Amid rising tension created by the quit notice given to members of the Igbo community to leave the Northern part of the country by October 1, 2017, officials of the northern youths groups today met with Igbo leaders from the 19 northern states. The two sides agreed to appoint a reconciliation committee of ten men to find a lasting solution to the tense situation.
The meeting between the groups took place at Chinese Dragon Restaurant in Kano. The convener, Isah Tijjani, disclosed that the committee was given 72 hours to submit its report. He urged its members to place Nigeria first in their deliberations.
Members of the committee are drawn from the two main sides. The members of the Arewa Youths Coalition are Abdullahi Toro, Abubakar Kagu, Yima Sen, Dauda S. Shamakeri and Ado Mohammed. From among the Igbo group the members are Chi Nwogu, Eze Ngozi Nwaine Oso, Igwe Ibekwe and Magnus Ihejirika.
The Northern youths' group is led by Shettima Yarima while the Igbo group is led by Igwe Igbekwe.
Mr. Tijjani implored the committee to come up with a position that enhances understanding between the two groups for the peaceful coexistence and development of the country at large.
Our correspondent reported that a heated debate ensued between the groups before an agreement was reached to set up a committee.
In his initial statement, Mr. Yarima revealed that his group's quit notice to Igbo people in northern Nigeria was triggered by the violent agitations instigated by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), adding that Igbo elders failed to call the IPOB leader to order.
He said, "We have had a meeting with the Ohaneze Youth Council in Kaduna, [and they] dissociated themselves from Nnamdi Kanu, and we got all sorts of condemnation from the South East. So we couldn't understand what was really happening."
On his part, Mr. Ibekwe gave assurances that his group believed in the peaceful coexistence of all groups to the benefit all Nigerians.
Addressing the northern youths, Mr. Ibekwe asked, "When you issued a quit notice, where do you want us to go? For your information, none of us is a member of IPOB. Since the issuance of quit notice, you will notice that many things [have gone] differently. If you are a businessman you will understand what I am saying more clearly."
He became the first participant in the talks to suggest composing a reconciliation committee. "Let us have a committee that will sit and discuss all these issues," he urged. He added, "Let there be peace. We should all mellow down please."
Representatives of Igbo communities from all the 19 Northern states, including Abuja, attended the meeting. Various participants at the meeting were seen exchanging banners after the sitting.