By Alex Ogbonnia
The attention of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has been drawn to the front page report by the Daily Trust of Friday, December 16, 2022 to the effect that the ‘Coordinator of the Northern Consensus Forum, Dr Auwal Abdullahi Aliyu,’ and others have ‘directed commodity traders and truck drivers to shun the South East of Nigeria over incessant killings of their members by members of the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB)’, adding that ‘they have declared three days’ warning strike due to the constant killing of the northerners in the South East’.
In the first place, it is a lie from the pit of hell that ‘not less than 100 northerners were murdered in the South East within last week’. Second, the said Dr Aliyu has not been in the picture among the Northern leaders resident in the South East and as such is not in position to speak on the relationship between the Northerners and the people of the South East.
One begins to imagine the very intendment of the purveyor of such a false, mendacious and devilish alarm that ‘not less than 100 northerners have been killed in the South East within last week.
An introspection will reveal the damage caused on the image of Nigeria among the comity of nations that 100 persons are killed in one week. Apart from the negative image to Nigeria, such unverified front page report is a breach on the duties and civic responsibilities expected of a national daily such as the Daily Trust.
Investigative journalism suggests that both the number of persons killed and the locations where they were killed should have been indicated in the report by the Daily Trust. Unfortunately, Aliyu inadvertently reduced the worth of a Nigerian to that of a chicken that could be slaughtered in hundreds within a week. The onus lies on Aliyu to locate the corpses of the said 100 persons.
Evidently, such false alarm is a security threat capable of causing pandemonium across the country. Going further, is there any other group, among the diverse groups in Nigeria, that has come up with a claim of killings by the IPOB? And many more questions that ordinarily will compel the security agents to interrogate the said coordinator of the Northern Consensus Forum, Dr Auwal Abdullahi Aliyu, and adequate measures taken to serve as a deterrent to other alarmists.
There is no gainsaying the relentless efforts of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the clergy, traditional rulers and indeed all the well- meaning Igbo about the adverse consequences of youth restiveness in the South East. We have in that trepidation repeatedly called on the president and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, to come to our aid by adopting a political solution to the agitations by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
We note with sadness that various forms of insecurity, such as banditry, kidnapping, and herders-farmers’ clash have come to define our daily lives. We hold the view that while some aspects of the insecurity in Nigeria are amorphous, the IPOB are a known group that can be negotiated out of the present socio-economic quagmire.
For the avoidance of doubt, the alarmist publication in question is politically motivated to create mistrust between the North and the South. It is important to inform the ‘new-breed’ chauvinists that the Igbo friendliness, hospitality and cosmopolitanism have often found profound expressions in diverse inter-ethnic relations in Nigeria.
For instance, a Fulani man from Sokoto Caliphate, Mallam Umaru Altine, was in 1952 elected as the first Mayor of the City of Enugu, the heartbeat of the Igbo nation. He contested for a second term and won and remained in office till 1958. Also in 1959, the Igbo, led by Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, supported Alhaji Tafawa Balewa to become the prime minister of Nigeria.
Furthermore, the Igbo led by Dr Alex Ekwueme supported Alhaji Shehu Shagari to become the President of Nigeria in 1979; also to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, 2007 and in 2015, a group of Igbo led by Dr Chris Ngige, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, among others, supported incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
In 2019, even the PDP elements in authority contrived what they called mandatory 25 percent to Buhari. Apart from the democratic dispensations, the South East were obliged to the military heads of state such as GenYakubu Gowon, Gen Murtala Mohammed, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, Gen Sani Abacha and Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar, all from the North.
It is therefore curious that the first time an Igbo, Mr Peter Obi, is gaining unprecedented authentic national and international endorsements based on his outstanding performance credentials, to the leadership of the country, instead of a moral appeal to justice, equity and reflective mutual reciprocity, some crisis entrepreneurs are sowing the seeds of discord and deep mistrust between the North and the South East.
The Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide led by Ambassador Professor George Obiozor lays no pretensions to the insecurity in the South East of Nigeria but frowns at any form of mischief that incites the North against the South East. In other words, the likes of Aliyu are drawn to a recent remark by Sarkin Hausawa or the leader of the Northerners in Enugu State, Alhaji Abubakar Sambo.
Speaking on the cordial relationship between the Northerners and their Igbo host, Sambo enthused, “I can confidently tell you that we have a strong bond and that we feel like a part of the government. Yes, we have a lot of representatives in various committees in the state government. The first is the most powerful committee that the governor has given so much attention and commitment to financially, morally and what have you – that is the Enugu State Security and Peace Committee. The committee has been in existence since the inception of this current government and we’ve been working. In that committee, I happen to be a member and there are about 10 other northerners in that committee. We have the representatives of the commissioner of police, the director of SSS, commissioner for justice and attorney general of the state who comes in person’.
The above Sambo euphoria is reflected in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi and Imo states of the South East. This indeed is the Igbo characterisation. While urging the Northerners to continue their cordial relationship with the Igbo, Ohanaeze restates that the incessant sit-at-home in the South East is an ill wind that blows nobody any good.
Dr Ogbonnia is the National Publicity Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide