The Chairman of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya yesterday vowed that the Igbos would not leave the northern part of the country insisting that every Nigerian is free to live and do legitimate business in any part of the country he wishes.
In a related development, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday said it was taking measures to check the spread of agitations and other activities that threaten Nigeria’s unity, while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) remarked that the clamour for restructuring could no longer be wished away .
Eze Ilomuanya spoke in Owerri, Imo State, at two different events while receiving Ohaneze Ndigbo Youth Council (OYC), Imo State branch and Association for Media Communication Development, which conferred on him, “Distinguished Royal Father-Award” for exemplary conduct and leadership.
He cautioned youths in the North against threatening the unity of the country by inflammatory and divisive utterances to avoid igniting ethnic conflagration.
“Nigerians are one irrespective of our ethnic-religious, linguistic and tribal diversities. We must preach peace and unity as a way out of any serious problem or challenge facing us as a nation,” he said.
He stressed that anybody advocating for anything that would lead to disunity is unpatriotic.
“The socio-economic and political setback associated with disintegration is too enormous to be ignored,” he cautioned.
Eze Ilomuanya praised Nigerians who had spoken in condemnation of the eviction threat.
He said Igbos had contributed to the socio-economic and political development of Nigeria and “cannot be treated as second class citizens anywhere in the country.”
APC: We Are Working to Check Agitations
Meanwhile, the APC says it is taking measures to check the spread of agitations and other activities that threaten Nigeria’s unity.
The party said it views the wave of agitations across the nation as an ill-wind and must be stopped.
Speaking to journalists late Thursday night shortly after a meeting of the party leadership and governors elected on the APC platform, the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun said the leaders also passed a vote of confidence on the ailing President Muhammed Buhari, describing his state of health as encouraging.
“We discussed issues affecting the nation and the impact of the current agitations across the country. On each of these, we decided to strengthen the party. We decided that the kind verbiage and incendiary statements by different groups are not good for the health of the nation and we decided that it had to stop,” he said.
On what the party and the federal government intends to do to stop the agitations, Oyegun said: “We will take certain measures, which I will not disclose here to ensure that the basic and fundamental unity of this country is preserved while at the same time listening to whatever grievances anybody has to say.”
On the party’s position over the continued absence of the President due to ill-health, Oyegun said they are optimistic that the President would soon be back to assume duties.
“We are glad to inform you that he (Buhari) is recovering in a very robust manner. We hope he takes it easy when he comes back.”
Delta Royal Fathers Back Calls for Restructuring
In a related development, the calls for restructuring of Nigeria by some people received a boost yesterday, with members of the Delta State Council of Traditional Rulers expressing support for the proposition.
The royal fathers in an-eight point communiqué at the end of their meeting in Asaba, urged the federal government to dust up reports and recommendations of past National Conferences in order to draw up modalities for the restructuring within the shortest time possible.
The communiqué read by the Chairman of the Council, who is the Obi of Owa Kingdom, Dr. Emmanuel Efeizomor II, noted that restructuring remained the panacea to the various agitations from different parts of the country, stressing that the strength of the nation remains in her diversity.
The Delta State royal fathers appealed to Nigerians to preach peace and engage in acts capable of promoting unity and indivisibility of the country.
They commended the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo for his peace overtures to certain aggrieved Nigerians, calling on the people to support the federal government in the effort to achieve cohesion among the diverse ethnic Nationalities in the country.
Dialogue on Restructuring Inevitable, Says PDP
The Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the PDP yesterday said that the current agitation for restructuring of the country could no longer be wished away.
Speaking on a television programme, Makarfi said what needed to be done, and urgently too, is to bring the various entities that make up the country to a dialogue table to define the form and terms of the restructuring.
He said the PDP viewed the current agitations as something that could be resolved through dialogue, by identifying the real issues in contention.
“There is nothing wrong with restructuring but it means different things to different people. You don’t sit on the table and decide things. You need to seek a common basis and understanding on restructuring, what is it that you need to restructure, Makarfi said.
Nigeria’s strength lies in her diversity, US tells separatists
Apparently responding to the wave of agitations for the fragmentation of the country, the United States Ambassador Stuart Symington has called on all Nigerians irrespective of tribe and region to do everything possible to preserve the nation’s unity stressing that “Nigeria’s strength lies in its diversity”.
Symington, who made the call for Nigeria’s unity to be sustained on Thursday evening in Abuja, at an event held to commemorate the 241st anniversary of the independence of the United States said Nigeria “is blessed with visionary and dedicated leaders” and expressed confidence that the country was capable of facing and overcoming her challenges.
While stating that both the United States and Nigeria share incredible diversity as nations, he admonished Nigerians to see their differences and diversity as sources of strength and a reason for pride.
Reflecting on how the U. S was able to use her diversity in preserving her unity, Symington gave credit to foremost American leaders, whom he described as resilient, visionary and committed to ensuring justice for all, adding that with such leaders and equal commitment from the citizenry, Nigeria was capable of achieving the same feat.
“Today, Nigeria is fortunate to have such leaders and citizens. Together, they are dedicated to keeping Nigeria united and to ensuring every Nigerian is heard and taken into account and treated fairly,” he said. The ambassador said that the anniversary was an opportunity to underscore how much Americans shared with Nigerians.
“We share families, friends, interests, and principles. All across this land, from Birnin Kebbi to Calabar, from Maiduguri to Badagry, Nigerians have welcomed me warmly and showed me the wonders of this country and its people.
“In almost every place, I have also met Americans whose lives are dedicated to their work with and for Nigerians. Private sector employees and public servants alike, they work here in business and IT, agriculture and energy, health and education and civil society and justice, and they work to conserve Nigeria’s iconic natural beauty and stunning biodiversity,” he said.
In his response, Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama commended the smooth relations between the two countries, noting that the United States had been supportive in implementing policies and programmes that had impacted positively on the lives of Nigerians.
Onyeama, who was represented by Ambassador Vivian Okeke, Director, American and Caribbean Division in the ministry, said: “We are encouraged by the U.S. and wished to also reaffirm our strong commitment to the promotion of strong democratic values such as good governance, rule of law, freedom of expression and promotion of justice, to which U.S. remained a strong advocate.”
He expressed confidence that the long existing relationship between Nigeria and U.S. would be sustained, adding that the strong bonds of relationship between the two countries was evident in the broad-based cooperation as well as enduring private partnership founded on the shared values of democracy, respect for human rights and rule of law.
“It is therefore heartwarming that our bilateral relations have transcended political relations into strong economic and social partners. Today, Nigeria is a major trading partner of America in Sub Saharan Africa and America has continued to play its role as a trusted and reliable friend of Nigeria,” he said.
By Amby Uneze in Owerri, Alex Enumah and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Clipped from: THISDAY