The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council (OYC) and the Northern Coalition of Youths held a meeting on Saturday, July 15, in order to chart a common course for the peaceful co-existence of the Igbos and Hausas in the north amid the impending ‘quit notice’ deadline.
The northern coalition, however, said it would not back down on its petition to the United Nations asking it to intervene in the affairs of the nation. While the Ohanaeze youths dissociated themselves from secessionist agitations and urge Nigerians to consider such agitations as “a cry to redress the noticeable imbalance in the composition of the country.”
Chairman of the Coalition of Northern Youths, Yerima Shettima spoke to journalists after the meeting and he said the “best” that can be done is to “internationalise the struggle.” He disclosed that the peace meeting between the two groups led to the formation of a six-member committee which would facilitate another meeting in the South-east.
Here’s what he said:
“Leaving Nnamdi Kanu to go unpunished is totally unacceptable to us because he has so far done much damage on our psyche and our nation.
“So for us, we think the best we can do is to internationalise this struggle. Behind the background of what we are doing today, most likely in the event of anything falling short of what we agreed, of course we are already in the UN reporting this same character (Kanu).
“That does not stop us from discussing to arrive at a particular conclusion where we can have peace for the country.
“On our previous position, we have not officially withdrawn the quit notice given to the Igbos in the North, but we said it a few days ago that we will review our position and part of that step is what we are discussing now.”
Mr. Shettima commended the Ohanaeze Youth Council for a fruitful deliberation, adding that it was a welcome development.
“I thank God we are talking with the recognised body of entire youths organisation in the South-east called Ohanaeze Youth Council that is known everywhere.
“This is a welcome development and we are happy that they have actually sought to get our audience to discuss the way forward out of these uprisings.
“We are glad to get some word coming out from the leadership of Ohanaeze Youth Council specifically in the area of seeking to see us to discuss issues; it means they realised that we are very angry [at the Igbos] and a lot of things are out of place as a result of their short comings in the sense that if they had called the young man to order, we wouldn’t have gone to this extreme.
“The second one is the assurance given by the president of the council. If I quote him very well, he said, ‘Nnamdi Kanu is just looking for self recognition’, and we became more relaxed and comfortable getting that from him, and the third one is him making efforts to bring MASSOB and IPOB together for us to go into a roundtable discussion. I think it is a welcome development.
On its part, the national president of OYC, Okechukwu Isigusoro, thanked the northern coalition as well as express that his council believes in one Nigeria.
Mr. Isigusoro said:
“Our talks have been very smooth beyond our expectations and we want to appreciate them knowing full well that we thought these talks could have ended in a fiasco or taken a dangerous dimension.
“But the way they have been peacefully handled it shows that they are peaceful people. We commend them for that and also believe that through this dialogue we believe in the future that there will be no boycott of these talks and if followed peacefully, we will bring an end to some of our problems in this country.”
Isigusoro, however, refuted the statement of Shettima on his stance on some groups, stating that at no time did he raise any issues on Kanu, IPOB or MASSOB at the meeting. He said the main focus of the meeting was to resolve the quit notice to the Igbos for everybody to live in peace.