Biafra Protesters

South-East Council of Traditional Rulers has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to consider some of the grievances of the agitators of the Biafran movement including those of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Chairman, South-East Council of Traditional Rulers, His Royal Majesty, Dr. Eberechi N. Dick, in a presentation to the President at a closed-door meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja said some of the agitations by the youth could best be resolved through dialogue.

In the presentation obtained by our correspondent, the traditional rulers, who assured President Buhari of their support to his government, said the neglect of the South- East in the Amnesty Programme, the deplorable state of federal roads and other infrastructure in the South-East and relegation of oil-producing states of the South-East in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) projects and exclusion of the South- East in key federal appointments were responsible for the youths’ restiveness. Other issues raised by the agitators, according to him, were anti-nationalistic treatment of Igbo people by other Nigerians.

“We also want to call the attention of Your Excellency to the criminal activities of kidnappers, some cattle herdsmen which are posing serious security challenges to the people of South-East. In the recent times, so many lives and properties worth billions of naira have been lost. While the governors and traditional rulers of the zone have been managing the situation, we want to call on the federal government to use all the instruments of power and resources available to you to come to our aid and rescue,” he said.

Dick, Chairman, Abia State Traditional Rulers’ Council, noted that “we have continued to engage and preach to them that every problem of the nation can be best resolved through peaceful dialogue and respect for the rule of law.” He said the South-East traditional rulers believed in the total unity of the country and would continue to carry out messages of peace among their wards.

“We re-assure Your Excellency of our total belief in one united and indivisible great nation of ours called Nigeria, we also want to call the attention of the Federal Government to some of their mentioned grievances for serious considerations,” the traditional rulers stated. The traditional rulers also called the attention of the President to some neglected projects that have brought the area backwards.

He said: “While we are happy over the award of contracts for the construction and maintenance of some federal roads within the South-East geo-political zone, we want to use this opportunity to request for the rehabilitation of Aba-Ikot Ekpene, Onitsha- Enugu, Owerri-Port Harcourt, Owerri Aba, Abakaliki federal roads.”

They also brought to the attention of the President of an injustice done to one of them, His Royal Majesty Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri, the Chairman, Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers by the previous administration.

“While appointing chairmen of state councils of traditional rulers, chancellors of various federal universities, his state’s slot was erroneously given to somebody who is not even a traditional ruler,” Dick added.

The traditional rulers commended President Buhari for his fight against corruption, which they said have eaten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian system. In his response to the group, President Buhari reiterated the essence of the unity of Nigeria, urging those contemplating its break-up to have a rethink. The President warned that the question of having another country out of Nigeria was misplaced.

“The question of having another country out of Nigeria is going to be very difficult. From 1914, we have more than 200 cultures living with one another. God had endowed this country with natural resources and talented people. We should concentrate on these and be very productive,” the President said.

Addressing specific issues raised in the address by the traditional rulers, the President gave assurance that the South-East will also benefit from the new railway architecture being put in place by his administration.

On their request for more representation for the South-East in his government, the President said that he was “very conscious of the sensitivities of the South East,” on account of which, he gave the region’s four out of five states senior ranking ministers in the federal cabinet. Buhari used the occasion to appreciate the good work of the ministers from the region in the federal government, saying that they are doing very well for the country.

He appealed to the traditional rulers to persuade their people to give his government a chance and to continue to serve as beacons of culture and traditions of their people.

The President assured the delegation that kidnapping and cattle rustling, which he described as “unfortunate” will be the government’s next target, now that “we have managed to calm down the North-East.” He expressed frustration at the endless nature of some ongoing trials, citing some of the cases as going far back to the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. “We are asking the judiciary to clean itself. Nigerians are tired of waiting. They want some actions,” he lamented.

The President said he hoped that the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Attorney-General of the Federation will come to some form of agreement by which specially designated courts will give accelerated hearing to some corruption cases that are pending, arguing that “we want Nigerians to know we are serious.”



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