Contrary to the widely held impression that Ndigbo of the south east geopolitical zone were craving for secession from Nigeria, the people have said they would remain in a united Nigeria. They posited that their fore-fathers fought for independence of Nigerian, stressing that their stake in the Nigerian project was higher just as they would not leave their “house”. The people’s resolve which was made known through the Youth Council of Ohaneze Ndigbo, the apex socio-cultural body of all Igbos worldwide came on the heels of lingering protests for the realization of Biafra Republic and the detention of the Director of Radio Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu by the federal government.
At a world press conference in Abuja on Friday, the Youth Council represented by its national president Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro and the Secretary General, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike amongst others appealed to president Mohammadu Buhari to consider the pleas of the people and release Kanu from detention to the elders of the land to further caution him. Giving reasons for the agitation, the Ohaneze leaders stated that the south east and south south had suffered political and infrastructural neglects, advising that the rehabilitation of moribund coal companies, dilapidated roads and job creation would take the minds of the people away from protests. Reading the speech jointly signed by them, the national president advocated referendum and dialogue as most legitimate ways universally acknowledged to achieve any desired objectives instead of protests. They revealed that in the spirit of oneness, they have reached out to Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Saa”d 111, Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and prominent Obas in the south west to further broker peace among the ethic nationalities. While cautioning Kanu against hate broadcast, Isiguzoro pledged that the development would be history once the detainee was released to the leaders of Ohaneze. He also warned the security agents against using live bullets and ammunitions to disperse protesters. He said: “You will recall that for some months now, there have been raging protests in the south east and south south over the detention of the Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu. These protests have led to the death of some protesters in Anambra, Abia and other states. We are saddened by these avoidable deaths. “We as the youth of Ndigbo will be shirking in our responsibility and duty if we fail to state our position, opinion and suggestions on the way forward to this burning issue. “In the first place, we believe in a united Nigeria anchored on justice and equity. We believe that all problems and issue in Nigeria can be solved through dialogue and redoubtable discussion. “We are conscious of the poverty and youth unemployment ravaging the country and the south east in particular. We are also aware of her infrastructural challenges and deficiencies in igboland. These may have contributed to the rage for a neo-Biafra as an escapee route. “But it is our considered opinion that there is now an element of fame and fortune seeking in the while exercise. The euphoria and frenzy in the whole issue can be rechanneled to an insistence for equity, level playing field and justice for all Nigerians. “Ndigbo have a lot of stake in Nigeria. In fact, they have the largest stake in Nigeria. Their forebears fought for the independence of Nigeria. In fact, Igbos are Nigeria’s landlord and a landlord cannot leave his house for tenants. Who is more Nigerian than Igbos who constitute the second largest group after the indigenous people of every state in Nigeria? How can we swim in Imo River rather than Atlantic Ocean? Do we realize that more than eighty percent of Igbo investments are outside Igbo land? “However, we also hold the federal government responsible for not doing enough for our youths. If there is strong federal presence in the zone, our youths will see Biafra as an alternative and fortune and fame seekers will not capitalize on that to hoodwink our gullible youths. “We therefore want to appeal to the federal government to release Nnamdi Kanu. However, he (Kanu) should not continue with hate or inciting broadcast from Radio Biafra if he is released. There is now a civilized way of even seeking for self determination and that is referendum. It is a better option that hate broadcast and protest. “We call on security agents not to use force and live bullets in tackling the challenges in the south east and south South. Dialogue remains the best option.” The Council did not also spare some Igbo leaders who they said were shortchanging the people of the south east at the Centre. “What efforts have pro-Biafran protesters made to inquire how our political office holders spend the money that accrue to Igboland from the center? We believe most of our problems are caused by our political leaders who often pocket the money that accrue to our area”, he said. Reminded that Nigerian constitution did not recognize referendum, the leaders urged the National Assembly to start the process of amending the constituent to accommodate it, pointing that they resorted to referendum having seen it was the most civilized way of resolving dispute such as secession. “Referendum is a civilized way. Wether it is in our constitution or not, it is most reasonable way of approaching the issue. We urge the national assembly to accommodate referendum in the constitution”, the Council said.