Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State says Igbos will support President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-elections bid.
The governor said this on Tuesday during a mega rally organised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the President in Owerri, the Imo State capital
“Igbos never believed in Buhari in 2015 but 2019 Igbos have declared for Buhari,” he said while addressing a crowd of APC supporters.
President Buhari has declared his intention to run for re-election in February 2019 and his party, the APC, is working to consolidate its power and ensure his success.
As part of efforts to unite the party ahead of the general elections, former Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, was chosen as the National Chairman of the party.
Governor Okorocha believes the emergence of Oshiomhole as National Chairman of the party and recent developments has re-positioned it for the 2019 general elections.
“This man (Oshiomhole) coming is like a beacon of hope for the APC,” he said.
“Mr Comrade, this party looks up to you. And I am sure that you will deliver. You have delivered as a governor, you have delivered as a union leader, you will deliver as the National Chairman of the APC,” he stated.
Okorocha, who is also the Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), argued that the belief that the ruling party is not strong in the eastern part of the country is faulty.
“We also want to correct the impression that there is no APC in the South East which has led to some of our leaders in Abuja negotiating with the governors in the South East to vote for Buhari for President to gain their support in return.
“Ladies and gentlemen, that act can best be described in the Rochas dictionary as an act of Iberiberism. If anybody wants to support APC, it must be total. There is no partial support for APC for President and support the governor differently.”
The Presidency has denied claims that President Muhammadu Buhari has sidelined the South East region, especially concerning major appointments into his cabinet.
This comes amid allegations of neglect levelled against the Buhari administration by some Igbos, leading to agitations of secession by some groups in the region.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, however, said the Federal Government was committed to carrying every section of the country along in governance.
“One thing we must realise is that the President has a pan-Nigerian mandate,” Adesina said on Friday when he appeared on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
“The way the country is structured, the way our constitution is, no president can emerge without winning a pan-Nigerian mandate; that was what the President wants.
“So, it is not easy for you to then accuse a president and sustain it that he is sectional – no, it is not possible. If he was sectional, he would not be elected in the first place.”
He stressed further that claiming the President is sectional does not automatically means it is true, saying “that could be allegations but it does not necessarily make them right.”
“Making an effort to show may not be the right thing. I think it is better to just continue to do what is proper, and that is what the President is doing. He will continue to do what is fair, what is right and what is equitable.”
Adesina also hinted on the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Mr Ayo Oke.
He said the outcomes of the report submitted by the committee led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to probe the allegations that led to their suspension would be made public after President Buhari is done studying it.
Leaders of the northern coalition groups and that of the Igbos in the 19 northern states have formed a 10-man committee to provide concrete solution on the lingering quit notice given by northern youths to the Igbos.
Moderating a special meeting between the northern youths and northern Igbo leaders, former NLC presidential candidate Isah Tijjani, gave the committee 72 hours within which to report back to the groups with a solution regarding the issue.
On his part, President of the AYCF, Yerima Shettima, blamed the quit notice on the activities of Nnamdi Kanu and his supporters.
Northern youths and Igbos are currently holding a peace meeting in Kano.
Both parties at the meeting are working to form a committee to bring to an end the lingering agitation between the Igbos and the northern groups.
The meeting follows the quit notice giving to Igbos in the North by Arewa youths in reactions to the agitation for secession in the South East.
Representatives of Igbos in all northern states are at the meeting along with leaders of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF).
President of the AYCF, Yerima Shettima, blamed the quit notice on the activities of Nnamdi Kanu and his supporters.
He said, “It is on record that we have been at peace with Igbos for decades until when this young man (Kanu) came, demanding war, demanding arms. In the struggle, he is a small boy, but we want peace.”
According to the Igbo leaders, both youths have the right to be angry due to the lack of employment in Nigeria.
They, however, warned that both Igbo and Northern youth should avoid trying to fix the country through violence.
“Anyone championing the division of Nigeria will never go anywhere,” the Eze Ndi Igbo, Kano, Boniface Ibekwe, said.
“We cannot allow someone to divide us, even if you are angry, we must find a way to end this, and the sooner we end it the better it becomes for both of us.”
The meeting had started in a tensed atmosphere but after arguments and counter-arguments, the talks have taken a positive turn.
There are strong indications that the Northern coalition groups may suspend quit notice given to Igbos during the Kaduna declaration.
A coalition of northern groups has declared a town hall meeting in Kano State North West Nigeria to finalise on the quit notice issued to the Igbos residing in the region.
One of the leaders of the group and President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Shettima Yarima said the initial quit notice issued in the Kaduna declaration still stands pending the outcome of the town hall meetings that will take place in all sub regions of the north.
However, Channels TV’s correspondent reported that the group said there is no course for alarm as it does not intend to use force in driving Igbos out of the region.
“As far as I’m concerned we have not withdrawn it officially, but we are still on review, we will review the situation god willing and what we said is very clear, if you believed in Nigeria stay in Nigeria but if you believed in Biafra please go back to your region where you are building your Biafra and do your Biafra. To us we don’t intend to use any force, we don’t intend to use any violence and we don’t intend to use any means to chase anybody out but we are saying also if you believe in Biafra please go to your Biafra area but if you believe in Nigeria please let us build a better society,” Yarima stated.
On the issue of restructuring Nigeria, Yarima said: “We need to have a country before we think of restructuring, so let us see how we can put Nigeria together then when the country is put in place properly, we can now begin to think of who gives what and who takes what, then we go into restructuring issue which I have been advocating for 15 years.”
Spokesperson of the group Abdul-Aziz Suleiman told Channels Television that from day one, it was the igbos themselves that had been seeking to quit and they, the northern groups were not ready to accept any threat to the unity of Nigeria and what it stood for.
Speaking further, he stressed that the town hall meeting is a follow up to the Kaduna declaration.
“The main issue is Kaduna declaration, we wanted people to understand that the essence of Kaduna declaration is not only about quit notice and for the last 50 years it was the Igbos who were agitating to quit Nigeria.”
it is, however, expected that in the coming days, the northern groups would continue to make consultations with far reaching consequences on whether or not to withdraw the quick notice on the Igbos leaving in northern Nigeria.
A coalition of northern youth groups says it is set to review its position on the October 1 quit notice ultimatum given to Igbos.
In an interview with Channels Television in Kaduna, President of the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima said the decision to review the ultimatum is for the interest of peace and unity of the country.
He added that the intervention of some notable Igbo leaders showed that the indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) does not speak for the entire Igbos.
“After the June Kaduna declaration, a lot had happened. The silence on the part of the south east governors actually prompted a lot of things that gave birth to the June declaration. Having seen a lot of things going on as regards to governors having meetings to dissociate themselves from that IPOB, believing in Nigeria and also organisations such as the Ohanezes and the Ohaneze Youth Council and other prominent Nigerians from that same axis, gave us reasons to begin to think of reviewing our positions.
“But then, officially, we have not sat down to conclude plans on reviewing the position of things. I hope very soon, we will sit down and also review the situation that will make our position very clear on our position on what we felt about the whole thing.
“To those who believe in Nigeria, they should remain calm, there is no problem but to those who felt they want a republic of their own please they should not drag the north into that mess because we strongly believe in Nigeria. They should go back to their area since they believe they want to go out of Nigeria and they want to form a republic of their own. They cannot build another nation, in the midst of a nation that exists,” he stressed.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has said the Arewa youths that issued a “quit notice” to Igbos in the North will be prosecuted no matter how long it takes.
The governor said this on Tuesday when the Igbo Delegate Assembly and Igbo chiefs in the Northern states visited him at the Kaduna Government House.
“We have arrested so many people for hate speeches and we are trying them. We are going to arrest the Arewa Youths and bring them to justice no matter how long it takes; since the press conference was done in Kaduna,” he said.
“If they had done it in any other place we would have just condemned them, but since it is in Kaduna, we are going to arrest them no matter how long it takes.”
Governor El-Rufai, who said Kaduna had experienced so many crises in the past, said the state government cannot take chances and risk another crisis, hence the order for the arrest and prosecution of those that signed the quit notice.
He reassured the Igbos of their safety in the and urged Igbo leaders to prevail on their youths to avoid making statements and embracing agitations capable of dividing Nigeria.
He added, “Kaduna State Government is grateful to the Igbos for coming. Kaduna has suffered so much crisis, so we are very sensitive to comments that incite and cause disaffection among the people.
“Kaduna used to be a home for all, but so much crisis has divided the state and the metropolis across religious lines.
“As a government, that is why we abolished indigeneship. Once you live in Kaduna you are an indigene. “
On his part, President General of the Igbo Delegate Assembly, Chikezie Nwogu, commended the Federal Government and Governor El-Rufai for their swift reaction to the quit notice issued by the Northern youths.
Nwogu, who led the Igbo traditional rulers from the 19 Northern States to Kaduna, said Igbos are ready to remain in the North.
He said, “We are here in Kaduna to hold a meeting based on what has been happening in the North, especially with the Arewa Youths and the ultimatum given to Igbos and the agitations by IPOB.
“We are not here to condemn anybody. We thank the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, and other Northern governors, traditional rulers and the Federal government for their interventions.”
Nwogu, however, called on the government to tackle the root cause of agitations and subsequent quit notice by Northern youths.
“Let us look at the problem of the Youths when there are complaints. Also, it is good to restructure in a way that will benefit everyone,” he said.
“We are not happy with the call for division. We want Nigeria as one so that all of us can benefit. Northern youths have been our brothers. The Igbos are not going anywhere; we will remain with our Arewa brothers in the North.”
The Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Geidam has described the threat to Igbos by some northern youth groups as unfortunate, unlawful and unwarranted.
In a statement from his director of press, Abdullahi Bego, Governor Geidam noted that the Igbos have a right that was fully guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution to live in any part of the country like other Nigerians.
“As a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural society, part of our nation’s strength lies in the diversity of its people, it is what has moved every successful nation forward. The Igbos, like the people of other ethnicities, have lived and engaged peacefully with their neighbours,” he said.
The governor assured the Igbos and other citizens from various part of the country residing in Yobe State of their safety as they carry on their legitimate businesses.
“Yobe State Government, therefore, assures them that it will not allow anyone to intimidate or threaten them and will use the full resources of law enforcement to see to that. We strongly believe in a Nigeria in which all its people live peacefully with one another, a country where political disagreements are settled not through threats and violent conduct but through dialogue and give-and-take,” the statement read.
Governor Geidam reminded youths in the North and in every part of the country that as tomorrow’s leaders, they have a responsibility and a stake to contribute to the peace and stability of the nation.
He also urged political and community leaders in every part of the country to be responsive to guide the youths to responsible conduct and speak against violence.
“It is through peace and unity, and not division and disunity that our dream of a better, more prosperous Nigeria will come true,” he said.
The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha has stressed the need for Nigerians to live peacefully irrespective of their ethnic, cultural and political differences.
The governor said that what the Igbos needed was the Movement for the Economic Survival of Igbo People (MOESIP) and not any movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra.
He noted that leaders from other geo-political zones supporting the secession movement do not love the Igbos and called for peace coexistence amongst all.
Reacting to the recent threats issued by Arewa youths to the South-East, Governor Okorocha called for the revival of the political relationship of the northerners with the Igbos.
The governor, in his words, said: “I wish I do not speak on these matters or make any categorical comment as not to be misconstrued, misrepresented or misinterpreted. But despite the political implications, I make bold to speak to my Igbo brothers and sisters and to our friends, the Arewa and their leaders on these critical matters if only to save the lives of our generation yet unborn.
“You may recall that the issue of IPOB and MASSOB in the recent times has been making headlines in various media houses and the social media, especially with many people giving different interpretations to the groups. Some see them as some uninformed youths calling for the sovereignty of the Biafra nation; some see them as some groups seeking for personal recognition and aggrandisement for the purpose of political patronage and for some other people, it is an invitation of what has happened in other geo-political zones in agitation just to get power and form the government at the centre as assumed to be the practice in the past.
“You may also recall that some people believe that the South-West became President of Nigeria because of the agitation by the Oduduwa group with respect to June 12 and that brought General Obasanjo as the President. Some argued that President Goodluck Jonathan came because of the agitation of the Niger Delta region for resource control and marginalisation. Of recent, it was also believed that President Buhari came in as President because of the agitation from BokoHaram in the recent past”.
“Let me also mention that whatever is the reason for the agitation from different groups whether right or wrong, I feel it is an ill wind that has done this nation no good”.
Sit At Home Order
“If you may recall, only a few months ago I have pleaded and made request for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, making excuses for him and his group as youthful exuberance and I stated that keeping him in prison would command for him unwarranted popularity and followership. Shortly after that and followed by the comments from the South-East Governors, Nnamdi Kanu was released, and only again to hear about the sit at home order by IPOB.
“Let me correct the impression that the South-East people and leaders supported the sit at home order. It is not true, two factors contributed. The sit at home order came shortly after the democracy day holiday and our people in their natural character would want to enjoy the holiday to the fullest, hence, considering that the day was 30th, so many people continued the holiday. And the second and most important reason was that most traders had the fear of hoodlums taking advantage of the situation to disturb them and so they stayed at home. It is not true that the sit at home order was purposely obeyed as support for IPOB”.
Igbos Will Remain Peace-Loving People
“Let me present an Igbo man in a practical manner. An Igbo man is a peace-loving man found at all nooks and crannies of the world. There is no place you go without finding an Igbo man either building the bridge of friendship or creating brotherhood and at the same time developing and contributing immensely to the socio-economic development of that area. Igbo man is a more practical Nigerian because they are the only people to be found in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
“In recent times, the impression given is that an Igbo man enjoys violence. Let me put it clear. Igbo man is not a troublesome man and not a man associated with violence; all he does is to enjoy his commerce and do his trading for the betterment of his family and society at large.
“Let me inform all Nigerians that Igbos will remain peace-loving people and good Nigerians wherever they are found. If there is any group of people who had laid their lives and shed more blood for the unity of this country, that person is an Igbo man.
“Therefore, at this material time, let me remind all Nigerians that the Igbos are the people that developed Lagos and major Cities in this country. Igbos have made major investments in this country than any other group making an investment in Igbo land.
Effects Of The Civil War
“Therefore, I think, the statements by IPOB and subsequent ones by AREWA youths are nonsensical, ill-informed and not for the best interest of Ndi Igbo neither is it for the best interest of Nigeria. I condemn in its entirety the statements of IPOB and the reaction of the Arewa youth groups. These people who have made these statements both from the North and South-East are people who may not have seen the effects of the civil war when Nigeria went into civil war.
“I call on all Igbo persons to disassociate themselves and every northerner and well-meaning Nigerians to distance themselves from these comments from the Arewa groups and IPOB. Again, let me call for caution for those who are calling for support for IPOB, especially the non-Igbos to stop henceforth because we don’t need such support because I do know that when the chips are down, they won’t be anywhere to be found. It is deceitful and inciting and is no longer a welcome development in this part of the world.
Igbos Are Major Stakeholders
“I also want to caution all those our brothers and sisters who live abroad, who are social media gurus and who never visit home and who enjoy all the sentiments created in the social media to desist from doing that henceforth. I do know that they may not understand the consequences of their writings and what they are doing. Let them also pause and think, if finally, these drums of war beats, would not keep the Igbos in the island of isolation or ignorance and poverty that we do not need.
“Igbos are major stakeholders in the entity called the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We fought for the unity of this country and having acquired the unity; the Igbos cannot be counted out in the affairs of this nation.
“Let me again say, while I blame the AREWA youths who may have acted under provocation and taking the matter beyond scope, the statements were also very inciting and can create disaffection between the North and South-East. For the purpose of those who have forgotten, in history the South-East and North have enjoyed good political relationship, especially in the days of Shagari.
We Have Failed As Leaders
“We have been seen as allies and partners politically except for this past dispensation for some myopic reasons many Igbos did not see the victory of Buhari coming and we missed the link. We need immediate re-fixing of this bridge of relationship between the South-East and the North.
“I want to call on all leaders of Nigeria to speak out and condemn this act, because keeping silence anymore cannot help us in this matter, and thinking that we can benefit from these crisis is rather a disappointment. And I pray that leaders ought to take responsibilities now and teach our youths the right things to do. The people in this matter are our children, our youths and they have a duty to listen to us as their parents. It is apparent that we have failed as leaders in this nation, giving room for this hate in families, communities, states and at national levels. We need to take responsibilities as leaders to stop this campaign of hate as that will not do us any good.
A Sovereign Nation Inside A Nation
“I call on my Igbo brothers, the agitators, because there was nothing wrong doing what others are doing, your style is what is wrong. You can’t be calling for a sovereign nation inside a nation, it is absolutely wrong. If you must agitate, I purpose you agitate for the Movement for Economic Survival of Igbo People (MOESIP). That will help for the economic survival of our land, making agriculture the mainstay of our economy. That is only when we will command the respect of the rest of the world.
“All things being equal and without the intervention of the military, I’m sure the Igbos would have gotten their heart desire in the political life of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But at this time, I want to call on all leaders of Nigeria to speak out and condemn this act, because keeping silent anymore cannot help this matter.
“I was abroad sometimes, and I saw China & Koreans of yesterday underrated by Nigerians developing the resources of their lands. But here in Nigeria, we’re still talking about tribe and religion. It is a shame and my heart bleeds. I was in Dubai and I saw developments taking place, I saw young men moving up and down developing the resources of their land, earning foreign exchange. But we’re still talking about comments by IPOB and Arewa youths. It’s a proper shame, my heart bleeds. I was just in Tanzania recently and South Africa, tourism flourishing in those lands, while in our own country, we’re still talking about Boko Haram and kidnapping, what a shame, my heart bleeds.
A Rethink As Leaders
“I’ve been round the whole world, I see progress everywhere and developments everywhere and African nations are still waiting for Nigeria to rise and take its rightful place as leader of Africa. All we can give to African nations is which section will produce the presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and which zone shall produce the governor of a state, my heart bleeds. What a shame. It’s indeed shameful for this generation and may we never be found as a failed generation. We must never transfer failure to the subsequent generation; we must live up to our responsibilities.
“At this crucial moment, we must have a rethink as leaders. We must change our ways because it’s obvious that the inherent hatred and division which we have got from the colonial masters and transferred to subsequent generations have not helped us. We must sing a new song of unity in this nation. We must see ourselves as brothers and sisters of one nation.
Blame Us Your Leaders
“As I stand now as a sitting governor, what IPOB would have wanted is for Rochas Okorocha to speak and say let’s go to war and if I do that, I do not care but I will tell you the truth I care for you. We must change our style and for the Igbo nation, I don’t want to sound like a Pontus Pilate. I don’t want to be found passing a judgement. Please we must rethink on how we can move our economy forward.
“Why are you misunderstood as Igbos? The reason is that they deal even better with non-Igbos than with their brothers; I wish the northerners will understand. An Igbo man is the worst enemy of a fellow Igbo man than people from the north. That, people don’t know about us.
“I want to appeal to all Igbos at this moment that my heart is bleeding, that we make a rethink and not join others in singing the song of division in this country”.
“We need Nigeria more than Nigeria needs us now. This is not time for Igbos to sing an alternative song of war. I want to appeal to the youths of our nation. We understand their frustration and what we should bequeath to you as leaders is a nation devoid of hate and lack. But if you must fight, if you must blame, please blame not yourselves, blame us your leaders.”