AS Biafra Day is commemorated across the world, a civil rights activist, Ariyo-Dare Atoye has cautioned the Muhammadu Buhari administration and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) against excluding the Southeast from the first-line leadership arrangements in the country, warning that such isolation could aggravate the civil war wounds that are yet to fully heal.
Atoye stated that the country has another opportunity to demonstrate fairness and justice to the Igbos in the coming National Assembly leadership elections scheduled for June 11, 2019, while urging lawmakers-elect to the 9th session of the National Assembly to defend the unity and diversity of the country.
“The Biafra Day anniversary has come to stay, and it is now a historical part of our existence as a nation, however, to sincerely heal the old wounds and strengthen our bond of togetherness, we must as a people demonstrate real love and show a greater sense of fairness and equity towards the Igbos at every level in the country.
“The Igbos have shown an unprecedented level of patriotism, sacrifice and commitment to the unity and survival of the country and democracy, since the beginning of the fourth republic in 1999 than any other ethnic group or tribe and the records there, from the Presidency to other things.
“That is why I am calling on the leadership in Nigeria, lawmakers-elect and the ruling APC, to concede at least the Speakership position to the Southeast, to give every part of the country a sincere sense of belonging, because it would be most unacceptable, if we fail to give the Southeast a national sense of belonging for another four years.
“Unlike in 2015, when an untenable excuse was presented to explain why the APC did not zone the Speakership position or Senate Presidency to the Southeast, this time around, the Southeast can effectively boast of ranking members in the APC, who are capable of leading the National Assembly.
“I am making this intervention because Nigeria will witness a gruelling four years of deep mutual suspicion, avoidable agitation and an unprecedented resentment capable of threatening our existence as a country if we do not make a conscious effort to accommodate diverse interests when it is within our capacity to do so.
“Already, there is apprehension in the country concerning a rising Presidency-induced ethnoreligious supremacy of one group over the rest, and this is capable of tearing the country part and entrenching a deep-seated animosity, and except we act responsibly as a people and as a nation to reverse it by doing justice to all sides, the nation will suffer the consequences,” Atoye said.