JOS (Sundiata Post) – There is a cacophony of differing voices from groups and opinion leaders in the northern part of the country over the three-month ultimatum given by Arewa youths to Igbos living in the North to leave.
The youths, had at a press briefing in Kaduna issued what they described as the ‘Kaduna Declaration’ asking all Igbo living in any part of the North to leave by October 1, 2017.
However, the order appeared to have divided the people of the North with some arguing for the youths and others against.
While northern governors led by Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El Rufai, have condemned the statement issued by the youths, and indeed disowned them and called for their arrest, a group of northern elders under the aegis of the Northern Elders Forum, led by Prof. Ango Abdullahi, has expressed disappointment with the Northern Governors’ Forum for disowning the youth groups.
Abdullahi told newsmen in Zaria on Friday that it was hypocritical for the Igbos to continue to live in other parts of the country while agitating for Nigeria’s break-up.
While expressing his angst at the northern governors, Abdullahi said, “I am disappointed in the decision taken by Northern Governors’ Forum disowning and condemning the agitation by these 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?
“Recently, people from eastern part of this country, specifically Igbo, were busy calling for the Sovereign State of Biafra and from all indications their leaders, including governors, are behind them.”
According to Abdullahi, whoever feels Nigeria “is not conducive for him” should quit, adding that what the northern youth groups did was not a sin.
He lamented that none of the Northern governors reacted to the persistent call for the actualisation of Biafra and other agitations.
The spokesman said when Nnamdi Kanu was released on bail recently, over 100 vehicles escorted him to his residence, including big personalities from the South West and South East.
Abdullahi said: “This is somebody who has been agitating for the break-up of Nigeria, but his people were behind him, therefore, I am behind the youths.
“This is because the Northern youths are pushed to the wall; we have been calming them down in any event similar to this.”
Specifically the ultimatum appeared to have put into serious question the idea of a ‘monolithic North’ as the highest disapproval is coming from the people of the North central region, who questioned the idea of including them in the said ultimatum.
Also, Arewa Christian Youths and Middle Belt Youth Council, in condemning the quit order, said that they would no longer allow themselves to be used by the northern youths and elders. A statement signed the President of MBYC, Mr. Emma Zopmal, said that the Middle Belt is ready to receive the Igbo into their fold should the threat materialise.
Arewa Christian youths under the aegis of Arewa Christian & Indigenous Pastors Association (ACIPA), in a statement signed by Rev Luka Shehu, said, “We (ACIPA), join the 19 Northern States CAN and the Middle Belt Youth Council in condemning the press release by Arewa Youth Consultative Forum and the said coalition of northern groups, giving Igbos resident in the 19 Northern states three months, until 1st October, 2017 to leave the North.
ACIPA also called for the arrest and prosecution of the leader of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima, as well as his allies and sponsors just like was done proponents and agitators of Biafra.
“We wish to remind the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum and their so-called allies that, Nigeria is our common heritage. They have no right whatsoever to excise any other Nigerian from any part of the North. After all, it was the blood of our fathers and the Middle Belt soldiers that was sacrificed between 1967-1970 to keep Nigeria one. Their taste for blood and quest for booties cannot be assuaged this time. Like General Gowon, the hero of keeping Nigeria one, we also affirm that, “To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done”
The statement added, “Neither the proponents of Biafra nor the Arewa youths or any group religious or regional marauders can stop Nigeria from attaining her pre-destined greatness and glory as one of the greatest nations on earth. The will of Nigerians should not be tested by the security agencies whose leadership is dominated by Muslims from the North.
“We demand that the leader of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima, as well as his allies and sponsors like the proponents and agitators of Biafra should be immediately arrested and prosecuted for sedition by the Federal Government. Failure to prosecute Yerima Shettima, his allies and the sponsors of the divisive, dissenting, war-promoting and non-patriotic press release and directive will send a wrong signal to other nationalities,” ACIPA said.
Also the people of Southern Kaduna under the aegis of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, rose in unison to condemn the quit notice by the Arewa youths, saying that the mere notion of including them in such order without their consultation was a slap in their face.
A statement signed by the Public Relations Officer, Mr Yakubu Kuzamani, said that the youths did not speak the minds of majority of youths in the North.
The statement said, “On June 6, 2017, a coalition of groups describing themselves as “Northern Youths” came together and issued what they called ‘The Kaduna Declaration’. They issued a three-month ultimatum to all Igbos to leave the north while asking all northerners to also leave the South-East. The coalition served the Igbos its intention to “reclaim, assume and assert sole ownership and control of … landed” properties and assets owned by Igbos in Northern Nigeria. Interestingly and by implication, the group claimed to be speaking for the 19 Northern States of Nigeria. The alleged crime of the Igbos was their quest for secession.
“We in SOKAPU held back for a while to carefully study the national implication of that declaration, but we can say now without doubt that Section 41, Sub-section 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria very explicitly safeguards the rights of all Nigerians to reside in any part of the country with no hindrance whatsoever. The “Arewa Youths” that spoke lack the mandate to speak for all the people of the north, and, certainly, not for Southern Kaduna people. We insist that all Nigerians have the right to live and carry out legitimate affairs in all parts of the country.
“We unequivocally disassociate ourselves from the toxic fumes of hate and bigotry belched out against the Igbos without provocation by the so-called Arewa youths for the following reasons:
a. The lgbos did not in anyway offend Southern Kaduna People. We are a hospitable and accommodating people. We assure the Igbos that their property and assets (movable or immovable) in Southern Kaduna are secured, assured and guaranteed. The security of all Igbos in Southern Kaduna is guaranteed. We will continue to accommodate the Igbos and all persons of goodwill towards us irrespective of their primordial, ethnic or religious cleavages.
b. The expressed desire of the Igbos to have a separate country of their own is an inalienable right which has not in any way, in our opinion, translated into a crime or provocation to us in Southern Kaduna, the North or the Nigerian State.
c. The lgbos have so far in our estimation merely exercised their rights to gather and to protest peacefully. They exercised their constitutional rights to acquire property in the nooks and crannies of this country. These are not criminal actions.”
The people of Southern Kaduna said they were not consulted by the so-called Arewa groups before issuing the Kaduna Declaration despite the fact that Southern Kaduna is in the North West. They added, “The declarants, it appears clearly, do not see us as part of the North. None of the 53 ethnic nationalities of Southern Kaduna were consulted. Neither was SOKAPU, the umbrella body of the 53 ethnic nationalities of Southern Kaduna consulted. They have, it appears, excised us from the North. They have shown utter contempt and disregard for us as a people. They did not speak for us. Those making such calls threatening fire and brimstone on the Igbos have only served to poignantly demonstrate their bizarre nature.”