THEWILL Editorial: Northern Youths’ Threat To Igbos And The Restructuring Debate

SAN FRANCISCO, June 18, (THEWILL) – The three-month ultimatum handed on June 6, 2017 by a coalition of northern youths asking Igbo residents to be out of the North by October 1 has created tension and has pushed the country further to the precipice.

The quit notice has further compounded the threat to the continued existence of a united Nigeria, particularly at a time when the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, have heightened their calls for secession.

The Arewa youths had warned that come October 1, which coincides with Nigeria’s Independence Day, they will commence the implementation of “visible actions” to prove their resolve not to be part of a country that includes the Igbo.

They had also asked people of northern Nigeria descent currently residing in South-East to return home before the said date.

Unfortunately, the drums of war have been sounding louder since the ultimatum was issued by the apparently misguided youths. This has been further complicated by the recent reciprocal threat by a coalition of Niger Delta militants that the northerners should leave their region before October 1, or face attacks.

The readiness of Biafra apologists to heed the quit order and their intense demand for referendum to facilitate their exit from Nigeria is heightening fear of another civil war and the fragmentation of the country.

Worthy of note is Arewa’s threat to, upon the expiration of the ultimatum, begin a: “peaceful and safe mop-up of all the remnants of the stubborn Igbo that neglect to heed this quit notice to finally eject them from every part of the north”.

We do not believe that the peaceful sit-at-home action orchestrated by IPOB and MASSOB last month by the Igbo in remembrance of the declaration of Biafra “amount to a brutal encroachment on the rights of those termed as non-indigenous people residing and doing lawful businesses in those areas illegally demarcated and defined as Biafra by the Igbo,” as alleged by the Arewa youths.

It is curious that this seeming declaration of ‘war’ which the youth leaders called the ‘Kaduna Declaration’ appear to have received the backing of some prominent northern leaders, including Prof. Ango Abdullahi, who apparently defended them on behalf of the Northern Elders’ Forum, NEF.

While the northern governors and a few leaders condemned the anti-Igbo ultimatum, the continued silence of key traditional and other prominent northern leaders, in and out of government, appears to suggest that the thought of elders of the region found expression in the mouth of the youths.

THEWILL considers it scandalous that the police has failed to arrest the masterminds of this threat, despite the order by the Inspector-General of Police, as well as the Kaduna governor’s call for their detention and trial.

We however commend the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for swinging into action by holding consultations with leaders of thought in the North and the South-East with a view to making sure that the threat does not see the light of the day.

However that some Nigerians can seek to restrict the freedom of movement of other citizens in defiance of the Constitution and constituted authority indicates that all is not well with the nation. It then makes it expedient for the final report of the 2014 National Conference to be pulled from the shelves where it has been filed away by the presidency.

THEWILL commends the Senate, which after a thorough debate on the state of the union requested the Presidency to forward to it the 2014 Confab report for deliberation. This is the most auspicious thing to do to assuage the discontent of citizens with the present system and make for an inclusive society.

The United Nation’s role is critical in this regard, especially with the statement credited to the Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, calling “for tolerance and a spirit of togetherness in transparency to address the concerns of all the citizens in a peaceful manner.”

THEWILL urges those asking the Igbos to quit their communities to direct their energy towards supporting the call for the restructuring of Nigeria as that would make the country more enduring.

It makes no sense for Nigeria as a country to always condemn xenophobic attacks in South Africa only for Nigerians to exhibit xenophobia towards their fellow countrymen.

Now that the eviction notice has brought to the fore the depth of division among citizens, THEWILL advocates that all hands must be on deck to unite the nation, and one sure way to actualise this is by working for the much-needed restructuring of the federation.

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