Acting president, Yemi Osinbajo has said the federal government is ready to listen to the various agitations of regional groups in an effort to address the rising tension emerging in the country.
He said this on Sunday when he met the traditional rulers of South East at State House, in continuation of his consultations with various regional stakeholders over the quit notice issued by northern youth, in response to the secession claims by the South East.
The acting president, who started his address to the traditional rulers with the reminder that despite the grounds for the groups’ agitation, it was wrong for them “to approach even our grievances by threatening to disobey the laws or by threatening the integrity of our nation.”
He said the traditional rulers hold a special place in any peace move, hence the plan to meet with them on a separate date with other similar consultation so as to discuss the issue, according to a statement from his media aide, Laolu Akande.
“But in planning these meetings, I was conscious that we should have a separate set of meetings with our traditional rulers because of the peculiar and unique positions that they hold especially in their relationships with those who live in their kingdom and this is the reason we chose to have two separate meetings – One with the South-East traditional rulers and tomorrow evening, I will be meeting with traditional rulers from the North.
“I want to emphasize that it is the peculiar, unique position that traditional rulers occupy that makes this separate consultation important and deserving and I really would want us to take advantage of this opportunity.
“Most of us are aware especially for those who have been following the consultations, we have worked very hard to ensure that the representations across the two zones that we are interested in consulting with initially is as wide as possible and we have tried to inculcate that even in our traditional rulers today.
“As you are aware there has been agitation from some of our youths in the South-East urging secession, the creation of Biafra. In apparent response, young people in the North, under the aegis of Arewa youths have purportedly issued an ultimatum where they have set a date for the eviction of persons from South-East region who live in the Northern states,” he told the royal fathers of the South East.
Against the backdrop of this, the acting president said “What the Federal Government of Nigeria is committed to do is ensuring we listen to all the reasons, the various suggestions, the various agitations, and the reasons for those agitations and to ensure that we do justice by all persons regardless of where you are from in this country. That is the commitment of Federal Government, which I am able to make to you today.”
He said however, “the manner of those agitations, the method and objectives are wrong, unlawful and the violation of the laws of Nigeria and the constitution of Nigeria. I want to repeat that both the agitations for secession and the ultimatum to leave the Northern states are wrong and a violation of our constitution.
“Our constitution says in Section 2 that Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that is the law of our country.
“Let us not be in any doubt about the fact that the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that our country remains united.
“And that anyone who violates the law in the manner such as we are seeing all over the place will be met with the full force of the law.
“And the reason why it is so, is because Nigeria’s unity is one for which enough blood has been spilled and many hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost. Many have paid for the unity of this country with their lives and it will be wrong of us as men and women of goodwill in this generation to toy with those sacrifices that have been made.”