Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, founder of Igbo Youth Movement (IYM), has criticised southeast governors, the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and other leaders of the zone, saying that they failed to address real issues affecting Ndigbo in a communique they issued at end of their meeting in Enugu at weekend.
The leaders had in the communique read by chairman of the Southeast governors forum and governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, declared that members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) are not speaking for the interest of the region on the call for secession.
They also condemned all secession agitations in the country, noting that, “We firmly proclaim that we do not support them, they do not speak for the people of South-Eastern Nigeria. The impression that South-East leaders are silent over some of our youths’ agitations for secession is not true.
The leaders also spoke against extrajudicial killing of youth in the zone, by security agents, while noting that, “In order not to mismanage the unfortunate situation, South-East leaders have set up a committee to engage such youths to stop and allow elders speak to address.”
However, reacting to the communique in a statement made available to our correspondents on Sunday, Evang. Uko, who is also Secretary, Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA) and Deputy Secretary, Igbo leaders of Thought (ILT), argued that the leaders failed address properly, the issues fuelling agitations in the zone and other parts of the country.
According to him, the issues are about the anger of the younger generation Ndigbo and their desire to opt out of Nigeria, and this regard, “the meeting failed to sincerely inform the world why the agitation continues to grow in leaps and bounds. That would have been the honest thing to do.”
Uko who blamed the suffocating unitary structure of the Nigerian federation, and lack on sincere leadership for agitations in the country, argued that, “the unitary structure of the government has over the years, created a feeding bottle arrangement that cannot be sustained any longer.
“This unitary arrangement has given birth to many social, economic and political problems, that are directly responsible for sleaze in the system, inability to pay salaries and pension as at when due, unemployment, overpopulation in the cities and the rise in the level of violent crimes and drug abuse.”
In the statement titled, “THE IDEAL COMMUNIQUE,” Uko equally alleged that there are plots by security agencies to set him up, using fifth columnist, but assured that he would continue to make his positions on issues that affect Ndigbo and Nigerians in general known, as according to him, he has nothing to hide.
He, however, encouraged Southeast leaders to collaborate with leaders of other geopolitical zones to continue to demand for restructuring, as according to him, it’s the only way save the country from its gradual descent into anarchy, while also calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to heed calls for restructuring.
Read his full statement below:
THE IDEAL COMMUNIQUE,
I had no intention of commenting on the communique of the just held meeting of the South East Governors, Ohanaeze, Igbo leaders and elders. I am forced to present the truth once again, for three reasons.
1. To continue prayerfully, driving the conversation in search of reconciliation, healing and peaceful resolution of the situation. Hoping that the truth I present will be of some use in the search for harmonious agreement that will heal the land.
2. For the sake of the Security and intelligence agencies that are never tired of seeking ways to entrap me and catch me in my words in order to rope me in, one way or another. Enormous resources, I learnt, has been voted and expended in the project ROPE IN ELLIOT AT ALL COSTS, they just must deliver on their mandate, hence, the desperate hustle to entangle me and get me into trouble by all means. This team will be greatly disappointed and troubled if I say nothing.
The group of professional informants, agents, pseudo leaders and elders, who boast that they have mastered the art of manipulating the leadership of the agitators through flattery. They claim to have successfully gone far in the scheme and plot of making incursions into the agitators through their lawyers and are now able to weaken them from within, by turning them against who ever they resent, in order to slowly cripple them. This group hire reporters to call me, record the conversation and then use it to hoodwink the boys, so as to mislead them.
For this three reasons: Here’s my response.
It is impressive to hear our leaders, talk about rules of engagement, careful and cautious investigations and keeping the peace. That is welcome.
It is also noted that our leaders have shown the desire to reach out, engage and collate grievances to present to the central government. This is encouraging and commendable.
They also condemned the violence, especially the wanton wasting of precious lives. They are in order. However, the issues are about the anger of the younger generation Ndigbo and their desire to opt out of Nigeria. In that regards, the meeting failed to sincerely inform the world why the agitation continues to grow in leaps and bounds. That would have been the honest thing to do.
How I wish their communique sounded something like this:
After deliberations on the situation in our land today, we humbly plead with Mr President to note our findings on the origin, cause and reasons the unrest in the land is growing instead of abating.
The unitary structure of the government has over the years, created a feeding bottle arrangement that cannot be sustained any longer. This unitary arrangement has given birth to many social, economic and political problems, that are directly responsible for sleaze in the system, inability to pay salaries and pension as at when due, unemployment, overpopulation in the cities and the rise in the level of violent crimes and drug abuse.
This issues that include poverty, inflation, weak electoral process, impunity, hunger and inequality, has festered for long and created cleavages and agitations that have unfortunately remained unaddressed over time.
That our investigations and enquiries have confirmed that the feeling of exclusion and marginalisation, which have grown unchecked in recent time, is largely responsible for the loss of faith in the system, especially by the younger generation and this inspired the agitation for secession. That unless this issues are addressed from the root, there seems no likelihood to see an early end to the agitation.
We, as leaders of the region, believe that granting listening ear to the pains, frustrations and fears of the agitators and applying non kinetic strategy in resolving the issue, will much better produce lasting results.
The agitators are of the argument that the dichotomy applied in the day to day life of the average youths, including state-of-origin dichotomy and unkind disparate school admission cut off marks for different regions, creates unfair inequalities and grave injustices that retards their growth and development and hinders their aspirations, whilst eroding their desire to remain in the same unkind condition.
They believe that the hostile attitude towards them, makes it very difficult and almost impossible for them to be proud of their country, let alone bequeath such humiliating condition to their own children.
Reports from committees mandated to engage the agitators, indicate that the strident refusal by certain people to restructure the polity along the lines of true federalism and devolution of power, over the years, greatly grew the fears of the younger generation, who simply do not wish to continue merely existing in fear and hopelessness as permanent onlookers and eternal spectators in the Nigerian project.
They believe Nigeria does not have a future under the present unitary structure that suffocates development.
Consequently, our children have taken a position that took us quite some time to understand. This has brought us into direct conflict with the angry younger generation, who are in their millions. As is clearly obvious for all to see, out of frustrations, they have mobilized themselves all over the world, share information through globally monitored radio broadcasts and the very powerful social media, deepening their agitation and marching on resolutely to achieve their aim.
They do not have kind words for us, whom they accuse of not doing enough to secure justice and equity for their generation.
We are of the honest view that engaging them in a dialogue as opposed to military action would serve better the interests of all sides.
The several military operations in the past (operation python dance) only deepened and strengthened the agitation. The application of lethal force alone, as the only solution, has not solved the problem, as can be seen by all.
To add salt to an already festering wound, the brigandage of the herdsmen, and the inability of the Security and law enforcement agencies to rein them in, for several years now, turned the hearts of the people away from the government and towards the militia, any one at that, that would protect them and save them from the virulent onslaught from the well armed herdsmen, who kidnap, rape, behead, decapitate hapless civilians at will, without any fears of arrest or prosecution. As nature abhors a vacuum, the agitators seemed to fill a missing gap in the provision of security.
The vicious destruction of farms and burning of homesteads, by the herdsmen who act as if they are above the law, coupled with the inability of the government to protect citizens, led to the acceptance of the militias by the marooned and stranded citizens. All these helped in no small measure to strengthen the agitation and popularise the agitators.
We are of the view, that an invitation and engagement of the aggrieved youths, and listening to their grievances will help in no small measure to douse the tension in the land.
Finally, as leaders of this region, we stand whole heartedly with the people and leaders of all the regions of this country, who believe that a wholesome restructuring of the polity is the way to go.
Accordingly, we plead with Mr. President to work with all arms of government, regions and leaders of this country, towards an early restructuring of Nigeria, for therein lies the solution to the issues bedeveling the land today.
We call on our youths, to refrain from violence of any sort and to work together with our leaders in search of a peaceful resolution of the situation. We plead with our youths to show restraint and give us some time, even as they cooperate in the search for peaceful resolution.
Our committees mandated to exchange ideas with the younger generation in search of a way forward are open to all. Any individual or group is free to make written suggestions and contributions on the road to peace.
Thank you all.