From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
Former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Convener of South East Elders Forum, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, has advised the Arewa youths to avoid bloodshed in their quest to rid the north of other Nigerians, especially Ndigbo.
Ikedife, who spoke in Nnewi, Anambra State, observed that the long expected split of the country may be here already, remarking that it would appear that even restructuring which was being proposed to resolve the national question had already been overtaken by events given possible outcome of the quit notice to the Igbo in the north.
“It is a truism that from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. As these people say they are youths, I take it that they are speaking with youthful exuberance with a touch of unguarded reckless talk,” Dr. Ikedife said, stressing, however, that the reaction of the northern elders as to whether or not they support these youths had implication for what happened to the country.
“I can’t support the incitement or promotion of ethnic hatred. It is an ill wind that blows no good to anybody. If Nigeria will disintegrate into five or four countries like some other countries of the world, let us do it in a modern way. Let us do it without bloodshed. Great Britain voted to leave the European Union; there is no question of chasing non nationals, or talking of confiscating their property. Such approach is reckless and dangerous.
“ Now, there is simmering all over the place and I think it is the duty of the Northern elders, if they do not support the youths, to come out openly, clear and condemn it, it may leave the impression that the elders are using them to fly the kites. The elders must ensure that they control the youths to ensure that they do not break into rampageous mob -like actions against anybody, be it Igbo, Yoruba, Efik, Ibibio, Anang, Tiv, or any other ethnic nationality, he said.
He maintained that large percentage of the Nigerian populace were not happy, saying that it was incumbent upon the government to proffer a lasting solution to the problem rather than leave it to escalate.
He said many other ethnic groups were also dissatisfied, but could not be as expressive as people from the South South and South East, for fear of one thing or the other.
“So, it is a sign of the time and if we are going to go apart, let us go apart as bloodlessly as possible. The Igbo are not talking about war. Let us do it in a civilized way.
The elder statesman warned against reckless reaction or inflammatory statements from both sides, saying: “You see, I can almost bet that these people who are calling for war or making inflammatory statements never witnessed the Nigeria-Biafra civil war. They were not even casual observers. Most of them were not born then.
He, however, advised the Igbo in the north to return home enmasse first, until the situation got clear