The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) also known as the Arewa Youths has suspended its mandate which ordered that Igbos living in the North must relocate before October 1. The move is significant to national peace and benefits both the people and the government.
The CNG made the announcement on Thursday, August 24 at a press conference in Abuja. The meeting was attended by Chairman of Northern Governors Forum and Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima. Also in attendance were Chief Chi Nwogu of the General Igbo Delegate Assembly and the Eze Ndigbos of Kano and Niger States.
The group claims the decision was influenced by pressure from religious, political and traditional leaders. It said its correspondence with then Acting President, Yemi Osibanjo, was most significant. Its spokesperson, Alhaji Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said: “As a consequence of these vigorous engagements and as a cultured people with a tradition of respect for our nation’s values, leaders and elders, we are today pleased to announce the immediate suspension of the relocation clause otherwise referred to as the quit notice from the Kaduna Declaration.”
“In the meantime, we shall firmly pursue our petitions to the United Nations and the Nigerian federal authorities calling for the appropriate sanction of Nnamdi Kanu, other IPOB leaders and their sponsors in addition to labelling them a terror outfit,” he added.
The suspension has prevented what would have been an unjust persecution of Igbo people in the North. Their expulsion would have defiled their national freedom and basic human rights. This is because such an exodus would have played into the hands of Nnamdi Kanu’s rhetoric and further increased the calls for secession. It would have also legitimised to an extent, the agitations of the IPOB and others.
Furthermore, an extent of violence reminiscent of the 1966 anti-Igbo pogrom in which an estimated 50, 000 Igbo people living in the northern Nigeria were killed, has been potentially avoided. Consequently, reciprocal action in the East may have been averted.
It also gives the government one less thing to worry about and as it addresses the real and perceived grievances on all sides of the divide; be it the marginalisation experienced by those clamouring for Biafra or the alleged fear of civil war by the CNG. More so, it creates room for the government on both state and federal level to tackle the economic difficulties experienced by people in the southeast.
While there are no easy solutions to Nigeria’s ethnic disputes, the suspension of the clause prevents what could have been an extremely violent ordeal. It protects the right of Igbos in the North to live where they want. Yet, one does not think that this is the last we will hear from the Arewa Youth Forum. Whether it is for good or evil depends on the federal government’s ability to address the situation.