Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has again dismissed the renewed agitation for the restoration of Biafra and the ultimatum issued to by some Arewa youths to Ndigbo to leave the North.
He declared both actions as wrong and unlawful activities that must be dealt with according to constitutional provisions.
He spoke on Sunday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, during a meeting with traditional rulers drawn from the senatorial districts in the five South East states.
The traditional rulers were led by Eze Udo 1 of Mgboko Ngwa Amaise in Abia State, Eze Eberechi Dick, who is also the Chairman of South East Traditional Rulers’ Council.
The parley was in continuation of the Acting President’s consultations with political and traditional rulers from the North and the South East following the escalation of ethnic tensions occasioned by the agitation for Biafra Republic and the vacation order issued by northern youths to Igbos to quit the region.
In his opening remarks, Osinbajo said that both groups violated the Nigerian Constitution, which insists on the sanctity of the unity of the country and the right of every citizen to live in any part of the country he chooses.
He pointed out that apart from the indivisibility of the country, many Nigerians had paid for the unity of the nation with their lives, and with so much blood shed to preserve her unity.
Osinbajo told the royal fathers: “As you are aware, there has been agitation from some of our youths in the South East urging secession, the creation of Biafra.”
“In apparent response, young people in the North, under the aegis of Arewa youths, have purportedly issued an ultimatum where they have set a date for the eviction of persons from South East region who live in the northern states.”
“Those agitations and their manner, the method and objective, are wrong, unlawful and a violation of the laws of Nigeria and the constitution of the country.”
“I want to repeat that both the agitations for secession and the ultimatum to leave the northern states are wrong and a violation of our constitution”.
Osinbajo said that the nation’s constitution in Section 2 asserts that Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He stressed that, “that is the law of our country. Let us not be in any doubt about the fact that the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that our country remains united.”
“And that anyone who violates the law in the manner such as we are seeing all over the place will be met with the full force of the law.”
“And the reason why it is so is because for Nigeria’s unity, enough blood has been spilled and many hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost. Many have paid for the unity of this country with their lives and it will be wrong of us as men and women of goodwill in this generation to toy with those sacrifices that have been made.”
“This is why men of goodwill in our generation must not tolerate any tendency that drags us in the direction of yet another civil conflict”.
The Acting President acknowledged, however, that the agitations sprang from not only perceived marginalization of some sections of the country but also from fear of compromised safety in places of abode they are not indigenes of.
He said that where there were grievances to be addressed, the only way to make anything right is by doing it right, instead of threatening to break the law or the country. Besides, the greatness of any community lies in its unity, he added.
“We must be sensitive to the reasons why there are agitations by the various young men across the various zones of this country. Many have to do with perceived marginalization, some have argued safety in the different zones have been compromised.”
“But I want to say the only way to make things right is to do things right. And it will be wrong of us to approach even our grievances by threatening to disobey the laws or by threatening the integrity of our nation.”
“What the Federal Government is committed to do is by ensuring we listen to all the reasons, the various suggestions and the various agitations and the reasons for those agitations and to ensure that we do justice by all persons regardless of where you are from in this country.”
“That is the commitment of the Federal Government which I am able to make to you today”, said Osinbajo.
He explained that the unique position of the traditional rulers in the society made it imperative that they be invited to be part of the solutions.
He stressed that “our greatness lies in our being together and I believe very strongly that as our royal fathers you will ensure the message is clear to all, that the greatness of any people lies in their ability to work together despite our differences.”
“Despite the types of offences that have been caused between each other, the greatness of any community lies in our unity. We trust that you our royal fathers will give us the right directional advice to ensure that our country remains together,” he said.
The meeting was attended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara; the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Senator ibn N’allah; the Minister of the Interior, Abdurahman Danbazzau; the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonishakin.
Others were His Royal Highness, Eze Cosmas Agwu and Eze Lawrence Aguzu; Eze Pius Nwangele; Eze Olivel Ohanwe; Eze S.A. Okorie; Eze Godwin Chionye; Eze Ogene Okpuno; Igwe Nnabuife Isseke; Igwe Enweze Umuoji,;Eze Laz Umahi; the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, and the Minister of State, Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka.