SENATE minority leader Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe has dismissed all those threatening the southeast geo-political zone pointing out that no amount of threats will stop Ndigbo from demanding equitable treatment in Nigeria.
Over recent weeks, there has been significant unrest across the southeast, as youths have taken to the streets to demand equity. Among their grievances are the fact that Igbos are discriminated against when it comes to federal appointments, the federal government has done nothing to combat the menace of armed Fulani cattle herdsmen and their area gets neglected when it comes to locating federal projects.
These grievances have led to growing calls for secession and the recreation of the defunct Republic of Biafra which existed briefly between July 1967 and January 1970 during the Nigerian Civil War. Secessionist groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) have grown in popularity on the back of this agitation.
Of late, things have taken an ugly turn with armed groups resorting to violence attacking police stations, correctional facilities and offices of the Independent Electoral Commission (Inec). Blaming the violence on the Eastern Security Network (ESN), Ipob’s armed wing, the federal government has launched a crackdown, flooding the area with security operatives.
Government ministers and northern politicians have warned Igbo leaders to call their youths to order and reclaim the initiative from Ipob or face the consequences. Dismissing these threats, Senator Abaribe said that the agitation will continue as the current marginalisation has become unbearable.
According to Senator Abaribe, despite the fact that Igbo are the glue that holds Nigeria together, some people are trying to push them out. However, he said they are not going anywhere, pointing out that Ndigbo are the highest domestic investors in Nigeria.
He said the present government is manifesting sectional leadership and unequal treatment, which he said has been the problem of Nigeria. Senator Abaribe added: ” Boko Haram has been killing people but nothing was done to them. When our boys were carrying flags running around, it was easy for them to get them proscribed as a terrorist organization but the same government refused to designate Boko Haram which everybody knows their activities, killing and destroying and bombing churches and institutions.
“We are being highly marginalised. This union called Nigeria is stiflingly everybody in Nigeria not just Igbo but other regions and I am glad that we are making noise to see how to change the situation.
“What does Igbo want? Igbo want emancipation. Our people have gone through a lot. We lost over 3m people and when the war ended, were given £20 but we rose through the ashes and survived.”
“We are the glue that holds Nigeria together. We are the highest domestic investors; We are the most travelled in Nigeria. In any part of Nigeria, after the indigenous people, the next is Igbo.
“When they say want to leave, we say no, some people want to push us out. We are not going to leave Nigeria for anybody.
“If the dominant position in Nigeria today is restructuring then the minimal demand of Ndigbo in Nigeria cannot be anything less than that of restructuring. We cannot be in a country where my own child will be required to score 140 to enter the federal school while another child will be required to score just two to enter the same school.”