Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
In continuation of efforts aimed at withdrawing the quit notice against Igbos living in northern Nigeria, a group of northern governors represented by the Borno State Governor and Chairman of the Northern Governorsâ€™ Forum, Kashim Shettima, Wednesday met with members of the Northern Eldersâ€™ Forum (NEF) and key leaders of the coalition of Arewa youth groups in a closed-door meeting that lasted for four hours.
A statement by the governorâ€™s media aide, Isa Gusau, said the meeting focused on getting the coalition to withdraw its quit notice to Nigerians of South-eastern extraction, which elapses on October 1, 2017.
â€œThe meeting, which is the third since July was at the instance of some Northern governors who mandated Shettima to engage the coalition with a view to preventing possible outbreak of violence in the event hoodlums take advantage of the quit notice to perpetuate violence when the ultimatum expires on October 1,â€â€Ž Gusau explained.
The meeting, which began at 2.30 p.m. lasted till 6.30 â€Žp.m. at the Borno governorâ€™s lodge in Asokoro, Abuja.
The meeting was attended by members of the NEF comprising Prof. Ango Abdullahi, Alhaji Sani Zango Daura, Air Marshall Al-Amin Daggash, AVM Mukhtar Mohammed, Professor Yima Sen and Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, who represented the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation.
Key leaders of the Arewa youth coalition included Yerima Shettima, Ashir Sherrif, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, Aminu Adam, Balarabe Rufai and leaders of other groups in the coalition.
â€œThe meeting ended on a positive note, while the Arewa coalition is expected to meet members of the Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee who invited them for a meeting,â€ Gusau added.
â€ŽThe governor had held three separate meetings with the leaders of the Arewa coalition in Kaduna, Abuja and Maiduguri before holding Wednesdayâ€™s meeting that included northern elders.
The meetings are part of consultations aimed at ensuring the stability of the north in the wake of the quit notice against Igbos living in the region, which was issued in Kaduna last June.
The Arewa coalition of youths said their action was in response to the insults against the north by agitators for the Republic of Biafra who want to pull out of Nigeria led by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB).
During Wednesdayâ€™s meeting with Shettima, the northern elders also spoke extensively on serious problems bedevilling northern Nigeria, especially the Boko Haram insurgency and education backwardness, resulting in a high level of out-of-school children roaming the streets as Almajiris.
The leaders offered far-reaching suggestions, which they requested Shettima to convey to his colleagues in the Northern Governorsâ€™ Forum.
The Arewa youth coalition is expected to make its decision public at a date to be determined by members of the coalition.