The South-East Council of Traditional Rulers and the Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops has knocked the Federal government for ignoring its request for a dialogue in a bid to find lasting solutions to insecurity and socioeconomic challenges in South-East Nigeria.
The group noted that it’s been more than three months since they wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari to meet with him and explore solutions, but did not receive any feedback from the Presidency yet.
The group said this in a joint statement issued on Monday. The traditional rulers that signed the statement are His Majesty, Igwe Charles Mkpuma, Chairman, Ebonyi State Traditional Rulers Council and Chairman, South-East Council of Traditional Rulers; H.M. Obi Nnaemeka Achebe, Chairman, Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council; H.M. Igwe Amb L. O. C. Agubuzu, Chairman, Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council; and H.M. Eze Dr E. C. Okeke, Chairman, Imo State Traditional Rulers Council.
The clerics that signed the statement are; Most Rev. Dr Anthony J. V. Obinna, Catholic Archbishop of Owerri; Most Rev. Dr Chibuzo R. Opoko, TFG, DOB, JP Methodist Archbishop of Umuahia; Most Rev. Dr Valerian M. Okeke Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha; Most Rev. Dr Uma A. Onwunta Past Principal Clerk Presbyterian Church Nigeria.
The joint body had on November 3, 2021, in a bid to ensure lasting peace to the South-East region written a letter to Buhari requesting an audience.
The purpose of the request was to dialogue and explore avenues for peace-building to douse the tension in the South East to ensure it does not result in a grave socio-economic burden on the people.
The request for the audience was a sequel to a public appeal made by the Group on Sunday, 30th October 2021, for de-escalation and suspension of the IPOB sit-at-home order, after undertaking extensive behind-the-scenes consultations with all relevant stakeholders.
The appeal was predicated on separate statements made by Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops, and by the South East Council of Traditional Rulers, on 7th and 18th October 2021, respectively.
The statement said the response to the appeal by political actors in committing to a peaceful election, as well as by IPOB in canceling its seven-day sit-at-home order, paved the way for a peaceful Governorship election in Anambra State.
While the Joint Body commended all stakeholders for the respect accorded to it in this regard, it expressed regret that the silence of the Presidency on its request for constructive engagement seems to give credence to the suspicion in some quarters of a clear lack of strong commitment to peacebuilding and resolution of security challenges in the South East.
The statement said it is puzzling that the President and the South-East Governors appear to be ignoring the demonstrated value of dialogue and consensus-building in finding a lasting solution to the region’s security issues.
The statement reads, “The Joint Body of South East Council of Traditional Rulers and Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops wishes to bring to members of the general public an up-to-date report on our activities in support of the initiatives aimed at restoring the peace, security and robust enterprise for which the South East is known.