By ABDULGAFAR OLADIMEJI, and SALIHI ABUBAKAR BELLO, Kano
The Arewa Youth Coalition yesterday met with leaders of all Igbos in the 19 states of the North and Abuja over the October 1 quit notice.
The meeting held in Kano had all the Igbo presidents in the states of the North led by the president general of Igbo Delegates Assembly, Chief Chi Nwogwu, and their Igwes led by Eze Boniface Ibekwe in attendance.
The Igbos were also accompanied to the meeting by two South-West and South-South leaders in Northern Nigeria, Dr Jimpat Ayalambe and Mr. Fred Akhigbe.
At the of the meeting, the convener and renowned labour leader, Alhaji Isa Tijjani, noted that the meeting was convened to bring the two groups together to deliberate on the issue of the quit notice issued the Igbos by the Arewa youths with a view to resolving the issue once and for all.
After listening to both sides, the two groups agreed to narrow the meeting to committee level of 10 men comprising five from each side.
Facilitator of the parley and former chairman the NLC, Kano State Council, Tijjani, disclosed that the committee is mandated to finalise the assigned duty within 72 hours.
The committee is expected to deliberate on the issues at stake and then come up with a communiqué within 72 hours.
Members of the committee representing the Igbo leadership are Boniface Ibekwe, Eze Ndi- Igbo Kano; Chief Chi Nwogu; Barrister Chris Nnoli; Igwe Ngozi Nwaiwe and Barrister Magnus Ihejirika, while those representing the Coalition of Northern Youth Groups include Barrister Abdullahi Utoro, Dr Abba Bukar, Dauda Shamakari and Ado Mohammed.
After tabling the issue, leader of the Arewa Youth Coalition, Shettima Yerima, opened the discussion by informing the Igbos that even though it was not his group that called for the meeting, they had to attend because they believe in peace.
He explained his group’s grouse with the Igbo’s, saying their decision was borne out of their love for one Nigerian
He said, “We want the unity of this country, which was why we decided to honour this meeting. It is our belief that at the end of the meeting we will understand each other.
“Talking about the quit notice, we had to take that stand because our leaders are being insulted and we are being threatened for no just cause and you, the leaders of Southeast, are not saying anything.
“Not until recently, the Southeast governors, the Ohaneze and leaders of thought decided to dissociate themselves with IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu’s activities. Now, we are meeting with you to reexamine the whole issues because we have lived with you for a very long period in peace. The North is very receptive and accommodating and that is why many of you established your empire here”.
But the Igbo leaders insisted that the idea of Igbos quitting the region as directed by Arewa youths was not feasible.
Eze Ndi- Igbo of Minna, Niger State, Igwe Ngozi Nwaiwe, in his remarks stated that the level of cohesion and union among the segments that constitute Nigeria makes it indivisible.
According to him, majority of Ndi- igbo residing in the North have economic, marital and social relationship with their host, adding tha it is amazing for a group to now ask them to desert their hard earned achievements and leave the region.
“We only travel back home during festivities, marriage and burial ceremonies. We are at home here in the North; some of us have spent over 45 years; we have inter married; we are going nowhere”, he stated.
Also speaking, leader of the Igbo Delegate Assembly, Chief Chief Nwogu, said the Igbos are peace loving people who have never supported evil anywhere.
He reminded the leader of the Arewa Youth Coalition that the country belongs to every Nigerian and that the Hausas are also in the Eastern part of Nigeria.
“We were invited to a meeting with you over your quit notice to us. Let me advise this gathering to be sincere in whatever we are going to discuss here. We must understand ourselves to achieve peace at the end of this meeting”, he said.
In his remark, the president, Association of Eze Ndi igbo in Diapora (Northern Zone), Igwe Boniface Ibekwe, said the Igbo ethnic group boasts of a populace who are apostles of peace, stating that peaceful co-existence is beneficial to the development of Nigeria as a nation.
He said, “I and majority of our people are Igbo people of Northern extraction. You are asking us to go; where do you want us to go to; who among us here is an IPOB member?”
Leader of the Northern Coalition Group (CNG) Ambassador, Shettima Yerima flaw the Igbo leaders for keeping mute, since the IPOB agitation clamouring for the creation of Biafra started.