As the debate on national question continues, a coalition of Igbo professionals in Nigeria and the Diaspora under the aegis of Igbo Ekunie Initiative, has called on the Federal Government to organise a referendum to determine the continuity of the country as a united entity.
In a letter addressed to the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, which was also a reaction to the previous letter written by the Arewa youth to the acting president, the Igbo group urged the presidency to, as a matter of urgency, pass a motion that will allow all sections of the nation campaign for, and hold a referendum to freely determine if they want to remain in Nigeria or not.
In the letter, president of the group, Tochukwu Ezeoke, noted that the motion would serve as a final, peaceful and civilized settlement of the ever-increasing contradictions and bloodletting that has long plagued the nation.
While the tone of the letter commended the Acting President for his statesmanship approach to resolving long-standing issues in the nation, the group disagreed with Osinbajo’s position that Nigeria is an indivisible, indissoluble entity saying, “History has revealed that no nation is indivisible or indissoluble.”
The group goes ahead to fault the threat issued by the Arewa youth, saying, “Nigeria remain subject to international laws particularly the United Nation’s Charter, which recognized the inalienable rights of all groups and indigenous groups to self-determination.”
The letter reads: “While we appreciate the belated recognition of this fundamental rights by the North, we are amused that Arewa youths only just discovered the existence of this right.
“The right to self-determination is a fundamental; integral to the UN since it was founded in 1945. In recognition of this fact, we hope Arewa youths will now have the humility to apologise for the illegal war waged against Biafra, which was abinitio, a repudiation of international laws on self-determination they now acknowledge.”
Igbo Ekunie Initiative also said it hopes the north would apologize for all the incarcerated and murdered members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), ‘whose only crime was the peaceful expression or non-violent demonstrations for their right to self-determination as recognised by the UN and African Union (AU) charters.”
According to the Igbo group, “The quit notice issued by Arewa youths demonstrates the ignorance and consequent failure to realize that residency rights like property rights as governed by international law transcend citizenship.
“Thus Nigerians live in Ghana, America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere even without being citizens. Likewise, British citizens living in other parts of the EU have not left because of ‘Brexit’. “The ongoing developments in the country have once again shown why Nigeria remains the dreg of humanity and a failed state where basic indices of civilization and rule of law are absent.”
Meanwhile, the Spokesman of Lagos Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Taofik Gani has said that it is imperative of Igbo elders to come out and speak emphatically on the struggle for self-determination like Yoruba elders had done by calling for restructuring.
Gani, who declared that he spoke “as a Nigerian and not party man” said rather than Igbo elders allowing their younger ones like Nnamdi Kanu and Raphel Uwazurike and others, who he said know little or nothing about the Nigerian civil war to lead the agitation “Igbo elders should put the agitation for restructuring and self-actualisation in proper context like the Yoruba elders are doing.”
He also said the Igbo nation has benefited immensely in the Nigeria context on the aggregate, having severally occupied higher political positions. According to him, “There is no ethnic group in this nation, apart from the Hausa Fulani, that is not complaining of marginalization, but that is not enough to call for secession, the way the likes of Kanu and Uwazurike have conducted themselves in the recent past.”
Gani, who belongs to the Senator Ahmed Makarfi faction of the PDP, also cautioned some Yoruba leaders, who were showing solidarity support for Igbo saying, “I am not in anyway in support of the domination of one ethnic nationality by another in this country but the record must be put in proper perspectives. For how long will other ethnic nationalities fold their arms and remain calm watching the excesses of the IPOB and MASSOB in the manner they conducted themselves in the last two years?
“I think that was what triggered the reaction and ultimatum of the Arewa youths. For instance, could it be that the Igbo people really love the Yoruba that is currently showing solidarity to them over the northerners’ ultimatum? The answer is no. If it is true Kanu said categorically that any Igbo man that attended a church headed or pastor by a Yoruba man is a bastard, then something is amiss. If he were truly committed to the struggle of self-determination, he wouldn’t have made such a comment.”