By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi yesterday expressed disapproval to the proscription and tagging of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as terrorist, saying that the youths that were involved in agitations should not be discarded.
This is as the Archbishop of Aba Province, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Ikechi Nwosu urged President Muhammadu Buhari to drop the idea of treating those agitating for restructuring or self-determination as enemies that must be crushed by all means.
The Ooni expressed this view when he visited the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu in solidarity with the people of Abia and the entire people of Southeast zone following the recent security crisis in the zone.
The premier traditional ruler of the Yoruba race, who explained that he was in Abia “to continue the oneness we preach concerning the unity of this country and to continue to build bridges across the entire country”. He faulted the manner youths were being discarded and branded terrorists for crying out against injustice in the land.
He noted that the youths who were involved in agitations were justified in asking for justice and equity in Nigeria and therefore renamed IPOB to mean the Indigenous People of Brighter Nigeria (IPOBN).
“There is something that is bordering them that is making them to cry,” he said, adding, “We should not throw them away; we should draw them closer (because ) the youths of this country are the future, the energy, they are the heartbeat of this country,” he said.
According to him, the youths had inherent energies that could be tapped and positively channeled to build a batter Nigerian state, that instead of throwing them away, they should be drawn closer and their energies channeled positively for a better Nigeria.
Oba Ogunwusi called for proper re-orientation of the youths in order to make them drop negative tendencies such as hate speeches and call for disintegration of the country.
Alluding to the position of Ohanaeze Ndigbo that Nigeria should be restructured to ensure equity, justice and fairness, the Ooni said that the Yoruba race shared the same view on the way forward for a better and all-inclusive Nigeria.
He said; “We must chart the course of doing thing with positive energy. I want to let you know that you are not alone in this. We stand by you positively in a very progressive manner. We stand by you that we all must come together to build a united Nigeria. We don’t want any war; we don’t want any disintegration”.
Oba Ogunwusi who is also the deputy president of the National Council of Traditional Rulers, said that he was very proud of the youths , adding that he would never throw them away.
He specifically urged Ikpeazu and other Southeast leaders to open the door and bring the youths in and re-orientate them”
He lauded the people of Southeast zone for their contribution in national development, saying, “Igbo people are truly the life and life line of this country (citing) their can do spirit which I’m very proud of”.
According to him, the Igbo and the Yoruba were “spiritually linked (hence) we must work together”.
The Ooni said he was happy that to see that Abia was peaceful contrary to the outside impression that the state was in turmoil. He expressed support to Governor Ikpeazu for his passion for things that were of positive values, promotion of peace and respect for traditional institutions.
Governor Ikpeazu in his response said that he was honoured and privileged to play host to the revered traditional ruler of Ife and praised the Ooni for being in tune with national issues and making positive contributions for national rebirth.
”I am a firm believer that this country is strong today because of its diversity,” he said, adding that the problem confronting Nigeria remained the inability to harness the potentials and weld together the diversities to create a strong, united country.
The Abia chief executive assured Oba Ogunwusi that he would not throw away the youths involved in agitations, saying that he had put in place a programme for massive employment of youths in order to channel their energies positively.
“We are not going to be tired until we ensure that a good number of our youths are gainfully employed and able to make a decent living,” he said, adding that massive employment programme would curb youth restiveness.
According to Nwosu, “Inability to run a government that can tolerate agitations of all sorts is a foundational flaw in governance. This is because it is through agitations that governance improves on itself by letting agitations speak positively for correction in governance,” he said.
According to him, through agitation government could learn what it should do to make the citizens happy and draw people closer to government thereby ending feelings of marginalisation.
Buhari had in his 57th independence anniversary broadcast blamed those calling for the restructuring of the country for the spate of agitations across the country. He also described youths agitating for Biafra self-determination as “hot heads” who were allowed to have a field day by “irresponsible” political leaders in the Southeast.
But Bishop Nwosu said that failure to listen to dissenting voices was a sign that “so many things are wrong with our government, adding that Mr. President should not open his mind only to the sounds that are sweet to his ears.
“Agitations speak and only open hearts can hear it. Agitators are not necessarily enemies of government they are friends,” he said, adding that government should devise a means to listen to the people right in the grassroots and give them a sense of belonging.
Nwosu vehemently condemned the militarization of Abia state and other states of the southeast zone, saying that it was a pointer that all is not well with the Nigerian nation.
“The presence of the military in a state to quell a crisis instead of the police is evidence of a failed state. You can argue on this until infinity, this is the fact. The police are for internal crisis and the military is for external aggression. With the presence of the military on our roads and institutions since 1970, Nigeria is in a state of war with itself.”
The Archbishop of Aba Province while analysing the practice of democracy in the country and found it wanting as government is not showing that it is a government of the people even though it was elected by the people.
He called on the federal government to run an inclusive government and carry the people along irrespective of faith and creed because the “future of Nigeria lies in the collective wisdom of the component units”.