The Igbo people living in the North have declared their resolve to defy the notice given them by the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum to quit the North by October 1.
Igbo leaders drawn from the 19 Northern states made the declaration on Friday, in Kano, during an interactive session with the Coalition of Northern Youths.
At the meeting convened under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Groups, also attended by the leader of the Northern Coalition Group (NCG), Ambassador Shettima Yerima, the Igbo leaders emphasised that their people leaving the North was not feasible.
The Eze Ndi-Igbo of Minna, Niger State, Igwe Ngozi Nwaiwe, who spoke on behalf of other Igbo leaders at the meeting, said the level of cohesion among the segments that make up Nigeria made the country indivisible, hence, “we are not going to quit the North”.
According to him, the majority of the Ndi-Igbo residing in the North have economic, marital and social relationship with their hosts and therefore it is shocking for a group to ask them to desert their achievements and leave.
“We only travel back home during festivals, marriage and burial ceremonies; we are at home here in the North. Some of us have spent over 45 years here. We have intermarried. We are going nowhere”, Igwe Nwaiwe declared.
However, the meeting climaxed with the constitution of a 10 man-committee with the mandate to produce an acceptable position on the quit notice.
Five persons were selected from among Northern Igbo leaders, just as an equal number was selected from the Coalition of Northern Groups.
The members of the committee representing the Igbo are Eze Ndi-Igbo of Kano, Boniface Ibekwe; Chief Chi Nwogu, Barrister Chris Nnoli, Igwe Ngozi Nwaiwe and Barrister Magnus Ihejirika, while those representing the Coalition of Northern Groups are Barrister Abdullahi Utoro, Dr Abba Bukar, Dauda Shamakari and Ado Mohammed.
The facilitator of the parley, Comrade Isa Tijjani, disclosed that the committee was mandated to finish its assignment within 72 hours.
In a remark, the president of Eze Ndi-Igbo in the Diapora, Igwe Boniface Ibekwe, said the Igbo people were apostles of peace, adding that living together in peace was critical to the development of the country.
He said: “I and the majority of our people are Igbo people of Northern extraction. You are asking us to go, where do you want us to go to? Who among us here is an [Indigenous People of Biafra] IPOB member?”
The leader of the CNG, Ambassador Yerima, criticised the Igbo leaders for “keeping mute” since IPOB began clamouring for Biafra state.
He claimed that the IPOB leadership continuously abused Northern elders and insulted the intelligence of Northerners.
According to him, the Igbo leaders refused to caution the Nnamdi Kanu-led IPOB against making the hate speeches.
Also speaking at the meeting, a former President-General of the Yoruba community in Kano, Dr Jumpat Aiyelangbe, commended all youths involved in the struggle to keep the country united.
He noted that the struggle coming from the youth was an indication that they were disappointed that the elders had failed to perform accordingly.