Return home now, Afenifere tells Southerners


Following the October 1  ultimatum issued by Arewa Youths Forum to the people of South-East origin living in the northern parts of the country to leave the region, the apex Yoruba socio-cultural organisation , Afenifere, has called on  all Southerners  resident there to start returning home.

Rising from an emergency meeting   held by the group to discuss   the  state of  the nation  in  Lagos on Thursday, Afenifere said all Southerners should see the quit notice not as meant for  Igbo people alone, but the rest of their  counterparts from the region.

Afenifere chieftain, Senator Femi Okurounmu who was present at the meeting  told  Saturday Sun that the quit notice by the Arewa youths  should  be taken serious  in view of historical experience.

“This quit notice   by the northern youths should not be seen by any wise Southerner as being meant for only people from the South-East, or that it is an empty threat. These northern youths meant business, and not only that, they have the  backing of the northern elders, who have  not only expressed their  support for the youths, but have also affirmed their   backing for the quit notice given to the South-Easterners. These Northerners  should not be underrated, and one of the major reasons we are insisting that all Southerners should start coming back to the South now is that when these attacks on them begin, the Northerners will attack all Southerners. How are they going to   be   separate a Yoruba from Igbo? It is going to be difficult. Southerners shouldn’t be  gullible. They should  start coming home now. They should not wait until the end of  the ultimatum. We don’t want   a repeat of 1966-1967 pogrom, when  hundreds  of  people of Southern origin, especially those   from the  South-East were massacred in  the North.

Okurounmu further said that  Southerners   should not be deceived by the   arrest order on the Arewa  youths by the Inspector-General of Police, Idris Ibrahim and Kaduna State governor Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, saying such order was only meant to give Nigerians the impression that  action was being taken to rein in the youths.

‘‘Have these Arewa youths  not  been walking the streets free since the Inspector-General of Police and Governor  el-Rufai ordered their arrest? The IG is a hypocrite. When crisis broke out in Osun State recently among  some Hausa and Yoruba  youths, is it not this same IG that immediately under 24 hours of the crisis sent mobile policemen to arrest Yoruba youths, while he left out his Hausa kinsmen?  Why  is the IG now  unable to arrest these Hausa-Fulani youths who issued the quit notice? We are just deceiving ourselves, there is no justice in Nigeria. When an Hausa-Fulani man  kills another Nigerian, he has not committed an offence, but when another Nigerian kills Hausa-Fulani man, he has committed an offence and must be punished. That is the Nigeria of   today for you’’, he remarked.

However, if Nigeria wants to break up, so be it, let it break up, if it wants to break up. Nigeria will not be the first country to break up . The defunct Soviet Union broke up, heavens did not fall, defunct Czechoslovakia broke up, heavens didn’t fall, and even in Africa, recently Southern  Sudan broke away from Sudan and heavens didn’t fall. So, what’s the big deal if Nigeria breaks up?  It is not compulsory that Nigerians should live together by force. 

On its own part, Yoruba Unity Forum expressed concern over the development, describing the quit notice as not only provocative, but also a shameful act.

The forum, in a statement issued by its  Secretary-General, Senator Anthony Adefuye,  called for the immediate prosecution of   the Arewa youths.

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