Mutual suspicion threatening Nigeria – Ezeife
The entire South has resolved to work together – Adebanjo
Leave choice of President to politicians – ACF
Biafra, Oduduwa alliance mutually beneficial – MASSOB
There are strong indications that the leadership of prominent sociocultural groups, Afenifere, Ohanaeze and others in the South are forging a common political alliance to strategise and present a formidable front ahead of the 2019 elections. A pointer in this direction was the strategic meeting, penultimate week, between the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by its President- General, Dr. Nnia Nwodo, and its Yoruba counterpart, Afenifere, with Chief Ayo Adebanjo standing in for the leader, Chief R.F Fasoranti.
Competent sources said they have formed a broader socio-political platform, under the Southern Nigerian Peoples Assembly, comprising all cluster groups in the entire South and have held meetings with top politicians in the region to extract a commitment in this regard to avoid the short-changes of the 2015 elections.
Present at the meeting between Ohanaeze and Afenifere, penultimate week, was Dr. Nwodo, who led a powerful delegation of Ohanaeze leaders like the Deputy President General of Ohanaeze, Mr. Hillary Opara; Vice-President General for Delta State, Dr. Sylvanus Ebigwei; Vice-President General for Anambra State, Mr. Charles Odunukwe; Chief Guy Ikoku, and Chief Ben Onwughalu.
Besides Adebanjo, the Ohanaeze team was met by the Afenifere’s Political Committee Chairman, Prof. Banji Akintoye; Chairman of Committee on Restructuring, Dr. Amos Akingba; National Treasurer; Chief Supo Sonibare and its spokesman, Yinka Odumakin.
Chief Adebanjo said though the earlier meeting afforded the opportunity to rub minds on many issues of common interest, the entire South, under the aegis of the Southern Nigerian Peoples Assembly – the group of southern extraction – has resolved to work together to project common interests within Nigeria, and to also advance discussions towards 2019 and beyond.
Speaking on the imperatives of the strategy, former governor of old Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, said the “darkness and mutual suspicion between the Igbo and Yoruba were responsible for all the negatives which are threatening Nigeria with disintegration.” He said the two groups are the landlords of Nigeria and must therefore collaborate for mutual success.
“Some time ago, some leaders came up with the philosophy of handshake across the Niger, but that was not followed through with the kind of strength and urgency it deserved. That was why the Igbos and Yorubas have become Lilliputians in this political system, and have continued to bear negative impositions.
“Hence, there is the need to come together, and the two organisations have started taking the lead, which has prompted some people to say that in Nwodo, the Igbos finally have a leader. He said the Igbo need the Yoruba and vice versa, hence the need to get together if Nigeria must survive.
Though he initially said 2019 was a separate issue altogether, he added that there is no way this country can live together if the Igbo are swept aside again.
“There is a connection and it is necessary, because 2019 will strengthen it. The moment these two groups are together, there will be other natural alliances because as the Igbo, Yoruba and the South-South people are beginning to understand themselves, things will get better.”
Speaking on the areas of common interests, Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said: “The most fundamental is about the restructuring of the country because virtually all the problems both nationalities face in Nigeria have to do with the structure of the country and there are lots of symptoms of the major disease.”
He added “For instance, you have the tension in the country, where we have not lived in peace; where you have herdsmen killing farmers here and there and the rest of them – all these boil down to the structure of the country and we are both strong in our resolve that it is an urgent issue that we should deal with as quickly as possible so that we can put Nigeria back on track.”
Corroborating the move, an Ohanaeze chieftain, who was at the meeting, Dr. Guy Ikokwu, said: “As of today, the whole South has a common agenda. That common agenda is that Nigeria must move forward, and in order to move Nigeria forward, the country has to be restructured.
“We are not the only ones saying this. The Middle Belt is saying it and the North- East too. The other day, Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President, said that Nigeria must restructure and move forward. And he just held a meeting with IBB, which we all read in the papers. So, the whole deal is that Nigeria will become a great country once again, but the methodology is another thing.”
Ibrahim said that the forum had at different times met with both the leaderships of Afenifere and Ohaneze Ndigbo where all three groups reaffirmed the unity of Nigeria.
The leadership of the Biafra Independent Movement (BIM) and Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) described the alliance between Ohanaeze and Afenifere as progressive and proactive.
MASSOB spokesman, Chief Sunny Okoroafor, described the consultation between the two sociocultural groups as needful and mutually beneficial.
Okoroafor said: “The move is a welcome departure from what used to be the norm in the past where the Ohanaeze leadership would reach out to the Federal Government for all the wrong reasons and end up being paid and funded to antagonize the legitimate struggle for self determination of our people.
They shut their eyes to all the acts of subjugation, injustice and impunity meted out on our people.” Okoroafor urged the Chief Nnia Nwodo-led Ohanaeze Ndigbo, to also reach out to the people of the South-South, stressing that the South-South is home to a lot of Biafrans.