In spite of relaxing the quit order issued to Igbo living in the North, coordinator of the proposed National Youth Dialogue, Dr. Gideon Osi, has said the gathering of youths from all tribes in a dialogue that would engender better understanding among Nigerian youths is what the country needs.
He was reacting to the recent pronouncement credited to the chairman of the Coalition of Arewa Youths, Alhaji Yerima Shettima.
The Arewa youths leader, in his statement on the group’s review of its quit notice to Igbo living in the north had said: “Those who believe in Nigeria should remain where they are and be assured of their safety. But to those who don’t believe in Nigeria, we cannot guarantee their safety. So if you want, go to your Biafra country.”
But Osi, who convened the South-East Zonal Youth leadership Forum in Enugu last weekend, restated the stance of Igbo youth leaders that the country is faced by several challenges which would better be handled through a national dialogue by the youths.
“Let us sheath our swords and discuss. It is a better legacy for our children and the younger generation than the insensitive and abusive comments being made by some youth leaders across the country which are capable of inciting the system.
“We are not dialoguing because we are cowards or because we are afraid, but because we are civilized. We don’t want to carry our elderly and children again during crisis, because democracy offers us a great opportunity to always dialogue.”
Osi noted that the process of nation building is impossible without dialogue.
“We are different people, but for the purpose of co-existence within a legal framework to survive in the global community, we need a country. And for us to live peacefully ad contribute towards the development of this country, we must understand and respect one another.” Osi, who said the forum will involve youths from all tribes, said the dialogue will hold under the aegis of Nigerian Youth Dialogue Group.
He noted that the country is under severe threat of survival, “and her only hope is in the hands of the youths, because the raw energy needed to build this nation or destroy her is in us.
“Our country needs us now more than ever to stand up and defend her from herself from her enemies, especially enemies within, who are responsible for the unemployment we have today, the insecurity threatening our collective existence and the poor standard of living.”
Regardless, Prince Emmanuel Kanu, younger brother of leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has said the leadership of the pro Biafra group was not moved by Arewa youths’ relaxing of the quit order. He insisted that the quest to actualise Biafra is still very much on course.
Arewa youths had about two months ago, given the Igbo in Northern Nigeria up till October 1, 2017, to leave, citing IPOB and other pro Biafra groups’ agitation for a separate country as reason for their action.
In a telephone chat yesterday, Kanu said giving quit notice to the Igbo in north and relaxing it was Arewa youths business. He said IPOB has nothing to do with it as it would not add or subtract anything from the agitation for a state of Biafra.
“We are not interested in what the Arewa youths are doing or saying, but all I can tell you is that IPOB is firm and resolute in its quest for a state of Biafra, and I don’t think anything can stop it.
“It is a known fact, for which they have now realised, that no section of Nigeria can do without Biafra, unless they want their economy to collapse beyond redemption.”
He said the North was going to benefit more from the Igbo under the state of Biafra “because they are going to be our strong economic neighbours with enhanced and flourishing trade and commerce.”
The junior Kanu said it was absurd for Shettima to ask the Igbo who believe in Nigeria to remain, insisting that “all Igbo are Biafrans, and as such, there should be no room for divisive tendencies.”