By Chris Onuoha
Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) leader Yerima Shettima, who led a coalition in 2017 to ask Igbo living in the north to leave the region or be forced to leave, says he now has an agreement. to protect Ndigbo in the north.
But he says he will not beg the Southeast for the 2017 statement.
The northern youth leader also gave the condition that the North vote for the Igbo candidate in the 2023 presidential elections.
Shettima spoke immediately after her recent outreach with the Igbo group, Movement for the Update of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, and the subsequent meeting held in Owerri, Imo State labeled: “Handshake across Niger.”
The meeting deliberated on how to achieve peace and coexistence among ethnic groups in Nigeria.
In the 2017 episode, the coalition had given all resident Igbos in the 19 northern states a three-month ultimatum to resign or be expelled after the October 1, 2017 deadline.
“We are also telling our (Northerners) brothers who are in the southeast to prepare to go home,” Shettima said.
The ultimatum followed a successful sit-at-home order imposed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB) led by Nnamdi Kanu on May 30, 2017, which all five southeastern states complied with.
But the AYCF leader was quoted as apologizing for the 2017 statement in the Owerri parliament.
“There were no apologies in the first place. I was misquoted by the reporter who said yes, “he said Sunday last week.
He also criticized IPoB.
“The truth of the matter is that there was no offense committed by any group and no one apologized to anyone in that regard. We were in Owerri to extend the hand of communion to MASSOB.
“We had a meeting to seal a deal and it went well. The essence was to expose the IPOB threat to Nigeria.
“IPOB is doing all kinds of things in the name of the fight. But we identify with MASSOB because they are not violent. We have no problem with MASSOB.
“We just hope that one day they will reconsider and join us in building our country instead of thinking about parting ways. “They (MASSOB) agreed that there should be peace as much as we in the North will protect the interests of the Igbo in the North.
“We asked them to take care of our people who reside in their region, as we do here in the north.
“Not that it’s too big to apologize but I didn’t see anything to apologize for. Our statements are clear and we want peace to reign.
“We fully took over and that is why we are moving around the country to meet our counterparts in other regions and assure Nigerians that nothing unusual is happening.”
Speaking about the summit organized by the National Alliance for Development (NARDEV) in Lagos last week, Shettima said: “Yes, we had a one-day summit on Monday in Lagos where a new movement was formed, the National Alliance for Development. .
“Various ethnic nationalities attended the event. Civil society groups, rights groups and others also attended.
“Most of us are faces that are not common in the news but are well known in the country.
“We refer to serious business and we have thought about what to do, especially in the area of insecurity in the country.
“We believe that this is a country in which we all have an interest and a role to play. “Gone are the days when a political party or individual can go ahead, do what they want, and achieve what we call a gentlemen’s agreement to seize power at the federal level.
“We are more concerned about the competition in the country and not about the zonal arrangement.
“Anyone from the southeast, southwest, northeast or anywhere else with competence can rule.
“We are looking for competition without zonal arrangement and this is one of those arrangements that political parties adopt, leaving competent people and field figures who are not fit to govern.
“Regarding the clamor from the Southeast to be allowed to present the president in 2023, we are not concerned about which zone is president. We are talking about competition here. If the southeast region removes its candidate based on the competition, we will vote for him ”.