*Solicit Igbo support for one, united Nigeria
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA–SOME concerned Igbo youths have sent words of commendation to the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, for sponsoring a bill for an act to establish the Armed Forces Commission Bill, saying the development has further projected the patriotic disposition of the top ranking legislator.
According to the youths, the bill, which is coming at a time of worsening insecurity across the country, deserves all the support needed for its eventual passage into law.
Speaking under the umbrella of Coalition of Igbo Progressive Youths Worldwide,CIPYW, the young Nigerians regretted the fate that befell the bill, even as they expressed optimism that reason and value-judgement will prevail at the end of the day.
In a statement signed by their National President, Dr Chijioke Uba, and National Secretary,
Mrs Ngozi Anosike, the progressive youths warned against further frustration of the bill, which it argued, will cure the imbalance that has characterised the security arrangement in the country.
“As progressive youths, we cannot but commend a true son of Igbo and top ranking Senator, Enyinnaya Abaribe, for being a prominent voice on the floor of the Red Chamber, as seen in his contributions to debates, motions as well as sponsorship of people-centred bill.
“We note with particular attention the proposed bill seeking to establish the Armed Forces Commission, which hooes bring discipline to bear in the management of of security affairs”, the group said in the statement.
They have, however, advised the lawmaker representing Abia South Senatorial District to, without further delay, subject the laudable endeavour to more legislative work and consultations, with a view to returning it to the red chamber, for possible passage.
“To our distinguished and illustrious Senator Abaribe, we urge you not to be deterred or discouraged, but to quickly go back to the drawing board, fine-tune the bill, and resubmit same for consideration and passage.
“Again, and in the interest of national unity, justice and equity, we reiterate our call for the review of the appointment of Service Chiefs, for purposes of including an officer of Igbo extraction, in accordance to the federal character principle,”it added.
While calling on stakeholders in the security sector, including non-governmental and civil society organisations, religious groups, as well as security experts to rally behind what they described as “fine piece of legislative intervention, the coalition vowed to expose the motive underpinning the action of those opposing it.
Members of the coalition claimed that with the creation of an Armed Forces Commission, the federal character principle, which stipulates balancing in sensitive appointments such as Service Chiefs, will be strictly adhered to.
While this lasts, the worldwide Igbo youth group has tasked President Muhammadu Buhari on the urgent and compelling need to review the “lopsided” appointment of Service Chiefs, which saw the non-consideration of officers from the South East; a trend the coalition said has continued since 2015.
In the estimation of the youths, President Buhari could use the opportunity of the anticipated review of appointments, to bridge the trust deficit that exists among Ndigbo, who perceive his administration as anti-South East – rightly or wrongly.
They noted, with reservation, the fact that,while prominent Igbo sons and daughters have continued to denounce the outlawed group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the federal government has not demonstrate sufficient good faith, as a sign of reciprocation.
If anything, the Igbo youths established a Nexus between Abaribe’s outing and the fidelity of Ndigbo to the Nigerian project, which they maintained, deserved applause.
As a result of the foregoing, the patriotic youths have recommended Abaribe, who was Abia Deputy Governor between 1999 and 2002, for a national award, in recognition of his patriotic disposition and commitment to a united Nigeria.
“We call on distinguished Senators to drop sentimental attachments and mundane considerations, to look at the Armed Forces Commission Bill strictly on the merit that underlies it.
“We invite Igbo sons and daughters – both home and in the diaspora – to continue to work for a united, indivisible and progressive country, regardless of the feeling of alienation and exclusion.
“Lastly, we urge all Ndigbo to continue to denounce IPOB and all their violent activities, as a way of correcting the misconceptions that seemingly define our relationship with others”.
“We are for a one united and strong Nigeria where equity and justice reigns,”the statement added.