From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
The South East and South South geo-political zones have called for an early referendum on the 2014 National Conference Resolutions.
They said it was the only way forward to save Nigerian from breaking up.
Rising from a meeting in Umuahia, Abia State capital over the weekend, over a dozen groups from the two geo-political zones under the auspices of Old Eastern Region Movement, condemned, in strong terms, President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to consign the confab resolution to the archives.
They demanded the document be retrieved from the archives and an early referendum conducted to determine the fate and future of Nigeria.
The meeting of the movement, which was moderated by Interim Chairman, Bishop Michael Ibeneme condemned what it called “the hounding, arrests and intimidation of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) members, innocent youths, whose only sin is their loss of faith in the lopsided, unfair and unjust unitary Nigeria where some regions are continuously treated as conquered people.”
The movement also condemned alleged apparent decision of the Federal Government to crush dissenting voices, insisting that dialogue and negotiations were the only solution to save Nigeria.
The well-attended meeting had representatives of traders’ organisations, student groups, traditional rulers, town unions, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), age grades and socio-cultural organisations from the South-East and South-South zones.
Also represented at the meeting were Igbo in the academia, South-East professionals, Niger Delta Youth Forum, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), World Igbo Congress, South-East Traders Associations, Igbo Survival Movement, South-East Congress and Igbo Women Assembly.
The movement agreed to meet bi-monthly until a larger and broad-based coalition was built amongst like minds in the South-West and Middle-Belt for a stronger demand for a referendum on the 2014 confab resolutions.
In his speech at the meeting, Bishop Ibeneme lamented the continuous heaping of false allegation on IPOB members in order to criminalise them, saying such wicked plots would only deepen division in Nigeria.
Also, leader of Igbo Women Assembly, Chief Maria Okwor, who is also the deputy chairman of the meeting, insisted that only a referendum would solve the problem of the country now.
“Nigerians should vote on the acceptability or otherwise of the 2014 confab report at a referendum. Nigeria should be restructured without delay. We insist on an early referendum to decide the future of Nigeria. We want peace built on justice and equity…”
this government is not carrying everybody along.”
The Founder, Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) and Deputy Secretary of Igbo Leaders of Thought, Evang. Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, in his contribution called for the expansion of the meeting to bring in more credible people.
He said, “This meeting should invite more people and enlarge the coalition in order to harness opinions from more experienced minds. Yes, there is bitterness, discontent and anger in Eastern Nigeria today, but we must try and carry everybody along. Those who are yet to see that restructuring is the only way forward must be converted. We would open their eyes to see that Nigeria can never move forward unless we revert to true federalism.”
Uko in conclusion insisted that Nigerians should affirm the 2014 Confab resolutions at a referendum.
The Old Eastern Region Movement is expected to meet again by the end of this month.