Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
Southeast leaders and stakeholders from the geopolitical zone yesterday restated their demand for president of Igbo extraction in 2023.
The leaders also demanded a joint operation into all the forests in the region to flush out criminals and killer herdsmen with AK47.
This is as President Muhammadu Buhari restated his faith in the unity of Nigeria, assuring that no one would be allowed to dismantle the unity of the country.
The Southeast leaders, including the governors of the five states, traditional rulers, Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership, elders, women leaders, and youth leaders, made the demands during a meeting with the President’s delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari at the Government House, Enugu.
Also in their demands as contained in the various groups presentations were the issue of the creation of one or two additional states for the zone, development of federal infrastructure in the region and youth employment and empowerment.
The leaders who reaffirmed their stand for an indivisible and united Nigeria, built on love, fairness, equity and justice, also canvassed inclusion in the security architecture of the country.
They alleged that a deliberate effort had been made to put Ndigbo perpetually down in the scheme of things despite their efforts to keep the country together, insisting that they were more nationalists than any other ethnic zone in the country.
A deliberate effort, they said, must be made to include Igbo in the scheme of things, noting that there was a raging anger that could be “worse than the Boko Haram infiltrations” in parts of the country, if the grievances were not promptly addressed.
In a communique read at the end of the meeting by the Governor Umahi, the leaders noted that the zone had set up panels of enquiry to deal with all infractions of human rights of the people and security agencies, compensation funds for all civilians and security men who lost their lives during the protests in the zone.
Earlier, President Buhari who was represented by Prof Gambari while agreeing to the various imperfections that have trailed the administration and the continued unity of the country, however, warned that “government will not be a bystander and observe anyone try to dismantle it.”
He stated that yesterday’s engagement was not only necessary, but vital for government to better understand and most critically hear directly from the people what their worries and concerns were, as citizens of the country.
Also speaking, the Minister of Information, Lai Muhammed, said that the only massacre that took place during the EndSARS protests was the “social media massacre”, insisting that government was poised to regulate it in the best interest of the country.
He said: “The only massacre that took place during the EndSARS protests was a social media massacre.
“It was exaggerated by fake news used by the social media to spread things that did not happen which led to reprisals in many areas. The Federal Government has been worried since 2017 about social media.”
He said that regulation of the social media did not mean shutting down usage in the country, but a way to control their activities to confirm with standard best practices.
Other speakers at the meeting included the Ohanaeze Ndigbo President General, Chief Nnia Nwodo; elder statesman, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, Chief Josephine Anenih and representatives of Igbo groups.
Other members of the federal delegation included the Ministers of Information, Labour, Chris Ngige; Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu; Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Education, Emeka Nwajuba, among others.