IPOB DEMANDS | Prominent Traditional Rulers meet Buhari

by on December 2, 2016
Prominent tradition­al rulers of the South East geopolitical zone met yesterday with President Muhammadu Buha­ri to discuss various issues af­fecting the region.
The traditional rulers af­firmed their belief in the unity of Nigeria but presented some of the demands of pro-Biafra groups like the Indigenous Peo­ples of Biafra (IPOB).
The Chairman of the South East Council of Traditional Rul­ers, Eze Eberechi Dick (Abia), led the monarchs to the meet­ing which took place at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
While disagreeing with IPOB and other agitators de­manding the restoration of Bi­afra as a separate country from Nigeria, the delegation, howev­er, declared that some of their demands needed to be addressed by the Federal Government.
In their position paper read out by Eze Dick to Buhari, the royal fathers, who supported the President’s war against in­security and corruption, said: “On the issue of the agitation by some of our youths like IPOB and others for a Biafran Repub­lic, we have continued to engage and preach to them that every problem of the country can be best resolved through dialogue and respect for the rule of law.
“While we reassure Your Excellency of our total belief in a united and indivisible Ni­geria, we also want to call the attention of the Federal Gov­ernment to some of their men­tioned grievances for serious considerations, which include:
“Neglect of the South East in the Amnesty Programme; deplorable state of Federal Roads and other infrastruc­ture in the South East; relega­tion of oil-producing States of the South East in NDDC pro­jects and exclusion of the South East in key federal appointments; anti-nationalistic treatment of Igbo people by other Nigerians.
“We also want to call the at­tention of Your Excellency to the criminal activities of kid­nappers, some cattle herdsmen which are posing serious secu­rity challenges to the people of the South East.
“In the recent times, so many lives and properties worth billions of naira have been lost. While the Governors and Tra­ditional Rulers of the zone have been managing the situation, we want to call on the Federal Gov­ernment to use all the instru­ments of power and resources available to you to come to our aid and rescue.”
They commended the Presi­dent on his choice of some South East sons for the positions of Ministers in his cabinet, and ap­pealed to him to appoint more.
The monarchs added that “while we are happy over the award of contracts for the con­struction and maintenance of some federal roads within the zone, we want to use this op­portunity to request for the re­habilitation of Aba-Ikot Ekpene, Onitsha-Enugu, Owerri Port Harcourt, Owerri-Aba, Abaka­liki federal roads.
“We also express our grati­tude to you for continuing with the construction of the 2nd Ni­ger Bridge, which when com­pleted, will surely reduce the suffering of our using that route.”
In his response, Buhari stressed the unity of the coun­try and urged separatists con­templating its break-up to have a rethink because the question of having another country out of Nigeria was misplaced.
“The question of having an­other country out of Nigeria is going to be very difficult. From 1914, we have more than 200 cultures living with one anoth­er. God had endowed this coun­try with natural resources and talented people. We should con­centrate on these and be very productive,” the President said.
Addressing specific issues raised by the monarchs, the President said the South East will benefit from the new rail­way architecture being packaged by his administration.
On their request for more representation for the South East in his government, the President said that he was “very conscious of the sensitivities of the South East”, on account of which he gave four of the five states of the region senior rank­ing ministers in his cabinet.
He appealed to the tradi­tional rulers to persuade their people to give his government a chance and to continue to serve as beacons of culture and tradi­tions of their people.
The President assured the delegation that kidnapping and cattle rustling, which he de­scribed as “unfortunate”, would be the government’s next target, now that “we have managed to calm down the North East zone.”
On the delegation of the monarchs were the Obi of Onit­sha, Igwe Alfred Achebe (Anam­bra); the Chairman Imo Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Sam­uel Agunwa Ohiri (Imo); Eze Ralph Ugboji; Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu (Enugu); Ezeudi Uche Egenti; Eze J.O. Akaliro; Eze Laz Umahi Nweze (Ebonyi); Eze O.S. Igwilo (Imo); and Eze (Prof) Chukwuemeka Ike (Anambra).

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