THERE is a major difference between 1 October 2017 and the ones that preceded it. The National Day, for the first time, has become a day that should be approached with trepidation, a new low in our national history.
AREWA Youths, three months ago, asked the Igbo to leave the North latest by October 1. They promised death to any Igbo that defied their order. This statement was made in Arewa House, Kaduna, a facility that the North’s elite uses when it wants to say important things, or say things importantly.
ON June 6, 2017, NasturaAshir Sharif (Arewa Citizens Action for Change); AlhajiShettimaYerima (Arewa Youth Consultative Forum); Aminu Adam (Arewa Youth Development Foundation); Alfred Solomon, (Arewa Students Forum); Abdul-Azeez Suleiman (Northern Emancipation Network), and Joshua Viashman, of the Northern Youth Vanguard, signed a statement to that effect.
ABDUL-AZEEZ Suleiman, who addressed the press, blamed the actions of “the Indigenous People of Biafra and its overt and covert sponsors” for the decision. “With the effective date of this declaration, which is today, Tuesday, June 6, 2017, all Igbo currently residing in any part of northern Nigeria are, hereby, served notice to relocate within three months and all northerners residing in the South East are advised likewise.”
MORE from the statement: “Recently, people from eastern part of this country, specifically Igbo, were busy calling for the Sovereign State of Biafra and from all indication their leaders including governors are behind them. The persistence for the actualisation of Biafra by the unruly Igbo of South-Eastern Nigeria has lately assumed another alarming twist, which involved the forceful lockdown of activities and denial of other people’s right to free movement in the South East by the rebel Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its overt and covert sponsors.
“Emboldened by the apparent indifference of the Nigerian authorities, the Igbo secessionist tendency is widening in scope and action at every stage, with adverse effects on the law-abiding people of other regions residing in or passing through the East, while the Igbo leaders and elders by their utterances and direct action or inaction appear to support and encourage it.
“While these provocative acts of aggression persist and grow in dimension with each new move, leaders of the North whose people are at the receiving end of the threats, appear helplessly unperturbed.
“Without pursuing a resolute action-plan, these northern leaders have adopted and have been dragging its people into a pitifully pacifist position in order to sustain an elusive national cohesion that has long been ridiculed by the Igbos.
“The North hereby openly calls on the authorities and other national and international stakeholders to acknowledge this declaration by taking steps to facilitate the final dissolution of this hopeless union that has never been convenient to any of the parties.
“As a first step, since the Igbo have clearly abused the unreciprocated hospitality that gave them unrestricted access to, and ownership of landed properties all over the North, our first major move shall be to reclaim, assume and assert sole ownership and control of these landed resources currently owned, rented or in any way enjoyed by the ingrate Igbo in any part of Northern Nigeria.
“Consequently, officials of the signatory groups to this declaration, are already mandated to commence immediate inventory of all properties, spaces or activity in the north currently occupied by the Igbos for forfeiture at the expiration of the ultimatum contained in this declaration.
“We are hereby placing the Nigerian authorities and the entire nation on notice that as from the 1st October 2017, we shall commence the implementation of visible actions to prove to the whole world that we are no longer part of any federal union that should do with the Igbos.
“From that date, effective, peaceful and safe mop-up of all the remnants of the stubborn Igbos that neglect to heed this quit notice shall commence to finally eject them from every part of the North.
“And finally, all authorities, individuals or groups are hereby advised against attempting to undermine this declaration by insisting on this union with the Igbos who have thus far proved to be an unnecessary baggage carried too far and for too long.”
ANGO Abdullahi, former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, who is also the spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum, supported the youths. “I am disappointed in the decision taken by Northern Governors’ Forum disowning and condemning the agitation by this young agile and progressive youth groups. Let me ask these Northern governors, whom are they representing, are they representing spirits, ghost or people of the North?” he said.
THERE have been various efforts to douse the tension. The Arewa Youths even recanted. The fact is not lost on those who protested the threat of the youth and their determination to execute it.
OFFICIAL responses have been at best lethargic. The supposed justifications have included the claims that NnamdiKanu was threatening the North with his call for self-determination, actually a referendum on whether Ndigbo wanted to be part of Nigeria, under encumbering circumstances that place them below the rights and privileges of other citizens of Nigeria.
IPOB has been banned, proscribed, and there is a manhunt for its leadership. The South East is under a military siege viaOperation Python Dance, with all manners of explanations being made for the militarisation of the area. Yet there is no plan to arrest those who made the October 1 threat, or their supporters. Whatever happened to the evenness of the scales of justice?
IT is not too late for the Federal Government to call the threatening Arewa Youths to order. Their action limits rights of Nigerians to free movement, residence, and ownership of property in any part of the country. Wavering responses to these threats are inadequate.
WHATEVER happens, October 1 has added another precedence to our tortuous history.