthful exuberance.”
Meanwhile, the acting president has charged leaders in the country, particularly those that witnessed the civil war, to speak out against hate speeches and divisive comments
Osinbajo who spoke before the meeting went into closed door, reiterated the administration’s resolve to deal with any trouble maker who threatened the peaceful coexistence of Nigeria.
“There is no doubt on the resolve of government not to allow anyone get away with hate speeches and divisive words. Our emotion should not be allowed to run wide as to threaten the existence of anyone anywhere in Nigeria. We will do everything within our power to protect the lives of every citizen anywhere and in any part of the country,” he said.
He thanked the leaders for their prompt response to the consultative meeting.
“These consultations are necessary and important, because of recent events in the country. You are all aware that there have been loud and sometimes hostile agitations by youths in the South-east, calling for secession of the region from Nigeria. Then, there was the recent ultimatum issued by a group of youths from the North, asking all South-easterners living in the North to leave by October 1, this year.
“Both of these expressions and agitations from both sides have been attended with some controversial and hateful vituperations including patently illegal and violence-inducing remarks.
“I firmly believe that we ought to address these agitations and proclamations urgently and decisively. Burying our heads in the sand and expecting the storm to blow over on their own accord is not an option.
“But equally not reasonable is falling for the temptation for tit-for-tat. It has never worked or moved us closer to a solution or resolution.
“And so, it is in our bid, as a government, to deal with these pressing issues and grievances, that we have convened this series of consultations. We will never shy away from the responsibility to ensure and uphold the peace and security of Nigeria.
“It is in my view, the role and responsibility of those privileged in society to be leaders to chart a progressive and lofty cause for the ordinary people. As leaders, we carry the burden to secure the peace, progress and prosperity of our people, and that is why our voices ought to be heard, and heard loud and clear, at moments like this, in the defence and articulation of what is truly beneficial to the nation and the people, and what is right and patriotic.
“Our dear nation has gone through some really difficult times. We have survived bloody coups, several rounds of ethno-religious violence, and emerged from a long and bloody civil war. All of us here have seen at close-up, what violence can do to a country, and I believe I speak for us all when I say that no one here is keen to see Nigeria embroiled in violence or bloodshed of any kind, especially, not when we are only just emerging from a brutal insurgency that has consumed more than 20,000 of our brothers and sisters and children, as well as the better part of a decade.”
He added: “One thing is clear, violence and war are terrible things. They are easy to start but near impossible to end. Indeed, you’re all aware of the Igbo proverb that says: ‘A man who rushes into battle does not realise that battle entails death.’ We are witnesses to the unspeakable devastation that war continues to inflict across the world. No one who has seen the horrors of war, even just on television, would wish it on their worst enemy.
“It is also clear that wars sometimes start, not with bullets, but with words. Hateful, incendiary speech, opening floodgates of blood. The tongue, like the pen, is often mightier than the sword, because it is what pushes the sword into action. When we throw words like stones in a marketplace, we do not know who or what it will hit.
“Knowing this, under no conditions whatsoever should we tolerate or excuse or justify hate speech or hateful conduct of any kind, especially where such is illegal. Let me, of course, acknowledge that as part of living together in this space called Nigeria, misunderstandings and frustrations are inevitable. Because resources are limited, there will always be a striving to get what is perceived as the best seat at the table.
“All of that is normal and to be expected, especially in a democracy, like ours. A healthy democracy ought to be a theatre of energetic striving by all parties and stakeholders. But things should never descend to a level where mutual suspicions override the desire to live together in peace and harmony.
“Yesterday, I made it very clear that hate or divisive speech, or divisive behaviours, where it is illegal, will be met with the full force of the law. I will say it again today: Let there be no doubt whatsoever of the resolve of government to ensure that no one will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause division or violence. We will take very seriously, any attempts to cause violence or to disrupt the peace of Nigeria. And we will not tolerate such.
“We are also resolute in our determination to protect every Nigerian, everywhere in the country. We will do everything within our power to defend and uphold the terms of our constitution, which declares that we are one nation under God.
“It also guarantees the free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the country, as well as full residency rights for every citizen in all and any parts of the land of their choice. It is also the aspiration of the Constitution to ensure a country in which, ‘loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties.’
“And it is the responsibility of the government to create the conditions for the attainment of these ideals. There is something that President Buhari is fond of saying: that without peace and security there can be no development. We cannot develop a country that is not in the first place safe and secure for all its people. For this reason, we take extremely seriously our constitutional responsibilities as your government.
“Those responsibilities also include listening to, consulting and engaging with you; giving every citizen and every part of the federation a sense of belonging and significance.
“I expect that we will be frank and constructive in all our deliberation and discussion. This is an important moment for all of us, and I hope that at the end of it we will all be satisfied that we have accomplished something significant.”
Some of those present at the meeting were Senate Preaident, Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Governor of Enugu, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Governor of Ebonyi, David Umahi; Governor of Abia; Okezie Ikpeazu; Governor of Anambra, Willy Obiano; Governor Okorocha; Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; National Security Adviser, Chief of Defence Staff, service chiefs, Inspector General of Police and ministers.
No need to panic–FG
The Federal Government has again assured Nigerians not to panic over the eviction notice.
Briefing journalists at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, the Minister of Information Lai Mohammed, said the situation was under control, as the Federal Government was on top of the matter.
To buttress the point, the minister cited the ongoing consultations between the acting president and leaders of thoughts.
“The idea is not just to assure Nigerians that we are doing something about it, but also to give comfort to all Nigerians that this matter is completely under control; to assure that any Nigerian, anywhere is safe, the security authorities is completely on top of the matter and will deal decisively with any group of people whose conduct they believe is going to create instability in the country. So, there is no need for anybody to panic, there is no need for anybody to move from any part of the country. The security agencies are on top of the matter and there is no reason for anybody to panic.”
Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State described the Arewa youths ultimatum as unlawful and unfortunate.
In a statement signed by the director of press, Abdullahi Bego, assured Igbo that the state government would not allow anyone intimidate or threaten them.
However, the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Egbu, Rt. Rev. Geoffrey Okorafor admonished Ndigbo not to be deceived.
“They should not forget that similar protective assertions were made before the 1966-1967 pogrom, in which thousands of Ndigbo lost their lives. They should not forget that anybody surrounded by enemies must be vigilant and that it is time to start winding down and return to the East before the expiration of the October 1 ultimatum,” the prelate said.

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