From Magnus Eze, Enugu and Fred Itua, Abuja
Two major Igbo groups have carpeted the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) over its position that the region was not prepared to relinquish power to the South in 2023.
Concerned Igbo Stakeholders Forum (CISF) and Oke Ndigbo, yesterday, said the comment by Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, spokesperson of the NEF, were capable of exacerbating the already fragile peace in the country.
Leader of Concerned Igbo Stakeholders Forum, Chukwuma Okenwa, in a statement in Enugu, described the comments as disappointing and an aspersion to the intelligence and patience of southerners.
He said Baba-Ahmed had insinuated in recent media reports that the North has what it takes to hold power beyond 2023 and would not cede political power to the South.
Okenwa posited that Baba-Ahmed’s remark that “we must lead Nigeria the way we have always led Nigeria, not because we are better than anybody else but because we have the majority of the votes” was highly provocative.
He said in the spirit of equity and fairness, a president of southern extraction, specifically the South East, should be non-negotiable.
In his reaction, National Coordinator of Oke Ndigbo, Dr. Desmond Nwankwo said such inflammable utterances were fueling secessionist agitation in the country.
Meanwhile, former Governor of Imo State and Senator representing Imo West, Owelle Rochas Okorocha has said agitation for a president of South East extraction is possible.
He, however, faulted the approach and urged South East leaders to opt for negotiation instead of the current posture.
He also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to dialogue with the secessionists Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
He offered his thoughts on Monday at the Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory FCT Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) during an event tagged “Conversations with Owelle at 59” which is part of his activities leading to his 59th birthday celebration on September 22.
“I called for a meeting in the Government House when I was governor. They obliged me and came. They complained to me how security forces killed several people in Okigwe and they were asking me a lot of funny questions. I asked them to convince me why I should get another passport. If you convince me, then I join you but if I convince you, then you will join me. One of them said to me, ‘Oga, if you are not wise, the person who killed your father will kill you. So, at the end of our discussions, I found myself shaking hands with them and they started laughing.These are our children. The handling of the situation has to change. It is not a warfare.”