The recent declaration by the Southeast governors and leaders of the zone that they are not part of the secessionist agitation by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) was greeted with much optimism by various stakeholders.
Although the apex Igbo socio-political/cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, had repeatedly been at loggerheads with IPOB, the recent spate of attacks in the region had sparked claims that the Igbo leadership was not being firm enough in condemning the activities of the group, even though it has repeatedly denied instigating the attacks.
Chairman of the Southeast governors forum, David Umahi who read the communique after the meeting, said “We condemn in totality, the activities of violent secessionist groups in the Southeast and elsewhere.
“We firmly proclaim that we do not support them, they do not speak for Southeast.
“The impression that Southeast leaders are silent over some of our youths’ agitations for secession is not correct.
“Southeast governors, Ohanaeze president, National Assembly members, notable leaders had come out publicly many times in the past to speak against such agitations.”
The position of the Southeast was warmly embraced by other socio-cultural groups. The Arewa Consultative Forum hailed the Igbo leaders for the move, while the Pan Niger Delta Forum said the position of the Southeast leaders cannot be faulted.
Spokesman of PANDEF, Hon Robinson notes, “As the apex organisation in the South South and Niger Delta, as a leadership group we have continually made our position clear that we are not for separation of Nigeria.
“The position of the political Leaders in the Southeast cannot be faulted. We agree that there are situations in the country that are completely avoidable, the discrimination, biases and injustices, it is over glaring but we don’t think, as leaders, that going our different ways is the answer,” he said.
Former national secretary of Alliance for Democracy, a stalwart of the Eastern Mandate Union and chieftain of NADECO, Udenta Udenta said “First thing, who is agitating for secession? Secondly, why are you agitating for secession? Thirdly, how do you want to achieve the secession?
“There are other things: the geography of agitations and coherent blueprint. Why do we want independence in the Southeast? If you put all these things together you will see that the secession agitation is a huge joke. To me, it is for the sake of agitating.
“Of course, they have a right to agitate, but if you do it for the sake of agitating then it is meaningless. I can’t see them meet all these criterias. I don’t believe in the agitation. I am an Igbo nationalist, I am a Nigerian patriot in spite of the trajectory of Nigerian state,” he said.