The National President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nwodo, has appealed to Nigerians to promote peace and tolerance with one another irrespective of differences in ethnicity, religion or region.
Mr. Nwodo made the call on Friday in Gombe when he paid a courtesy call on Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State.
He reminded Nigerians that the prevailing tense situation in the country is reminiscent of the 1960s when the country experienced the civil war as a result of which over 3 million people lost their lives.
He said those who witnessed the war and those who allowed the crisis to open up, know the present tension could lead to another catastrophe if not well handled.
“If people of our age can allow this to happen, then we have a question to answer before God”, he said.
According to him, Ohanaeze conceived the idea to reach out to northerners even before the decision of the 19 northern governors to visit the South-east.
“They (governors) visited us and we are now here. This shows we are in the same bed and dreaming the same dream”, he said.
He assured non-Igbos resident in the South-east of adequate protection, conveying the decision of governors in the region of the guarantee and safety of all non-Igbos.
“Our traditional and religious leaders are emulating what the Sultan of Sokoto said regarding the killing of any Igbo man in the north.
“Our governors are saying that any Igbo man who wants to kill a northerner let such person first kill them (first).
“As the leader of the Igbo cultural organisation, I am also saying let such person first kill me,” Mr. Nwodo said.
He described the ongoing clamour for self-government as ”the handiwork of the enemies of Nigeria who are envious of the potentials of the country.”
He appealed to Mr. Dankwambo to communicate the message of peace from the Ohanaeze to the people of not only the state but the entire North-east.
Mr. Dankwambo in his response assured that the state is home to all, adding that adequate arrangement had been put in place to ensure that Gombe is home to everyone.
The governor who was represented by his deputy, Charles Iliya, revealed an earlier meeting he held with political, traditional and religious leaders across the state where he stressed on the unity of the country, reminding them of the devastating effect of civil war.
“The message has already been given to the people of Gombe and people should stay above sentiments and rumours”, he said.
He described other ethnic groups resident in Gombe as ingenious whose contributions would be needed to further develop the state.