The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has said that the Igbos should be allowed to secede from Nigeria if that is what they so desire.
In a statement released by its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the forum said it has reviewed events and tendencies which suggest that the country is headed for more crises. Baba-Ahmed in the statement said Nigerians live in fear of violence today, and in fear of an uncertain future. He pointed out that irredentists are increasingly asserting their influence over the South East and some part of the country. He mentioned that political leaders in the South East appear to have submitted to violence and terror of IPOB and ESN.
”Muted voices of millions of Igbo cannot be heard so that fellow Nigerians could understand the degree to which secession by the Igbo represents the popular choice. This nation has had to fight a terrible war to preserve the country. The North had paid its dues in that war, as indeed it did in many ways throughout the history of the country. Under our current circumstances, no Nigerian should welcome another war to keep the country together.
The North in particular has more than enough challenges, and we recognize that violent secession by any part of Nigeria will compound the problems all Nigerians live with. The Forum has arrived at the difficult conclusion that if support for secession among the Igbo is as widespread as it is being made to look, and Igbo leadership appears to be in support of it, then the country should be advised not stand in its way. It will not be the best choice for the Igbo or Nigerians to leave a country we have all toiled to build and a country we all have a responsibility to fix, but it will not help a country already burdened with failures on its knees to fight another war to keep the Igbo in Nigeria.”the statement in part read.
The Forum insists that attacks and killings of Northerners and Federal Government employees and destruction of National assets must stop and that those who have been involved in it must be arrested and prosecuted.
The statement further read
”Until the Igbo decide whether it wants to secede or remain part of Nigeria, the law applies to it, and Federal and State Governors who have responsibility to enforce the law and protect citizens must enforce it. We support calls for Northerners who are exposed to harassment and violence to consider relocating to the North. Unlike the postures and complacency of the leaders of the South East, we advise that all Igbo and other ethnic groups from the South residing in the North should be accorded the usual hospitality and security.
The Forum believes that it is vital to address amendments to the constitution and achieve major changes in the structure and operations of our Federal system now. Members of the National Assembly elected by Nigerians have lost touch with the people they are supposed to represent.”