Abuja — The South-east governors will soon engage the federal government over the issue of marginalisation which has pitted the restive youths in the geo-political zone against the state governments, Chairman of the South-east Governors' Forum and Ebonyi State Governor, Mr. Dave Umahi, has said.
Umahi assured the agitating youth in the zone that all their grievances will be looked into with a view to resolving them within six months.
The governor, who spoke yesterday at the Presidential Press Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the State House, Abuja told the South-east youth who are bitter over the region's marginalisation to give the state governors six months to dialogue with the federal government with a view to resolving their grievances.
Emphasising the need to have peace in the region, Umahi said: "And so, I have offered along with other governors to our youths, present your demands in prints and hand over to us. There's no region in this country today that you know do not have one thing or the other against the federal government. But we can sit down to discuss and that's what you have demanded from our youths whether banned or unbanned in so far as you are from the South-east.
"Let us see your demands; let us see your grievances and give us six months to engage the federal government to address all these because I believe in dialogue.
"I believe that we can sit down as a people to discuss and find our differences, and we can learn from our differences and also we can together discuss how we can strengthen our operation as a people."
According to him, past governments failed to properly deal with the issue of marginalisation, giving rise to the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and later, Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) , adding that the South-east zone will, however, not secede from the country.
Describing IPOB as "a child of necessity," the South-east Governors' Forum Chair added that: "now, the Eastern Security Network (ESN) is also a product of IPOB.
He further said: "You can see how this has multiplied but the point remains that from the onset of the matter, the past governments did not address the matter properly because when your children cry for any reason, you have to find out what is the problem, what are the reasons and you fix it.
"I think those people were so badly ignored and that should not have been. And so, what is happening today with regards to IPOB in the South-east is not a product of this government per se, but it is a product of national governments that didn't address the matters from the outset.
"The IPOB people came and said we are not violent, we are not the people killing; if you get any of such after deal decisively with such people. So it's very confusing. Who and who is behind these insecurities happening?"
Umahi noted that although the people of the South East have justifiable grievances, their agitation appeared to have been hijacked.
He asked: "Are there rightful agitations? Yes? Has it turned violent? Yes, it's been hijacked and that is the truth about the situation in the South East
He added that based on the foregoing, "the governors of South East appear to be unpopular with a very small section of South-east because we refuse to toe their line and be our own".
The governor assured that despite all the crises in the zone, the South-east will not secede from the Nigerian nation.
His words: "You know our way of doing things and their way of doing things is war, and we don't want to secede, we want to belong to Nigeria, a fair Nigeria with justice, equity and freedom, you know, are the platform upon which we exist as the people, and for each of the region."