By Anayo Okoli, Vincent Ujumadu & Chimaobi Nwaiwu
IGBO indigenes living in the 19 Northern States have commended Ohanaeze Youth Council, OYC, over its meeting with the Arewa youths with a view to resolving the October 1 deadline quit notice to the Igbo in the North.
This is even as the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, yesterday raised alarm over the recent visit of the former British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair to the Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, recalling that it was the same British godfathers’ military and diplomatic support to the core North that enabled Nigeria to defeat Biafra between 1967 and 1970.
According to the co-ordinator of Ndigbo Youth Council in 19 Northern States, Chief Obinna Nwankwo, in a statement, the Abuja meeting between Igbo and Arewa youths was the first practical step towards halting the planned sack of Ndigbo from the North.
“We have always made it clear that the several meetings convened by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, though look worthwhile on the surface, lacked the capacity to stop this trouble when it starts.
“We said this because the same elders who Osinbajo invited to the Aso Rock Villa had at the wake of the quit notice disowned it. How then would they have the capacity to call these youths to order if they are bent on carrying out their threat?”,the group said.
Nwankwo commended the Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro led OYC for initiating a workable solution to the looming danger.
“There is no doubt that our lives and properties have been in danger ever since that threat was issued. We have for so long expected a situation where the youths are called for a discussion, but rather than do so, what we see is mere condemnation from various groups.
“We, therefore, salute the courage of the OYC for taking this bold step. We also commend the Arewa youths for coming to the negotiating table with its counterpart from the South-East.
“May we, however, caution that any plan by anybody to jeopardize this peace process will be resisted. We now have the feeling that some people are benefiting from this tension.
“This could be the only reason why one Chuks Ibegbu, who said he is the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo saw nothing good in this parley with the Arewa youths. Are Ibegbu and his cohorts holding the opinion that no effort should be made to safeguard the lives and properties of Ndigbo in the North? What do they benefit from festering crisis?
“As the Deputy National Publicity Secretary which he claims to be, why has he taken over the functions of the substantive publicity secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo? Why is he issuing statements with reckless abandon without clearance from anybody for pecuniary reasons? We see his action as one borne out of utter jealousy and envy.
“We the entire Igbo Youths in the 19 Northern States wish to state categorically that we have absolute confidence in the leadership of OYC under Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro.
“By extension, we equally have absolute trust on the peace process he has initiated with the Arewa youths. No price is too much for peace and that is why we shall not sit by and watch some persons derail this process.
“At this point, we are sounding a note of warning that should this process be stalled owing to Ibegbu’s reckless utterances, and our people in the North face attack as a result of the collapse of that peace process, he shall be held responsible.
“Any opposition to the leadership of Ohanaeze youths is indirectly calling for planned massacre and genocide against Igbo in the North and looting of Igbo properties in the 19 Northern States.
“We have uncovered plot by some shameless members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo to allow Igbo be massacred in the North by trying to interfere in the genuine efforts of national leadership of Ohanaeze youths”, Nwankwo said.
IPOB raises alarm over Blair’s visit to Nigeria
A statement by the IPOB Director of Media and Publicity, Comrade Emma Powerful said Blair’s visit would likely instigate another ethno-religious crisis in this part of Africa, alleging that the former prime minister’s visit was also targeted at causing violence against Christians and Biafrans in Northern Nigeria.
The statement said: “Britain, a supposed Christian country, for reasons best known to it, has persistently worked against the interest of Biafra and majority of Christians in Nigeria. What Tony Blair is doing today is a well trodden path for the British government.
“They have come to officially give their blessings to the impending massacre of Biafrans and other Christian minorities in the North. Simply put, Tony Blair has come to instigate another civil war in Nigeria the same way he started the one going on in Iraq today.
“Arewa Consultative Forum, along with Northern Elders Forum, must know that 1967 is not 2017 because Britain will not defend them when the chips are down.”
IPOB said the ‘raw hatred and persecution of Biafrans’ by the British through the North, was simply because of the people’s enterprise and strong belief in the Judeo-Christian faith, expressing happiness that leaders of the Middle Belt were beginning to realize the existential threat to the survival of Christianity and Christians in Nigeria.
According to IPOB, “the struggle for Biafra independence, which it is proudly agitating for, is often misunderstood by the very few vocal social commentators and Nigerian leaders,” insisting that Biafra freedom was not just a living agitation, but a fight for the survival of oppressed people in Nigeria against the entrenched threats of radical Islamic fundamentalism and their political collaborators in Nigeria and Britain.”