Secession Agitation: To Say We Are Silent Is Not Correct – South East Leaders

A file photo of youths during a demonstration for Biafra in the south-east region of the country.

 

Leaders in the South East have faulted the notion that they have been unbothered about the agitation for secession by some youths in the region.

Amid the continuous call for a breakaway from Nigeria by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the leaders said they have risen to the occasion at various times in the past and recently.

Ebonyi State Governor and the Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum, David Umahi, briefed reporters at the end of a meeting of governors, ministers, as well as religious and traditional leaders in the region on Saturday in Enugu State.

“The impression that South East leaders are silent over some of our youths’ agitation for secession is not correct; South East Governors, Ohanaeze President, National Assembly members, notable leaders had come out publicly many times in the past to speak against such agitations,” he said.

READ ALSO: South East Governors Condemn Violent Secessionist Groups, Back United Nigeria

The governor added, “We condemn in totality, the activities of violent secessionist groups in the South East and elsewhere, we firmly proclaim that we do not support them, they do not speak for South East.

“In order not to mismanage the unfortunate situation, South East leaders have set up a committee to engage such youths to stop and allow elders speak to address such fears.”

He explained that arising from a meeting held on Friday last week with a presidential team led by the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi, they hold a further discussion to articulate their position.

Governor Umahi affirmed that the people of the South East were committed to one united Nigeria under a platform of justice, equity of rights, fairness, love, and respect for one another.

According to him, the leaders have noted the threats by some groups against the people of the South East and will protect them and everyone from other regions.

The governor, however, pleaded with leaders of other regions to protect the Igbo people living in their regions.

He also called on members of the National Assembly from the region to support the creation of state police in the ongoing constitutional amendment.

“We condemn the killing of security agencies, burning of strategic infrastructure, and killing of civilians in South East and other regions. We request our security agencies to please discharge their duties within the rules of engagement and the law.

“Meeting directed our governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo to liaise with indigenes from the northern part of Nigeria and indigenes of other regions of the nation Nigeria to assure them of their people’s safety in South East,” Governor Umahi briefed.

Obasanjo Slams Agitators Of Secession

 

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has condemned agitators of disintegration of the country saying that that it will be “almost idiotic” for Nigeria to disintegrate at a time like this when Africa is trying to reintegrate for political, social, and economic development.

He insisted that the country is better together for all the ethnic groups in the country to remain together as one indivisible nation with fairness and equity and where all Nigerians will feel proud, rather than for each tribe to go its separate ways.

The former Nigerian leader spoke at the luncheon and investiture organised by the Nigerian Institution of Surveyor, Ogun State chapter, held at the premises of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) Abeokuta.

The former President called on all agitators for the disintegration of the country to shelve the idea and work for the unity and oneness of the country.

‘It Will Cost Us Less To Work For Our Unity’

While admitting that the present situation in the country is not palatable, he stressed that calling for the disintegration of the country is not the solution.

He expressed the optimism that, Nigeria will come out stronger from all the challenges currently confronting it if all citizens shelve their personal interests and work together for the unity and progress of the country.

The former president who cited Pakistan, Yugoslavia, and Sudan as countries who have broken away, but are yet to find solutions to their problems, said Nigerians should blame themselves for the country’s woes rather than blaming God.

“If there is any Nigerian who does not feel apprehensive on the situation of the country, the person is a human being without being human.

“Any Nigerian who is human will be apprehensive, if not frustrated with the present situation in the country. We are apprehensive about security situation, apprehensive about economic situation, apprehensive about our political situation and the drum we are hearing is that of disintegration of the country.

“I am a strong believer of one Nigeria, but not one Nigeria at any cost, but one Nigeria where every Nigerian can feel proud that he or she has a stake in this country.

“No Nigerian is born a slave in this country. No Nigerian is born to be oppressed in this country and those of us that have shared part of our blood and sweat for this country, we did that because we wanted a country that every Nigerian can claim as his or her own.

“One thing that gives us strength is our diversity. If all that we have is Republic of Oduduwa for those who said so, their position is understandable. If that is all we have, members of that country will be diminished compared to be a citizen of Nigeria. Citizens of Oduduwa Republic or any other republic from Nigeria will be diminished compared to citizens of Nigeria.

“In this age and time that we are talking about the reintegration of Africa for economic development, disintegration of any country will be almost idiotic if we have Igboland as an independent country, Yorubaland an independent country and Fulani/Hausaland an independent country.

“And as a friend of mine in the military used to say then, what will become of the over 300 minorities – the Jukuns, the Gbasamas? Where will they belong? The only reason they can raise up their heads is because they belong to Nigeria. Are we thinking of them or are we are just being selfish? It doesn’t matter what we do, we will still be neighbours.

“We had seen it before, India was broken into India and Pakistan, they are still at war till today. Yugoslavia was broken into how many countries, they haven’t sorted it till today. Sudan was broken into Sudan and South Sudan, I don’t believe South Sudan is better for it and that is the truth.

“I believe it will cost us less to work for our unity, there are many things wrong, but those things are correctable if we make efforts to correct them and hold us together than what it will cost us to break up and be perpetually at war and all our money will be spent in building an army. I know what an army contains, I know what it means to keep an army, an army that may not be productive, let us think about it”, Obasanjo stated.

Speaking on the importance of survey to national development, Obasanjo said, the entire country should be surveyed to achieve economic development and transformation.

He, therefore, charged the national body of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors to draft a proposal on the national survey of the country to the Federal Government.

“When I was the president of the country, the project of surveying the entire country began, but it got stuck and I don’t know where the project is now”, Obasanjo noted.

‘Let The Spirit Of NYSC Live In Us,’ DG Calls For Unity Among Nigerians

NYSC DG Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim

 

The Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim has called on Nigerians to shun division and embrace unity by letting the spirit of NYSC live in them.

This comes amid secessionist agitations in the southeast and southwest regions of the country leading to the latest attacks on security agents and their facilities in the region.

Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, the NYSC DG said Nigerians should dwell on their experience in NYSC orientation camps where they lived together in unity with fellow corps from various tribes.

“Cast your mind back to that scenario and let live together. We have no other country except Nigeria. We must be patriotic, put our hands together and see how we can move the country forward. Let the spirit of NYSC live in us.

“If there’s no NYSC what would have happened to our country? There’s no country without its challenges,” he said.

The NYSC boss also noted that the NYSC oath and pledge of unity is binding not only during the service year and appealed for Nigerians to allow peaceful co-existence.

“If we go through the NYSC oath – it is binding even after the NYSC year. I want to appeal to Nigerians to always cast their minds back and think about their lifestyle on NYSC orientation camp where your bunkmate is  Igbo while you are a Hausa man while the other person is from Delta.

“If you go to NYSC camp, nobody is talking about Biafra or Arewa because they are united and that is what NYSC is established to promote.”

 

Secessionist Agitations 

Calls for secession have become widespread in the southeast and southwest regions of the country.

In the southwest, Sunday ‘Igboho’ Adeyemo who rose to prominence earlier in the year after he issued a quit notice to herders in Oyo State accused of crimes, is leading calls for the creation of a Yoruba nation, threatening to disrupt the 2023 polls.

In the Southeast, IPOB had equally renewed campaigns for the independence of the region with clashes between the secessionist groups and Nigeria’s security forces making headlines.

Buhari Cannot Be Bullied By Calls For Secession – Garba Shehu

 

The Presidency on Tuesday criticised calls for secession noting that President Muhammadu Buhari will not be bullied.

Addressing journalists during a media parley at the headquarters of the All Progressives Congress in Abuja, presidential spokesman Mr Garba Shehu said those advocating for secession are the problem of the country.

He said that although the Federal Government is working to address challenges being faced in the country, those calling for secession and national conference are unelectable people who do not care for the nation’s democracy.

“One thing with this president is, you can’t intimidate Buhari, you can’t bully him,” he said. “A lot of these people who are calling for secession, they are the problem of this country. And I am happy that reasonable opinions, voices are now rising.

A file photo of Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu
A file photo of Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu

 

“Is it not only yesterday we read about Afenifere — the most credible faction of Afenifere — saying ‘we’re not for secession’? Ohanaeze Ndigbo said this over and over again.

“So, this thing about secession is they had used it in the past. You cry secession and breakup Nigeria and then you intimidate the sitting leader and then he opens the vault and he brings money to settle people.

“President Buhari will pay no one. He is not going to pay, and now it is clear that having ignored all of that, reasonable opinions are coming from those states and from those regions.

“The governors in the southwest — we have all heard them — they have denounced all of these things.

“So, it’s a sham. Nigerians want to be one. They want to continue. Yes, there are problems and we are hoping that as people united and loving of one another, we will come together and solve our problems.”

Britain Has Nothing To Do With Agitations For Secession – High Commissioner

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright on the agitation for the state of Biafra.

The British envoy in very clear terms dissociated the British authorities from any form of agitation saying that Britain is in support of the unity of Nigeria and also supports the Nigerian government.

Mr Arkwright was speaking in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on Friday when he visited the speaker of the state house of assembly.

He said Nigeria is important to Britain and that his country strongly believes in one Nigeria.

“We have nothing to do with any agitation aimed at the break-up of Nigeria. We strongly support the unity of Nigeria. We strongly support the Federal Government and that is the position the British government has held consistently,” he said.

“So, we have absolutely no interest in stirring up any agitation and anybody who claims that the British government is involved in any way in any of that is completely wrong.”

Agitations For Secession, Ultimatum To Igbos Unconstitutional – Osinbajo

The Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has said the agitation for secession by groups in the South East and the ultimatum giving to Igbos to leave the North by Northern groups are in violation of Nigeria’s Constitution.

Professor Osinbajo said this on Sunday when he met with traditional rulers from the South East in continuation of his consultations with leaders of the North and South East following increased tension in both regions.

While assuring the traditional rulers that the Federal Government remained committed to the unity of the country, Osinbajo warned that it would be wrong to for people to threaten to disobey laws or the unity of the nation as a result of their grievances.

He also warned that the Federal Government would deal decisively with those who put the unity of the country at risk.

He said, “The manner of those agitations, the method and objectives are wrong, unlawful and in violation of the laws of Nigeria and the Constitution of Nigeria. I want to repeat that both the agitations for secession and the ultimatum to leave the Northern states are wrong and a violation of our Constitution.

“Our Constitution says in Section 2 that Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that is the law of our country.

“Let us not be in any doubt about the fact that the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that our country remains united.

“And that anyone who violates the law in the manner such as we are seeing all over the place will be met with the full force of the law.”

Although he described the agitations as unlawful, the Acting President said the nation “must be sensitive to the reasons why there are agitations by the various young men and in fact several others across the various zones of this country”.

Noting that much of the agitations had to do with perceived marginalisation, he said, “I want to say the only way to make things right is to do things right. And it will be wrong of us to approach even our grievances by threatening to disobey the laws or by threatening the integrity of our nation.”

According to Professor Osinbajo, keeping the country united is vital because enough blood has been spilt by many and thousands of lives lost for that purpose.

“Many have paid for the unity of this country with their lives and it will be wrong of us as men and women of goodwill in this generation to toy with those sacrifices that have been made,” he said.

“This is the reason why men and women of goodwill in our generation must not tolerate any tendency that drags us in the direction of yet another civil conflict.”

He assured the traditional rulers that the Federal Government is committed to listening “to all the reasons, the various suggestions, the various agitations, and the reasons for those agitations and to ensure that we do justice by all persons regardless of where you are from in this country”.

“That is the commitment of Federal Government which I am able to make to you today,” he added.