From: Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The National chairman, Northern Youth Leaders Forum, Elliot Afiyo, has flayed the northern groups for issuing ultimatum to the Igbo residing in the north to vacate the region saying the statement should be disregarded as not coming from genuine northern youth organisations.
Afiyo, who described the groups as faceless and not representing the general interest of the north, equally disclosed that restructuring remained the only way forward for Nigeria noting restructuring should actually start from the north.
Sixteen Northern youth groups had risen from a meeting in Kaduna on Monday and issued an ultimatum to Igbo living in the north to leave the region by October 1st. The groups also called on the northerners residing in the east to return home.
But the NYFL national chairman, while addressing journalists on Wednesday in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, said NYFL as the umbrella body of northern organisations, found the statement disturbing and alleged that the groups were being sponsored by some few elites in the north to destabilize the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
He added that only two of the groups which issued the ultimatum were in existence insisting few corrupt elites were behind the groups.
He, however, dissociated NYFL from the ultimatum and warned those behind the groups to desist from actions capable of igniting violence in the country.
Reacting to the allegation that the ultimatum was issued at the behest of Arewa elders as Arewa House was used for the pronouncement, Afiyo said: “I want to correct the notion because I read in the paper where the leader of MASSOB was saying since they met in Arewa House it was legitimized by northern elders, it is not so.
“Arewa House is owned by no organisation; it is commercial. Even if you want to hold a meeting as long as you pay, you can hold your meeting there. It doesn’t give any legitimacy to their ultimatum. I want to correct that notion first.
“The position of the Northern Youth Leaders Forum and all the 42 youth organisations affiliated to it, is that we don’t support breakup but we support restructuring and the restructuring will also start from the north.
“We also need restructuring in the north because all these agitations are as a result of injustices and if restructuring will solve the problem, so be it.
“The only thing we are saying is that, the government should set up a machinery to restructure the country, if it is true federalism that will ensure peace and stability.
“And I want to state clearly here, the northern youths under the Northern Youth Leaders Forum clearly dissociates itself from this ultimatum and should not be regarded as ultimatum coming from genuine northern youths. And I want to warn those that are sponsoring the groups to beware that violence anywhere can extended to everywhere”.
“I want to tell our Igbo brothers that we need them and they need us. Presently we have intermarriages, we have over 6 million northerners that have their mothers from east. What will you say about that? We have Igbo who have been living in the north before 1960, we have northerners in Igbo land, they are still there.
“I know some northerners who I met are Enugu, they did not even know the states they came from but they are northerners. They were born and brought up there, where do you want them to go?”