A coalition of youth groups from Northern Nigeria has reacted to widespread condemnation of their ultimatum to Igbo citizens residing in all parts of Northern Nigeria to leave on or before October 1, 2017 to return to Southeastern Nigeria. The coalition, made up of Arewa Citizens Action for Change, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Arewa Youth Development Foundation, Arewa Students Forum, and Northern Emancipation Network, had on June 6, 2017 issued their ultimatum to Igbo to return to their ethnic heartland in order to achieve the secessionist agitation for a Republic of Biafra. In the same statement, the groups had urged all Northerners living in the Southeast to return to the North by the October 1 deadline.
The coalition’s statement provoked a deluge of reactions, with Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State condemning their ultimatum and demanding that security agencies arrest the signatories to the “Kaduna Declaration,” so named because the youth groups met in Kaduna, the state capital.
In addition, the Northern Governors’ Forum as well as Ohaneze NdIgbo, the apex socio-political organ of the Igbo, strongly criticized the Kaduna Declaration, declaring it treasonable and unconstitutional as well as a grave threat to law and order in the country.
But in a statement issued today, the coalition of Northern youth groups pushed back against critics of their position, accusing Governors El-Rufai and Kashim Shettima of Borno State of attacking their position on account of the two governors’ political ambitions.
The coalition claimed that they never advocated the use of violence to achieve their goals. It described critics of its Kaduna Declaration as “mischievous,” adding, “we have never anywhere and at anytime, under whatever circumstances, called anybody to violence as a means of conflict resolution.
“In strict observance of that tradition we never employ violence as a means of pursuing our interest and at every opportunity, we opt for peaceful engagements and implore people to eschew violence in all its ramifications.”
The coalition of Northern youth groups said they were “particularly disappointed by the treacherous positions assumed by Nasir Ahmed Elrufai and Kashim Shettima who in pursuit of their blind ambition for the vice presidency, chose to side with the sessessionist Igbos against the interest of peace-loving Nigerians.”
The coalition reaffirmed their demand for the Igbo to evacuate from the Northern part of Nigeria, and restated their rejection of any arrangement that would include the Igbo in the Nigerian federation.
The coalition said the earlier statement they released two days ago was a call on Nigerian authorities and the international community to facilitate the Igbo demand to live in a separate nation called Biafra.
The latest statement by the Northern youth group, riddled with spelling and other grammatical errors, contended that their coalition “primarily called on the authorities and the international community to step in to formalize the actualization of the dream of a people who say in words and in action, and the whole nation appears to concur, that they are Biafrans not Nigerians.”
They added: “We restate our determination and commitment to ensuring that the North will never partake in any contrived arrangement that would still have the Biafran Igbo as a component.
“We reiterate our call on Nigerian authorities and recognized international bodies such as the ECOWAS, AU and UN to hasten the initiation of the process for the final actualization of the Biafran nation and with it the excision of the Igbos out of the present federation.”
The full text of the coalition latest statement is reproduced below:
JOINT PRESS STATEMENT BY THE AREWA CITIZENS ACTION FOR CHANGE, AREWA YOUTH CONSULTATIVE FORUM, AREWA YOUTH DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION, AREWA STUDENTS FORUM AND NORTHERN EMANCIPATION NETWORK ON THE FALLOUT OF THE KADUNA DECLARATION
Thursday June 8, 2017
It should be recalled that on Tuesday June 6, 2017 this coalition led several other northern groups to review the position of the North in the wake of the widening and escalating movement for secession orchestrated by groups in Eastern Nigeria.
At the end, we came up with a position paper which we presented as the Kaduna Declaration in which we primarily called on the authorities and the international community to step in to formalize the actualization of the dream of a people who say in words and in action, and the whole nation appears to concur, that they are Biafrans not Nigerians.
We further urged those Biafran nationales to relocate from the North to their newfound country in order to allow other people have peace.
We are today compelled to make this further statement to clarify our stand on some issues that trailed the Kaduna Declaration made on Tuesday June 6, 2017.
After meeting to review the fallout of that Tuesday's Declaration, our groups have arrived at the following fundamental observations:
1. That some elements have for reasons best known to them, mischievously distorted the intent of our original script by alluding such words as 'violence, ' 'threat, ' 'war' and 'mass action' to it.
2. We find this mischievous because as cultured thoroughbred Northerners we have never anywhere and at anytime, under whatever circumstances, called anybody to violence as a means of conflict resolution.
3. In strict observance of that tradition we never employ violence as a means of pursuing our interest and at every opportunity, we opt for peaceful engagements and implore people to eschew violence in all its ramifications.
4. This informs why, a majority of discerning Nigerians, not necessarily northerners alone, understood and identified with our express call for the Biafrans to be allowed to actualize their long-held secessionist aspiration.
RESTATING OUR POSITION
1. We restate that we have never called anybody to violence and that people should discountenance the elements of fear and threat introduced by the distortions of merchants of mischief.
2. We wholeheartedly endorse the moves made variously by our leaders to allay those fears and urge people to be peaceful and law-abiding while at the same time resolutely insisting on having the right thing done by allowing the Igbo to have and move to their dream country in accordance with the universal fundamental right to self-determination.
3. We restate our determination and commitment to ensuring that the North will never partake in any contrived arrangement that would still have the Biafran Igbo as a component.
4. We reiterate our call on Nigerian authorities and recognized international bodies such as the ECOWAS, AU and UN to hasten the initiation of the process for the final actualization of the Biafran nation and with it the excision of the Igbos out of the present federation.
Despite the minor distortions that caused some measure of anxiety, we make bold to say that the cheerful responses to our position which flowed through the internet and by way of personal telephone conversations nationally and universally has resonated that peace-loving Nigerians who have been tormented and menaced by the irredentist proclivities of the Igbos are overwhelmingly desirous to put an end to it.
As we acknowledge this outpouring of patriotic support across the nation, we implore people, particularly our cultured northerners to remain restraint in the face of any provocation from any quarter and to debate intelligently.
We assure them that we shall be firm and resolute in honestly and painstakingly pursuing what we all know is a noble and just cause without hurting anyone.
We have taken time to analyze the reactions that trailed our Declaration, and were nauseated by the comments of some disgruntled northern political power mongers.
We are particularly disappointed by the treacherous positions assumed by Nasir Ahmed Elrufai and Kashim Shettima who in pursuit of their blind ambition for the vice presidency, chose to side with the secessionist Igbos against the interest of peace-loving Nigerians.
It appears that characters like El-Rufai have no limit on how low they can fall in their inordinate desire to achieve their long held dream of power grab at the expense of the peace, well being and stability of our country.
We would like to assure El-Rufai and his ilks that we shall continue to expose their recalcitrant treachery and opportunistic proclivities.
We also assure them that the drive for a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria in which the Igbos are not partners, will continue unabated.
Similarly, we are irked by the hordes of lies and misleading innuendos issued by Kashim Shettima, ostensibly on behalf of 19 Northern governors in which he refered to us as faceless and violent.
By our antecedents and track record, no politician or leader of honorable pedigree and impeccable character will associate us with such fabrications and this goes to prove that Shettima has disconnected from reality as he gets intoxicated by immoral wealth and property acquisition at the expense of people of the state suffering the devastation of Bolo Haram.
We urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to as a matter of urgency, initiate the process for a peaceful referendum to allow the Igbo to go. LET THEM GO.
LONG LIVE THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
FOR THE COALATION OF NORTHERN GROUPS (CNG).