Leaders of South-West, South-East and South-South on Sunday strongly called on Arewa youths and their sponsors to withdraw the quit notice given to the people of the South-East as failure to do so will be taken as an ultimatum given to the entire Southern Nigerians to quit their region.
The prominent leaders, who comprised pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; former Chief of Staff, Ebitu Ukiwe; Albert Horsfall, Jor Irukwu, former Minister of Information, Walter Ofonagoro; Senator Femi Okunronmu, Senator Bassey Henshaw, among others, declared that any attack against anybody from the South would be considered an attack against the Southern Nigeria.
This was just as the leaders reaffirmed their stand on restructuring of the country, demanding that the Federal Government must come out with concrete steps on the implementation of 2014 National Conference Report before October 1, 2017.
The leaders said this in a communique read by Mr Yinka Odumakin at the end of their meeting, which took place at the Lekki residence of Chief Adebanjo, just as they enjoined the Federal Government to seriously live up to the primary responsibility of any government which was to protect the lives and property of every citizen of Nigeria wherever they might reside.
The communique was signed by Chief Adebanjo for South-West, Albert Horsefall for South-South and former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ikiwe (rtd) for South-East.
“We also demand that Arewa youths and their sponsors must withdraw the quit notice given to the people of the South-East as failure to do so, will be taken as an ultimatum given to the entire Southern Nigeria to quit their region and any attack against anybody from the South, will be considered an attack against the Southern Nigeria.
“We, therefore, advise the Federal Government to take seriously and live up to the primary responsibility of any government which is to protect the lives and property of every citizen of Nigeria wherever they may reside,” the southern leaders said.
The leaders said they decided to come together to forge a common and formidable front against the backdrop of the ultimatum given by the Arewa youths to the people of South-East and by extension to all southerners to vacate the North by October 1, 2017 and the refusal of the Nigerian state to activate the law against any of them.
The communique said such refusal by the authorities gave the impression that these youths were not acting on their own, but with the backing of their establishment.
The communique said: “We consider the need to avert the impending danger arising from the ultimatum given by the Arewa youths.
“We agree that there is a growing demand by our people and other Nigerians to form a stronger federation in which principles and practice of true federalism are upheld.
“We observe that the cry for self-determination will continue unabated and become much more stringent unless the Federal Government sincerely address the issues of restructuring of Nigeria.
“We, therefore, resolve that we reject the attempt to reduce the current crisis in Nigeria flowing from the unresolved nationality question to an Igbo and North affair.”
The leaders, while noting the intervention on the part of the Federal Government, insisted that any further discussion on this crisis should be between the entire South and the North of Nigeria, adding, “The South-East is advised to consider any further meeting where the South-West and South-South are not involved as not of southern Nigeria because the issues involved affects all of us.
“The meeting also condemned in strongest terms the activities of Fulani herdsmen, who have taken over the entire Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt of Nigeria, including invading State House of Assemblies preventing them from making laws, cows going to classrooms and chasing our children out of schools, killing our farmers on their farms and raping their wives.
“Now, we also resolved on the need for the restructuring of Nigeria and to uphold the principles of true federalism as agreed by the founding fathers of Nigeria and practiced effectively in the years before the first military coup in Nigeria.
“We reaffirm our stand on the true federalism is the system of government founded on the democratic principles and institution in which the power to govern is shared between the national and the federating units. Such units have control over their own affairs and bequeathed equal status with their constitution which is consistent with the federal constitution.
“We affirm and resolve in the implementation of the report of the 2014 National Conference aimed at complete transformation and restructuring of our country and to build and confederate Nigeria unity through peaceful and harmonious unity, progress and genuine development.
“We want concrete steps taken on the implementation of 2014 National Conference Report before 1st October 2017.
“We resolve to reawaken once more the spirit of friendship and mutual respect among our people and extol our common determination to pursue peace, progress and enhance the continued existence of Nigeria just as we commend the convener of this dialogue in bringing us together. We appeal to them to continue to do so in future.
Also in attendance at the meeting were: Dr. Okey Anueyiaya, Chief Sydney Dike, Chief Eric Ebeh, Senator Bucknor Akerele, Ogita Iyalla-Finnih, Dr Kunle Olajide, Chief Mike Uwaka, Abdulaziz Ude, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, Prof George Obiozor, Charles Odunukwe, Iyaze Ebigwe, Col. Tony Iyiam, Dr. Amos Akingba, Supo Shonibare, Chief Tokunbo Ajasin, Air Comodore Idongest Nkanga (rtd), Chief Guy Ikokwu, among others.