By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah, Chibuzo Ukaibe Abuja, EMMANUEL MGBEAHURUIKE, Owerri and MATTHIAS NWOGU, Umuahia
The delegation of the Northern Governors Forum yesterday continued its peace mission to the South East and South South geo-political zones of the country, with Imo and Anambra States as their next ports of call.
The peace mission by the Northern governors to the two zones is part of efforts to douse tension and promote peace and dialogue among all sections of the country.
During their visit to Imo State governor and chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors’ Forum, Rochas Okorocha, chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Borno State governor,
Kashim Shettima regretted that some of the nation’s elite, either wittingly or unwittingly, fan the embers of discord, hatred and segregation among the citizenry.
The governor who decried the slow pace of infrastructural facilities in the South East, including poor road networks, attributed the sad development to greed and avarice by those whose duty is to remedy the situation.While commending Okorocha for tenaciously standing on the path of national unity and integration, he said, “We should begin to see ourselves as trail blazers and agents of change for a better, stronger and prosperous Nigeria.”
On his part, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State dismissed the Arewa youths who reportedly issued quit notice to Igbos in the North as rabble rousers who acted on their own.
“Ours is to maintain peace and to retain the indivisible entity called Nigeria in spite of our religious and tribal differences. Nigeria is a creation of God and God who brought us together did this for a purpose and we should queue up in building a United Nation with equal opportunity for all”, Lalong said.
In his remarks, Okorocha called on politicians, religious leaders and major stakeholders in the country to see the current socio-economic and political challenges facing the nation as a period of trial and tribulation that will ultimately fizzle out and make the nation stronger and greater.
“We should see one another as people who are of the same blood, created by one God who are therefore inseparable and what should be of paramount concern to us is a united indivisible entity called Nigeria because many African nations hold us in high esteem because of what and who we are.
“Peace is expensive but we must pursue it at all costs and we should strive to be remembered as nation builders and not as nation destroyers”, Okorocha added.
Meanwhile, in Abia State, the Northern Governor’s Forum extolled the governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, for the exceptional leadership he exhibited in the face of the security crisis that rocked the state last week.
The chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Shetima, who led four of his colleagues, Aminu Masari of Katsina state, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state, Solomon Lalong of Plateau state and Atiku Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi state, to Umuahia on a peace mission, commended Ikpeazu for saving the nation from impending doom.
He said, “I am here with Northern governors who respect and promote the unity of the country, Nigeria. We are in the state to thank our brother Governor Ikpeazu for his leadership at a time the nation needs quality leadership. He saved the nation from impending doom.
“We, the leaders, have a role to play in bringing about peace and stability in this nation. We are here to show support and solidarity in the kind of leadership exhibited by our brother governor in times of crisis and conflict; he rose to the challenges of leadership.”
The Borno governor said that the governors have an obligation to ensure that the country remains one indivisible country, adding that the Northern governors are proud of the Igbos whom he described as African Jews.
Shettima said that they are against mass exodus of Nigerians from one part of the country to another, stressing that “our brothers from the South East can come to any part of the North to stay and do their business as nobody has the right to drive away any Nigerian from any part of the country.”
Receiving his Northern colleagues, Governor Ikpeazu said he was humbled by the show of love and solidarity by the Northern governors, adding that he derives a lot of joy from the camaraderie that exist among the Nigerian Governors forum.
According to him, the intention of those who decided to threaten the peace of the state was ill, even as he made it clear that he owe it a duty to ensure that everyone in his care is safe.
Army/IPOB Clash Was Hijacked To Cause War- Abia Gov
Meanwhile, Abia State governor, Okezie Ikeazu, has said the recent clash between the military and members of IPOB was nearly hijacked to set the country on fire.
Speaking to State House correspondents yesterday after a closed-door meeting with Vice- President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa, the governor said his administration is working to stabilise peace in the South East.
He said, “It depends from what point to what point. But if you are referring to what happened in the past one week, Nigerians know that for some time now this group called IPOB were agitating for a separate nation called Biafra and that the home state of the leader of that group happens to be Abia State.
“As expected when such things happen, there was an interface between some members of that group and the military, and the theater was Abia State, and some people attempted to hijack that event to conflagrate our country.
“To the glory of God the rest is history. We are still working to stabilize the fragile peace in the region. I thank God also for the instruments he used to be able to keep our country as one. We are humbled by the privileges.”
The governor dismissed calls by some youths to dethrone Nnamdi Kanu’s father who is a traditional ruler in Abia.
According to him, there is a clear divison between Kanu and his father, noting that the processes of handling traditional institutions are enshrined in the laws of the land.
He added, “I clearly separate Kanu from his father. The processes of handling traditional institutions are enshrined in the laws of our land. And traditional rulers who are members of our constituency have leadership. They will do the needful at the appropriate time. But for me, I think there is a clear division between Nnamdi Kanu and his father”.
On Northern governors’ visit to Abia, he said he assured them of safety of lives and property of everybody that resides in Abia “whether you are an Abian or not an Abian.
“I swore with the Bible to protect lives and property and because I take such things seriously, I will continue to protect the lives and property of my brothers and sisters irrespective of where they come from”, he added.
APC’s Policies Catalyst For Agitations – PDP
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) alleged yesterday that the policies of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ignited the crisis arising from the agitation by IPOB.
The opposition party said the agitation for actualisation of the sovereign state of biafra was a total silent voice while they were in power because of the inclusiveness provided to Nigerians who were made to experience what a genuine national government meant.
PDP further said the APC should do soul searching and correct the anomaly within its ranks, noting that the governing party is its own worst enemy.
The national publicity secretary of the PDP, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, stated this yesterday while responding to claims by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that treasury looters were behind IPOB’s activities.
Lambasting the APC for attempting to blame a superficial opposition for what it described as the continuous gaffe of the federal government, PDP said, “As a party, we had condemned and we are still condemning separatist movements tailored towards balkanising the nation.
“We therefore make bold to further state that the APC policies have been the catalyst for IPOB problem, and as such, the party should do soul searching and correct the anomaly. No external enemy, so to say, is working against this government. The government is its own worst enemy.
“We wish to put on record that agitation for actualisation of the State of Biafra was a total silent voice while the PDP was in power because of the government of inclusiveness we provided for Nigerians who were made to experience what a genuine national government meant.
“The APC should, therefore, learn to mould itself into a real National Party, provide good leadership for the people and let the generality of Nigerians feel safe.”
Adeyeye added that PDP advised the APC to look inward and seek solutions to its self-induced challenges in government caused by its unpreparedness for governance.
He however noted that since the governing party “seems set for self- destruction, we shall not relent in helping to expose their ineptitude to the Nigerian populace.”
Adeyeye continued: “We noticed that the Minister, who is much known for his unbridled capacity for constant polarization of the polity rather than ardency in the proper dissemination of government policies and information to the populace, tried once again on Sunday to shift blames of the poor handling of the agitations of IPOB by the current government to an opposition that exists only in his imagination.
“It is disheartening that rather than accept blame for its ineptitude, the APC government has continued to blame enemies, real or imaginary, for their woes.
“How on earth will a serious minded government blame opposition parties which they have conveniently labelled looters for the activities of IPOB? But we take solace in the fact that the APC might actually know the looters, as the party has clearly demonstrated its penchant for giving covers to people considered as corrupt.
“The recent release of 48 houses confiscated as proceed of crime back to a member of the APC who was standing trial for allegations of corruption readily comes to mind.
“Much as we will continue to harp on the one sided corruption fight of this administration, we wish to urge the APC to look inwards in locating the looters using their ill-gotten wealth to sponsor separatist agitation against the Government of the Day.”
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