By Emeka Mamah, Henry Umoru, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Dennis Agbo
ABUJA—PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, assured the Igbo that his administration would give them their dues in appointments and provision of infrastructure.
The promise made when he received a coalition of South-East youth groups who mounted a vigil at the Presidential Villa gate to show solidarity with him was, however, dismissed as coming too little and too late in the life of his administration by several Igbo groups and personalities.
Buhari, who was represented by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, vowed that the South-East would get its due in appointments and infrastructure.
He said: “On behalf of President Muhammadu Okechukwu Buhari, I receive this letter, and I say thank you all.
“The fact that a coalition from the South-East region has come to mount this solidarity rally for him is very significant because some mischief makers always say that the South-East region is not with the President; that is not true.
“It was in the South-East region that he was given the name Okechukwu during the campaign; it was in the South-East in Abia precisely that Eze Ikonne gave him a traditional title. So we know that every part of this country approves the leadership of President Muhammadu Okechukwu Buhari.
“Last week, youths from the South-South region were here to also show their solidarity with him. This gives us confidence that no matter what anybody does, no matter the antics of people who plot mischief, Nigeria will remain one.
“You must have heard our President yesterday (Monday) in his nationwide address when he said whatever it takes, Nigeria will be kept together. And I tell you, whatever it takes, this President will keep the country together.
“Therefore, anybody who is planning something else should know that it’s just a mere waste of time. It is like beating a dead horse, which is sheer waste of energy. Nigeria will remain one. President Muhammadu Buhari will keep the country together.”
Speaking earlier, the convener of the coalition of Southeast youths for Buhari, Steve Anyata, said one of the reasons for coming was to inform the President that while he was away on medical vacation, some youths from the North issued a quit notice to the South-East to leave the northern zone before October 1.
He also said their demonstration was to give a different narrative to the reports while he was away that some Nigerians demanded that he resumes or resigns.
They also passed a vote of confidence in the president’s ability and capacity to lead the country.
We want restructuring—Igbo groups
While the President-General of Onanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, drew back from commenting on the President’s promise, the Eastern Consultative Assembly, ECA, described the promises as laughable, saying Ndigbo were not ready to stay in Nigeria any longer unless the country was restructured.
Secretary of ECA, Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, who reacted to the statement in a telephone interview, said after 47 years of oppression by the Nigerian government, the least Ndigbo would accept was restructuring of the country into six zones.
Ugochukwu-Uko said: “The agenda of 47 years is what the Federal Government led by Buhari is rehashing. They believe that the agenda they set 47 years ago can still be valid in today’s Nigeria but they are very wrong.
“Our youths want a separate country from Nigeria. They want to leave the country, but we are saying that we can beg them to stay in Nigeria if the country is restructured into six zones.
S-East Senate Caucus
Chairman, South East Senate Caucus, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, on his part also, dismissed the promise, saying that what the South-East people want from the government at the moment, was serious restructuring of the country.
Senator Abaribe said: “South-East do not want cosmetic platitudes, but restructuring of Nigeria.”
Also, National Chairman of Igbo Women Assembly, IWA, Mrs Marie Okwor, said: “Ndigbo are not talking of more appointments. This shows that Buhari has no programme for the country.
In its reaction, Chairman, Nsukka Zonal Union, NZU, Chief Joseph, said the only option available was for Buhari to set up a committee that would work for the restructuring of the country instead of the Federal Government deceiving itself that few individuals would continue to lord it over others as if Nigeria belongs to them, adding: “Enough is enough.”
United Progressives Party
President Buhari’s promises to the Southeast was immediately dismissed by the United Progressives Party, UPP, which through its national chairman, Chief Chekwas Okorie, said what the region demanded was for the president’s party, the All Progressives Congress, APC to fulfil its promise of restructuring.
He said: “These are no longer what Ndigbo need. We have seen appointments and Buhari cannot give us more appointments than Jonathan did. We want restructuring, a restructured Nigeria where the Igboman can have self-actualization and conduct his enterprise freely.”
Odozi Nwodozi who is Chairman of Ohanaeze in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, also flayed the administration, saying it had not shown faith in the Igbo.
According to him,m the promises have come too late and too little, saying: “If they are promising that the South East will benefit in a government that has stayed over two years, somebody is economical with the truth.”