- Aisha Buhari, Igbo women say Nigeria’s unity sacrosanct
Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano and Amby Uneze in Owerri
Despite the intervention of Northern State Governors’ Forum and some notable leaders from the South-east, the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF) thursday restated its position on the quit notice given to Igbos residing in the North.
The Chairman of the forum, Mr. Shettima Yerima, told journalists in Kano during a North-west consultative forum organised by the Coalition of Northern Groups.
Yerima said: “We stand by our notice to the Igbos, but those who are interested in Nigeria can stay, those who are not interested can go.
“Our mission is for peace because the unity of Nigeria is being threatened by the current agitation from some Igbos, and we want to make sure that those who are interested in Nigeria should stay, but those who are not interested should go.
“The purpose of the town hall meeting in Kano is to review the earlier stand we took and we are collecting views of the people from the North-west region. We will also move to the North central and North-east on whether to maintain our position or reconsider it.”
According to him, Because we don’t have the right to force the people to go, we are using peaceful means. We don’t have police and army.”
When asked whether the Kano town hall meeting would give an insight on their mission, Yerima stated: “We cannot summarise our position until we consult other zones.”
In his address at the meeting, the Chairman of Coalition of Northern Groups, Mr. Nastura Ashir Sheriff, said the northern youths had written to United Nations on their mission for a united Nigeria and copied all evidence of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader atrocities.
Sheriff emphasised that the coalition of northern groups embarked on awareness to get the people’s position.
“The attitude of IPOB leader is worrisome because the future of the nation is at the brink. He has created serious disaffection for northerners,” he added.
In his goodwill message, a university lecturer, Professor Aliyu Jibia, announced plan by his Arewa Sumit Development Initiative to organise a one-million-man march by October 1 to draw attention to the multifaceted challenges bedeviling the region.
The delegate conference is expected to attract patriotic northerner to the march which would be held in Kano.
Meanwhile, against the backdrop of agitation for the disintegration of the country by some secessionist groups, the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, and some Igbo women yesterday in Owerri, the Imo State capital, said the unity of the country was sacrosanct and cannot be separated for whatever reason.
This is even as the state Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, affirmed that even though Nigeria was currently going through trying moment, such difficult times would soon end.
He however, disassociated Imo State from such agitation, stressing: “Imo State is wholly committed to the unity of Nigeria. Those talking about secession are on their own.”
The women resolved to mobilise themselves to preach against hate and tribal speeches and promote unity of the country.
Speaking at the 2017 Imo woman annual August meeting organised by wife of the state governor, Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha, with the theme: ‘Women: Building Bridge of Friendship Across the Niger’, Mrs. Buhari charged women to assiduously work together towards conflict resolution and be at the vanguard of championing peaceful coexistence in various communities of the country.
She said: “This gathering is a celebration of the resourcefulness of womanhood. It is important because at meetings like this, Igbo women gather to discuss developmental issues and peaceful coexistence at the community level.
The first lady who retuned from London yesterday where she had been with her ailing husband, President Muhammadu Buhari, said her pet project, ‘Future Assured’, would continue to preach societal peace and support the welfare of less privileged women and children.
She noted that the zeal to create a forum for women to come together to discuss peaceful co-existence is highly commendable, adding that the annual ‘August Meeting’ affords women in the Southeast the opportunity to come together and deliberate on how to work for the unity of the nation.
She commended Governor Okorocha for giving women a sense of belonging in his administration, which she said was responsible for the visible roles of the women in nation building.
Okorocha’s wife, Nkechi, who is also the Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Wives Forum, disclosed that the idea of the South-east women to hold a combined August meeting as a platform to address national issues as it affect women in the zone started with last year’s edition.
Emphasising on the need for friendship, the governor’s wife described it as the gateway to tolerance, love, unity and peaceful coexistence, adding that Southeast women will continue to work for the unity of the nation.
Governor Okorocha, while expressing happiness for the visit of the first lady, also prayed for the quick recovery of President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that the unity of the nation must stand as those fanning the embers of disunity and threatening the sovereignty of the country were on their own.
The meeting had in attendance the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari; the spouse of the Senate President, Toyin Saraki, as well as wives of the governors of Edo, Cross River, Oyo, Ondo, Borno, Sokoto, Ebonyi, Abia, Enugu, Ogun, Kebbi and Kwarra States.
Others were former Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Josephine Anenih.