Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, has declared that the South East governors will not apologise to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
IPOB had written to the southeast governor, giving conditions for them to declare a truce as for the masses of southeast to have trust and confidence in them.
The group had also said South East governors’ denial of complicit in the 2017 Operation Python Dance Military exercise in South East, which allegedly led to the loss of many lives, did not hold water.
But Umahi, while fielding questions from State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari,
also dismissed the demand for an apology by IPOB, noting that it was not the governors who proscribed the group but the Federal government.
“We have no apology for IPOB because we did not proscribe them.
“Yes, we are the leaders of the people and we had to speak against their activities.”
The governor described the travel ban as an empty threat, adding that no responsible government would allow a proscribed group to promote lawlessness.
The governor also mocked IPOB, saying that he would inform the members any time he planned to travel out of Nigeria.
“IPOB has no powers to place a travel ban on governors or anyone.
“I will even tell IPOB any time I intend to travel,” he stated.
Umahi who is the Chairman of South East Governors’ Forum, also said that it was premature for him and his colleagues to start talking of whatever ambitions they might have to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
He said it would amount to insulting the occupier of that seat, who is not even up to a year in his second term of office.
The governor spoke on other issues he discussed with Buhari during the meeting, revealing that he thanked the president for the closure of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, for urgent repairs, but demanded that this be done with emergency fund intervention, which would be it faster than relying on budgetary provisions.
He admitted that the alternative airport for the period of repairs, which is the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, would come with the security challenges, but assured the public that efforts would be made with Federal government to secure the adjourning roads to the airport across the region.
Umahi stressed that South East governors had not been sleeping over the security challenges in the region, but had to be mature and circumspect in their utterances in other not to exacerbate the situation.
He noted that not all security measures were made public, recalling that the South East Governors had banned movement of cattle on foot across the region by herdsmen.
He described his discussion with Buhari as useful while he asked his support for the reactivation and the eventual passage of the South East Development Commission bill in the National Assembly.
Umahi said he also sought presidential audience for another enlarged parley that would have in attendance all South East governors, other Igbo leaders, and groups across boards, including religious and traditional rulers, Ohaneze Ndigbo, and others.