Governors of the South-East states, on Wednesday, held talks with leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, in Enugu, the Enugu State capital.
The meeting held at the Enugu State Government House.
It was the first time the governors are meeting Kanu, who is championing the pro-Biafran agitation in the South-East and parts of the South-South.
One of our correspondents learnt that issues surrounding the ongoing agitation, including IPOB’s call for a boycott of the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State and the group’s recent establishment of a ‘Biafra Secret Service’, topped the agenda of the meeting.
The meeting had the Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; and the Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, in attendance.
Nkem Okeke, deputy governor of Anambra State, represented Governor Willie Obiano.
Rochas Okorocha and Okezie Ikpeazu of Imo and Abia states respectively were absent and were not represented.
A source at the meeting said both governors were outside the country.
Kanu was accompanied to the meeting by elder statesman, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, and founder of the Igbo Youth Movement, Evangelist Elliot Uko.
Newsmen equally learnt that the governors at the meeting, which held behind closed doors, spoke of the need for an amicable resolution of issues raised by the pro-Biafran activists.
While the governors have maintained that restructuring is the solution to the perceived marginalisation of the Igbo in the country, Kanu and other pro-Biafran agitators are clamouring for outright secession, and the emergence of an independent Biafran nation.
A communique after the meeting, read by Umahi, who is the chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, said the governors noted the concerns raised by the IPOB as well as the secessionists’ demands.
According to the communique, the governors informed Kanu that the demands should not be absolute.
Further meetings are to be held between Kanu and the governors towards an amicable resolution of the issues, according to the communique.
The communiqué read, “The meeting deliberated on the demands of the IPOB and noted its concerns accordingly.
“However, the meeting agreed that these demands by IPOB should not be absolute; rather the South-East governors shall immediately engage the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, and the entire leadership of IPOB in further meetings and dialogue with a view to quickening the resolution of all issues amicably.”
A source at the secretariat of the South-East Governors’ Forum informed The PUNCH that the governors would persuade Kanu to drop the agitation for Biafra and embrace the campaign for restructuring.
Kanu, dressed in Jewish attire, arrived at the Enugu Government House, venue of the meeting, in a white Toyota Venza with the inscription, ‘Eze S. I. Kanu’ on the number plate.
The vehicle apparently belongs to Kanu’s father, Eze S. I. Kanu.
The IPOB leader posed for a group photograph with the governors after the meeting before leaving the government house.
After Kanu’s departure, the governors went into another meeting with a group of Igbo leaders, including the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, and a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo.
IPOB leader’s planned re-arrest politically unwise, Umar tells FG
Meanwhile, a former military Governor of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Umar (reted.), has cautioned the Federal Government against a possible re-arrest of the IPOB leader on alleged breach of his bail conditions.
Umar, who is also the Chairman of the Movement for Unity and Progress, in a statement on Wednesday in Kaduna, noted that re-arrest of Kanu would be dangerous and politically unwise on the part of the government.
He stated, “Reports in the media indicate that the Federal Government has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to revoke the bail granted Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and have him re-arrested. This is both dangerous and politically unwise.
“Mazi Kanu is not a common criminal as the government appears to think. On the contrary, he is a bitter young man fighting for a fairer deal for his Igbo kinsmen.
“His seeming militant approach is the result of the strong arm tactics with which the Federal Government deals with him. His long incarceration before a court granted him bail testifies to this.
“Like Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, many Igbos genuinely feel marginalised since they belong to the category of those who gave Mr. President only five per cent of their votes and appeared to have fallen out of his favour.”
Umar argued that President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence that the unity of Nigeria was a settled issue was a nationalistic wish coming from a veteran of the civil war fought to keep the country as one.
However, he lamented that the President’s view did not take into account the mood of the nation as indicated by the growing agitations for self -determination, restructuring and many other similar demands.
Umar said, “All indications are that Nigeria has become so polarised that it requires a strong personality like General Buhari to sustain its fragile unity. Needless to say that this does not bode well for the survival of the nation.
“Nigeria’s unity can only be guaranteed when all its citizens feel they are getting a fair deal; when all its component parts are treated justly and equitably; when none feels oppressed.”
He said the fact that there were growing agitations for self -determination, restructuring and other similar demands spoke gravely of the way the federation was being governed.