SAN FRANCISCO, June 27, (THEWILL) – Elder statesmen from southern Nigeria have met under the auspices of ‘The Yiiegba Charter’, with a call on the Nigerian government to urgently constitute a committee to commence the processes that will culminate to restructuring the country, or else risk losing the nation altogether.
The Meeting, according to the organisers, was in reaction to the tension in the country and the threat to national unity, particularly with the October 1, 2017 quit notice to Igbo in the North by a coalition of Arewa youths. The leaders said they were looking into the options on the table and strategising on the best moves in achieving peace, equity among the different ethnic nationalities within the country.
While dismissing agitations for Nigeria’s disintegration and secession, they resolved to treat the eviction notice handed Igbos by the Arewa youths as the entire Southern verses Northern Nigeria rather than reducing it to a contention between the North and South-East.
This was the assertion of the new coalition of prominent southern leaders after a meeting held at the Ikoyi, Lagos residence of Prof. Pat Utomi on Tuesday. The meeting had leaders from the South-East, South-South and South-West regions in attendance.
The meeting was co-chaired by the duo of former Vice President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Prof. Anya O. Anya and former Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr. Christopher Kolade.
It had in attendance, among several others, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, General Ike Nwachukwu (retd), Afenifere chieftains; Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, Chief Amos Akingba, Senator Ebenezer Ikeyima, Mrs. Grace Chugbo.
While speaking against the backdrop of the sustained clamour for secession by the South-east, the threatening quit notice issued the Igbos by northern youths, Anya stated that the people of the southern part of Nigeria are more united to forge a common front to collectively protect the interest of the region, stressing that the meeting that lasted over four hours was in the bid to arrive at what he called a new Nigeria.
“We want to explore that has to be explored in order to prepare for a new Nigeria that is to come. A Nigeria that is fair to all, peaceful, with justice available to all; all Nigerians should get food. We prepare for a country that cares about its people so that all the great things under our grounds can be used for the good of everybody,” he said.
He also eulogised ex-military president, Ibrahim Babangida and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for supporting the growing call for restructuring Nigeria, saying: “I thank my younger brother, Atiku and former military Heads of State, Yakubu Gowon and Ibrahim Babangida for lending their voices to the demand of Nigerian to restructure Nigeria. Because of such heavy voices, we can say half the battle has been won”.
Kolade on his part said the elders in the South are using the medium to put their experiences to work in ensuring that Nigeria does not split and that the country achieves it full potential in oneness.
“We know that the condition in the country causes the occasional disturbances in our midst. All kinds of things have been said that point to implication on our oneness. Building this medium is the best way to go. Elders, by their experiences, they can say this is the best thing we should do.
“This is a think-tank effort to make sure that we do not do something that will defeat the true objectives of the founding fathers of Nigeria. It is a platform to work together. We are not looking at religion, political affiliation or ethnicity. We must work together to build a new Nigeria,” Kolade stressed.
Among those at that meeting were Afenifere leaders such as General Alani Akinrinade (retd.), Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Senator Femi Okunrounmu. President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, and leaders from the South-South, including one of the region’s vocal activist, Tony Uranta, were also at the meeting.
Thereafter, the meeting, in a communiqué signed by leaders from the three geopolitical zones, called for concrete steps to be taken on the implementation of the 2014 National Conference report before October 1, 2017.