THE Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, has reassured the Igbo living in different parts of the North that they have nothing to fear about the quit order recently issued by some northern youth groups.
The governors of the 19 northern states on Wednesday also disowned the coalition of Arewa groups and assured Igbos of their safety in the region.
A coalition of northern youth groups had recently issued an October quit notice to south-easterners in the region — an action which has been roundly criticised from various quarters.
In a statement in Abakaliki on behalf of the SEGF, Umahi urged the Igbo in the north to go about their businesses without fear and called on religious leaders and other well-meaning to speak against the call made by the youth groups.
He stated: “We must call on all serious-minded patriots, particularly the religious leadership in Northern Nigeria; the leadership of other socio-cultural groups in Northern Nigeria; the Nigerian Governors Forum; and all the service branches to rise up with voices of peace and wisdom to counteract the mischievousness and exuberant excesses of the northern youth.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government and governors of the 19 northern states have disowned the youth groups and assured Igbo of their safety in the region.
The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai in condemning the action of the youths called for the arrest of the sponsors of the Arewa forum.
He described the ultimatum by the youth groups as provocative and mischievous, and called on northern leaders to ensure that they take adequate actions that will defuse the intended plot of the youth, in other to ensure that the grim history of the past is not repeated.
Noted Umahi: “The ugly lessons of history are too grim to be stoked with carelessness. As leaders, we must exert the full measure of our powers and influence to forestall a repetition.
“We call on all Igbo sons and daughters resident in Northern Nigeria to go about their lawful daily activities without fear of intimidation, hindrance or molestation.”
He dismissed suggestions that governors of the south-east had decided to mobilise vehicles to transport the Igbo out of northern region, stating, “the rumours being peddled on conventional and social media platforms that we, the governors of the Southeast have met and agreed to mobilise vehicles and cash for repatriation of Ndigbo resident in Northern Nigeria must be disregarded, as they are nothing but tissues of lies.
“No amount of provocation would lead us to such precipitate and irresponsible action at this time. Those exploiting such vacuous tittle-tattle as a basis for divisive rhetoric in public spaces are simply playing juvenile politics and we urge them to cease and desist.”
In the meantime, Umahi stated the commitment of the south-east governors to “the existence of a virile, united prosperous and progressive Federal Republic of Nigeria where justice, fairness, equity, mutual respect and equality of opportunity to all citizens regardless of creed, ethnicity or gender will reign supreme under the inflexible rule of law.”