Apex Igbo sociocultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Friday, faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s reference to Biafra war, while threatening to deal with individuals destroying public infrastructure in the Southeast.
Recall that Buhari had in a statement on May 31, which has since been deleted by social media platform, Twitter for rules violation, said “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
The statement, coming a day after millions in the Southeast mourned their dead, 54 years after the state of Biafra was proclaimed, after coups and counter coups and systemic massacre of people of Eastern origin, triggering the bloody 30-month civil war, did not sit well with many who saw it as a threat to repeat the events of the war, amid security concerns in the region.
Reacting to the statement, President-general of Ohanaeze, Professor George Obiozor at a press conference in Enugu on Friday, described as unfortunate, what he called the “shock threat” by President Buhari, stressing that “shock and awe” was reserved for enemies and not citizens, appealing to the Federal Government to reconsider the use of force in addressing the nation’s challenges.
Obiozor emphasized that Ndigbo would not support the breakup of the country, but would resist any attempt to make them victim of Nigeria’s unity.
He noted that majority of Nigerians prefer unity to secession, adding, however, that such unity should exist in an atmosphere of justice, peace, equity and fairness.
The Ohanaeze president also gave backing to the declaration of May 30 as ‘Biafra Day” by Southeast governors, saying the time to mourn or remember the dead was traditionally a solemn occasion.
He said it was imperative and proper for Ndigbo to remember their own who died across the country either in genocide or the civil war in Nigeria between 1967 and 1970.
Obiozor, also called on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Igbo youths to employ dialogue as a means for resolving current challenges facing Ndigbo, noting that there was nothing to celebrate in violence.
“We cannot change our lots and situations by steering and provoking hatred amongst ourselves, raining insults and abuses on ourselves and declaring war against those who disagree with your own ideas and approach to resolving our common problems,” said.
Obiozor, who expressed sadness over the situation of things in Igboland, especially increased extra-judicial killings, urged the Federal Government to take note of “ongoing human rights violations in the Southeast zone, adding: “We must beware of its international consequences and domestic implications in our ability to heal the Nigerian nation. Nigeria is at crossroads of its history and destiny. Let wisdom prevail.”
He maintained that dialogue was the panacea to the challenges facing the country, saying it was patriotic. He added that the international community was expecting the Nigerian leadership to resolve the present national crises and not by military action.
“To secure Nigeria, to develop Nigeria and to have peace, the Federal Government should immediately engage all Nigerian groups through their various leaders in an urgent dialogue.
“Dialogue is what patriotic Nigerians and the international community is now expecting of Nigerian leadership to resolve the current problem,” he said.
He reiterated that using violent means to solve national problems had always led to national fractionalisation, anarchy and eventual disintegration, adding that Nigerians must recognise the historical fact that in any society where injustice becomes the rule of law, “resistance becomes a duty or an obligation.”