Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, says the South East governors will not apologise to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
IPOP in a statement on wednesday had demanded an apology from the governors as part of peace and reconciliation measures between the group and the state executives.
IPOP said the apology had become necessary given the South East governors denial of their complicity in the 2017 Operation Python Dance Military exercise, which lead to loss of many lives. IPOP also hinged the need for the apology on the governors’ role in the proscription of the group by the Federal Government.
Umahi, while fielding questions from State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, dismissed the demand for an apology by IPOB, noting that it was not the governors who proscribed the group but the Federal Government.
Umahi who is the Chairman of Southeast Governors Forum, also described the travel ban by IPOP as empty threats, adding that no responsible government would allow a proscribed group to promote lawlessness among its people.
“We have no apology for IPOB because we did not proscribe them,” said Umahi. “Yes, we are the leaders of the people and we had to speak against their activities,” he added.
The governor also mocked IPOB, saying: “IPOB have no powers to place travel ban on governors or anyone; I will even tell IPOB any time I intend to travel.”
Umahi also said it was premature for him and his colleagues to start talking of whatever ambitions they may have in succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
He said it would amount to insulting the occupier of that seat, who had not spent up to a year in his second teem of office.
Umahi said he had used the opportunity of the meeting to thank President Buhari for the closure of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, for urgent repairs.
He however, demanded that the repairs be done through the emergency intervention funding as this would make it faster for the project to be completed, than relying on budgetary provisions.
Umahi said the choice of the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, as an alternative airport during the period of repairs of the Enugu airport, would come with some security challenges, but he assured the public that efforts would be made with Federal Government to improve security in the adjourning roads leading to the airport across the region.
He described his discussion with Buhari as useful, saying he had sought the support of the President for the reactivation and eventual passage of the Southeast Development Commission bill in the National Assembly into law.