By Clifford Ndujihe
TODAY is a decisive day for Igbo leaders and South-East governors, who will gather in Enugu to deliberate on the ongoing protests and agitation for the actualisation of Republic of Biafra.
For about three weeks, members and supporters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and a faction of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) have been protesting in several cities of the South-East and South-South geo-political zones rooting for Biafra Republic and condemning the continued detention of Mr Nnamdi Kanu, the director of Radio Biafra, by the Federal Government.
Some of the cities that the agitators have taken their protests to include Enugu, Onitsha, Awka, Asaba, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Umuahia and Aba. The protests have been largely peaceful except in PortHarcourt where a soldier reportedly shot one person dead.
Disturbed by the intensity of the protests and effects on economic activities, governors of South- East states met on November 17 in Enugu and fixed Sunday (today), November 22, for an emergency meeting.
After the November 17 meeting, Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, said the forum needed to ensure lasting peace in the zone and so have decided to consult widely with Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, traditional rulers, development unions, the clergy and other stakeholders.
“In furtherance to this, the South-east governors scheduled an emergency meeting of stakeholders on Sunday Nov. 22, 2015 at Enugu. Attendance at the emergency meeting will include all National Assembly members, ministers from the zone and other invited stakeholders from the zone”,Okorocha said.
Advising IPOB and MASSOB to embrace peace, which he said is the only way to the development of the zone, Okorocha said the forum agreed to appoint a high level Economic Advisory Committee to harness the economic potential of the people of the area.
It is on this score that all roads will lead to Enugu today for invited Igbo leaders and stakeholders for the decisive meeting.
Ohanaeze raises team, roots for restructuring
A member of the Imeobi (inner caucus) of Ohanaeze, Chief Guy Ikokwu, told Sunday Vanguard that
the apex Igbo group had raised a team in readiness for the meeting and was just waiting for the governors’ invitation letter.
His words: ‘’Ohanaeze is waiting for the IV (invitation letter). We have selected a team, which is ready to be in Enugu, if invited. We were not part of the last meeting. But the message is clear.
They should ask the president to start restructuring the country now. Those protesting are frustrated youths. Some of them are graduates who are better than peers from other parts of the country. The governors should demand restructuring, devolution of powers from the centre and implementation of the 2014 National Conference report. There is no federation in the world where the Centre is controlling local councils. It is only in Nigeria. The country is made up of six geo-political zones. Four out of the six – South-East, South-South, South-West and Middle Belt (North-Central) want the country restructured. So it is the best thing to do in the interest of the country.”
*42 Igbo groups to march for true federalism
Ahead of the meeting, about 42 Igbo organisations have put the machinery in motion to push for the restructuring of the country through protest marches in 13 South-East cities.
The planned five million man march will hold in the five South East states in December, Evangelist Elliot Uko, founder of the Igbo Youths Movement, IYM, told Sunday Vanguard.
Disclosing this after a marathon meeting with Igbo Traders Organizations at the IYM Secretariat in Enugu, weekend, Uko said the 13 marches for restructuring Nigeria will hold in Afikpo, Abakaliki, Nsukka, Enugu, Aba, Umuahia, Ohafia, Okigwe, Owerri, Orlu, Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka.
According to him, South-South groups who attended the meeting in Enugu included the Union of Niger Delta and South-South Youth Congress.
Uko said these peaceful marches will be led by the clergy and students groups in each of the cities and towns in the South East.
Asked to comment on today’s meeting of South-East governors and Igbo leaders, Uko said: “The current developments are beyond political interest and considerations of any individual or office holder, maintaining that only the truth can save the situation and the truth is that Nigeria must be urgently restructured in order to give all sections a sense of belonging thereby enthroning true federalism without delay, any other solution will not work.