By Chioma Gabriel, Anayo Okoli, Omeiza Ajayi & Chinonso Alozie
ABUJA—Less than 75 days to the October 1 ”quit notice” issued by a coalition of northern youths to Igbo living in the region, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council, weekend, met with the northern coalition with a view to charting a common course for peaceful co-existence of various groups in all parts of the country.
Consequently, the northern coalition has said it has begun the process of reviewing its earlier demands asking the Igbo to quit, but said it would not back down on its petition to the United Nations asking it to intervene in the affairs of the nation.
It also insisted that the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, be punished for the damage done to the psyche of Nigerians.
On their side, the Ohanaeze youths dissociated themselves from secessionist agitations, and asked Nigerians to consider such agitations as perhaps a cry to redress noticeable imbalance in the composition of the country.
The parent body of Ohanaeze, however, has disowned any statement credited to the youth wing, saying the Okechukwu Isiguzoro leaderhip was under suspension.
A release signed by National Deputy Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chuks Ibegbu, yesterday, said any statement credited to any official of the suspended wing bears no authorisation from Ohanaeze National Executive Committee.
It said: “It’s only the President General and the publicity Unit/any other official authorised or mandated to do so that can speak on behalf of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.”
This came as Igbo pressure group, Igbo Peoples Congress, IPC, has condemned the Arewa youth coalition for threatening to write the UN over IPOB and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu instead of feeling remorse for their treasonable declaration of quit notice to Igbo in the north some weeks ago.
The meeting of Ohanaeze and Arewa youths which held Saturday evening in Abuja lasted several hours
We’re reviewing our earlier position — Arewa
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the meeting in Abuja, chairman of the Coalition of Northern Youths, Yerima Shettima, who commended the move, said the peace meeting between the two groups led to the formation of a six-member committee, which will facilitate another meeting in the South-East.
Kanu should be punished
On the Kaduna declaration of the coalition, Shettima said, “Leaving Nnamdi Kanu to go unpunished is totally unacceptable to us because he has so far done much damage on our psyche and our nation.
“So, for us, we think the best we can do is to internationalise this struggle. Behind the background of what we are doing today, most likely in the event of anything falling short of what we agreed, of course we are already in the UN reporting this same character. That does not stop us from discussing to arrive at a particular conclusion where we can have peace in the country.
“On our previous position, we have not officially withdrawn the quit notice given to the Igbo in the North but we said it few days ago that we will review our position and part of that steps is what we are taking now.”
While commending the Ohanaeze Youth Council for a fruitful discussion, Shettima said: “I thank God we are talking with a recognized body of entire youths organisation in the South-East called Ohanaeze Youth Council that is known everywhere. It means that this is a welcome development and we are happy that they have actually sought to get our audience to discuss the way forward out of all these uprisings.
“We are glad to get some words coming out from the leadership of Ohanaeze Youth Council, specifically on the area of seeking to see us to discuss issues. It means they realised that we are very angry and a lot of things have fallen out of place as a result of their shortcoming in the sense that if they had called the young man to order from time past, we wouldn’t have gone to this extreme.
“The second one is the assurance from the president of the council. If I quote him very well, he said: ‘Nnamdi Kanu is just looking for self recognition’, and we became more relaxed and comfortable getting that from him.
“The third one is him making efforts to bring MASSOB and IPOB together for us to go into a roundtable discussion. I think it is a welcome development.”
Also speaking, National President, Ohanaeze Youth Council, Mazi Okechukwu Isigusoro, thanked the northern coalition for a fruitful deliberation, adding that the council believes in one Nigeria.
He said: “We want to specially thank the coalition of Northern groups for accepting to host us in Abuja. Our talks have been very smooth beyond our expectations and we want to appreciate them, knowing fully well that we thought this talks would have ended in fiasco or taken a dangerous dimension but the way they have peacefully handled it shows that they are a peaceful people.
“We commend them for that and also believe that through this dialogue, we believe in the future that there will be no boycott of these talks and if followed peacefully, we will bring an end to some of our problems in this county.”
OYC denies criticising Kanu
Meanwhile, Ohanaeze Youth Council, OYC, has denied a report credited to its President, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, to the effect the leader of IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, was seeking self recognition through his struggle for Biafra, saying the council would never criticize the activities of the IPOB in respect of the agitation.
In a statement, the council said the issue of Nnamdi Kanu never came in the meeting they had in Abuja with some leaders of Arewa youths, insisting that the meeting was strictly on how to resolve the quit notice issued to the Igbo by some groups of Arewa youths.
“Our President was misquoted. The president of Ohanaeze youths never said that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is seeking self recognition. The issue of Nnamdi Kanu never came up. We will never condemn the self determination clamour by IPOB and MASSOB.”