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-By Emmanuel Uzodinma
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Apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Saturday decried failure of security agencies to arrest Arewa Youths involved in the quit notice on Ndigbo resident in the Northern part of Nigeria.
President General of Ohanaeze, Chief John Nnia Nwodo made the condemnation in Enugu at the inauguration of the planning and strategy committee of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Speaking after inaugurating the committee, Nwodo, who commended various groups and individuals who had so far risen in condemnation of the ultimatum given to Ndigbo, wondered why security agencies were foot-dragging in arresting the Arewa Youths.
He said, “quite recently, we have witnessed very provoking and unpatriotic remarks from Arewa Youths. Their remarks have grown from whispers to a national quit notice to Igbos to leave Northern Nigeria.
“Whilst we applaud the immediate and unequivocal condemnation of their utterances by the Governor of Kaduna State, the Northern Governors’ Forum, the Middle Belt Forum and the rather mild equivocal condemnation from Arewa Consultative Forum, the defiance of the Arewa Youths by threatening and daring the police to arrest them, the clear incapacitation of the police and unwillingness to arrest them, their renewed aggression following the issuance of another statement involving an association of wider youth organizations in the North and the support offered to them by splinter elements of the Northern Elders’ Forum point to a swell of reasonable support from a section of Northern Nigeria.
“We commend the solidarity of AFENIFERE and PANDEF in standing together with us in this impasse. We acknowledge and fully associate Ohanaeze with their stand that any quit notice to one Southerner is a quit notice to all Southerners.
“We note the impetus this development has given self-determination in our place.”
Nwodo, however, declared that “what remains worrisome is the incapacity of the police to make needful arrests in this situation pointing to double standards from our security forces.
“A desire and public proclamation for the State of Biafra cannot be too different from a quit notice which amounts to a declaration for a new State of Nigeria without Igbos.
“In the later case, an obvious violation of our constitution points to treason, a declaration to take inventory and acquire property not belonging to one amounts to conversion and a declaration to commence ‘mop up’ action if the quit notice is not complied with at a certain date is a declaration of war.”
While expressing worries whether the Arewa Youths could be acting out a plan that may spiral out of control, the Ohanaeze President queried: “Why have disclosures that some soldiers are talking with politicians not led to any arrest? Why have none of the Arewa Youths been arrested in spite of the orders of the Inspector General of Police and the Chief Security Officer of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai?
“If our security forces, formally in command and control by mainly officers of Northern Nigria fail to carry out lawful and needful arrests of criminals amongst Arewa Youths or coup plotters in the army and their civilian collaborators, how can we expect them to heed the orders of the Acting President to protect our people in the North?”
In the light of the socio-political challenges facing Ndigbo, he urged the committee to coordinate efforts that could lead to: “an integrated railway network linking all seven Ohanaeze States;
“An annual growth of one million palm trees in each of the seven Ohanaeze States within the next five years;
“A corresponding growth of attractive processing industries for the palm produce but on high, medium and small scale levels;
“A policy for maximization of our coal resources for power generation and a geological inventory of all our mineral resources and carefully scripted plan for engaging the federal government in their exploitation”, among others.
In the political sector, the Soludo-led committee was mandated to examine the issues arising from the quit notice on Igbos, calls for restructuring of Nigeria’s current federal structure as well as the agitations for self-determination.
Responding on behalf of the committee, Soludo pledged a total commitment of the members to deliver on the task, with a declaration that “a moment like this calls big, bold thinking, active networking and collaboration.”
He, however, called for input from Ndigbo across the world, stressing that “our committee is large and star-studded no doubt but we do not claim to have all the answers. There are still thousands of people outside of this Committee with fundamental contributions to make.”
Soludo further observed that the economic and political issues, the bedrock of the committees assignment were so apt considering Nigeria’s socio-economic situation, stressing that as such, it was time for Ndigbo “to rewrite our history and we must be determined to change the song of the South-East- enough of the lamentations.
“This is the time for deep thinking. This is the time for thoughtful actions. We need and must produce a visionary Regional Economic Plan for the South-East in order to steer a different future.”