Buhari meets South East leaders, says unthinkable for Igbo to secede



Ohanaeze bares mind on insecurity, infrastructure

Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday, seized the opportunity of the visit by President Muhammadu Buhari to Imo State to express what it described as the “most urgent and imperative” need of the region.

Also, acknowledging the resourcefulness and enterprising spirit of Igbo people, the President said: “The fundamental thing about the Igbo people is that there is no town you will visit in Nigeria without seeing the Igbo being in charge of either infrastructure or pharmaceutical industry.

“Therefore, it is unthinkable for me that any Igbo man would consider himself not to be a part of Nigeria. The evidence is there for everyone to see that Igbo are in charge of Nigeria’s economy.”

Buhari was in the state to commission projects by Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma.

During an interactive session with the President, attended by about 200 Igbo leaders drawn from the five Southeast states, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor, said the foremost need of the region is security.

According to him, “The security of Ndigbo in Nigeria and beyond has become a compelling primary responsibility of serious concern for Ndigbo. Regrettably, our Southeast zone has recently become a theatre of conflict, negating the peace-loving nature of our people. In this context, Ohanaeze Ndigbo calls for the establishment of a zonal and state police apparatus to support and complement the existing federal security architecture.”

Also, besides calling for the “release of Igbo youths detained by various security agencies across the country”, Obiozor noted: “The Southeast zone is in dire need of more infrastructure sponsored by the Federal Government, among these are roads, bridges, railways and ports.”

Obiozor said in spite of threats of secession facing the country, no secessionist element can succeed in an atmosphere of good governance based on equity, justice and fairness to all the citizens.

He expressed optimism that the visit would “mark the beginning of a new chapter of dialogue, cooperation and understanding” between Ndigbo and the Buhari administration.

One of the Igbo leaders expressed disappointment with the President for throwing away a golden opportunity to “reintegrate Igbo people, earn their support and…improve his relationship with them.”

A former national chairman of the United Progressives Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, however, insisted the President was not given to “making open promises or speaking to the gallery”. He said he was confident Buhari would take the address seriously.

But, while addressing the Southeast leaders, Buhari said he would want to be remembered as the President who stabilised the country in the areas of security, economic prosperity and triumph over corruption.

He said, with less than two years left of his eight-year tenure, security still remains a major priority for his administration.

“If there is no security, there is nothing anyone can do, no matter how much you try or the initiative you have. Security is number one priority and then the economy. When people feel secure they will mind their own business,” he said.

He also promised that the Federal Government would complete key ongoing projects in the region, including the Second Niger Bridge and railway lines.

Streets in Owerri, the Imo State capital, and in others states of the region were deserted, yesterday as residents complied with the sit-at-home directive by the secessionist Indigenous People of Biafra.

The Speaker of the Imo State Assembly, Paul Emeziem, meanwhile, applauded Governor Uzodimma for drawing the President to the state, saying: “The visit has further justified that the governor truly means well for Imo people.”

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