By Ado Hassan, Sokoto
The Indigbo of Sokoto, Evangelist Stephen Akoma yesterday said northern youths who are not comfortable with Igbos presence in the region should relocate to any part of the world and leave us in the north.
“Igbos will not move an inch from the region. I am also giving them 3 months to relocate from the north.”
He said ” this is 2017 and not 1967. We should do something that will engender peace and unity in the country. Let be wise.”
Akoma made the remarks in Sokoto while reacting to recent threat issued to Igbos by a coalition of northern youths organisations to relocate from the region within 3 months.
The northern youths organisations had Tuesday issued a 3 months notice to Igbos in the region to relocate out of the north following a meeting it called” Kaduna Declaration”
The group gave the Igbos up to October 1st this year to relocate.
They premised their declaration on the shut down of major towns in south eastern parts of the country by the members of the Indigeneous People of Biafra(IPOB).
Reading a statement on behalf of the youths organisations which included: Arewa Citizens Action for Change, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Arewa Youth Development Foundation, Arewa Students Forum and Northern Emancipation Network on the Igbo Persistence for Secession among others, Mallam Abdulazeez Suleiman, the region was tired of the marriage hence the need for restructuring as been urged by notables Nigerians as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Senator Shehu Sani among others.
According to them” the persistence for the actualisation of Biafra by the unruly Igbo of the South-East Nigeria has lately assumed another alarming twist which involved the forceful lockdown of activities and denial of others people’s right to free movement in the South-East by the rebel Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and its overt and covert sponsors.”
The youth organisations after meeting with several others, also noted with concern the persistent Igbo threat to national integration hence, reviewed the current position of the north and jointly came up with the declaration.
However, Akoma said the relationship built by the Igbos in the north cannot be ruined over night by empty threats from a section of youths in the region.
” We have built a long time relationship which has earned us the confidence of each other to live in peace as Nigerians.
” I am a proponent of one Nigeria devoid of religious cultural and political sentiments”, he stated.
The Sokoto Igbo Chief who has stayed over 44 years in the ancient city said ” I gave birth to all my children here in Sokoto including one of them who is now an army officer and have many friends from the north.
” Our relationship with north is unshakeable and cannot be threatened.
” Of the 44 years of my stay in the region, I don’t think I have visited my village for 6 months if you total all my trips to the east. I can only boast of northern friends which I don’t have in the east”, he added.
He recalled that in 2012, Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar had assured them of his commitment towards ensuring their protection, adding” I am still banking on his words of promise at a security meeting held in 2012 in his palace where he said anything that will happen to a stranger or resident community must first happen to him. Therefore, you should sit put without entertaining fears”, he quoted the monarch as saying.
Akoma said while Igbos in Sokoto and the north in general would be watchful, also appealed to them to continue to remain calm and avoid provocative acts, statements and rumour for the peace and stability of the country.
In the same vein, the Indigbo appealed to the federal government to do anything possible to change the dimension of all kinds of agitations to strengthen the stability of the country” there should be an arrangement to cushion the earnings and aspirations of agitators most especially by engaging the youths through creating employment for them to curb their excesses.
” It will solve the problems of idle statements and meetings to cause confusion and tension in the country”, he pointed out.