Igbo, Yoruba renew alliance, vow to work for unity, peace of Nigeria
An alliance was yesterday struck between Southwest and Southeast geo-political zones of the country with a declaration to remove all old animosities that had hindered the progress of the two zones and work together as one indivisible entity. This was done with the symbolic holding of hands by families of the late Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi and former Military Head of State, Gen. JTU Aguiyi Ironsi.
With the proclamation of “Let by-gone be by-gone, we are building a future together where equity, fairness, justice and mutual respect will exist for the good of our people and development of Nigeria,” jointly moved by President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo and leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the two zones further agreed to push for changes that would transform the situation of the country.
Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe had after the proclamation prayed that “God will bless this union and reconnection again in Jesus name” and with a thunderous “Amen” the pact was sealed.
At the summit, christened “Handshake across the Niger” held in Enugu, the leaders expressed reservations with the situation of the country, stressing that the coming together was necessary for solutions to the myriad of the country’s challenges, even as they insisted that Nigeria would remain unworkable with restructuring.
Nwodo, who recalled that handshake between Igbo and Yoruba had a long history, stated that it would amount to “betrayal of the legacy of Fajuyi and Ironsi if we do not continue to promote that brotherhood”, said the two groups had lived together and shared things in common.“At the end of the civil war no Igbo man had his property confiscated in Western Nigeria. I was elected president of students union in a Yoruba dominated University of Ibadan. Today Igbo abound in property ownership, manufacturing and commerce in Lagos. We implore Yoruba to begin to invest in Igboland”, he said.
Explaining that Ndigbo supported the restructuring of the country, the same way the Yoruba did, he added: “To abandon restructuring is to self –destruct Nigeria. Every credible analysis shows that unless we devolve powers to the states and allow them control of their natural resources and basic utilities of powers, environment, education and infrastructure development, Nigeria will collapse. Anyone opposed to restructuring is a proponent of the liquidation of Nigeria. Already the signs are becoming obvious as over 70 percent of the states can hardly meet their recurrent expenditures”.
Speaking on the same vein, Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said that the gathering was the catalyst of the unity of the country, stressing that the certain persons, who have benefitted from the present lopsided arrangement in the country are opposed to it.
Stressing that it amounted to the destruction of the country should the Igbo and Yoruba continued to engage each other, he urged the people to turn “blind eyes” against forces that opposed the union, saying that the new found relationship was for the mutual benefits of the people.
Warning on the dangers of the position of President Muhammadu Buhari on restructuring, he stated that going into the 2019 general elections without it would be counterproductive and perpetuating injustice in the country.
“Buhari is the problem of Nigeria because he is opposed to restructuring but he cannot escape it. He is not more Northerner than late Sardauna of Sokoto who gave us the federalism. The only future that can keep us together in this country in peace is restructuring and if we keep postponing it, we are postponing the evil days. Buhari cannot do restructuring because his people are beneficiaries of the lopsidedness.
“If we are restructured, what is happening in Benue presently cannot happen. The present killings in parts of the country cannot be so, as no governor will get approval before he could get security in his place. I want to tell you that the restructuring we seek cannot come without a cost. That is why the unity of the south-east, south-west and south-south and by extension Middle Belt is necessary because it is the unity of the country”, he said.
Calling for the proscription of Miyetti Allah, he stated that the killings by members of the group in the guise of cattle rearing should be checked to avoid the people resorting to self-help to protect themselves.In a communiqué signed by Nwodo and Adebanjo, they declared “unflinching support for a truly federal union of Nigeria that is democratic, stable, secure, peaceful, just and fair to all its citizens.”
The communiqué read by Ambassador Umunna Orjiakor further stated: “We are committed to work in close partnership and through peaceful means to restructure Nigeria, reducing and restricting the duties of the federal government to only matters of national import on the exclusive list, while granting the federating units the right to take full responsibility for local, developmental and residual matters, as this will lead to healthy competition and cooperation among the federating units, in place of the present dysfunctional arrangement that merely superintends over the sharing and consuming of rents, and holds some States and Zones down for others to play the elusive game of catch-up;“Committed to insistence therefore, on peaceful devolution of powers, fiscal federalism, land/resource ownership/control, reforming component structural and systemic institutions to radically reduce the escalating cost of governance;
“Committed to working tirelessly towards joining the economically-performing nations – China, India, Brazil, Israel, Singapore , South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand etc. – not as a dependent State, but a competitive producer and exporter of knowledge-based goods and services;
“Committed to immediate implementation of pro federalism recommendations of the 2014 National Conference, in particular those affecting the efficiency of governance.”
They resolved to establish a standing Joint Action Committee to drive this process, and to continually articulate fresh ideas and strategies to sustain the current zeal and momentum of mutual understanding and collaborative actions aimed at resuscitating Nigeria politically and economically in order to position her to earn her rightful place among the contending nations in the world.
They declared that “today’s Hand Shake (HS) is not a one off event, but only the first of a progressive and continuous re-socialization project that will, in short order, reach out to embrace other compatriots in the South South , Middle Belt, North Central, North East and North West zones of the country.”
No governor attended the event. Those that attended include Deputy Governor (Imo), Eze Madumere, Secretary to Anambra State government, Prof Solo Chukwudebe; Chief Olu Falaye, Ikedi Ohakim, Prof. Anya O. Anya, Prof. Banji Akintoye, Fani Kayode, Tony Utunta, Femi Okoromu, Jonah Jang.
Others are Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Mrs. Victoria Aguiyi Ironsi, Igwe Nnamemeka Achebe, Bucknor Akerele, Mr. Donald Fajuyi, Mr Ifeanyi Uba, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe and, Dr. Alex Oti among others.There were several groups and associations that also graced the event. Fani Kayode in a moving speech had told the gathering that they must stand to be counted and remain resolute in demanding their right at all times.
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