Former Governors Caution against Separatist Agitations


• Advise acting president to be more decisive •MASSOB asks Igbos to leave North by August
Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja and David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka

Worried by agitations for the dissolution of the country by separatist elements in the South-east of the country, and the subsequent expulsion notice to Igbos in the North by some northern youths and elders, former state governors under the aegis of Forum of Former Governors (Class Of 99), have called on governors of South-east states to engage the separatists and diffuse the tension in the region.

 They also advised Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to convene a joint meeting of the various stakeholders at which assurances could be given.

 ‘’No sacrifice is too much to avert chaos, prevent any further incidence of criminality, protect human lives and spare the lives of the country,” they said in a communique made available to THISDAY on Tuesday and signed by Chief Lucky Igbinedion and Chief Niyi Adebayo, the forum’s chairman and secretary.

 The former governors’ intervention came against the background of an advisory by the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) yesterday, asking Igbos in the North to leave the region by August ahead of the October 1, 2017 quit notice deadline given them by a coalition of Northern youth groups.
But the erstwhile state helmsmen who met in Abuja called for restraint, pleading with the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) to urgently meet and rein in all antagonists of a united Nigeria.

 ‘’The elders and leaders of thought from both the South East and the North should jointly meet to state a common position; we further recommend that traditional rulers from the two areas should do same,’’ they said.
The meeting of the past governors, which was convened in an effort to add their voice, and lend support, to all the efforts that were being made to smooth down the rising tempo of threatening rhetoric that has occupied the public space recently, was attended by Obong Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom); Chief James Ibori (Delta); and Alhaji Isa Yuguda (Bauchi) among others.

They expressed their appreciation to Osinbajo for quickly summoning various stakeholders in an effort to contain the looming danger.
Condemning the agitators for the breakup of the country and those who reacted by issuing the quit notice, the forum affirmed its belief in the continued existence of Nigeria as one indissoluble entity and also in the inalienable right of every citizen of this country to live securely, without fear or risk of any form of molestation in whatever part of the country.

 The forum also observed with concern the failure of the leaders and elders on both sides to quickly rein in their youths, emphasising the need for every effort to be made to ensure that peace and good order was maintained and that there was no incident that could trigger a violent reaction.
The forum appreciated individuals and groups that issued re-conciliatory statements and acted to avert danger, but felt that a lot more needed to be done, recommending that additional steps be taken to stem the agitations.

Meanwhile, MASSOB has asked Igbos living in the North to leave and return to the South-east by August, 2017, saying this was necessary to beat the October 1 quit notice given them by a coalition of Northern youth groups.
In a statement sent to THISDAY by its Director of Information, Mr. Samuel Edesonu, MASSOB said the decision was reached at its National Executive Committee meeting presided over by its leader, Mr. Uchenna Madu.

 It said August was chosen because it was an auspicious month that most Igbos return home for festive occasions, including New Yam Festival, saying it would give the returnees an opportunity to relocate their families and quickly resettle.
It said: “In continuation of our earlier stand and position on the quit notice to the people of Biafra by Arewa people, which will elapse on Oct 1st, MASSOB insists and beckons on Biafrans living in Arewa land to intensify all their efforts in relocating their families back home.

 “MASSOB also mandates all married Igbo women living in Northern Nigeria to start speaking to their husbands on the dangers of staying in Arewa land which no longer guaranteed their safety. They should also intensify their pressures on their husbands concerning the mass return in August.”
MASSOB said part of its strategy to ensure compliance was to get all Eze Ndigbo in 19 Northern States to immediately commence the compilation of the names, residential addresses, villages and towns of all Igbo indigenes living in the respective northern cities where they lead.

 It said MASSOB secret security, Biafra Intelligence Agency(BIA) are already in northern Nigeria monitoring the exercise, and that after the September 10th deadline for the compilation, MASSOB will embark on investigation of all the Eze Ndigbo in northern cities to ascertain their levels of participation in the order.