Adelani Adepegba, Ihuoma Chiedozie, and Olaleye Aluko
The pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere and the Ohanaeze Ndigbo have condemned Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso’s opposition to the call for the arrest of northern youths, who said the Igbo should leave the North before October 1.
Prominent Nigerians and groups including Afenifere, Ohanaeze and the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, have demanded the arrest of the youths by security agents.
But Kwankwaso was reported on Thursday to have opposed the call for the arrest of the youths. According to a national newspaper (not The PUNCH), the former Kano State governor in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday said the youths should be engaged in dialogue.
However, Afenifere and Ohanaeze, in separate interviews with The PUNCH on Thursday described the former governor’s position as unfortunate.
The Deputy Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Mr Chuks Ibegbu, who spoke with one of our correspondents in Enugu, said Kwankwaso’s position should be probed.
The Ohanaeze spokesman said, “Nobody is above the law so the security agencies should investigate him.
“We want to warn that those that are fanning the embers of disunity should desist from doing so, because, if at the end of the day, the country descends into anarchy, they will also lose out.”
Ibegbu added that Kwankwaso’s statement did not come as a surprise. “We have not forgotten that when he was governor, he stated that there was no need for more states to be created in the South-East. He said the land mass of the South-East would not support a new state, but he chose to forget the fact that state creation is not just about land mass but population.
He advised Kwankwaso, whom he said wanted to be President of Nigeria, to turn a new leaf.
The spokesman for Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, said he was not surprised by the ex-governor’s utterances, noting that he had always been known for his bigotry.
He stated that Kwankwaso was trying to position himself as a defender of the Arewa.
Odumakin said his statement had further confirmed the widely held notion that the northern youths had backers.
He said, “He (Kwankwaso) is trying to position himself as a defender of the Arewa and anyone who knows him over the years would have observed his bigotry and it shows clearly that he doesn’t believe in Nigeria.
“When a crisis happened in Ife, it was Kwankwaso that was making incendiary remarks and yet there are rumours that he wants to be president of Nigeria. We have noted his utterances.”
“When people like him talk about one Nigeria, it is pure deception. I endorse what the Southern Nigeria Youths Coalition said that they wanted a referendum to determine the future of the country. I support their plan to retaliate any genocide against the Igbo in the North,” the Afenifere chieftain said.
Also, a former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said Kwankwaso’s call to negotiate with Arewa youths was wrong, adding that the northern youths drumming the quit notice should be arrested.
Balarabe Musa said the arrest would serve as “deterrence” and uncover the sponsors of the youths calling for a quit notice.
He said, “There is nothing wrong in inviting the youths, but definitely, the position of the Kaduna State Governor, El-Rufai, calling for arrest is the position of the majority of Nigerians. The call of people is that these young ones must be held responsible for their actions, not just to teach them a lesson for their crime, but also to expose those behind the quit notice.
“This is because the quit notice is clearly illegal and unconstitutional. How can you tell another Nigerian to quit and then give a date? That means that after that date, the youths can do anything illegal. The Federal Government and 80 per cent of Nigerians are clearly opposed to this notice. All the steps being taken by the government are correct and the government should immediately arrest these youths. Kwankwaso is wrong and the Kaduna State governor is right.” (Punchng.com)