Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) Alhaji Kashim Shettima of Borno State, at the weekend met with the Coalition of Northern Groups which gave the Igbo residing in the North October 1, 2017 deadline to leave the region.
- Reach agreement with northern governors
The result of the two-day dialogue in Kaduna and Abuja on Saturday and Sunday respectively was a resolve by the groups to meet and review the quit order this week.
Speaking after a meeting with Shettima in Abuja, spokesman of the coalition, Abdullaziz Suileman, said the decision to review the June 5 Kaduna declaration was the outcome of consultations with leaders.
He said: “The chairman of NGF has taken the initiative, he invited us yesterday and we started negotiation.
“This is the first time we are meeting publicly with any leader on this issue. We will go on with our consultations. We are committed to the unity of Nigeria.
“We issued a Kaduna declaration, quit notice is just a part of it. We are meeting to look at our stand again.”
Shettima gave assurance that the matter would be resolved in the interest of Nigeria’s unity.
“They have shown a lot of courtesy and respect to the establishment. This is the first time they are sitting down with the leadership of the North.
“I started conversation with them right from Kaduna yesterday. We continued the discussion today. Insha Allah, in the fullness of time it is going to yield something positive.
“We reached a formal understanding, there are some challenges and we have to get solution to those challenges.
“A political problem needs a political solution. They hold us in the highest esteem.
“We will follow it up to its logical conclusion. Insha Allah, in the next couple of days we are going to hear good news from them.
“Definitely they have shown responsibility and commitment to the national cause. Intimidation and harassment will not stop them. They have wider plans to forge national unity and integration.
“My interaction with them was free, open and frank. They aired their reservations I also gave them my reason.
“Without preempting the outcome of their meeting this week I believe Nigerians will give a sigh of relief. Nigerians will certainly hear from them this week.
“I wish to call on the leadership of our brethren in the South East to equally take the opportunity, it takes two to tango, and rein in on Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB.”
“It is only a fool that doesn’t change his mind to review decisions and strategies. There is never a limit to who should be engaged in dialogue no matter what the situation is. After all, even armed conflicts of deaths and destructions often end through dialogue with persons who took up arms against a State.
“Some people may think the withdrawal of eviction ultimatum by the coalition wouldn’t mean so much but to us as leaders and from our experiences, it is always dangerous to underestimate the capacity of any group of youths especially when youths come together and seem determined.
“There are millions of other youths that might have been following and supportive of the activities of the coalition of Arewa groups and as we know, issues relating to ethnicity and religion mostly get out of control.
“As Northern Governors, we do not take chances on potential violence unless on issues beyond our control” Shettima explained after the Saturday meeting in Kaduna
The Arewa groups on Tuesday June 5 released what they called Kaduna Declaration ordering the Igbo to leave the North on or before September 30.
Suleiman said all the northern civil society and pressure groups were by the notice mandated to mobilize for sustained and coordinated campaigns at their respective states.
He ordered: “They should mount pressure on government houses, state houses of assembly, local government council secretariats and traditional palaces for steps to be taken to ensure enforcement of the directives.”
The move generated widespread criticisms with Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership demanding the arrest of members of the coalition.