PRESS STATEMENT BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SOUTH EAST GOVERNORS FORUM, HIS EXCELLENCY, ENGR. DAVID NWEZE UMAHI, IN RESPECT OF THE THREAT TO NDI IGBO BY AREWA YOUTH
1. The attention of the South East Governors Forum has been drawn to the widely publicised ultimatum, credited to a coalition of 16 northern youth associations or groups, demanding that Ndi Igbo resident in Northern Nigeria should vacate the region within 90 days or before the 1st day of October, 2017; and equally urging northerners resident in Igboland to return to the North within the same time spectrum.
2. Typical of our preferred modus operandi, we have carefully considered the contents of the highly provocative statement and reflected on its implications for Ndi Igbo specifically, and for the status of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a viable and sovereign nation generally.
3. This public statement is intended to accomplish a couple of objectives, one of which is the expression of our deep appreciation to all Nigerians, including the Presidency; the reputable socio-cultural group, Afenifere; the President of the Senate, His Excellency, Dr Bukola Saraki; His Excellency, Alh. Atiku Abubakar; our brother Governors particularly His Excellency, Alh. Kashim Shettima (the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum); Rtd. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (the Honourable Minister of Interior); His Excellency, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai; the leadership of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF); the security agencies and many others who have declaimed the dangerous threat by the misguided northern youth, and thus underscored the unity and oneness of this nation.
4. The South East Governors Forum has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to and preference for the existence of a virile, united, prosperous and progressive Federal Republic of Nigeria where justice, fairness, equity, mutual respect and equality of opportunity to all citizens regardless of creed, ethnicity or gender will reign supreme under the inflexible rule of law. We have had occasion recently to take this position publicly in response to the agitative but peaceful actions of some Igbo youth. We will continue to take a similar stance in response to any action that might threaten the cohesiveness of this nation or designed to cause its rupture.
5. The lives and property of law-abiding citizens of Igbo extraction are as precious as the lives and property of all Nigerians, irrespective of the region of their abode within this Republic. These must be guaranteed and defended against all forms of threat and aggression, both domestic and external, by the security forces/agencies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We the Governors of the South East are collaborating effectively with the security agencies to ensure that no harm of any description is visited upon any law-abiding Nigerian citizen resident in the South East of Nigeria, including those from the North of Nigeria.
6. We must call on all serious minded patriots, particularly the religious leadership in Northern Nigeria; the leadership of other socio-cultural groups in Northern Nigeria apart from the aforementioned; the Nigerian Governors Forum; and all the service branches to rise up with voices of peace and wisdom to counteract the mischievousness and exuberant excesses of the northern youth. The ugly lessons of history are too grim to be stoked with carelessness. As leaders, we must exert the full measure of our powers and influence to forestall a repetition
7. We call on all our Igbo sons and daughters resident in Northern Nigeria to go about their lawful daily engagements without fear of intimidation, hindrance or molestation.
8. The rumours being peddled on conventional and social media platforms that we, the Governors of the South East, have met and agreed to mobilize vehicles and cash for the repatriation of Ndi Igbo resident in northern Nigeria must be disregarded, as they are nothing but tissues of lies. No amount of provocation would lead us to such a precipitate and irresponsible action at this time. Those exploiting such vacuous tittle-tattle as a basis for divisive rhetoric in public spaces are simply playing juvenile politics and we urge them to cease and desist.
9. Long live Ndi Igbo! Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Engr. David Nweze Umahi
Governor of Ebonyi State and
Chairman of South East Governors Forum