FOLLOWING the growing tension some South East states, chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shetima has said that Nigerians have a moral obligation to keep the country united. Governor Shetima also commended governors from the South East for steps taken in dousing the rising the tension following the Army’s recent Operation Python Dance exercise in the zone. He said this, on Monday, when he led three other Northern Governors on a peace mission to the South East and paid a courtesy visit to the Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. Governors present include former Speaker of the House of Representatives and governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Bello Masari; governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Kebbi State governor, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu. Shetima said they were on a tour of South east and South south states to reassure northerners living in the zones and also to prevent a “mass exodus of Nigerians from one part of the country to the other.”
The Borno State governor said “We are here principally as a delegation from the Northern Governors Forum to identify firstly with the leadership exhibited by the governors of the South East region in some trying moments in the annals of Nigeria’s history. In politics perception counts, in politics symbolism matters. We are here to identify with our colleagues and to visit the northern communities and to reassure them that our governor colleagues are equal to the task, they have all, stood the occasion. “In fact, I have to pay special tribute to the governor of Rivers State, where we were earlier on, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state and of course, Governor Roachas Okorocha for rapidly responding to the emergency security situation in their locality by declaring curfews.” On the need for Nigerians to keep the country United, he said “according to reports we got directly from the northern base in Umuahia, the state governor, Ikpeazu had solved 70 per cent of their problems and that they have never had it so good of a government that responded rapidly to the challenges that they were facing in that community. What we wanted to forestall actually, was the mass exodus of Nigerians from one part of the country to the other. It will send very dangerous signals and we equally invited our brothers from, the South east to visit some of the northern flash point, Kano, Kaduna and Jos, and together, we can talk to their Igbo brothers and reassure them of the safety of their lives and property.” Speaking further, he said “This country belongs to all of us to make or mar. The population of Syria is a paltry 22 million. Only two million Syrians knocked on the door of Europe and it is causing river berating, it nearly cause Angela Merkel her job. How do you foresee a situation whereby 35 million English speaking Nigerians knocking on the door of Europe? This is why we have a moral obligation, we have a moral responsibility as stakeholders to make things work in this country. We all part of the challenges of leadership we are facing in this country. We have a moral obligation to make this country right.” “The hope of the black man rests with the people of this country. It rests with the Igbo of the South East, the Yorubas of the South West and the Hausa. This is a blessed land endowed to human and natural resources, which if properly harnessed, can provide succor and future for the black race”, he said. Lack of communication bane of Nigeria–Okorocha In his remarks, governor Okorocha attributed lack of communication to the problems facing the country. He said there was need for leaders and governors of the country to assure Nigerians of a sense of belonging. Okorocha also commended the initiative of the northern governors to tour the South East and South south regions. He said “let me thank you for this impressive outing and traveling many kilometers to make sure you speak the language of peace. I must commend you and thank you on behalf of the people of Imo State. “We may not understand the impact of this visit. The Nigerian problem has remained largely on lack of communication and being able to socialize with each other. So, sometimes, it is very important that we do not just only communicate as governors, we should also communicate with the ordinary citizens on the streets. You have come and talked with them and I am sure you will be surprised the kind of reception you got. There is a feeling of abandonment on the side of people from this part of the world especially since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. This is largely because since they did not vote him, that will give rise to being forgotten. As untrue as that may be, that is the general feeling of the people from this part of the world.” Speaking further, he said “your coming here to bridge the gap, can best be described as the right step in the right direction. Let me also in you that the Igbos are very good partners with the Hausas. We don’t know the different between Fulani and Kanuri, everyone there is an Hausa man just like you don’t know the difference between Ijaw and Igbos, everyone around this side, is an Igbo.” “So, we have come to a very critical moment in our nation’s history where we must learn to interact, communicate and educate our people. We are talking about IPOB and insecurity, what efforts have we the leaders made to assure the Igbos, Hausas or Yorubas that we are one? “Meanwhile, we meet at our levels but o what extent have we made the ordinary people on the streets of Igbo land to have their brothers in the north and in the west likewise. It is duty incumbent on us, like you have done today, to reach out and visit these place and give them a sense of belonging. I want to thank you for this bold step and this can only come from an APC government”, Okorocha said.