From: WOLE BALOGUN, Ado-Ekiti
President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, South-West and Ekiti State, Chief Nathaniel Amaechi Uzomah, has said that the northerners stand to lose more if Igbo obey their quit notice and vacate the north.
The Igbo leader was reacting to a quite notice/three month ultimatum served on the Igbo in the north by some northern youths led by the Arewa Youths Forum, and which was recently backed by some northern elders.
Uzomah, who spoke to journalists in Ado-Ekiti at the weekend, reminded the northerners that with the huge business investment to the tune of trillions of Naira the Igbo had already put in the north and which is generating huge returns and contributing immensely to the region’s socio-economic development, the north would lose more if the Igbo quit.
He said: “In this our Nigeria, every tribe is important and we exist for one another. Truth is that the northerners would lose more if our Igbo brothers vacate the north. This is why I want to even believe that they (northern youths) must be joking about that quite notice.
“We are very much important to them there. You all know that we have invested trillions of Naira there. Do you think that if the Igbo are leaving the north, they would leave those property and investment behind?
“If I were there, I would rather get a bulldozer to destroy my property there before leaving and not leave it for people who would inherit it. The northern youths should perish the thought that the Igbo leaving the north would carry only their mats and leave their choice property behind, they would destroy those property before leaving. I want to tell our people there. And to my Igbo people there, if eventually you discover this threat to be real, sell any of your property and wares you can sell and destroy anyone remaining before leaving so that the place would return to its hitherto desert.”
Urging eminent leaders across the country to condemn the action of Arewa youths, he said: “The quite notice served on the Igbo by the Arewa youths and ratified by the northern elders later, calls for concern from every patriotic Nigerian. I am for the unity of Nigerians, but I am highly disappointed by the development. I will say that they have gone too far with such action.
” What is most annoying is that the government of the day is keeping quiet over the matter. We believe that the government of the day ought to have done something about calling the parties involved and look for a lasting solution to the crisis on ground. They are not supposed to keep quiet. We expected eminent Nigerians whose views are weighty and influential to have started speaking up.
“We expected them to have started saying things that would show that Nigeria is one and that would bring peace. We expect the Presidency, especially the acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to have said something. In the South-West here, since we are brothers, we expect eminent Nigerians like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Sen. Bola Tinubu, and, in the north, eminent Nigerians like former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar others alike. We should put politics aside on an issue like this.
Suggesting the way forward, he called for either implementation of last confab reports or convocation of another: “This kind of development calls for urgent dialogue so as to resolve all the burning issues. To me, things has become this bad because the government has been complacent about addressing issues arising from various agitation from the tribal and ethnic nationalities in the country.
” However, the government can still do something fast now before it gets worse than this in the nearest future. I believe the Arewa youths have not given only the Igbos a quite notice but also all the Southern Nigeria. We shouldn’t be talking about quit notice in Nigeria when in UK, seven Nigerians won Parliamentary seats. In Ekiti, an Igbo man is a councillor and in Lagos state House of Assembly, there are six Igbo men.
” There are certain steps the government can take which would put paid to this ugly development. You would recall that during Goodluck Jonathan tenure as president, he had foreseen this kind of development and that was why he chose to convene a sovereign National Conference to allow for all parties to air their views on the possibility of uniting the country. But this government came me and allow the recommendations of that conference to continue to gather dust on their table. If some of the recommendations of that conference had been met, this wouldn’t have happened. ”
The Ndigbo boss who advised his Igbo brothers to rather stay put in the north, urged the government to take urgent action to prevent worsening situation: “The implication of this development is that a lot of Nigerians are disillusioned about how things are been done in this country. Dialogue is the only way out of this development and I want to urge the governors of the South East, South-South and South-West to urgently meet with the Federal Government and dialogue with a view to solve this problem. The FG should either implement recommendations from the last conference or convoke their own conference to urgently address this issue so that we can move the country forward.
” South-west is our second home and we are brothers. Ndigbo in the South west and the South west people we are the same and are living in peace. Like I told you, that quite notice wasn’t for only Igbos, but for the whole of Southern Nigerians. It is also by implication, ordering the northerners living in Igbo land to vacate the South-East. I want to tell you that even the South-East governors are already protecting the northerners living there and there is no panic or tension among the northerners in the South-East. So, there shouldn’t be any such tension in the north where our Igbo brothers are.
On the Bill on South-East Development Commission currently receiving attention at the Senate, he said: ” You know the South-South got it after agitating for it because of the destructive activities of the militants during their struggle. The South-East deserves that commission because you will agree with me that we have been most marginalised regarding power sharing among the ethnic groups in Nigeria. A good example is that we haven’t produced a President since the failed first military coup and also since democracy came to stay. Between South-East Development Commission and South-East Presidency, we want presidency and that would fast track development for our region.”