From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CONEPD) has backed Ohanaeze Ndigbo in faulting the exclusion of a southeasterner in the appointment of national security Service Chiefs, appealing to President Mohammadu Buhari to review the appointments.
CONEPD National Coordinator Zana Goni, in a statement, appealed for calm, saying that it would mount pressure on the President to include an Igbo person in the national security architecture.
‘We completely throw our weight behind Ohanaeze Ndigbo on their position over the appointments of the new Service Chiefs.
‘We vehemently appeal to Mr President for a review of the appointments to accommodate our Igbo brothers from the South-East region in line with the federal character principle of the country.
‘We are absolutely sure that taking this action will make the designers of our country happy where they are watching.
‘We received with great excitement the news about the sacking of the former Service Chiefs of the country by Mr President. It is quite commendable that the president finally listened to the clarion call by Nigerians to that effect.
‘However, the composition of the Service Chiefs greeted us with mixed feelings and sincere concerns. We strongly believe that the list does not meet a fair list as it is lacking in fairness, justice, and equity to the southeasterners.
‘We thought some lessons would have been learnt by the Presidency by now that the Igbos too, are also Nigerians and deserve to be fairly and godly treated.
‘How can there be an appointment of two sets of Service Chiefs without any Igbo person among them? Is this fair? What exactly has the Igbo people done to deserve this kind of unfair treatment?’ he asked.
Goni added: ‘Our careful checks revealed that Igbo has senior and very qualified military officers in the Navy, Army, and Airforce who are serving faithfully in their various capacities! What is their sin?
“We have seen how the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and several Igbo groups are fighting the criminal son, Nnamdi Kanu and his group, the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on a daily basis because they believe and act one Nigeria.
‘We appeal to Mr President to have a retrospection over this his latest appointments and do the needful because we feel that if it is not addressed soon, people like Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB will certainly continually make supporters of APC and your admirers from the South-East region laughing stock of your administration.’
He continued: ‘President Buhari ought to have disappointed some of his critics that he doesn’t hate the Igbos as it’s widely insinuated, by appointing one of their sons into the nation’s security leadership.
‘Though we believe it’s not late to correct this injustice. It is in this regard that we, therefore, appeal to Mr President to remedy this great injustice done to the southeasterners.
‘While we must state clearly that the appointment of Service Chiefs is the prerogative of the president as he can choose to appoint anyone from any zone, we wish to ask that what made the other geo-political zone more important than the South-East?
‘The mood of the country is so clear that Nigerians are not happy with the composition of the Service Chiefs.
‘They expected to see a list of the new security heads centred in fairness and equity in line with the nation’s federal character principle,’ he claimed.
According to him, ‘as Northerners, we must speak the truth even as we are the major beneficiaries of this perceived injustice because until justice is done to all, the search for permanent peace in the country may just be a mirage. We strongly believe that justice and equity are the major ingredients of peace.
‘We should remember that as insignificant as we may think the Igbos are today in political number, we will definitely need them tomorrow.
‘We, therefore, call on Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the South-East governors as well as the South-East National Assembly Caucus to continually prevail on the people of the zone to remain calm and peaceful.
‘They should continue to resist their fugitive son, Nnamdi Kanu, and his outlawed group, IPOB, and all their antics of cashing in on the development to draw followers to their fold to continue on his ignoble path of working against the Nigerian state.’