The Presidency has decried a recent “alliance” between the Yoruba Nation agitators and the Indigenous People of Biafra, warning that such a treaty cannot be taken seriously because of the violent antecedents of the IPOB.
In a statement signed by the Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu, the presidency warned that the IPOB is a designated terrorist organization that has now “publicly revealed a 50,000 strong paramilitary organization”.
Mr Shehu urged the Yoruba secessionist group to quit its association with IPOB because it “regularly murders security agents and innocent civilians, with a significant uptick of violent attacks this year”.
He further explained that the IPOB is attempting to hold Nigerian states hostage with orders to stay at home under threat of terror.
According to the presidential spokesman, there is no doubt that “Nigerians and the entire world will judge Yoruba Nation by the company it keeps”.
Garba Shehu’s comments come as President Muhammadu Buhari prepares to participate in the United Nations General Assembly’s 76th Session in the United States.
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The special media aide in his statement on Wednesday noted that it is not unexpected for Nigerian diaspora groups to use the world’s largest platform – the United Nations General Assembly – to garner attention to their causes.
He however, emphasized that it is shocking to see “Yoruba Nation” advocates “unequivocally throw their lot in with Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)”.
He believes no one can take the Yoruba Nation seriously if it continues its IPOB association, not “when their allies systematically trample human rights”.
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These actions, the president’s special assistant argues, “raises sober questions about their claims to uphold the values of the UN”.
He defined the cooperation as a worrying development.
“Actions and associations speak louder than words. Yoruba Nation’s talk of human rights promotion must therefore be ignored,” Mr Shehu opined.
He assured that the Nigerian government will continue its work at the UN – to fight against corruption and illicit financial flows, and international cooperation.
“If we want to see stolen funds returned to their rightful home in Nigeria, the government must continue to campaign for and coordinate global action on asset recovery.
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“The government will remain the leading regional actor in the fight against global terror – particularly against threats emanating from the Sahel. Through the Nigerian Technical Aid Corps programme, the country also shares technical expertise with countries from the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific,” Garba Shehu stated.
In addition, the presidential spokesman disclosed that the administration is implementing a programme of environmental sustainability to combat developments which destroy Nigerian communities in vulnerable regions.
“Only through the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development can we secure a prosperous future for Nigeria.
“As the largest country in Africa, the government takes seriously its leadership role and will continue to strive for continental unity, cooperation, and shared prosperity,” Mr Shehu added.
According to him, the government’s expectation is for the media to work with the government to focus attention on the core issues which the president has on his programme.
HOWEVER, apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said, that IPOB is not a terrorist organisation, insisting that it was an error for anybody to compare it with terrorist group like Boko Haram and ISWAP. Ohanaeze noted that IPOB, on the contrary, was an organisation fighting against injustice.
They were also responding to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who stirred the hornets’ nest in Abuja when he said “miscreants and criminals masquerading as separationist activists have emerged across the country to wreak havoc, take lives and commit economic sabotage against fellow Nigerians and against the state.”
In a veiled reference to IPOB and Yoruba nation agitators, Gbajabiamila said during plenary on the resumption of the House from 2021 annual legislative recess that “their inclination for devastating violence against fellow citizens, appetite for destruction of private property, disruption of academic activities, commerce, and industry, propensity for defiling institutions of the state, society and community as well as their refusal to engage in debate, or to consider the possibility of dissenting opinions and alternative viewpoints, are no different from Boko Haram and ISWAP.”
He said from experience, neither appeasement nor overwhelming violence alone will work. “We have been down this road before; we know what the consequences of inaction can be. We also know that we cannot afford to be reactionary in our approach. This is the time to convene our best efforts to articulate a political, economic, military, and policing strategy to address both the manifestations and root causes of this emerging threat. Given space and time, they will take our nation down the same path of destruction.”
But National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Chiedozie Ogbonnia, stated that IPOB emanated following series of injustices being meted out by successive administrations against Ndigbo, “as if they are not wanted in Nigeria”, stressing that, its agitation will stop the moment there is equity, fairness, and justice in the land.
“The divergence between IPOB and Ohanaeze is that Ohanaeze acknowledges that the injustice is there. They are asking for a solution within Nigeria and that is with restructuring and dialogue with certain level of diplomacy, whereas IPOB is approaching it with force. That is all. It does not make them a terrorist organisation,” Ogbonnia said.
Also reacting, the IPOB stated that Gbajabiamila should be ashamed that the country they inherited was heading for the rocks, stressing that “what should be their paramount concern is how to regain the confidence of Nigerians in the system and not IPOB.”
IPOB’s spokesperson, Emma Powerful, who insisted that the Speaker does not deserve a reaction of the group, urged him to find a solution to the alleged efforts by the Fulani to divide the country and subject its citizens to its whims and caprices.
When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Comrade Jare Ajayi, said the view expressed by Gbajabiamila signposted the low level of intellectualism in the hallowed corridors of power in Nigeria.
“If an uninformed person had spoken in the manner that the fourth citizen in Nigeria spoke, one might excuse him or her. But for a person of Gbajabiamila’s status to have spoken the way he did is not only disappointing and unfortunate, but it is also frightening. Frightening because it gives us an insight into what the thinking of those at the helms of affairs currently is.
“How, for God’s sake, can any reasonable person liken those who are advocating for self-determination to Boko Haram, ISWAP etc, who have demonstrated that they are unrepentant terrorists. Yes, some youths, especially in the Southeast, maybe over reaching themselves under the guise of enforcing IPOB’s sit-at-home order, but likening them to avowed terrorists amounted to playing to the gallery.
“Bringing self-determination agitators in the Southwest into the calculation worsened the matter for Gbajabiamila. At what time and in what circumstance are the pronouncements and activities of Yoruba nation advocates indicative of criminality?”
A Yoruba diaspora group, Yoruba One Voice (YOV), also said with the statement credited to the Speaker, it is evidence that the Speaker has lost touch with the realities of the present situation in the country.
YOV, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mrs. Omoladun Orolugbagbe, said the Speaker as part of the conspiracy that brought Nigeria on its kneel, disclosing that Gbajabiamila had always been a sell-out with no history of commitment to the ideals of the common people in Nigeria.
“On Tuesday, President Buhari sought another $4 billion loan, the lawmakers had apparently approved the loan without a single idea or thought of the backlog of loans and the amount involved in servicing these loans. This is the duty of the lawmakers to check excesses of the executive, especially, when it has to do with the future of the country, not trying to be men-pleasers to the powers at the center.”
MEANWHILE, activists and revolutionists have announced plans to hold a nationwide protest on October 1 – Independence Day – in the country. The protest is necessitated by nine demands, according to a statement by the Coalition for Revolution issued yesterday.
The statement, signed by CORE’s co-convener, Baba Aye, and co-convener, Gbenga Komolafe, was titled: ‘Poverty, insecurity, police brutality: CORE organises actions for October.’
Among their demands is the recognition of those who died during the #EndSARS protests as national heroes, with a national apology.
They complained that the administration of President Buhari has taken “the incompetence, corruption, and repressive tendencies of the country’s ruling class to the height of infamy.”
They also lamented that tens of thousands of workers have been sacked, while more have suffered salary cuts.
Some of the demands for the #1stOctoberProtest include Reinstatement of all sacked public sector workers, reversal of salary cuts in both the public and private sector, provision of needed credit for small businesses in the informal economy to get back on their feet, and full respect for the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of expression and assembly.
The demands also include the immediate release of all detainees and prisoners being held for participating in peaceful protests or exercising their right to free speech; recognition of the #EndSARS rebellion’s martyrs as national heroes, with; their names immortalized; full implementation of the outstanding Memoranda of Understanding and all other collective agreements reached with the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) & Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU); adequate public funding of health and education to ensure quality health and education for all; and implementation of the N30,000 national minimum wage in all states and private companies as stipulated in the 2019 National Minimum Wage Act.