Abuja — Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday declared that the Federal Government would not shirk its responsibilities, just as he said the administration would do everything within its power to defend the terms of the nation's constitution.
He stated this when he met with the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo, the five governors of the south-east and the leadership of the zone in the National Assembly and other stakeholders from the area.
Present during the meeting were the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, his deputy Dr. Sylvanus Obigwei, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Dave Umayi of Ebonyi State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu States and Willie Obiano.
Also present were the Chairman of the south- east Senate caucus, Enyinnaya Abaribe, his counterpart from the House of Representatives and Deputy Minority leader, Chukwuka Onyeama, Senators Joy Emordi, Sam Egwu, Ken Nnamani, Adolphus Wabara, former Managing Director of Daily Times, Onyema Ugochukwu, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, among others.
The acting president had earlier also met with the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The meeting yesterday, came following the sustained agitation for Biafra Republic, the sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and the recent ultimatum by the coalition of Arewa youths asking the Igbo to quit the northern part of the country on or before October 1.
Before the meeting went into a closed-door session, the acting president reminded the leaders of the danger of violence and war, stressing that both are easy to start but difficult to end.
He further stated that the government's consultation with the people was to address the sundry agitations and proclamations urgently, adding, "Burying our heads in the sand and expecting the storm to blow over on its own accord is not an option."
"One thing is clear - violence and war are terrible things. They are easy to start but near impossible to end. Indeed you're all aware of the Igbo proverb that says that 'A man who rushes into battle does not realise that battle entails death.'
"Yesterday (Tuesday) I kicked off a series of consultations and engagements with leaders of thought from northern Nigeria. It was a useful meeting. Today's (yesterday) meeting, the second in the series, is with you, leaders of thought from the south-east.
"After this, I will meet with religious and traditional leaders from the north and from the south-east, on Friday and Monday respectively. And then, in the final consultation, next week Thursday, all of us, from north and south, would come together in the same room, for further engagement and consultation. I also plan at some time in between to meet with the Nigerian Governors Forum.
"These consultations are necessary, and important, because of recent events in the country. You are all aware that there have been loud and sometimes hostile agitations by youths in the south-east, calling for secession of the region from Nigeria.
"Then there was the recent ultimatum issued by a group of youths from the north, asking all south-easterners living in the north to leave by October 1 this year.
"Both of these expressions and agitations from both sides, have been attended with some controversial and hateful vituperations including patently illegal and violence-inducing remarks.
"But equally not reasonable is falling for the temptation for tit-for-tat. It has never worked or moved us closer to a solution or resolution.
"And so, it is in our bid, as government, to deal with these pressing issues and grievances, that we have convened this series of consultations, with various groups. We will never shy away from the responsibility to ensure and uphold the peace and security of Nigeria."