EVEREST EZIHE, Owerri
The South East leaders made the declaration last Saturday in Enugu at a meeting with a presidential delegation sent by President Muhammadu Buhari and led by the President’s Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Gambari.
One of the Igbo leaders, HRH Eze Dr Oliver Ohanwe(Obi gburu gburu of Ihim Ancient Kingdom) who attended the meeting told The Authority in Owerri that the leaders also made it clear to the presidential delegation that they are saddened with the sidelining of the South East region in the security architectures of the country.
The creation of additional states in the South East geo political zone also featured prominently among the demands of the leaders, who said more states are needed in the region in the spirit of equity, fairness and social justice.
Other demands include urgent construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of all federal roads in the zone, which they lamented have become death traps, equitable representation of the South East in the security architecture among the five Service Chiefs, Immigration and Inspector General of Police, and disarming of killer herdsmen operating with AK 47s in the zone.
Among Igbo leaders at the meeting held at Government House, Enugu include South East governors such as Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma and the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke,members of the National Assembly, Federal Ministers from the zone.
Speaker after speaker who spoke include the Obi of Onitsha, HRM Igwe Alfred Achebe, Ohanaeze President, Chief Nnia Nwodo and elder statesman, Southeast CAN Chairman, Bishop Goddy Okafor and Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, who asked Gambari to tell the President that Ndigbo were not happy.
A communique presented by Governor of Ebonyi State and Chairman, South East Governors’ Forum, Engr. David Umahi stated partly “we, therefore, with humility, request our President, the father of our nation, to please look into the demands of the various groups of our people, as presented today, review same with a view to solving them.
“South East people believe in one Nigeria and this is the reason we are in every part of this country erecting infrastructure, living peacefully with our host communities and doing our businesses”.
“We pledge to continue to protect all the various ethnic groups living in the South East. We enjoin them to go about their businesses peacefully. We thank Mr. President, Governors and Traditional Rulers in other parts of Nigeria for their commitment to protect our people, especially during and after the protests. We must continue to live in peace”, they said.
“We believe that under this platform, we are bigger and stronger”, they said, pledging their undivided support and love to the President and his administration.
The leaders also thanked the President “for all the great works he is doing at the Second Niger Bridge, the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, dualization of Enugu to Port Harcourt Express road and some other projects in the South East”.
The Igbo leaders further expressed appreciation to “Mr. President’s delegation for carefully listening to, engaging with stakeholders and undertaking to report faithfully to Mr. President for his consideration and necessary action”.