Igbo traditional rulers ask president to pay attention to IPOB’s demands
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja expressed the hope that the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen, and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) would come to some form of agreement over specially designated courts that would give accelerated hearing to some corruption cases.
Buhari who spoke while receiving the South East Council of Traditional Rulers at the State House in Abuja expressed frustration with the length of time it was taking to secure conviction.
Buhari said: “We want Nigerians to know we are serious.”
The president noted that some trials had been going on as far back as the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“We are asking the judiciary to clean itself. Nigerians are tired of waiting. They want some actions,” he lamented.
In their presentation to the president, the Igbo traditional rulers pledged their total belief in one united and indivisible great nation called Nigeria but insisted that the federal government should address the grievances outlined by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Led by the Chairman, of the Council, His Royal Majesty, (Dr.) Eberechi N. Dick (JP), the Igbo monarchs also expressed support for the anti-corruption war embarked upon by President Buhari.
Dick, who made a presentation to the president on behalf of his colleagues, called on Buhari to give serious consideration to the demands of those agitating for a Biafra Republic.
He said: “On the issue of the agitation by some of our youths like IPOB and others for a Biafran Republic, we have continued to engage and preach to them that every problem of the nation can be best resolved through peaceful dialogue and respect for the rule of law.
“While, we re-assure Your Excellency of our total belief in one united and indivisible great nation of ours called Nigeria, we also want to call the attention of the federal government to some of their mentioned grievances for serious considerations, which include:
‘Neglect of the South East in the Amnesty Programme; deplorable state of federal roads and other infrastructure in the South East; relegation of oil producing states of the South East in NDDC projects and exclusion of the South East in key federal appointments; and anti-nationalistic treatment of Igbo people by other Nigerians.”
He said Igbo nation had been following with keen interests all the programmes introduced by Buhari since he assumed office.
“I must commend Your Excellency for the focused fight against corruption, which has eaten deep into the very existence of Nigeria.”
He also told Buhari that he had the mandate of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers to inform him of the council’s support for his programmes, especially the war against insecurity and corruption.
Dick said: “While we are happy over the award of contracts for the construction and maintenance of some federal roads within the South East geo-political zone, we want to use this opportunity to request for the rehabilitation of Aba-Ikot Ekpene, Onitsha – Enugu, Owerri Port Harcourt, Owerri Aba, Abakaliki federal roads.
“We also express our gratitude to you for continuing with the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge, which when completed, will surely reduce the suffering of our people using that route.”
He drew the president’s attention to the criminal activities of kidnappers and some cattle herdsmen which he said posed serious security challenges to the people of South East.
He said: “In the recent times, so many lives and property worth billions of naira have been lost. While the governors and traditional rulers of the zone have been managing the situation, we want to call on the federal government to use all the instruments of power and resources available to you to come to our rescue.”
They also called on Buhari to redress the injustice meted out to one of them (HRM Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri, the Chairman, Imo State Council of Taditional Rulers) by the previous administration.
Dick said: “While appointing chairmen of state councils of traditional rulers, chancellors of various federal universities, his state’s slot was erroneously given to somebody who is not even a traditional rulers. We therefore call on Your Excellency to magnanimously use your good offices to correct this error.”
A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, on the visit of the traditional rulers from the South East said Buhari has again reiterated the essence of the unity of Nigeria, urging those contemplating its break-up to have a rethink.
The statement said Buhari told the traditional rulers that the question of having another country out of Nigeria was misplaced.
“The question of having another country out of Nigeria is going to be very difficult. From 1914, we have more than 200 cultures living with one another. God had endowed this country with natural resources and talented people. We should concentrate on these and be very productive,” the president said.
Addressing specific issues raised in the address by the traditional rulers, the president gave assurance that the South East would also benefit from the new railway architecture being put in place by his administration.
On their request for more representation for the South-East in his government, the president said he was “very conscious of the sensitivities of the South Easton account of which, he gave the region’s four out of five states Senior ranking ministers in the federal cabinet.
Buhari used the occasion to appreciate the good work of the ministers from the region in the federal government, saying they are doing very well for the country.
He appealed to the traditional rulers to persuade their people to give his government a chance and to continue to serve as beacons of culture and traditions of their people.
The president assured the delegation that kidnapping and cattle rustling, which he described as “unfortunate” would be the government’s next target, now that “we have managed to calm down the North-East.”