The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has slammed Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the spokesman for the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), over his broadcast that Igbo should leave Nigeria if they so desire.
Baba-Ahmed in a widely-circulated broadcast video said “we said if secession is what every Igbo wants, and this is what the Igbos want, the nation should not fight a war over it”.
He went further to call on the northerners resident in Southern Nigeria to consider returning to the North.
But reacting to the position of Baba-Ahmed, on Wednesday, Ohanaeze spokesman, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, said the statement was extremely nauseating, uncouth, provocative, incendiary, inflammatory, and above all very arrogant and licentious.
Ogbonnia said, "We are not distracted by lowly persons who by the circumstances of their birth and conditions in life do not weigh the implications of their public conduct, remarks and actions before going public.
"The urbane among us know that Nigeria is one of the countries of the world that unites several nations in one; a federation of various nations or a multination state. Nigeria, like every other multination state, requires leaders who can formulate ideologies, policies and programmes aimed at galvanising or harmonising the diverse component units at all times.
"This accounts for such Federal Government schemes as the National Youths Service (NYSC), Federal Government (unity) colleges and other unifying national bodies. On the other hand, remarks with centrifugal dynamics are deliberately avoided in order to engender a genuine unity for the multicultural and multinational units of the country."
He described the call for northerners living in Southern Nigeria to consider relocating back to the north as bad.
Ohanaeze recalled that in September 2021, Baba-Ahmed, in reaction to the position of the Southern governors with respect to rotational presidency, deployed such unwarranted extreme rhetoric as “heaven will not fall if a northerner is elected the next Nigerian President”.
"It is very certain that Baba-Ahmed knows next to nothing about the economy and political tendencies of Nigeria.
“In his narrow thoughts, he does not reflect on the consequences of the Igbo leaving the country. In his delusion, he believes that the economy of the remaining part of Nigeria will be better off if the Igbo or the Ogoni, or the Yoruba or the Ijaw or the Edo, Tiv, Igala, etc. should go their separate ways.
"For the avoidance of doubt, the Igbo youths who were not even born before or during the Nigerian civil war and of course were not accessories to the war, are aggrieved over the alienation of the Igbo from the structures of power in Nigeria.
"For instance, it is public knowledge that going by rotation and zoning principle that has been entrenched as a variant of Nigerian democracy, it is the turn of the South and indeed the South East to produce the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come 2023. Nigerians and the world are living witness to the shenanigans and conspiracies by the likes of Baba-Ahmed to truncate the Igbo democratic rights.
"It is in response to such injustice that triggers the agitation among the Igbo youth for self-determination. Such a scenario played out among the Yoruba, South West when Chief MKO Abiola’s presidency was annulled. And confidence and trust were restored with the zoning of the presidency to the South West in the persons of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Chief Olu Falae of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999.
"Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural body and indeed the mouthpiece of the entire Igbo both at home and in the Diaspora, has repeatedly made it clear that the Igbo want to coexist peacefully and in unity with our fellow Nigerians.
"The diverse Igbo contributions to the economic development of all parts of the country do not indicate otherwise but the unity we want is not the unity of Jonah in the belly of the whale, but unity in holy matrimony. While the former is characterised by defecation and suffocation, the latter is procreative and productive.
“Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed has a shady background. His Mauritanian root betrays an identity crisis and psychological torture in him and he thus believes that to ingratiate himself to the Hausa-Fulani establishment, he should invest in vicious invectives against the entire South and the Igbo in particular. This is against natural justice and all known principles of nation-building.
"We reiterate that the broadcast by Baba Ahmed is a threat to peace and unity of the country and the security agencies should act on time to serve as a deterrent to some others harbouring such mindsets against the unity and corporate existence of Nigeria."