When Arewa youths’ ultimatum stirred up hornets’ nest

By Saxone Akhaine and Abdulganiu Alabi, Kaduna   |   17 June 2017   |   2:44 am

Some Southeast leaders during a meeting with the acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in Aso Villa on Wednesday


Non-Indigenes In Kaduna Express Fear, Concern
Many non-Igbo resident in Kaduna, who spoke to The Guardian expressed serious concern over the October 1 ultimatum, saying that there is no way they will differentiate some of them from the Igbo if there is any problem.

A resident of Kakuri, a suburb of the state, Mr. Kennedy Frank, who hails from Rivers State, appealed to the government to quickly resolve the problem before the expiration of the ultimatum.

“This is because at the expiration of the ultimatum if there is trouble, there is no way some of us can be separated from the Igbos residing here in the North. We have started discussing the issue of identity and the possibility of being attacked because we cannot be isolated from the Igbos. We will all be grouped together.

“Since the ultimatum was issued, some non-indigenes have started sending their people back home. This is how the problem in the 1960s started before it resulted to Civil War; even most of the non-Igbo speaking people were victims.

“Go to the motor park, you will appreciate what I am telling you. We are aware the leaders of the Arewa are talking to these youths, but the question is, have they withdrawn the ultimatum? That is our fears and that is why we don’t want to take anything for granted. I am from Niger Delta, I will tell you that my people are always calling me from home putting pressure on me to come back,” he lamented.

In the same vein, an Igbo leader in the state, Chief Sylvanus Anakwe pointed out that all Igbo people have been told to exercise restraint over moving their families back to the east, following assurance they received from the Arewa elders.

“We are Nigerians; I have heard the northern youths and we have listened to other Nigerians and the northern elders. So, we are watching and praying. And I have appealed to all Ndi Igbo in the state to be calm and continue to pursue their legitimate businesses and not to disturb anybody, he said.

Apparently worried that not much lessons have been learnt from the Civil War that was fought between Nigeria and Biafran in the 60s, Chief Anekwe remarked: “At least, we have leaders in the country; we still believe in Nigeria and the leadership of the country. They are assuring us of safety and we want to believe them.”

Lamenting the inequality and injustice that Ndi Igbo and other minority ethnic groups have faced in Nigeria, the Igbo leader argued that the agitation for a Biafran by IPOB members in the east is not the issue, pointing out that there are agitations from different parts of the country for restructuring.

“Meaningful and sensible Nigerians are calling the leaders to address the issues; I think that is what matters. The agitation is not just from southeast, there are agitations from every corner of the country. People are saying that there are things that have not been resolved but we keep shying away from them.”

Anekwe continued: “I don’t believe that the withdrawal of campaign by addIgbod. As for the agitation, the elders have never supported it. And problems in the country today; jto their utterances that we have betrayed them will tell you that we have never supported agitation. But, what we are insisting on is that the injt nobody supports the agitation, but the grievances they are talking about should be addressed.

“The injustice and inequality in the country must be addressed. As for the agitation, the elders have never supported it. And the youths know. Mere listening to their utterances that we have betrayed them will tell you that we have never supported the agitation. But, what we are insisting on is that the injustice and inequality in this country must be addressed.”

When asked if Ndi Igbo are prepared to lose their properties worth billions of naira in the north, Chief Anekwe said, “I am concerned about Igbo losing their property in the North if we leave the north. But if it has to be so, so be it. And I will tell you that that is how God wants it.”
“I see the whole issue as unfortunate. It is unfortunate that we have not learnt any lesson from our past history. And it is not the youths that should be blamed; it is the leadership. The problem in this country is that the leadership is the one that worsened the problem of tribal and religious sentiments so that they will continue to enjoy themselves.”

He noted that the youths are frustrated as a result of rising rate of unemployed, adding, “Most of them are graduates for the past five years and they have no job; they are now expressing their frustrations. So, I think the problem is to address the issue. If the youths in the east are gainfully employed they cannot be in their offices or places of work and be making declarations. Until the leadership addresses the problems in the country, we will continue in this mess. Each group across the country has its own complaints,”Anekwe said.

Similarly, the minority groups in the North have warned the three major ethnic nationalities against plunging the nation into crisis and disintegration.Minorities Unity Movement (MUM), Kaduna, made the call in a statement it issued on Wednesday and signed by its leader, Mr. Jacob Onjewu Dickson.The movement frowned at statements and actions credited to some individuals from each of the major tribes of Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba, which are threatening the corporate existence of the country.

The statement also expressed disgust on the actions that led to the provocation from the sit-at-home order carried out mostly in Southeast.“We are worried that unhealthy and unfriendly rhetoric are emanating from our three big brothers; Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. We are even more concerned that such unguarded utterances are coming at a time that Nigeria is suffering economic problems, which may result to provocations at slightest mistakes,” the statement read.

The minority group further warned that, should anything go wrong with the present arrangement in Nigeria, the minorities will suffer more, hence the need to unite now and fight to keep Nigeria as one, while appealing to Afenifere and other Yoruba groups to suspend any action it intends taking to prevent heating up the polity.

Dickson further called on minority ethnic groups all over the country to unite and stand against any move that would affect them negatively, using every legally available option.

Meanwhile, it has been gathered that businesses in the north are likely to suffer, should Ndi Igbo vacate the region, as majority of the business activities are been owned and controlled by the southeasterners.According to Sunday Okoli, who sells electronics at Katsina Road, should Ndi Igbo eventually vacate the north, business will remain dormant in the region.
 
Also, Chief Dominic Eze Uzu, who doubles as the secretary Igbo Delegate Assembly and vice President, Igbo Community Welfare Association Kaduna, said there is no cause for alarm, adding that he and other Igbos will maintain the same relationship they had with the Hausas before the quit notice.

“I have been in the North for over 25 years and I know how they behave; it’s only our people in the east that are panicking. I am not relocating from here, I have spent 44 years here. I married and born all my children here. I don’t know anywhere else to call home if not Kaduna.”In her opinion, Mercy Vincent from Edo State, who spent 20 years in Kaduna selling computer accessories, said she wants government to cooperate and restructure the country.

“It is either true federalism or Biafra Republic. But once Biafra takes place, they will only be issuing us visa to remain in Nigeria.”In a related development, northern leaders and the Igbos have agreed in Kaduna, on Wednesday, to work together for the unity, peace and sovereignty of Nigeria, while foreclosing the agitation for the creation of a Biafran State, which may likely engender crisis and tore the country apart.

The former security chief to the late General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Mustapha and some Igbo leaders led by the leader of Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Raph Uwazuruike, converged at the Arewa House to discuss the ultimatum by the Northern youths to Ndi Igbo resident in the north.

They also met with prominent Arewa elders to ensure that the unity of Nigeria do not come under threat as a result of the agitation for a Biafra State and the quit notice handed down by the Northern youths to all Igbos.

Ndigbo In Plateau Express Optimism, Preach Peaceful Co-existence
From Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi, Jos

The ultimatum issued by the 16 Arewa Youth Groups that Igbo residing in their region should leave within 90 days, has not dampened the morale of Ndi Igbo resident in Plateau State.
 
A business tycoon in Jos, Chief Okafor Eni, told The Guardian that when the news of the eviction order filtered into Plateau State, many were sad, but the following day, they did not really come out in their large number to do business.

“By the third day, the business activities picked up a little. Some Igbo believe that the threat was real, while some saw it as mere politics. That was why the businesses picked up again. From then till now, many have relaxed; they no longer look at it as a threat in the state, but as a game of politics.
   
“Then, on the other hand, some of the Igbo elders did not look at it as a threat because they think that those youths did not have the authority to make that public declaration. They were of the view that some prominent political leaders were the people who encouraged the youths to come out boldly to voice it.

“For instance, in a state like Plateau where everything is moving smoothly, this kind of threat cannot affect anything. That is why they encouraged the Igbos to go about their normal businesses. Igbos, who are building houses here, are doing so unhindered. We are in Plateau with the understanding that we are part and parcel of the state.

“You know, a stranger cannot come and tell the owner of a house to pack out from his house. So, Nigeria is our own; we own it like every other person. That is why wherever we are investing in this place and we will continue building. So, we are also among the owners of Nigeria of which nobody born of a woman can threaten us.”
Eni also commented on the relationship between the Hausa and Igbo, which he described as very cordial and symbiotic.

“The quit notice has not in anyway affected our relationship; we in Plateau do play some strict politics, because we are playing politics within local governments and the wards.

“My chairman in Jos North is an Hausa man and we relate very well, so also every EXCO member from Hausa ward; we share ideas. We still have meetings together in spite of the so-called quit notice; they are in business and we patronise one another. So, we are still together as one family joined together by the All Progressives Party (APC) in the state.

“Even today (Wednesday) I am going to a political meeting and the person I am going to meet is an Hausa man; he called me. That we should go back to our place of origin is just a political statement; I encourage people to continue to live together. Government knows better, they know what to do,” he said.

On his part, Hausa elder statesman, Sheikh Murtala Usman, said that the threat issued by the misguided Arewa youths was empty and unfortunate, adding that Nigeria has come a long way and cannot exclude any ethnic nationality.

According to him, “there are inter tribal margroups would want to relate with and marry from there. You can see that Nigeria is inseparable.“All these Arewa youths are just theorising, it’s not practicable; it cannot be possible. We will protect them if there is anything. This inter– dependence by these two great ethnic groups is further given a stamp of co-existence by the Yorubas, where the two groups would want to relate with and marry from there. You can see that Nigeria is inseparable.

“All these Arewa youths are just theorising. But it is not practicable. It cannot be possible. We will protect them if there is anything. Mark my word I am also from the northern part of the country.

“I am happy that the governor, Simon Lalong also joined others in condemning the Arewa youths, who did not seek clearance before issuing the ultimatum. It will not work. I urge my Igbo brothers and sisters to wave aside the quit notice and face their business.”Usman, however, called on the security agents to always be on the alert to deal decisively with the troublemakers.

Igbos In Kogi Denounce Biafra Agitation, Pledge Loyalty To Nigeria State
From John Akubo, Lokoja

Despite the quit notice issued by Arewa youth groups, Igbos residing in Kogi state said they are more at home than anyone can imagine, stressing that they are unruffled by the notice.

Many of them, who spoke to The Guardian in Lokoja, believe that the Biafra agitation at this material time is uncalled for, pointing out that they still believe in the unity of Nigeria as one country.

President-General of the community in Lokoja Captain Maximus Okochi (rtd) said that, after consulting widely with his Igbo kinsmen living in Lokoja and its environs, they have come to the conclusion that it is a misplaced priority to start agitation to break away from the country.

“Even though agitation for independence is not new all over the world, what is strange is the violent way in which such agitation is being carried out. We are against breaking Nigeria. God who brought us together knows the reason for doing so and no one has the right to separate us, the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable,” he said.

Okochi said that Igbo in the state have very cordial relationships with the people of the state, apart from sharing borders, they have also intermarried in virtually all the senatorial districts and have therefore become one.He advised those involved in the agitation to learn from history and drop the idea, because it will do no one any good on the long run.

He, however, advised the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency address the issues causing the agitation.According to him, “such issues as marginalisation, underdevelopment and exclusion should be addressed in order to reduce tension.

Another Igbo man, who sells electrical material, Nonso Chukwu, said he had been married to an Igala woman for ten years with three children, saying he has even built his own house in the state.To cap it all is the disposition of the State Governor Yahaya Bello to accommodating other Nigerians. He appointed an Igbos man as his special adviser on speech writing and documentation. Bello has assured Igbos in the state that his administration will continue to protect their interests, saying Nigeria will continue to be a united entity.

Speaking through his Director General on Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo on the backdrop of events in Kaduna where some people are threatening the Igbo community, the Governor Bello said he aligned with the position of the Kaduna State Governor to protect the Igbos in the state.

“As a nation, our strength has always been embedded in our unity in diversity. Nigeria is home to all and we must continue to see ourselves as brothers and sisters in a united nation. Ethnic segregation is unacceptable to humanity and we must continue to wax stronger and unbroken as a nation. The God that created Nigeria is a God who believes in the strength of unity.

However, the Igala nation has rejected their alleged inclusion in Map of Biafra. Speaking under the aegis of the Igala sociocultural group, the people rejected in totality their alleged inclusion in the map of Republic of Biafra, a country being agitated for by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and others.The group reiterated its stand that including Igala without its consent is not only provocative, but also insulting to the Igala race.

” Biafra agitators have marginalisation as their major concern. It is therefore unthinkable to annex the Igala kingdom without consulting them. This is against the spirit of fairness, sovereignty, equity, peaceful co-habitation and democracy.” He also called for the resolution of the issues surrounding the boundary adjustment crisis between Ibaji and Anambra State to bring about peaceful co-existence in the affected areas.

Yobe Govt. Assures Non-Indigenes Of Protection
From Njadvara Musa, Damaturu

Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam has assured the Igbos resident in the state that government will not allow anyone to intimidate, molest or threaten them.
Gaidam gave the assurance on Thursday in a statement issued by the Director of Press Affairs to the Governor, Abdullahi Bego in Damaturu, the state capital.
The Governor also considered the threat against the Igbos as unfortunate, unlawful, and unwarranted.

BAUCHI: We Are Studying The Situation, Say Non-Indigenes
From Ali Garba, Bauchi

The Igbos living in Bauchi State said they are still watching the situation of thing as it concerns the Arewa youths’ quit notice. Speaking to The Guardian, an Igbo businesswoman, Patience Chukwudi said that the declaration was quite unfortunate and not good for a developing nation like Nigeria.

Chukwudi said: “The issue has been lingering since the beginning of this new administration. This is a problem we are having in Nigeria because of ethnic, religious, and tribal related issues. I can remember when Goodluck Jonathan was the President, Boko Haram insurgents surfaced in the North.

“This Nnamdi Kanu is a man from nowhere. I read what the former leader of the MASSOB said Kanu was just appointed as director of Radio Biafra in London but then the mission was not to beat drum for war, but unfortunately politicians hijacked Kanu, and he is now working for them. We need to make peace in Nigeria and leave in unity, tolerate and respect each other.”

She explained that before it was militancy in Niger Delta, but immediately Jonathan became president everything about them stopped. “I was not born during the last civil war, but I want to stand on what my parents told me. They said the war was terrible, bloody, and there must not be another war again”.The Igbo businesswoman said that her people should learn from the past and stay in Nigeria irrespective of ethnic, and religious difference.

Speaking to The Guardian Alhaji Aliyu Jibo said that the action of the Arewa youths was because of the continuous threat by Biafra agitators to secede. He alleged the northerners in the East are always threatened by the Igbos.

On the issue of security, Commissioner of Police Bauchi State Command, Alhaji Garba Baba Umar advised the Igbos to go about their normal business, assuring them that nothing would happen.The Commissioner expressed willingness to partner with Igbos in order to ensure that law and order are maintained within the state.

In his own remarks, Eze Ndigbo of Bauchi State, His Highness Eze J. Umezika said that Igbos are law abiding citizens and will not indulge in any act that would undermine the unity and peaceful coexistence of the country.

Dr. Amos Yakubu said that the minority groups in the north were not happy with the Arewa youths’ declaration. “I am in support of Biafra. The North wants to dominate everywhere and they have forgotten that it was Christian that make this country to stay together.”

 
         


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Arewa youths


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