19 June 2017

Nigeria: Osinbajo to Igbo Monarchs - Nigeria Indivisible, Indissoluble

Photo: The Guardian
Biafra.

Nigeria remains "indivisible and indissoluble," Acting President Yemi Osinbajo told southeast traditional rulers yesterday.

Osinbajo spoke at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday at a meeting with the leaders over the agitation by south easterners for Biafra.

Former rebel leader Odumegwu Ojukwu declared Biafra Republic on June 30, 1967, to break away from Nigeria.

Federal troops under then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, crushed the uprising after a three-year bloody civil war.

The spectre of Biafra has resurfaced again and has become more strident in the last two years when Muhammadu Buhari became president.

Angered by this renewed campaign 16 different associations of northern youth on June 6, in Kaduna, gave the Igbos an October 1 deadline to relocate from the region to the East.

However, Acting President Osinbajo in continuation of his series of meetings with regional leaders described the agitation for Biafra and the Arewa youths' ultimatum to Igbos as wrong and unlawful.

Osinbajo noted that enough blood had been spilled and hundreds of thousands of lives lost for the country's unity in the past.

He said, therefore, that it would be wrong for the present generation to toy with those sacrifices made.

According to him, this is why men of goodwill in the present generation must not tolerate any tendency that drags the nation in the direction of yet another civil conflict.

Osinbajo, however, said the country must be sensitive to the reasons for agitations by the various young men across the various zones of the country.

He said while many had to do with perceived marginalization, some had argued that safety in the different zones had been compromised.

"But I want to say the only way to make things right is to do things right. And it will be wrong of us to approach even our grievances by threatening to disobey the laws or by threatening the integrity of our nation," he said.

The acting president stated: "As you are aware there has been agitation from some of our youths in the south east urging secession, the creation of Biafra.

"In apparent response young people in the northern states, under the aegis of Arewa Youths have purportedly issued an ultimatum where they have set a date for the eviction of persons from south east region that live in the northern states.

"Those agitations, the manner of those agitations, the method and objective are wrong, unlawful and the violation of the laws of Nigeria and the constitution of Nigeria.

"I want to repeat that both the agitations for secession and the ultimatum to leave the northern states are wrong and a violation of our constitution.

"Our constitution says in Section Two that Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

"That is the law of our country. Let us not be in any doubt about the fact that the federal government is committed to ensuring that our country remains united".

The acting president vowed that anyone violating the law in the manner being seen all over the place would be met with the full force of the law.

"What the federal government is committed to do is by ensuring we listen to all the reasons, the various suggestions and the various agitations and the reasons for those agitations and to ensure that we do justice by all persons regardless of where you are from in this country. That is the commitment of federal government which I am able to make to you today.

"I recall that President Muhammadu Buhari said that as a person who served in the Nigeria Army committed his life to the service of this country and that he did so not alone but with others from the north, south, west and east of Nigeria. And that he fought side by side from the Congo to some many related places where he has served the country, protecting each other's lives and ensuring that all of them were save. That in the Nigerian Army they were men and women from all parts of Nigeria and that is the reason according to him why he is so committed in ensuring that Nigeria remains one united country."

Osinbajo said the nation's greatness lies in being together, expressing belief that the royal fathers would ensure the message is clear to all that the greatness of any people lies in their ability to work together despite their differences.

"Despite the types of offence that have been caused between each other, the greatness of any community lies in our unity. We trust that you our royal fathers will give us the right directional advice to ensure that our country remains together," he added.

The meeting was attended by House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Senate Leader Bala Ibn Da-Allah, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Abayomi Olonoshakin, Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris, National Security Adviser Babangana Mongonu, Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari, among others.

Osinbajo last week met separately with leaders of thought from the north and the east on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. He is scheduled to meet northern traditional rulers today before meeting all the parties together at a bigger meeting later this week.

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