THE meeting of Igbo leaders summoned yesterday by the South East Governors’ Forum, SEGF, to discuss the security implications of the agitations by members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, and the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, ended in Enugu with the leaders resolving to set up a delegation of Igbo elders to meet President Muhammadu Buhari on the marginalisation of Igbo in the country.
biafraThey also agreed to dialogue with members of the MASSOB and IPOB groups with a view to ending the protests now rocking the old Eastern region.
The two factions of Ohanaeze were not however, part of the meeting as they were not invited as the governors had reasoned that inviting any of them would have meant legitimising such faction.
Both MASSOB and IPOB members have been agitating for the release of the Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, detained by security agents for running an illegal radio station.
A four-point communique read by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, at the end of the meeting on behalf of his colleagues read, “We agreed that south-east governors should set up a committee to immediately address the impasse on Ohanaeze leadership. After a compassionate review of the recent MASSOB/IPOB agitations in the country, it was resolved that a committee be set up to dialogue with MASSOB,IPOB as well as the Federal Government with a view to finding a lasting solution to the issue.
“The elders also examined other issues including poor state of infrastructural facilities in the south-east, marginalization in federal appointments and other socio-economic issues that impact on the economic development of the south-east and resolved to support the decision of south-east governors to set up an economic council and urged them to interface with the Federal Government on remedial measures. A delegation of elders of the south-east was mandated to meet with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Earlier in his welcome address, Governor Lawrence Ifeanyi Ugwanyi of Enugu State, said the meeting was a follow up to the earlier meeting of the South- East governors on November 17.
Governors in attendance at the meeting included Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, (Enugu), Dave Umuahi (Ebonyi), Dr. Nkem Okeke (Deputy Governor, Anambra State) and Rochas Okorocha of Imo State.
Others were the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, former Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, former Minister of Power, Prof Barth Nnaji, former Minister of Information, Chief Nnaia Nwodo and former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara among others
Prior to the inauguration of President Buhari as president, former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, had at a summit organised by the APC in Abuja, suggested to the party and the incoming president ways to follow in order to fulfill their campaign promises.
The 2-Day Policy Dialogue, which was on the Implementation of the ‘Agenda for Change’ was organised by the APC Presidential Campaign Policy, Research and Strategy Directorate and was attended by people from all walks of life.
With the theme ‘Implementing Change: From Vision to Reality’, the dialogue was also attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Blair was represented as the Keynote speaker by his former Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson.
The presentation dwelt on how Buhari and his party should handle the issues of governance as an incoming former opposition party
The British Prime Minister stated that the skills of leadership that take a party to government is not the same skills needed to be successful.
“You have to switch from what you were campaigning when you are in office. You have to switch from a persuader where the tools of your trade are your words, to being a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) where it is the deeds and how you extract the best results that matters. That is the difference between being a persuader and being a CEO. One is about words, the other is about deeds.
“Now, I am not saying you should stop communicating the moment you reach office. You have to keep explaining, educating and agitating for change and reforms to keep people behind and following you. But to change from being chief wordsmith to chief implementer and the truth is that many governments actually fall on that first hurdle,” he added.
Blair said Buhari should run an inclusive government so that all parts of the country will feel a sense of belonging.
“It is quite courageous for a government to give power away to another entity. There were people who voted for the others, mostly in the South and Eastern parts of the country.
“You need to show the people who didn’t vote for you that you represent their interest as much as the people who voted for you. This was what we called big tent politics.”
Blair stressed that if Nigeria is to transform and evolve towards politics of performance, it is very important to get away from politics of ethnicity, religion, patronage and cronyism.
“It is very important that the government demonstrate clearly that it is a government for the whole of the country and not part of it,” he added.
It would be recalled that Buhari got few votes in the South-East during the polls, which caused the allegations that the president would snub the Igbos as a result of the development.
The claims were further reinforced by reports quoting Buhari as saying, during his recent visit to the USA, that he would not give identical treatment to those that did not vote for him.
Meanwhile, the South-East chapter of the APC said Buhari would give all sections of the country equal treatment.
In a statement through its spokesperson, Osita Okechukwu, it said that Kachikwu’s appointment, and some other recent decisions taken by Nigerian president, had justified its belief that Buhari would not demote the Igbos.
The party said: “The appointment of Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and Engr. Dennis Ajulu as Group Managing Director, and Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production of the NNPC, respectively, and enlistment of Enugu Airport among those to be upgraded, are clear indication and demonstration that Mr. President bears no grudge against Ndigbo for not voting for him.
“South-East Zone of the All Progressives Congress salutes President Muhammadu Buhari for vindicating its position that every region of the country under his watch would receive equal and fair treatment.”
Okechukwu therefore advised Ndigbo to dismiss “gossip-terrorists and ethnic merchants who peddle the falsehood that President Buhari hates Ndigbo.”
He stated that Buhari had, in the course of his presidential campaign, held different meetings with Igbo leaders, where the president promised to address the problem of the Igbos.
Okechukwu added that Buhari addressed a letter dated November 7, 2014, to leaders of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the foremost socio-political body of the Igbos.
The letter read: “Since I cannot assume to know all the pressing issues facing Ndigbo or what Ndigbo expect of the new Nigeria we wish to build; I would greatly appreciate if you could kindly arrange a consultative meeting with Ohaneze Ndigbo where we could discuss and try to determine how this could best be done.
“I considered it pertinent to hold consultations with all communities nationwide in order to build a mutually acceptable national consensus. Needless to add, no national consultation will be complete or meaningful without a meeting with the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo.”
Well, this could be the big opportunity for the President to apply a master stroke that could nutralise the Biafra situation. But it will depend on how skilled his special advisers are…