From the Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation Ohanaeze Ndigbo came, on Friday, a charge to Southeast youths: stop the violence.
The group said there is nothing to celebrate in violence. It was reacting to the spate of violence in the zone which has seen gunmen kill, maim and burn government facilities. But Ohanaeze asked the Federal Government to conduct urgent in-depth investigation into the destruction of lives and property in the region by security agents.
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It said the clampdown was unacceptable and warned of the consequences of human rights violations for the country.
However, some Igbo youths said the geo-political zone would not bow to any act of intimidation.President-General of Ohanaeze, Dr. George Obiozor, told journalists in Enugu that Ndigbo would neither support the break-up of Nigeria nor become victims of Nigeria’s unity.
Obiozor, a former Ambassador to the United States of America, described as unfortunate the implications of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent statement on the civil war.
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He said: “The last time I checked or heard a President speak of shock and awe, it was reserved for the enemy, not the citizens.”
Buhari had said earlier in the week that “many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Biafra war. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
Obiozor appealed to Igbo youths involved in violence to have a rethink. He said: “I strongly advise them that there is nothing to celebrate in violence. We cannot change our lots and situations by steering and provoking hatred amongst ourselves, raining insults and abuses on ourselves and declaring war against those who disagree with your own ideas and approach to resolving our common problems.
“What good does it do to us in the destruction of government institutions and facilities, most of which were built by our own people and donated to the government for our own benefit and the general good of the society? I appeal to Igbo youths to kindly avoid violence in spite of all provocations. We know how aggrieved we all are, but peace options are the best.
“Ohanaeze once more urges the Federal Government to reconsider the use of force in resolving the present national crises. Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide considers it imperative on the part of the Federal Government to conduct urgent in depth investigations on the destruction of lives and property in the Southeast.”
Obiozor, who condemned the level of extra-judicial killing of innocent Igbo youths by security agents in the Southeast, reiterated that history shows that military and violent means to solve the national problem often lead to national fractionalization, anarchy- and eventual or inevitable disintegration.
He regretted that Nigeria has “a history of crises and continuity as well as creative use of crises as means of solving our national political problems whenever we are near the brinks of catastrophy. In the recent past, we have had NADECO, Niger Delta militants and Boko Haram insurgency.”
Ohanaeze told the federal government to realise and be confident enough that no secessionist forces can defeat Nigeria, adding “the present situation in the country will soon be history. This too shall pass.”
He added: “Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide calls for a dialogue to resolve the present national crises. The Federal Government should acknowledge that because of the reality of Nigerian irresistible pluralism, it is always preferable to go for dialogue instead of force. Majority of Nigerians prefer unity to secession or separatism. They want justice, pace, equity and fairness. The golden rule of do unto others what you would like done unto you, that is complementarity and inclusive governance.
“In fact, a brief glance at Nigerian society, there is no shortage of villains among our political elites. But like many societies a deeper look into Nigeria, you will see that the country’s political heroes still exist, though the villains may noisily dominate the political space.
Consequently, to secure Nigeria, to develop Nigeria and to have peace, the Federal Government should immediately engage all Nigerian groups through their various leaders in an urgent dialogue.“Dialogue is what patriotic Nigerians, Nigerian well wishers/ admirers and the international community is now expecting of Nigerian leadership to resolve the present national crises, and not military action. It is time for peaceful action and dialogue; not war and destruction.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo calls on the Federal Government to take note of the ongoing human rights violations in the South East zone. We must beware of its international consequences and domestic implications in our ability to heal the Nigerian nation. Nigeria is at a crossroads of its history and destiny. Let wisdom prevail.”
Speaking on the May 30 sit-at-home recently observed in the South East, Obiozor said Ohanaeze Ndigbo was in support of the South East governors’ declaration of public holiday on May 30 as Biafra day.”
He maintained that for Ndigbo and most Africans, a time to mourn or remember the dead is traditionally a solemn occasion. “It is imperative and proper for Ndigbo to remember Ndigbo and others who died across the country, either in the genocide or civil war in Nigeria from 1967 to 1970.
Photo Credit: Getty