Enugu—THE meeting of Igbo leaders summoned yesterday by the South East Governors’ Forum, SEGF, to discuss the security implications of the agitations by members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, and the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, ended in Enugu with the leaders resolving to set up a delegation of Igbo elders to meet President Muhammadu Buhari on the marginalisation of Igbo in the country.
They also agreed to dialogue with members of the MASSOB and IPOB groups with a view to ending the protests now rocking the old Eastern region.
The two factions of Ohanaeze were not however, part of the meeting as they were not invited as the governors had reasoned that inviting any of them would have meant legitimising such faction.
The Enwo Igariwey leadership of Ohanaeze had exhausted its tenure while the Ralph Obioha faction was not properly elected even as it was now the turn of Enugu State to produce the new chairman of the pan- Igbo group.
Both MASSOB and IPOB members have been agitating for the release of the Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, detained by security agents for running an illegal radio station.
A four-point communique read by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, at the end of the meeting on behalf of his colleagues read, “We agreed that south-east governors should set up a committee to immediately address the impasse on Ohanaeze leadership. After a compassionate review of the recent MASSOB/IPOB agitations in the country, it was resolved that a committee be set up to dialogue with MASSOB,IPOB as well as the Federal Government with a view to finding a lasting solution to the issue.
“The elders also examined other issues including poor state of infrastructural facilities in the south-east, marginalization in federal appointments and other socio-economic issues that impact on the economic development of the south-east and resolved to support the decision of south-east governors to set up an economic council and urged them to interface with the Federal Government on remedial measures. A delegation of elders of the south-east was mandated to meet with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Earlier in his welcome address, Governor Lawrence Ifeanyi Ugwanyi of Enugu State, said the meeting was a follow up to the earlier meeting of the South- East governors on November 17.
Ugwanyi said, “the meeting is a follow up to the meeting of the SEGF that we held last Tuesday, November 17, 2015, in this venue during which we reached the following resolutions on some issues affecting us as a zone; To appoint a high level Economic Advisory Committee to harness the economic potentials of the people of the South East working together. The governors are concerned about the poor state of the Federal Government roads in the zone namely the Enugu – Onitsha, Aba- Ikot Ekpene , Owerri – Port Harcourt, Enugu – Port Harcourt, among others which need urgent intervention by the Federal Government.
“On security, the issue of MASSOB/ IPOB, was discussed and they resolved to consult widely with Ohanaeze (Ndigbo), traditional rulers, development unions, clergy, and other stakeholders on how to ensure lasting peace in the zone. In furtherance to this, the South East Governors scheduled an emergency meeting of stakeholders on Sunday, November 22, 2015, (yesterday) at Enugu.
“Attendance to the emergency meeting includes all National Assembly members, all honourable ministers and other invited stakeholders from the zone. The governors advised MASSOB/IPOB to continue to toe the line of peace as this is the only way to ensure economic development of the zone. We are therefore, here to discuss matters arising from these resolutions and other issues that are of interest to the zone. We ask God to guide and direct our thoughts as we go through this function and I wish us all, happy and fruitful deliberations.
“I warmly welcome my brother governors of the south east and indeed everyone present at this important meeting of southeast leaders and stakeholders.”
Governors in attendance at the meeting included Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, (Enugu), Dave Umuahi (Ebonyi), Dr. Nkem Okeke (Deputy Governor, Anambra State) and Rochas Okorocha of Imo State.
Others were the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, former Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, former Minister of Power, Prof Barth Nnaji, former Minister of Information, Chief Nnaia Nwodo and former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara among others
However, as the stakeholders meeting was going on at the Government House Enugu, the Enwo Igariwey’s faction of Ohanaeze Ndigbo was holding a parallel meeting at the residence of the Secretary General, Dr. Joe Nworgu.
Briefing newsmen at the end of the meeting, President South-East/South/South Body of Professionals, Mr. Emeka Ugwuoju said, “the leadership of Ohanaeze met with MASSOB, IPOB where we agreed to summon a meeting of the Imeobi (the highest decision body) of Ohanaeze. Ohanaeze Ndigbo urges MASSOB/IPOB to continue to be peaceful. Ohanaeze is the only channel to talk with MASSOB/IPOB on the agitation for Biafra. We condemn the rascality of Anambra State Chapter of Ohanaeze, Chris Eleumuno, on his recent attacks on MASSOB, IPOB as he does not have the authority to speak for Ohanaeze Ndigbo.”
Ohanaeze Youths fault Eluomunoh
President General, PG, of Ohanaeze Youth Council, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, has faulted statement credited to its Anambra State Chairman, Chief Chris Eluomunoh, over the Pro-Biafra agitators, saying Eluomunoh only expressed his personal view and not that of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Recall that Eluomunoh had told journalists last week in Awka that Ohanaeze was not in support of the pro-Biafra groups, saying that Biafra died in 1970 with the surrender by General Philip Effiong, to the Nigerian troops.
Eluomunoh said no right thinking person would support what he called the madness by some youths, who were being deceived to engage in something they cannot finish.
According to him, “You will notice that Ohaneze has been very silent on the issue of Biafra insurgency, though the youth wing of Ohaneze has been speaking on it. Ohaneze, as the Igbo cultural group, cannot support Biafra and we dissociate ourselves from it totally”.
But Isiguzoro who claimed he was mandated by the Secretary General of Ohaneze, Chief Joe Nworgu, to speak on behalf of the Igbo apex body, said Eluomunoh did not have the mandate of Ohanaeze to speak on the issue.
According to him, “it is only the Ime-Obi Council that can empower the President or Secretary-General of Ohaneze to make public the official position of the Ohaneze Ndigbo on issues as this.”