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[ATTACK ME FIRST, BEFORE YOU EVICT IGBO, SULTAN TELLS NORTHERN YOUTHS]


• Admits genuine complaints about marginalisation, urges dialogue
• Ohanaeze wants Buhari to tackle lopsidedness in NNPC appointments

Fresh condemnation has trailed the quit notice given to Igbo by northern youths as the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad, has said anybody planning attack on the south easterners would have to attack him first.

The sultan, who is also the President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), spoke when the leader of World Igbo Union, Dr. Ahanta Meshach, accompanied by other prominent leaders residing in Sokoto paid him a courtesy call.

He explained that restructuring did “not mean balkanising or dividing Nigeria, but simply means making adjustments here and there for equal accommodation for all and sundry in the country, for equity and fair play, religiously, socially and economically.”

According to the monarch, the agitation for separation by some people or call for disintegration could not solve the myriad of problems bedeviling the country. He said dividing Nigeria into many parts would only lead to a situation where towns and villages would be clamouring to become independent.

The sultan, who acknowledged that there were genuine complaints bordering on marginalisation, said the way out was peaceful resolution through dialogue and not through violence and use of dangerous weapons.

He took a swipe at politicians for most of the problems, saying “they come to you during campaigns, promise you heaven in your house, air conditioners on all roads and milk entering your mouth hourly without any effort from you and, as soon as they win, they disappear to Abuja where they start planning or arranging comfort for themselves while some from rural areas move to state capitals with careless abandonment of the voters.”

The sultan called for the election of credible persons into political offices as the only way forward even as he condemned all about the quit notice, the violent method of agitations for separation, kidnappings, vandalism and hiding under religion to kill through the use of suicide bombing instruments believing that it will lead one to heaven when, in fact, such persons are hell fire-bound because their acts are not supported by Islam.

Earlier in his speech, the World Igbo Union leader said he had been going round telling Igbo that they could not live peacefully in isolation from Nigeria.

He urged his kinsmen to work towards ensuring proper reintegration and reconstruction as promised by former military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon after the 30-month civil war. He said it could include agitation for creation of more states in the south-east to be at par with other geopolitical zones of the country.

In a related development, a pro-democracy organisation, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has faulted the explanation by Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) for failing to arrest the Arewa youths that served the quit notice to the Igbo in northern states.

The group said the reported excuse of security reasons offered by the chief law officer of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for not arresting the northern youths “whose illegal anti-Igbo quit notice precipitated a pro-genocidal anti-Igbo song in Hausa language, has exposed the current administration as that which is systematically executing a pro-north agenda as against the national security and interest of Nigeria.”

A statement by Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko in Abuja yesterday said HURIWA had therefore thrown its weight behind the recent criticism of the minister by the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo which rightly tasked Malami to abide by his oath of office and stop pandering to the whims and caprices of northern regional interest as against national security and interest.

HURIWA said: “We are shocked and disappointed with current holder of the office of the Federal Attorney General who rather than engage in meticulous introspection with a view to correcting his ethical and constitutional missteps has dug deeper and further into deliberate error and calculated attempts to undermine the sanctity of the Nigerian Constitution and has unfortunately embarked on wholly thoughtless verbal defence of the treasonable and criminal conduct of the northern youth and the serial diatribes which were spewed out by the characters that masquerade around as northern elders.

“We condemn these northern elders whose support overtly or covertly for the atrocious quit notice of their youth remains a potent threat to national unity and security.”

The rights group also expressed consternation that Buhari, upon his return from over 100 days medical tourism in UK, has decided to launch an unnecessary manhunt and to ask the armed forces to crush the unarmed and totally peaceful campaigners of self-determination of the south- east known as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) but has failed to order the arrest and prosecution of the Arewa youths who threatened national security by their widely reported anti-Igbo quit notice.

Meanwhile, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to revisit the recent reorganisation in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the interest of peace, unity and good governance.

Ohanaeze said in a statement yesterday by its President General Chief Nnia Nwodo that it was appalled “at the consistent and unrepentant disposition of disdain for the south-east by the Buhari administration as copiously displayed in the recent reorganisation at the NNPC.”

The Federal Government had last week announced new management appointments at the NNPC “without a person from the southeast.” Of the 15 new appointments announced, the north alone got 10, southwest got three and south-south two, while none came to the south-east.

Reacting to the development, Ohanaeze said it had thought that after the president’s declaration in a broadcast recently that “Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable”, he would take all necessary actions to achieve it. The group said it was disappointed by the recent NNPC shakeup which seriously did not consider the south-east.

Nwodo said that Buhari administration as shown in the new managers just announced tilting clearly in favour of the north with south- east totally ignored as has always been the case since the administration came to office “is not intended to achieve the desired cohesion in an already fragmented nation”.

He noted that “this brazen disregard, marginalisation and non-compliance with the federal character provisions in our constitution are the causes of lack of confidence of our youths in the present governance structure.”

According to Ohanaeze,”as long as President Buhari continues to live out his speech abroad that his government would favour those who voted 97% for him against those who voted 5% for him, so long will the dissatisfaction and unrest in our polity subsist.

“There is no oil well anywhere in northern Nigeria. Four of the five states in the south-east have proven oil resources some of which provide our nation’s revenue, yet our people are not found fit to be adequately represented in a key corporate institution like the NNPC.”

Ohanaeze therefore urged the president to revisit the reorganisation exercise in the NNPC in the name of God and in the spirit of the ongoing “festivity being celebrated in this season and in promotion of unity and good governance.”


The Guardian

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