- Says any meeting without acceptance of referendum wonâ€™t work
- Thereâ€™s no cause for alarm, says Ohanaeze
Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu and David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has condemned last Wednesdayâ€™s meeting between Igbo leaders, comprising the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and South-east governors, and acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
IPOB said the meeting was a futile one as the acting president could not be meeting with Igbo leaders to speak about the recently held sit-at-home protest by the people of the area without considering the group which declared the protest.
The group in a statement made available to THISDAY in Awka and signed by its Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, described those in attendance as â€˜few compromised political jobbers.â€™
It said the meeting was convened by the acting president following fallout from the hugely successful IPOB sit-at-home order of May 30, 2017.
The statement read in parts: â€œWith one or two exceptions and with the greatest respect to the attendees to this Nigeria sponsored gathering in Abuja, the so-called South-east delegation is in no way a representation of the views of the leadership of IPOB worldwide, neither can they claim with any degree of sincerity to be speaking for the masses.
â€œWhat Osinbajo has succeeded in achieving with this meeting is to waste scarce resources that could have been channelled towards more useful purposes. None of those who attended this meeting with Osinbajo gave the order for people to sit-at-home on May 30.
â€œSo we are at a loss to understand the justification for their invitation to the meeting to discuss something they know nothing about.â€
The group therefore said it viewed the meeting as an insult to the sensibilities of Biafrans all over the world, especially the memory of the dead and injured.
â€œOur leader, Nnamdi Kanu, has made it abundantly clear that any discussion or dialogue with Nigerian government that doesnâ€™t include an agreement on a referendum date to determine the issue of Biafra once and for all is an exercise in futility.
â€œIn this regard, we wish to inform the government of Nigeria that the gathering and deliberations they thought they had on Wednesday is a complete waste of time and will continue to be until the federal government does the needful.
The group reiterated its respect for Chief Nnia Nwodo, the Ohanaeze leader, who led the Igbo delegation, but said presiding over the distribution of monthly allocation from Abuja does not qualifies any political office holder to discuss issues pertaining to IPOB and Biafra restoration when the leadership can be directly contacted.
It said none of the South-east governors has raised a voice to condemn the killing of IPOB members by soldiers and other security forces, and that the same governors cannot be invited to superintendent on the fate of the group.
Meanwhile, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Nwodo, has appealed to Ndigbo to remain calm and be patient in the face of the tension created by the last weekâ€™s order by Arewa Youths that Igbos resident in the North should vacate their territory, noting that Osibanjo has allayed their fears and assured them that the federal government would be fair to all.
The Igbo leader who spoke at Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu while briefing journalists on the outcome of the meeting between the acting president and Igbo leaders at the State House in Abuja, said there was no cause for alarm.
He stated that the acting president would next week convene a joint meeting of leaders of Northern Nigeria and their Igbo counterparts in continuation of the present efforts to resolve the tension created by the impasse.
He said the acting president copiously offered explanations to the Igbo leaders on the areas of concern they had raised, including their perceived feeling that Ndigbo were being treated as second-class citizens in their own country.
Nwodo spoke further on the dynamics of the meeting with the acting president: â€œThe meeting is still on, we would continue with it next week. We had the opportunity to present our problems, our apprehension about the safety of our people in Northern Nigeria, the grievances of Ndigbo as it were and the factors that culminated in this impasse that we have in the nation.
â€œHe made copious explanations to us and he announced to us that he had met with the leaders of the Northern Nigeria and that he was going to meet with the traditional rulers over the weekend and he was going to meet with us in a joint meeting with leaders of Northern Nigeria next week.
â€œHe gave assurance to all Igbos living in Northern Nigeria that the federal government is doing everything within its power to ensure that their lives were not under threat and that they should feel secured where ever they are doing their businesses and that the responsibility of the government is to ensure security of lives and property. We were very pleased with those assurances and look forward to another meeting with him next week.
â€œI want to say to our people that their problems are our problems. All the five governors of the South-eastern states or their representatives were in the meeting, representatives of Ohanaeze national executives were there, religious leaders, including those you see with me here were there and we are all concerned about the security imperative in the country,â€ Nwodo also explained.
According to him, â€œthe development following the announcement of the Arewa Youths have triggered the state of insecurity in the country. It is the desire of all that this be managed properly so that we can return to normalcy without compromising the issues that gave rise to them.â€ On the perceived pensive mood, especially among the youth in the South-east, the Ohanaeze boss had these words for them: â€œI would like them to be patient, I will ask them to be confident that we their fathers will not abandon them and that their fears and misgivings about our marginalisation, our treatment as second-class citizens, that we will put it in the front burner.
â€œWe canâ€™t talk to anybody less than the acting president of this country and he is very apprehensive of the situation. He has allayed our fears that the federal government will be just and fair to all concerned,â€ he further stated.