Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has disagreed with Igbo youths clamouring for Biafra in retrospect, saying their style was out of tune with the body language of Igbo elders who have seen war and its devastation and would not want anything that would bring another calamity. Nnia Nwodo, President-General of Ohanaeze Ohanaeze also frowned at the call for referendum, saying although “referendum is not a bad idea, but it’s not a tea party either; it is an option that will be more potent, if restructuring clamour fails.” This came  as governors of the South East and South-South geopolitical zones rose from their joint inaugural meeting in Enugu, in the early hours of yesterday, stating that the two regions had common heritage, culture and affinity. They subsequently agreed to enter into political and economic integration of the two regions, pledging to work together and realign as a people that share similarities. This is even as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said present agitation by some Nigerians for the restructuring of the country was because of lack of transparency and accountability in the management of issues affecting the interest and relationships of the people. But the Indegenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in a reaction, reiterated that it had never shifted ground  and would never agree to anything that would perpetuate their “current slave status and misery in the colonial contraption called Nigeria.” Your style is out of tune—Ohanaeze Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in a statement signed by Chuks Ibegbu, National Deputy Publicity Secretary, said:  “There is a raging debate on whether Igbo want Biafra, restructuring or referendum. Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s position has been constant and clear. It advocates that a restructured Nigeria with justice and equity will serve Ndigbo more than secession. ‘’It took into consideration the past, present and future before arriving at this crucial decision. Good enough, key voices in Nigeria are keying in to this mood. “Referendum is not a bad idea, but it’s not a tea party either. It is an option that will be more potent, if restructuring clamour fails. “Our children in IPOB and MASSOB, though with genuine grievances, need to be on the same page with Ohanaeze Ndigbo. Our son, Nnamdi Kanu, has done well in heightening the mood of Ndigbo in Nigeria, but there must be some caution and restraint on the strategy and methodology. “Biafra of the mind is not a bad idea, but a physical Biafra at this point in time need a very deep retrospection, introspection and analytical brainstorming which is not decided in the market.  It is only more plausible if the event of 1966 repeats itself in Nigeria. “Chief Nnia Nwodo and the new Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership is poised to aggregate the diverse views and opinions of Ndigbo and synthesise an option that will ultimately give Ndigbo their desired leverage in Nigeria. While diplomatic tact and pressure is not out of place in this, superior arguments that will not jeopardize the position and future of Ndigbo will be more attractive.” We are one people, say S-East/S-South Govs The governors after about four hours deliberation, also agreed to pursue regional cooperation of integration for the economic benefit of the two geopolitical zones and unanimously adopted Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State their interim chairman. The forum is scheduled to continue their meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on August 27, 2017. Nine of the 11 governors of the two regions were present at the meeting. They included Governors Nysome Wike of Rivers, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, Prof Ben Ayade of Cross River, Chief David Umahi of Ebonyi, Owelle Rochas Okorocha of Imo, Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia and Anambra State Deputy Governor, Nkem Okeke. Governors of Edo and Delta states were absent and did not send representatives. In a communiqué read by the interim chairman of the forum and Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, the governors said:  “Having reviewed the state of the nation, particularly as it affects us in the South-South and South East regions, we have agreed as follows: “To pursue inter regional cooperation of integration for the economic benefit of the two regions; to politically work together and realign as a people that share common heritage, culture and affinities.” Governor Emmanuel also announced his appointment as the interim chairman of the forum, disclosing that they also agreed that their next meeting would hold in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on August 27, 2017. Host governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, in his welcome address, described the meeting, the first in the current dispensation, as “the dawn of a new thinking that will lead to a mutual cooperation between the governments of South East and South-South zones. “What God has joined together, not even the Niger or delineation for administrative convenience will put asunder. We are essentially one, we are brothers joined by geography, one brotherhood and one friendship. “We also have common challenges, we believe that this meeting will fundamentally help us to understand ourselves better, rekindle the spirit of brotherhood, strengthen ties and cooperation with common vision and agenda for economic and political development of our regions.’’ Ugwuanyi sought the cooperation of South-South governors for the establishment of South East Development Commission, to address peculiar needs of the zone, in the same manner Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is working for the South South. He lamented the breakdown of roads and other infrastructure in the two zones which he said hampered their economic development. The governor added that it was regrettable that only five per cent of electricity generated in the country was allocated to the two regions “We also cannot fly from South East or South-South states to the other; we can only fly from Lagos or Abuja to a connecting flight unless you can afford a chartered flight,” Ugwuanyi said. He also called on South-South governors to support South East call for restructuring of the country to ensure equity, justice and equality. Chairman of South East Governors forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi in his address released by his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor, said they were  meeting for the first time as governors of South-South and South East to brainstorm on various but salient issues affecting the two zones. Umahi said: “We are meeting as brothers to talk about regional integration and find lasting solution to intermittent outbreak of interstate clashes arising from boundary disputes among the two regions. “We are also talking about economic survival of the two regions and look at possible ways of bringing our ingenuity and making use of our huge deposit of both human and natural resources to attain economic viable zones in Nigeria. “There is also need to discuss security, peace and unity of the two regions and find lasting solution to various salient issues that affect our unity in Nigeria. “It is a meeting borne out of love and desire to find cohesion among the two regions and I am happy that my brother Governors responded to the call even at the short notice given to them. In other words, we are discussing regional and national interest. “ Reasons for   agitations, restructuring – Dogara Speaker Dogara spoke in a message he sent to the opening of a two-day retreat in Lagos organised by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation. The event was organised in collaboration with the Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly. The theme of the retreat was “Partnership between the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation and the Public Accounts Committees: A must for the entrenchment of transparency and accountability in a growing democracy.” The speaker, whose message was delivered by the Chairman, House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee, Ogundu Chinda, said issues of transparency and accountability cut across tribe, religion, ethnic affiliation, politics as well as country of origin. He compared transparency and accountability issues to environmental issues, saying once they take place, they affect other persons in other parts of the world. “The essence of government and governance is transparency and accountability. All challenges in our country today, ranging from militancy to Boko Haram in the North East are all based on injustice, which is also hinged on transparency and accountability. “If we are more transparent and accountable, we will be able to tackle almost all the problems besieging us today. The only reason Nigerians are talking about restructuring today is because we are not sufficiently transparent in our transactions and in our relationship with one another,”he said. Dogara stressed the need for both parties to collaborate to tackle the issues of transparency and accountability for the common good of the country at large. “The issue of accountability and transparency is a war or battle we are all soldiers in. With the Auditor-General and the Public Account Committee, we are generals in the war. If you are in the battlefield, the command is always ‘no retreat, no surrender,”he said. Ohanaeze youths fault Osinbajo for not involving youths in consultations However, the youth wing of the apex Igbo organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council, OYC, yesterday, dismissed the series of consultations between Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and some Northern and South East leaders of the country as “faulty and unproductive”, saying that it would not achieve any good result. In a statement, the Ohanaeze Youths Council said holding such consultations without involving the youths would not achieve the desired outcome. Signed by the publicity secretary of OYC, Obinna Adibe, the statement noted that since “the issues centre around the youths, they ought to be made active partners in the peace process. “We watch with keen interest the ongoing consultative meetings the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had with both South East governors, traditional rulers, Igbo leaders and also a similar one he held with Northern leaders. “We observed that Osinbajo’s meetings with all these groups lacked youth representation. There was no youth representatives in the consultations, which makes the peace meeting a stalemate”, the OYC said. However, the group commended the South East governors, traditional rulers, Igbo leaders and religious leaders for their efforts and vision towards making the South East peaceful , and urged that “such efforts should be sustained in order to ensure safety of lives and property and as well pave the way for the development of our region.” On the quit notice to Igbo in the North, issued by some group of Arewa youths, the Igbo youths said their doors were open for dialogue as violence would do no one any good. “Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth council worldwide has open doors for dialogue with ethnic nationality youth leaders across the country to find lasting peace, especially as it regards the safety of Igbo in every part of the country. “We have decided to sacrifice our freedom and resources to ensure that lasting peace is achieved, as regards the safety of Igbo in the 19 northern states ahead of the October 1 ultimatum from the northern youths . “We have built a bridge of dialogue for peaceful co-existence. We will not allow this opportunity to pass us by if there is any opening for dialogue with other ethnic nationality youth leaders across Nigeria “, OYC declared. Convene sovereign national confab now, BIM tells FG Meanwhile, the Biafra Independence Movement, BIM,  has called on the Federal Government to urgently convene a sovereign national conference to allow ethnic nationalities in the country to determine their future. The pro-Biafra group insisted that only a sovereign national conference can solve the increasing level of agitations by ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. National Director of Information, BIM, Sunny Okereafor, who stated this in Aba, while announcing plans for the celebration of the group’s 18th anniversary on September 13, condemned the call for restructuring by South East governors and leaders, stressing that restructuring cannot solve the problem of agitation ravaging Nigeria. “Restructuring is not the solution to the problem of agitation caused by injustice and marginalization in Nigeria. Where will we start restructuring from? Restructuring is not the solution to the increasing agitations by several ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. Restructuring is akin to scratching the surface of the problems. Igbo want Biafra; Yoruba want Oduduwa Republic, Boko Haram want Islamic republic and the Hausa/Fulani wants the status quo to be maintained because it is in their favour and others want resource control. The question is what are you restructuring for? “Every section of Nigeria had agreed that the federation isn’t workable; Fulani herdsmen are killing and raping our women with the federal government playing the ostrich; the North heads all the military and Para military agencies, oil producing communities live in abject poverty, grade A positions are only reserved for natives of certain parts of the country. Ndigbo have been relegated to second class citizens. In the kind of situation prevailing in Nigeria, a sovereign national conference is the only solution. The federal government should convene a sovereign national conference without further delay.” He described the calls for referendum as needless, insisting that a referendum had already taken place in the old Eastern region where the people of Biafra had expressed their desire for an independent state of Biafra to be granted them. We stand by our position—IPOB IPOB in a statement signed by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, urged  Igbo leaders to retrace their steps before it was too late. The statement read:  “It is unfortunate that these persons have predictably fallen for the usual crumbs falling off the master’s table in Aso Rock in exchange for their shameful public rejection of IPOB-led Biafra restoration project. What these men hope to gain by continually selling the collective interest of the masses for peanuts only heaven knows. “A few selfish individuals motivated by greed, envy and jealousy, whose whole life has been characterised by merchandising in misery and suffering cannot trade with our future anymore. These men went to Abuja with a list that had their family members, friends, relatives and girl friends for consideration in federal government appointments in exchange for our freedom. ‘’Their families occupying ministerial and federal positions is more important to them than liberating their people from oppression and servitude. “We are equally aware that some of these Igbo leaders, politicians and clergy are actively working with their Arewa counterparts in trying to convince the presidency to re-arrest our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. ‘’This deplorable, unprincipled and disgraceful attitude is indicative of the decay at the heart of the politics of compromise these men have been playing since after the war in 1970. They will sell their soul to the devil if it means one more contract, one more federal appointment or elongation of tenure. ‘’They must know that this generation of Biafrans, both old and young, say no to their usual sell-out antics. It is either these men are with us in our quest for Biafra restoration or they are with their Hausa Fulani masters in their unholy desire to remain as slaves in Nigeria “It is imperative to understand that we IPOB are not asking the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo to abandon their quest to remain in their restructured Nigeria, what we in IPOB under the leadership of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is saying is that they should be restructuring Nigeria while we continue with the struggle for Biafra independence. ‘’If they are able to finish their restructuring before the arrival of Biafra independence, then we will examine the parameters on which the restructuring was established, then the people of Biafra will decide for themselves between the restructured Nigeria and Biafra independence which one is better. ‘’Ohanaeze should not worry for now because ultimately the people will decide for themselves. One man, one vote! “No matter the route IPOB might take in this ordained and noble quest to free Biafrans from this perennial servitude, the masses must have their say. ‘’The era of imposition of ideology has come and gone. Only the people of Biafra can, through a referendum, determine their destiny, not IPOB leadership, not any other collection of leaders for that matter. With the happenings now, IPOB should brace itself to withstand the avalanche of sponsored lies and negative media coverage from the Federal Government of Nigeria and our enemies within. Their aim as always is to divide Biafraland in the hope of weakening our resolve but we must stand firm because this is the last major battle before we taste our long overdue freedom. “IPOB has returned power back to the people and they will exercise it when called upon to do so. We challenge the Federal Government of Nigeria and her supporters to test the acceptability of One Nigeria through plebiscite or referendum not with threat, propaganda and lies.”


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