Nigeria: ‘Igbo Will Never Fight War Again’
The South-East governors have accused the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, of trying to instigate another civil war in Nigeria.
Ebonyi State governor and the chairman of Southeast Governors Forum, Dave Umahi, made the accusation on Sunday night when he led governors of the south-east to meet with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State over reports of alleged attacks on Igbo.
Soldiers had been accused of killing residents of Oyigbo, a predominantly Igbo community in Rivers, following a clash between security agents and IPOB, now outlawed by the state.
Umahi, who led the southeast governors and other leaders to Rivers State, said they were in Rivers to ascertain the veracity of the news circulating in the social media over alleged killing of Igbo people living in the state, adding that their findings proved otherwise.
In an opening remark during the visit, Governor Umahi said: “We are here to interact with you. We saw a number of things in the social media about Igbos in Obigbo and as leaders, we put heads together and requested to meet with Governor Wike.
“The first thing we want to do is to ask our people, the Igbo in Rivers State, are the things we are seeing in the social media true? We will want you to address us.”
In response to that, the spokesperson and Eze Ndigbo in Rivers and Bayelsa, Eze Maduagu Ajaele, and Lady Regina Uwakwe noted that the Igbo have been living peacefully in Rivers State as Governor Nyesom Wike has always carried the Igbo along.
“Under the administration of Governor Wike, the Igbo have thrived in the state. Also, the Igbo have contributed to the development of the state in many ways. Most edifices in Portharcourt are owned by the Igbo and other people. Wike has made an Igbo man, Emeka Onowu, a commissioner for two terms now.
“We, therefore, plead with our leaders who have come to know the truth to please advise our people, our Igbo brothers and sisters here in Rivers State to be careful and not to be involved in anything that will constitute an abuse to the hospitality of the host communities.”
In his response, Governor Nyesom Wike said governors of South East and Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo should not allow criminal folks defame their reputation and the Igbo ethnic nationality.
“Tell your people, Rivers people will continue to live together with Igbo. Don’t allow your sons tell you lies. Igbo are innovative and hardworking. There can’t be Nigeria without the Igbo. Nobody should take them for granted. But that doesn’t mean you must allow criminals to spoil your name.
“If I hate the Igbo, I won’t appoint your son into my state cabinet two times. But you have to obey rules. Don’t allow criminals to dictate to you”.
Governor Umahi, after listening to Wike’s account of IPOB violence in Oyigbo, resulting in imposition of curfew in the entire locality, considered it nauseating that IPOB could go to Benue and Rivers States to hoist its flag and claim those territories belong to Igbo, stressing that Igbo leadership was opposed to the stance by IPOB. Umahi warned the Igbo to be watchful of IPOB because the federal government labelled it a terrorist group and was trying to instigate another civil war.
Ndigbo, Umahi noted, cannot support any form of criminality as the Igbo have huge investment in Rivers, urging them to live in the state with respect for the government and people of Rivers State in order to enjoy sustained peaceful business climate.
Governor Umahi also urged the governor of Rivers State to extend his caring hands to civilians in Rivers State whose family members were killed by hoodlums, attack that occurred as a result of the hijacked #EndSARS protest that occurred recently across the country.
“We must start thinking home. We like infrastructure, we like good roads, we like development and we don’t need go slow. Please, bring some of your investments back home. I am urging the Rivers State governor, as you are taking care of the families of the security agents who were killed during the #EndSARS protest that was hijacked by hoodlums, please, add that of the civilians,” he said.
He further disclosed that the Igbo delegation will be visiting Lagos, Kano and FCT.
Also speaking, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, said the meeting has reinforced the existing affinity between Igbos and the people of Niger Delta.
He explained that the leadership of the Igbo cannot remain aloof while some misguided few who did not experience the brutal reality of the last civil war continue to fan the embers of disunity.
Former Rivers governor, Dr. Peter Odili, while commenting on the occasion, lauded the Igbo leaders for the peace initiative and the visit to Governor Wike, asserting that every governor desires peace to govern and Governor Wike is no exception.
Present at the meeting were the Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu; Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke; and Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu.
Other dignitaries were: Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Mrs.Ipalibo Harry Banigo; former governor of Rivers, Sir Celestine Omehia; Chairman, Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council and Amanayanabo of Opobo, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja and National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus.
Also commenting on the development, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, commended the South East governors and other Igbo leaders for engaging the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, to seek restoration of peace and harmonious relationship among the residents of Obigbo which was under severe attack recently, leaving on it trails loss of several lives and destruction of properties worth hundreds of millions of Naira.
MASSOB, in a statement issued by the Comrade Uchenna Madu led group, described as “eloquent and bold”, the steps taken by southeast governors and other Igbo leaders “to restore the peaceful and cordial relationship the citizens and residents of Obigbo shared together that was temporary lost recently”.
Signed by the National Director of Information, Comrade Edeson Samuel, MASSOB called for peace in Obigbo and urged peace and harmonious coexistence among brothers, insisting that “we can never allow our enemies to continue in their hypocritical and subtle means of sowing dangerous seed of discord among brothers.
“Obigbo has been the center of Igbo civilization and cultural exploits. There is a greater battle of survival ahead of Ndigbo and the rest of eastern region in Nigeria.
“Our people should know that the Arewa people are busy projecting all kinds of political instabilities and launching a dangerous campaign of calumny against the choice, right and turn of Ndigbo to produce the next president.
“The Arewa leaders (allegedly) instigated and sponsored the violence that erupted during the #EndSARS protest to blackmail the legitimate demand for good governance and restructuring of Nigeria.
“MASSOB encourages the Southeast and South South governors and their political, traditional, opinion and religious leaders to unite as one family in defence of the eastern region and demand the rightful turn of eastern region to produce the next president of Nigeria.”
Meantime, the Nigeria Presidential Project, NPP, 2023, a group advocating Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023, has vowed that never again would the Igbo go into “physical war” against Nigeria.
At the inauguration of NPP in Awka yesterday, the chancellor of the group, Dr. Walter Oji, recalled the massive loss of lives and property during the 1967 – 1970 civil war, adding that never again would the Igbo engage in such a destructive war.
According to Oji, NPP is a platform with the mandate to midwife the emergence of president from South East in 2023.
He warned youths against engaging in any action that could trigger unrest in the country, arguing that development could only thrive in a peaceful atmosphere.
He said: “We must always remember that one who brings ant – infested wood into his house is inviting lizards to visit his home. One does not burn down his house because of rat infestation.
“It is, therefore, necessary to be reminded that any protest that inhibits the right of movement of others is no longer peaceful. And uncontrolled and seemingly indefinite protests do lead to anarchy and breakdown of law and order.
“Killing ourselves and destroying our properties is not the answer. We must start to recognise that electoral malpractice is the root of all problems of corruption and the bad governance we are variously experiencing in this country.
“It is, therefore, time for reason to prevail in order to channel the gains of peaceful protest to genuine reforms through dialogue.
“In 1967, we used our muscles and ended in a war indiscreetly; we cannot make that mistake again.”
Oji argued that a president of South East extraction was achievable in 2023, explaining that the group had assembled 46 professors that cut across the various ethnic divides to work towards realizing the objective.
He also said four former heads of state and other prominent Nigerians were already in the picture to work towards actualisation of the project.
He called on political parties to zone their presidential candidates to the South East, stating that failure to do so would attract massive votes against such parties in the area .
“We have assured Nigerians that the South East will provide formidable candidates for the 2023 general elections that will continue to work for the peace and unity of the country.
“We are also calling on those men and women of South East extraction interested in contesting for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023 to commence consultations, aimed at actualizing their ambition,” he said.
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