By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka and Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The coalition of Northern youths that asked Igbos in the North to quit the region beforeÂ October 1, 2017, has agreed to withdraw the quit notice and give peace a chance, Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, saidÂ SundayÂ in Abuja.
Addressing journalists shortly after a meeting with the Arewa Youth Coalition at the Borno Government Lodge, Asokoro in Abuja, Shettima said the youth groups had promised to make a public statement to that effect this week.
He said the groups had exhibited courtesy and respect to constituted authority by responding to his summons and expressing their commitment to peace.
He said: “We met with the leadership of the coalition of northern groups in my capacity as the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum. They have agreed to revisit their decision and we will follow it up to its logical conclusion and I believe that in the next couple of days we are going to get good news from them.
“I don’t want to pre-empt them by saying that this is what will happen or not, but definitely, they have shown responsibility and commitment to the national cause and they have wider plans to promote the cause of national unity and cohesion.”
Shettima who described the meeting with the youth groups as very fruitful told journalists that the leaders of the coalition have shown a lot of courtesy and respect for the establishment.
According to the governor, the youths had earlier met with the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar II, as part of the consultations towards resolving the matter.
He said that the forum believed that it was better to dialogue with the youth groups rather than criminalising them.
The governor said that while the northern leaders had made efforts to put their youths in check, the leadership of the South-east should also reciprocate their action by also calling the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, to order.
“This is the first time that they are sitting down with the leadership of the forum. There were having interactions with His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto. I started conversations with them right from Kaduna yesterday and we continued the discussion today and by the grace of God, it is going to yield fruit. We are trying to have an understanding of the challenges confronting us as a people and solutions to those challenges,â€ he said.
Spokesman of the Northern Youths Coalition, Mr. Abdulaziz Sulieman, said his group had accepted to work for the unity of the country, adding that they would meet this week to reconsider their declaration.
He said: “At least what we can say is that there has been a major development. If we all remember what we did with the Northern governors’ forum, we used to copy all our correspondences to them.
“Now the chairman of the forum has taken the initiative and invited us yesterday to start negotiations. This is the first time we are meeting publicly with any leader and we believe that it is a major step forward in our ongoing consultations.
“Like he said, we hold the governor in high esteem and we have the unity of the country at heart.â€