Arewa youths under the coalition of Northern youth groups, have reacted to the condemnation that trailed their three- month ultimatum on Tuesday asking Igbo to leave the north.
In a statement issued after their meeting, on Thursday, in Kaduna, the group insisted that the north will not be part of a federation that includes the Igbo and called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to as a matter of urgency, initiate the process for a peaceful referendum to allow the Igbo to go.
“We urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to as a matter of urgency, initiate the process for a peaceful referendum to allow the Igbo to go. Let them go”.
The coalition had on Tuesday in Kaduna, ordered Igbo resident in the North to relocate within three months, saying that the region was no longer disposed to coexist with the them in Nigeria.
“Definite steps shall be taken by the north to end the partnership by pulling out of the current federal arrangement.
“We are hereby placing the Nigerian authorities and the entire nation on notice that as from the 1st October 2017, we shall commence the implementation of visible actions to prove to the whole world that we are no longer part of any federal union that should do with the Igbo,” the coalition declared.
The statement had attracted condemnation from government and prominent Nigerians across the country.
The Kaduna state government on Wednesday ordered for the arrest, investigation and prosecution of those behind the inciting statement.
Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) and Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, had also condemned the group, describing them as faceless.
Thursday’s statement signed on behalf of the coalition by Abdulazeez Suleiman, said the coalition never called for violence or war against the Igbo, adding that the group’s statement on Tuesday was distorted.
“Some elements have for reasons best known to them, mischievously distorted the intent of our original script by alluding such words as ‘violence, ‘ ‘threat, ‘ ‘war’ and ‘mass action’ to it.
“We find this mischievous because as cultured thorough bred northerners, we have never anywhere and at anytime, under whatever circumstances, called anybody to violence as a means of conflict resolution” the statement said.
The group also lashed at the Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and the Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) and governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima for allegedly taking side with the Igbo for selfish political ambition.
The statement reads: “In strict observance of that tradition we never employ violence as a means of pursuing our interest and at every opportunity, we opt for peaceful engagements and implore people to eschew violence in all its ramifications.
“This informs why, a majority of discerning Nigerians, not necessarily northerners alone, understood and identified with our express call for the Biafrans to be allowed to actualize their long-held secessionist aspiration”.
“We restate that we have never called anybody to violence and that people should discountenance the elements of fear and threat introduced by the distortions of merchants of mischief.
“We wholeheartedly endorse the moves made variously by our leaders to allay those fears and urge people to be peaceful and law-abiding while at the same time resolutely insisting on having the right thing done by allowing the Igbo to have and move to their dream country in accordance with the universal fundamental right to self-determination.
“We restate our determination and commitment to ensuring that the North will never partake in any contrived arrangement that would still have the Biafran Igbo as a component.
“We reiterate our call on Nigerian authorities and recognized international bodies such as the ECOWAS, AU and UN to hasten the initiation of the process for the final actualization of the Biafran nation and with it the excision of the Igbo out of the present federation.
“As we acknowledge this outpouring of patriotic support across the nation, we implore people, particularly our cultured northerners to remain restraint in the face of any provocation from any quarter and to debate intelligently.
“We assure them that we shall be firm and resolute in honestly and painstakingly pursuing what we all know is a noble and just cause without hurting anyone.
“We have taken time to analyze the reactions that trailed our declaration, and were nauseated by the comments of some disgruntled northern political power mongers.
“We are particularly disappointed by the treacherous positions assumed by Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai and Kashim Shettima who in pursuit of their blind ambition for the vice presidency, chose to side with the secessionist Igbo against the interest of peace-loving Nigerians.
“el-Rufai and Shettima are openly known to be waiting in the wings for Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari to die so they can further their plots to seek the presidency.
“It appears that characters like el-Rufai have no limit on how low they can fall in their inordinate desire to achieve their long held dream of power grab at the expense of the peace, well being and stability of our country.
“We would like to assure el-Rufai and his ilks that we shall continue to expose their recalcitrant treachery and opportunistic proclivities.
We also assure them that the drive for a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria in which the Igbo are not partners, will continue unabated.
“Similarly, we are irked by the hordes of lies and misleading innuendos issued by Kashim Shettima, ostensibly on behalf of 19 Northern governors in which he referred to us as faceless and violent.
“By our antecedents and track record, no politician or leader of honorable pedigree and impeccable character will associate us with such fabrications and this goes to prove that Shettima has disconnected from reality as he gets intoxicated by immoral wealth and property acquisition at the expense of people of the state suffering the devastation of Boko Haram”.