The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) recently insisted that the October 1 quit notice issued to Igbo people living in the north has not been withdrawn, but there are new narratives to the imbroglio, writes ADEBIYI ADEDAPO
The quit notice issued by the coalition in June generated a lot of public outcry and condemnation from eminent Nigerians and organisations, but there were speculations that the forum would withdraw the quit notice.
To this end, leader of the Arewa youth coalition, Yerima Shetima, last week, cleared the air on the speculation, as he said, although consultations are ongoing, leadership of the group would consult with other components and allies of the coalition before a compromise is reached.
“We have not withdrawn our quit notice, but you can be rest assured that there is no cause for alarm, you can see that we are wearing the Nigeria flag while some people are wearing biafra,” he said.
Nevertheless, Shetimma enjoined the Igbo people living in the north to go about their normal business, pending the time it’s decision is reached.
“Those who believe in Nigeria can stay and conduct their normal business while those who don’t believe in Nigeria can go to their Biafra,” he said.
He also assured that northern youths would not result to the use force, but seek constitutional means to achieve their goal.
According to him, the forum had written to the United Nations to prevail on the Federal Government to consider a referendum in the Bifra area.
The referendum, he explained, would enable those who were desirous of leaving the federation to do so without force.
“We are looking at having a referendum. It is part of our prayers to the United Nations. Our second prayer is for the UN and the international community to prevail on the Nigerian government through the National Assembly to create an exit for those who want to leave.
“We are expecting the UN to respond and we would also talk to our lawmakers, but we are in consultation. Nigerians should not panic; we are not a violent organisation.”
Spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, advised the federal government to invite both Northern and Southern agitating youths and elders to a roundtable, to reach a common ground in the interest of the country.
Abdullahi said, “When you want the latest on the quit notice, go to the youth. I am not a youth. My understanding is that I participated in one of the elders’ consultations with the acting president Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. We were the first group to meet him and he listened to our views. I learnt he met with the other group too. The initial idea was that all the groups would be put together for a joint discussion; I think this is what perhaps has not taken place. Perhaps, at that time, when the groups meet, we might be able to extract some common positions which will be communicated to the general public.”
Also, a member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic and Northern elder statesman, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, observed that Nigerians are not sincere democrats.
“I cannot speak for the youth. But the issue about the Northern and Southern agitators which has refused to go away is an indication that we as Nigerians are not sincere democrats. You cannot build a democracy without having a sincere mind of a democrat. This mind is neither in the North nor in the South. We have to be sincere with ourselves and see whether the Nigerian project is an implementable project. We have to see whether we have been fair to our existence as a country and whether any country can survive with this level of continuous agitations”, he said.
Meanwhile, a former governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu who has made frantic efforts to quell the rebellious tendencies of the successionist crusaders as well as to douse the tension generated by the northern youths assured that Igbo leaders would curtail agitation for a sovereign state of Biafra.
Kalu, who spoke shortly after a consultative meeting with the northern youths assured southerners living in the north of maximum safety.
He also assured the northern youths that Igbo leaders would persuade biafra agitators to drop the successionist agitation.
“Nnamdi Kanu is not the only person talking about biafra, I have access to all of them and I have been talking to them. We resolved this issue with Uwazirike when I was governor. We will speak with Kanu and others and I am sure that he will listen, no one man can be bigger than the crowd,” he said.
According to Kalu, Igbo nation still wants to be part of Nigeria, but they are apprehensive of what would happen after October 1.
“Igbo leaders do not support that Nigeria should be divided, but they are afraid of what notherners will do to them,” he stated.
Kalu, had met the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu, when he was in detention, in an effort to broker a political solution to his trial for alleged treason.
The former governor, after the meeting, expressed optimistim that Kanu and his supporters would be more cooperative with the authorities, following his discussion.
“I came to talk to him to talk to his supporters. I think they will have a change of attitude. We are all Nigerians. If both himself and the Federal Government are genuinely interested, we can come to a common ground. It is a possibility,” Kalu stated.
Kalu also engaged with the Arewa youths to seek a possible review of the quit notice.
Interestingly, Shetima had explained that the coalition decided to honour Kalu based on his antecedents and concerns.
“We don’t attend to those we are not sure of their antecedents, we have discussed a lot and his worries are how we can maintain the unity of Nigeria. Only the blind will not notice that the country’s unity is threatened, we will work within the framework and ensure that nobody hold Nigeria in ransom,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Igbo People’s Congress (IPC), and the Igbo Aborigines are pessimistic aboutKalu intention, as they described the move as a self-induced romance.
Former national chairman of Ohanaeze youth wing, Mazi Ikechukwu Bismarck Oji also called out the Arewa youths, as he said the quit notice to the Igbo was a plot to cause mayhem in Nigeria and prevent the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo from becoming a substantive president due to Buhari’s ill-health.
“It is obvious that their antics are predicated on fame and fortune which the ordinary people in the North and the few elders they claim to support do not know. It is an economic game they begun to make money as events are now showing.
“Orji Kalu should tell Nigerians how much the misled youth extorted from him and who sent him to negotiate for Ndigbo. Yerima Shettima, the arrowhead of the infamy is a Lagos boy that has been struggling to survive the harsh economy in Nigeria and he saw this obnoxious act as the easiest way to make it in life, not considering the consequences.”
The groups, therefore, called on Northern governors and leaders to call Yerima Shettima to order in the interest of the nation.
However, a there was a sigh of reprieve on Friday as leaders of the northern coalition groups and representatives of the Igbo people resident in the north held a meeting in Kano state.
During the meeting, a 10-man committee was set up to look into the quit notice which Arewa youth issued to the Igbo in the north.