Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State says President Muhammadu Buhari has agreed to a political solution to the threat the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) pose to the South East region in particular and the nation in general.
He said this while speaking at a meeting the President had with South East leaders during his two-day State visit to Ebonyi.
The governor said President Buhari would be remembered as a man who did not use the plight of the people of the South East to play politics but came to their rescue severally.
He urged Southern leaders to work towards finding a political solution in resolving some challenging issues, warning that the region is at ‘‘crossroads.’’
‘‘On this issue of a political solution, I have never believed in IPOB’s method of operation, I disagree with them but we have gotten ourselves to a very terrible and pitiable solution.
‘‘Some of us warned that we will get to this situation and some were playing politics with it. Mr. President, we are at crossroads. I have been to you and I have begged you for a political solution. Surprisingly and graciously you granted that. You said our people should initiate that and at the forefront is Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyer.”
The Governor, therefore, urged the President of Ohaneze Ndigbo to meet with elder statesman, Mbazuluike Amaechi, the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), South East, the Chairman of South East Traditional Rulers Council, Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyer and few others to initiate the political solution.
On the 2023 elections, the Governor said he believed in the demand for the presidency to be zoned to the South East region on the basis of fairness, equity, justice and morality.
Umahi, who is also a presidential aspirant, commended some leaders from outside the region for expressing their support for the next president of Nigeria to emerge from the South East.
The Chairman of South East Traditional Rulers, Eze Charles Mkpuma and CAN Chairman, South East, Very Rev. Fr. Abraham Nwali, also spoke in favour of President of Nigeria of South East extraction come 2023.
The leaders, while expressing support for a united Nigeria, appealed to the President to grant pardon and release the IPOB leader, urging other agitators to cease all forms of hostilities.
Buhari, while speaking at the meeting held in Abakiliki, promised that the Federal Government would deploy its strength to protect innocent and hardworking Nigerians from terrorists and those causing break down of law and order in the South East region.
The President, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation in the region, reiterating his directive to security agencies to ‘‘flush out’’ those perpetrating violence in the land.
‘‘I must register my deep and grave concern with regards to the deteriorating state of security affairs in this region.
‘‘In the last 48 hours, I have been informed of the latest in the round of brutal actions carried out by gun-wielding terrorists, who prey on innocent and hardworking citizens, unfortunately, these barbaric acts were visited upon those who have committed their lives to protect their fellow citizens,’’ he said.
Buhari paid tribute to members of the Nigerian armed forces who recently lost their lives in the region.
The President, while responding to appeals by traditional, religious and political leaders in the region for the release of the detained leader of the outlawed IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, said: ‘‘I have listened carefully to the various appeals from the elders to the traditional leaders regarding a wide range of options, and as I have said previously this matter remains in the full purview of the courts where it will be properly adjudicated.”