By Brown Chimezie
Recently, the Igbo World Union (IWU), an Igbo socio-cultural group, visited the Etsu Nupe, His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr)Yahaya Abubakar in Niger State.
The group’s mission, according to Sir Mishak Nnanta, Gburugburu dum Ndigbo who is the association’s President-General, was to seek peaceful co-existence of Ndigbo and their Nupe neighbours ahead of the quit notice issued by Arewa youths for Igbo persons to vacate the Northern region before October 1st.
On hand to receive the group was the Etsu Nupe who is also the chairman, Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers. In the entourage were Alhaji Mohammed (Raffin Nupe), Alhaji Mahmmud Abubakar (Wambia Nupe) and other chiefs.
The royal father described Nnanta as a great Igbo leader who had used his good offices to promote peace and unity in Nigeria. He assured Ndigbo in his kingdom that they had no cause to fear, saying he and members of his cabinet had taken steps to preach peace and harmony in the area.
Nnanta was accompanied on the visit by Rev. Kate Amaka Uzuegbunam (National Woman leader), Chief (Mrs.) Fidel Orji, (Northern Woman Coordinator), Chief Raphael Ezeka (Niger State Chapter coordinator), Chief Mrs. Tassy Abalogu (FCT Woman Leader), Members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Niger State; Ndubuisi Ezumah, Chief Dan Osi, Chief Sunday Onuoha, Ichie Osia Igwe Okoro (Onowu) and Chris Anigwudike.
He said the relationship between the Igbo and Nupe dated back to several centuries before the advent of the Europeans. He said through trade and other socio cultural activities, both tribes had accomplished many things together. “Even in modern day Nigeria, such cooperation has continued. Today, thousands of Igbo reside in Niger State where they have invested in the economy of the state.”
On the call by Arewa youths for Ndigbo to vacate their region, the Igbo leader called for peace.
“Nigeria is one; it is home to all of us. Let us live in peace and harmony,” he said. Nnanta further explained that after the civil war, which cost Nigerians millions of lives, it would be disastrous if another war should break out. He added that no matter the extent of provocation, dialogue should be employed to sort out the problems.
While appealing to the Etsu for his fatherly intervention, Nnanta said as custodian of culture, Nigerians look to him to use his experience to resolve the matter before it snowballed into a crisis.
“It will be more beneficial for Nigeria to be at peace than for the country to be engulfed in crisis,” he noted.
In her contributions, the national women leader, Rev Uzuegbunam said as mothers, it was the responsibility of the women to ensure that peace reigned in the land.
“When there is a war, those who bear the brunt are the women and children. As such, we cannot afford to fold our arms and watch the nation slip into ethnic killings. That is why we are appealing to your Highness for your fatherly intervention to talk to our children to eschew violence.”
In his response, the Etsu Nupe described the Igbo as patriotic people who have contributed to the unity of Nigeria. He urged other Nigerians to imbibe such spirit to promote unity in the country.
Ezumah, who spoke for the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Niger State, said a cordial relationship existed between the Igbo in the state and their host community. He called on Ndigbo to go about their businesses without any fear, adding that the Etsu Nupe had assured them of safety of their life and that of their property.
“We are using this medium to call on our people to shun any call by any individual or group to quit the North,” he said.
The occasion was wrapped up with the conferment of the title of Patron of Igbo World Union on the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Abubakar by president of the association, Sir Nnanta.