Sixteen northern youth groups rose from a joint meeting in Kaduna yesterday to give Igbo residing in their states up to October 1, 2017 to vacate the region. This came days after the shutting down of major towns in the South East on May 30, 2017 as part of the campaign by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for the actualisation of Biafra Republic.
The action of the northern youths shows that the agitations for self-determination are spiraling out of control. The nation’s leaders need to immediately intervene to stop these agitations from resulting in violence that may consume the entire nation.
The youth organisations in attendance at the Kaduna meeting included Arewa Citizens Action for Change, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Arewa Youth Development Foundation, Arewa Students Forum and Northern Emancipation Network on the Igbo Persistence for Secession.
Mallam Abdulazeez Suleiman who read the statement issued on behalf of others at the Arewa House in Kaduna, said the North was tired of the political marriage existing in the country, hence the need for restructuring as being canvassed by many notable Nigerian leaders, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
“The persistence for the actualisation of Biafra by the unruly Igbo of South-Eastern Nigeria has lately assumed another alarming twist which involved the forceful (sic) lockdown of activities and denial of other people right to free movement in the South-East by the rebel IPOB and its overt and covert sponsors.
“This latest action and similar confrontational conducts which amount to a brutal encroachment on the rights of those termed as non-indigenous people residing and doing lawful businesses in those areas illegally demarcated and defined as Biafra by the Igbo, are downright unacceptable and shall no longer be tolerated,” the northern youths said.
Alleging persistent Igbo threat to national integration, the northern youth said they had met with several other people in their region and reviewed the current position of the North and jointly came up with the declaration.
The statement further reads: “The Igbo people of the South-East, without remorse for the carnage they wrought on the nation in the 1960s, are today boldly reliving those sinister intentions connoted by the Biafran agitation that led to the very first bloody insurrection in Nigeria’s history.
“Emboldened by the apparent indifference of the Nigerian authorities, the Igbo secessionist tendency is widening in scope and action at every stage, with adverse effects on the law-abiding people of other regions residing in or passing through the East, while the Igbo leaders and elders by their utterances and direct action or inaction appear to support and encourage it.
“This is happening irrespective of the undisputable fact that Igbo have done and are doing more damage to our collective nationhood than any other ethnic group; being responsible for the first violent interference with democracy in Nigeria resulting in a prolonged counter-productive chain of military dictatorship.
“It is on record that since the inception of the current democratic dispensation, the Igbo have shown and maintained open contempt and resentment for the collective decision expressed by majority of Nigerians at various stages via generally acceptable democratic processes.
“While these provocative acts of aggression persist and grow in dimension with each new move, leaders of the North whose people are at the receiving end of the threats, appear helplessly unperturbed.
“Without pursuing a resolute action-plan, these northern leaders have adopted and have been dragging their people into a pitifully pacifist position in order to sustain an elusive national cohesion that has long been ridiculed by the Igbo.
“From today, June 6, 2017, when this proclamation is signed, the North, a critical player in the Nigerian project, hereby declares that it will no longer be disposed to coexisting with the Igbo and shall take definite steps to end the partnership by pulling out of the current federal arrangement.
“This conclusion is necessitated by the realisation that it since (sic) ceased to be comfortable or safe to continue sharing the same country with the ungrateful, uncultured Igbo who have exhibited reckless disrespect for the other federating units and stained the integrity of the entire nation with their insatiable criminal obsessions.
“Rather than certain sections holding the whole country to ransom at every stage, each should be allowed to go its own way as we categorically proclaim today that the North is fed up with being in the same country with this pack of acrimonious Igbo partners.
“The North hereby openly calls on the authorities and other national and international stakeholders to acknowledge this declaration by taking steps to facilitate the final dissolution of this hopeless union that has never been convenient to any of the parties.
“As a first step, since the Igbo have clearly abused the unreciprocated hospitality that gave them unrestricted access to, and ownership of landed properties all over the North, our first major move shall be to reclaim, assume and assert sole ownership and control of these landed resources currently owned, rented or in any way enjoyed by the ingrate Igbo in any part of Northern Nigeria.
“Consequently, officials of the signatory groups to this declaration are already mandated to commence immediate inventory of all properties, spaces or activity in the north currently occupied by the Igbo for forfeiture at the expiration of the ultimatum contained in this declaration.
“With the effective date of this declaration, which is today, Tuesday, June 06, 2017, all Igbo currently residing in any part of Northern Nigeria are hereby served notice to relocate within three months and all northerners residing in the East are advised likewise.”
The groups mandated all northern civil society and pressure groups to mobilise for sustained and coordinated campaigns at their respective State Government Houses, Houses of Assembly, Local Government Council Secretariats and traditional palaces for steps to be taken to ensure the enforcement of the directives .
“We are hereby placing the Nigerian authorities and the entire nation on notice that as from the 1st October 2017, we shall commence the implementation of visible actions to prove to the whole world that we are no longer part of any federal union that should do with the Igbo.
“From that date, effective, peaceful and safe mop-up of all the remnants of the stubborn Igbo that neglect to heed this quit notice shall commence to finally eject them from every part of the North.
“And finally, all authorities, individuals or groups are hereby advised against attempting to undermine this declaration by insisting on this union with the Igbo who have thus far proved to be an unnecessary baggage carried too far and for too long.”
In its reaction, the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) said it received with gladness the “quit notice” and urged the Igbo to return home immediately.
MASSOB, in a statement by its leader Uchenna Madu said: “The latest quit notice by the coalition of northern youths under the umbrella of Arewa youths is not a surprise gift to Biafrans residing in Arewa land. MASSOB is aware that such rascality will happen. As a matter of fact, this is the only rascality exhibited by sponsored Arewa youths to forcefully (sic) exit the people of Biafra residing in Arewa land that MASSOB will hundred percent support. Their Boko Haram tactics didn’t work as planned.
“MASSOB gladly received the good news of quit notice order to the people of Biafra living in Arewa land. We pledge our total support towards this divinely approved quit notice. MASSOB congratulates the Arewa political, religious, and traditional and opinion leaders who sponsored their youths wing by using Arewa House in Kaduna for this greatest meeting of a coalition of Islamic fundamentalists.
“MASSOB is hereby advising the people of Biafra mostly the Igbo living in Northern Nigeria (Arewa land) to take this quit notice serious (sic) as the plan to violently kill your children, wives and demolish your investments are already perfected. MASSOB will never fight or defend your lives and properties in Hausa Fulani land. The consciousness and realities of Biafra is highly overwhelming now.”
Igbo youths under the aegis of Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC), said the statement was capable of causing chaos in the country but urged the Igbo to remain “wherever they are and defend themselves if pushed to the wall.”
One of the leaders of the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo said the development was a bad signal for the country. Adebanjo called on the northerner leaders to urgently condemn the statement by the northerner youths by saying that they did not speak for the north. He also urged the Federal Government to make a statement on the issue “otherwise it has far-reaching implications to the unity of the nation. Otherwise nobody is afraid of separation. If the North wants to break, there is nothing wrong but the idea of giving ultimatum to a particularly set of people to vacate their region is unacceptable.”
Earlier yesterday, Prof. Ben Nwabueze described the leader of IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, as a great Igbo man, stressing that marginalisation has robbed the Igbo of greatness.
Nwabueze, who spoke in Enugu when Kanu led the leadership of the Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA) to his office, said that those undermining the agitation for secession were making a huge mistake.
“We are supposed to be one of the leading ethnic groups in Nigeria but today we are in the minority; we have been so marginalised. Nnamdi Kanu’s case teaches that repression is seldom the right response to complaints and agitations for amelioration in the conditions of things in the society. Repression seldom settles grievances. If anything, it forces them underground.
“Another lesson to learn from Kanu’s case is that this self-determination should be a graduated process. It should begin with regional autonomy. The country should be restructured into six more or less self-governing zones or regions, with the powers of the central government drastically reduced, so as to minimise the fierce contest for its control,” the constitutional lawyer said.