Secession Agitations: 7 Takeaways From Osinbajo Talks With Leaders
Between June 13 and June 22, Nigeria’s Acting President Yemi Osinbajo held talks with political, traditional and religious leaders from the north and south-east and top media executives.
It was part of efforts to douse growing agitations for independence mostly from the south-east and tension that an ultimatum issued for Igbos in the north to leave.
In Kaduna, a coalition of northern youth groups issued an ultimatum the lebelled 'Kaduna Declaration', asking Igbos living in the region to leave before October 1. They had insisted that they would no longer consider them as part of Nigeria after the set date.
Since the civil war ended in 1970, agitation for Biafra has been on but never in the history of the nation has it been this severe.
It was in attempt to douse the tension brewing that the presidency called together leaders from the concerned regions to seek their support in its effort to ensure that the inter-ethnic tension does not lead to crisis.
A statement by a spokesman for the Acting President, Mr Laolu Akande, highlighted the takeaways from the meetings where Professor Osinbajo had highlighted that the Muhammadu Buhari administration was not deaf to grievances in parts of the country and would address them.
1. Professor Osinbajo had urged that such grievances should be expressed with grace.
2. The meetings established some common ground on a number of issues such as the condemnation of all the hate and divisive rhetoric by the concerned groups of Northern and South-eastern youths.
3. The meeting emphasised the need for all leaders and elders, regardless of political or ideological persuasion, to speak out more forcefully to counter divisive and hate speeches and any form of warmongering.
4. Participants also agreed on the primacy of the country’s constitution, the ultimate basis for the unity of Nigeria.
5. It was also agreed that the constitution guarantees freedom of residence and of movement for all Nigerians anywhere in the country, without fear of discrimination or prejudice. This counters the Kaduna Declaration that demands that Igbos must leave the north before October 1.
6. The meetings also highlighted the need to draw a line between the freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution and the degeneration of such expression into hate rhetoric and prejudice.
7. Agreement was also reached on the necessity of confronting all grievances and frustrations head-on, however uncomfortable they might seem instead of ignoring issues and allowing them to fester.
Mr Akande said that Professor Osinbajo reassured Nigerians of the determination and resolve of the Buhari administration to ensure their well-being and security at all times.
He also said consultations by the Presidency with various segments of the Nigerian society would continue and expressed appreciation to all the leaders for their time and commitment to the unity, peace and progress of the nation.