The quit notice issued to Igbos living in the north by Arewa youths and elders is capable of pushing the country to break up if other Nigerians do not wade into the matter.
This is the view of some Yoruba elders in Oyo State, under the auspices of the Oke Ogun Council of Elders (OCE). In a release signed by its spokesman, Comrade Jare Ajayi, the elders said the development “should quickly be nipped in the bud, for it is a sure but undesirable way of breaking up our dear country, Nigeria”.
On Tuesday, June 6, 2017, a group of youths in the northern part of the country, issued a statement calling on Igbo people in the 19 states in the north to quit the region latest October 1, 2017.
Maintaining that they were speaking for a coalition of youths’ associations in the region, Messrs Yerima Shettima and Adbulaziz Suleiman, at the press conference they held in Kaduna said that they came up with this position following the determination of Igbo people to have their own nation called Biafra.
Although state governors in the north and other prominent Nigerians have been condemning the ultimatum by the Arewa group, the Oke Ogun elders fear that “exchanges between youths from the north and Eastern Nigeria have been pointing to the direction of breaking up the country going by the tension that is rapidly building up”.
According to the OCE, the development is a replica of what happened in 1966 during which people of the South East living in the north were forced to leave other parts of Nigeria as a result of the tension and violence they faced particularly in the north.
The OCE regretted that “many lives were lost with property running into millions of naira perishing while the unfortunate incident eventually led to the 30 months civil war between 1967 and 1970.
The group stated further: “We are afraid that the ground is been prepared for a similar scenario with the hot words coming from the two sides, north and east. We are afraid that if this trend is not quickly checked, another civil war may brak out. And as is widely claimed, no nation fights two civil wars and remains intact. We are calling on right thinking people across the divides, especially elders, to quickly put a stop to this rapid slide into anarchy and break-up”.
The OCE insisted that the situation for catastrophe is greater now than it was in the 1960s. Pointing to a lot of anomalies and shortcomings in the Nigerian society today, the group worried that “there is internal displacement as a result of Boko Haram and communal conflicts in the north; there is the problem of violent herdsmen trying to take over people’s lands in the Middle Belt and in the South and the West; there is a lot of discontent that makes a lot of youths to be disenchanted thus making them ready materials for anti-social activities”.
“To us as Oke Ogun elders and to us as Oke Ogun people, Nigeria is better-off as a country. But the country will continue to remain as one only if restructuring takes place. This restructuring should take the form of power devolution to constituent entities with genuine federalism allowed to prevail, where marginalization is genuinely addressed, where justice and fairness as well as merit are at play rather than the impunity, sectionalism, nepotism and self-centeredness that we have today become a thing of the past”, the release concluded.