Governors of the South-East Governors have demanded adequate protection for the lives and properties people of Igbo extraction living in any part of the country and called on Northern leaders to speak against the divisive rhetoric being used by youths in the North.
The governors made their position known in a statement signed by Mr. David Umahi, Chairman, South-East Governors’ Forum (SEGF). The statement, issued on Friday, was in response to the order given by a 16-member coalition of Northern youth groups that Igbo people living in the Northern part of the country should return to their home states by 1 October and that Northerners living in the South-East should do the same of the stated date. The SEGF, which described the order as provocative and injurious to the corporate existence of the country, said the lives and property of Igbo in any part of the country must be guaranteed and defended.
“The lives and property of law-abiding citizens of Igbo extraction are as precious as the lives and property of all Nigerians, irrespective of the region of their abode within this Republic. These must be guaranteed and defended against all forms of threat and aggression, both domestic and external, by the security forces/agencies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the statement said.
The governors added that they have been collaborating with the security agencies to ensure that non-Igbo people living in the South-East, including Northerners, are adequately protected from harm.
In addition, they called on well-meaning Nigerians, especially Northern religious, leaders of socio-cultural groups in the North and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to speak out against the incendiary utterances and conduct of Northern youths.
“The ugly lessons of history are too grim to be stoked with carelessness. As leaders, we must exert the full measure of our powers and influence to forestall a repetition,” stated the SEGF.
The forum called on Igbo people living in the North to go about their engagements without fear. It also dismissed, as false, claims being made in the traditional and on social media platforms South-East governors have agreed to mobilize vehicles and cash to move Igbo people out of the North.
“They are nothing but tissues of lies. No amount of provocation would lead us to such a precipitate and irresponsible action at this time. Those exploiting such vacuous tittle-tattle as a basis for divisive rhetoric in public spaces are simply playing juvenile politics and we urge them to cease and desist,” the governors said.
The SEGF thanked the Presidency, Senate President, governors of Kaduna and Borno states, Arewa Consultative Forum, Afenifere and others who declaimed the Northern youths’ threat to the Igbo. Their action, said the South-East governors, underscored the unity and oneness of the country.
The governors equally restated their commitment to the continued existence of the country as a single entity ruled by mutual respect and equality of opportunity to all citizens regardless of creed, ethnicity or gender. “We have had occasion recently to take this position publicly in response to the agitative, but peaceful actions of some Igbo youth. We will continue to take a similar stance in response to any action that might threaten the cohesiveness of this nation or designed to cause its rupture,” they stated.