…As stakeholders declare for peace
Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
President Ahmed Tinubu, has warned the sponsors and perpetrators of the disturbing insecurity in the South-East, to pull back or brace up for the consequences of their actions, declaring that the Federal Government will no longer watch them destroy the economy of the zone.
Tinubu who gave the warning at the formal launch of Peace In South-East, PISE-P initiative in Bende Local Government headquarters, Abia State, decried the adverse effects of the activities of non-state actors in the South-East.
The President who was represented by the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, declared the commitment of the Federal Government in extinguishing the fire of insecurity gulping the region.
PISE-P envisioned by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Kalu, is aimed at restoring peace to South-East and addressing the causes of agitation in the zone.
Tinubu noted that South-East is as enduring economic power house and an integral pillar of Nigeria’s economy that must not be allowed to be destroyed.
“The current economic stagnation has shaken the foundation of the region, and we are not going to sit back and watch the fire consume them. We are here to extinguish the fire.”
“They can’t stay in their comfort zones and be causing our citizens to sit at home. They are counting down to the end of their economic sabotage.
“We are here to guarantee the return of peace and economic life to South-East. We declare that enough is enough.”
He urged the sponsors of insecurity in the South-East to embrace peace for the good of all.
The President assured the people of his commitment to their security.
“We have realised that unless we address the intricate wave of insecurity before us, our development agenda for the region shall remain elusive.”
“We are aware that our commitment to Nigeria’s future remains incomplete as long as we grapple with the sinister operations of economic saboteurs masquerading as advocates for Ndigbo.
“We are determined to utilize all available resources to ensure that the peace we established in this region is not cosmetic,” Tinubu declared.
He also urged all stakeholders to key into the PISE-P initiative for the return of lasting peace in South-East, noting that what affects the region affects the entire country.
“Our destinies are interwoven in an unbreakable bond. What affects Ndigbo affects Nigeria.
“We have been given the mandate to guarantee the safety of your lives and property.”
He urged the youths to reject lies by those benefiting from the insecurity in the region.
“We must reject falsehood and propaganda that have become weapons against our youths. The problem we are here to resolve is a creation of self serving criminals who do not represent the interest of Ndigbo and Nigeria.”
In his speech, the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio represented by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Barau Jibrin, called for peace and dialogue in addressing the tension in South-East.
He urged the youths to embrace peace, assuring that Government is determined to find a lasting solution to their grievances.
In his address, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, said that South-East had been a very important tripod in Nigeria that must not be overlooked.
“The South-East has remained an economic powerhouse in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa, leading in trade and commerce,” he said.
The Speaker recalled that between 1956 and 1965, the then-Eastern region was regarded as the fastest-growing economy in Africa and Asia.
“From Aba to Adamawa and Enugu to Europe, Igbos are known to be entrepreneurial, resourceful, peace-loving, savvy, tenacious and peace-loving. That is the character of the Igbos. That is who you are.
“Three of your cities, Aba, Onitsha and Nnewi, are among the most industrialised in Nigeria. A sizeable chunk of the major investments in many parts of Nigeria are Igbo-owned. Your contributions to the Nigerian economy, either through imports, business investment, or diaspora remittances, among others, are indisputable.
“The contributions of the Igbos are apparent not only with regard to the economy but also in all fields of human endeavour, including literature, academia, the creative industry and many more.”
He, however, stressed the need to tackle the root causes of insecurity in the South-East for a lasting peace to return to the zone.
“To address these issues effectively, however, we must first understand their root causes. These underlying causes include the sense of marginalisation and the feeling by many people in the South-East that their voices are not heard and their concerns are not adequately addressed in the national discourse.
“Secondly, the general economic challenges and the attendant lack of sufficient economic opportunities fuel frustration and make the youth more susceptible to radical ideologies. This is true for most parts of Nigeria, not just the South-East.
“Additionally, we cannot ignore either should we be ashamed to acknowledge the historical context, including memories of past conflicts and perceived injustices that continue to influence the current sentiments in the region.
“The task before us, therefore, is not just to coexist but to thrive in our diversity. Finally, and indeed most importantly, the challenges in governance, including corruption and ineffective administration, have exacerbated the situation, leading to a lack of trust in the authorities.”
The Speaker commended Hon. Kalu for the PISE-P initiative which he said would help address the tension in the South-East.
He urged all stakeholders in the zone to unite and support the PISE-P initiative for the return of peace to South-East.
Governor Hope Uzodinma, who spoke for South-East Governors said that Governors in the zone were fully committed to efforts towards restoring peace to the zone.
He thanked President Tinubu and the Vice President for their affection for Ndigbo, pledging that Ndigbo will continue to relate well with other parts of the country for a peaceful and united Nigeria.
He pleaded with those behind the insecurity in the zone to embrace peace.
In his remark, the Deputy Speaker, Hon Benjamin Kalu, said that his goal for initiating Peace In South-East Project (PISE-P) was to foster peace, unity and development in the region.
The Deputy Speaker further said “the initiative ultimately canvasses the adoption of a non kinetic approach to resolving the problem of insecurity in the zone.”
He said that the project was also aimed at promoting reconciliation among communities and individuals affected by past conflicts.”
Kalu pleaded with Igbo youths to renounce violence and embrace peace, promising that Government will give them attention.
Gov. Alex Otti of Abia State read the peace declaration, urging the youths to key into the initiative.
In his remark, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, thanked President Tinubu and VP Shettima for their disposition towards restoring peace to the South-East.
He noted that Ndigbo “are not asking for too much but equity and justice.”
Chief Iwuanyanwu appealed to the President to speedily address all the causes of agitation and tension in the South-East to ensure a lasting peace in the region.
The Ohanaeze PG called on Ndigbo home and abroad to support the initiative.
Speaking earlier, Chairman of the occasion and the Obi of Onitsha, HRM Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, called on the Federal Government to give attention to the South-East, and give the people a sense of belonging.
Some of the dignitaries at the event include, the Governors of Anambra and Ebonyi represented by their deputies; members of National Assembly from the South-East; the Ooni of Ife, HRM Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; the Emir of Bichi, Nasiru Ado-Bayero; and the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Abdulahi Ganduje.
Others were the former Governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha; former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika (retd.); Senator Mao Ohuabunwa; Minister of State for Solid Minerals and Steel Development, Dr Sampson Ogah; Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa; former Minister of State for Science and Technology, Chief Henry Ikoh; former Minister for Labour, Emeka Nwogu; among a host of others.
The hallmark of the event was the release of pigeons signalling peace by the Vice President, and Governors of the South-East as well as Obi of Onitsha and Ooni of Ife.