By Ezra Ukanwa
WORRIED about the ethno-religious tension in the country, a political group, South East/Igbo APC Progressives Roundtable, SIAPRO, on Tuesday, appealed to Yorubas domiciled in Lagos State to disregard disrespectful and provocative statements that emanated from certain individuals of the southern eastern extraction as a result of the outcome of the last election cycle in the state.
Furthermore, the group, while confirming the ownership of Lagos state, pointed out that “Lagos State is no less Yoruba land as Anambra State is Igbo land just like Lagos is not a no man’s land, just like Ebonyi State is not a no man’s land.”
The group’a convener, Dr. Uche Diala, made this appeal while addressing journalists during a press conference, in Abuja.
He said any contrary view to the foregoing was irresponsible and should be seen as provocative.
Diala said Igbos have been known for ages to be noble guests who do nothing but add value to their hosts in a symbiotic relationship, adding that Igbos have never been known to be a burden to their hosts.
He explaines that due to the peaceful nature of the Igbos, they have been able to dwell peacefully with other regions, states, villages, hamlets, and families across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
He said: “It is therefore heartbreaking what happened in Lagos recently where largely misguided Igbos with little or altered sense of history embarked on a fight that was needless, tactless, and profitless.
“An Igbo proverb says ‘obiara be onye abiagbula ya’ – a visitor should not be a burden or source of misfortune to his host. Unfortunately, some of our brother Igbo Lagosians allowed external negative influences to drive them to almost remove the seats from their own buttocks.”
He expressed belief that every Nigerian has the right to aspire to contest for any political office so far as he or she is qualified, adding that the group would not support any action to deprive anyone of such rights.
“In view of all the above, with every sense of sincerity, and responsibility, we hereby publicly appeal to and urge our Yoruba brethren and compatriots in Lagos to overlook any provocations, disrespect, and or insults that they may have endured flowing from the last election cycle.
“Friendship is a burden that weighs both ways. The mutually beneficial and long-term relationship between Igbos and Yorubas in Lagos is cemented in inter tribal marriages, long-term, intricate, and rewarding business relationships, and decades of successful political collaboration cannot be jettisoned because of some individuals who have no or poor sense of history,” he said.
He noted that the group is aware of some recent unhealthy and unproductive utterances by some individuals of significant standing in Igbo society, he cautioned people of the region to desist from incisive statements.
“It is trite Igbo wisdom that age and status compel a certain level of responsibility and restraint in words and conduct.
“We condemn such comments that seek to deepen the divide and create unnecessary tension and bad blood and responsibly urge such individuals to desist forthwith in the interest of peaceful co-existence and national unity”, he said.
He lamented the gradual and shocking decline and recession of the Igbo nation and the southeast geopolitical zone since the 2015 general elections that saw the electoral loss of President Goodluck Jonathan and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
He said the tragedy of the situation is that a purely political situation was misappropriated and exploited by all manners of individuals and interests from within and outside the Southeast.
“Today, the once peaceful and progressive southeast has been reduced to a place of desolation where fear and terror reign and blood of the innocents; sons and daughters and visitors alike flow like rivers, desecrating the land and grieving the souls of our forebears,” he added.
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