The Speaker of the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly and Chairman, Conference of Speakers of South South Assemblies, Hon. Onofiok Luke has dismissed the quit order on Igbo as a “high level insult” just as the head of the Northern Elders Forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi threw his weight behind the Northern youths coalition.
The Akwa Ibom Speaker said while receiving in audience in his office in Uyo a delegation from a socio-political group with membership across the major tribes in the country, the ‘1 for 8 Initiative’, strongly condemned the ultimatum for Igbo.
Luke said Nigeria had passed the stage where people should be holding tenaciously to tribal differences.
Challenging leaders of thought from the North to rise and condemn the action of their youths, the Akwa Ibom Speaker stressed that Nigeria’s unity should be encouraged rather than sabotaged by any group of persons.
Also, the Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA) yesterday intensified its call for restructuring of Nigeria, saying that it remained the only way to save the situation, while the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) condemned as provocative, the statement by the coalition of the northern youths.
The ECA, an umbrella of civil society organisations including CAN, youth groups, students associations, traditional rulers, market unions, women groups, town unions, professional bodies, and non-governmental-organisations made the call at its seventh plenary session held at Enugu.
CDHR in a statement made available to THISDAY by Director of Programme and Projects, Dr. Bode Fasade, noted that the action did not only threaten the peaceful coexistence of Nigeria as a single geo-political entity, but was treasonable in the circumstance that it was made.
It also stated that it negated the provision of the Nigerian constitution which stipulated that every Nigerian has the rights to live and do business in any part of the country without let or hindrance.
“Indeed Sections 40 and 41 of the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) guarantee the rights of Nigerians to freely assemble, associate and move in any part of this country,” it noted.
It further stated that it was unimaginable that a youth coalition which was supposed to be focused on raising the standards of leadership could make such a reckless statement.
The group added that it was the duty of the security agencies to fish out those involved and sanction them appropriately before other youth groups issue reprisal statements.
However, a spokesman of the NEF and former Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Prof. Abdullahi Ango in a statement in Zaria, maintained that Igbo could not continue to live in other parts of the country and at the same time agitating for Biafra.
He said the forum was disappointed with the decision taken by Northern Governors’ Forum, disowning and condemning the agitation.
“Let me ask these northern governors, who are they representing? Are they representing spirits, ghost or people of the north?
“Recently, people from eastern part of this country, specifically Igbo, were busy calling for the sovereign state of Biafra and from all indication their leaders including governors are behind them.”
“Whoever feels Nigeria is not conducive for him let him quit, what the northern youth groups did was not a sin.
He alleged that when Nnamdi Kanu was released on bail recently, over 100 vehicles escorted him to his residence including big personalities from the south-west and south-east, noting that Kanu is the arrow head for the agitation for Biafra.
According to him, northern youths were being pushed to the wall by the activities of Biafra agitators
“These people (Igbo) always pretend that the north is cheating them, not minding the fact that southern Nigeria was developed by resources from the north….
“Each year, up to the time Nigeria gained its independence, none of the two regions was able to provide for itself.
“I mean none of the western and eastern regions had the money to effectively run the affairs of its region until they get financial support from the Northern region.”
According to Abdullahi, the tradition had remained during the colonial masters and nothing changed after they left the country.
He maintained that the same money made from the north was used to construct Nigerian Railways, refineries and other facilities.
“First oil exploration was conducted using money from groundnut pyramid, cotton, hide and skin among other cash crops from northern Nigeria,” he said.
“However, these people tend to forget all these goodies provided by the North toward ensuring the unity and corporate existence of Nigeria.
“They always look down on us, feeling that Northerners are parasites in this country” he said