A one-day summit of the South-East and South-West Leaders christened “Handshake Across the Niger” has ended in Enugu with a call for stronger regional cooperation between the two zones.
The Southern Leaders also canvassed for immediate implementation of 2014 National Constitutional Conference with a view to restructuring the country.
In a communique after the meeting which was signed by Chief John Nwodo (Jr) the President- General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the leader of the Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebayo, the two ethnic groups noted that the immense strength of Igbo-Yoruba close affinities of kinship and brotherhood, shared origins and cultural/ethical values, a common worldview and inherent love of freedom and justice.
The Southern Leaders recalled that “Hand Shake Across the Niger” anchored on the heroism of Major General J.T.U. Aguiyi Ironsi and Lt. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, though long overdue, has finally burst the myth of Igbo-Yoruba irreconcilable differences and spiteful rivalry, thus, providing new impetus for resurgence of the same bold, patriotic and nationalist solidarity of the two ethnic groups from the 1930s to the 1950s that earned independence for Nigeria in 1960.
According to them, “the immense strength of Igbo-Yoruba close affinities of kinship and brotherhood, shared origins and cultural/ethical values, a common worldview and inherent love of freedom and justice”
They noted that the “Hand Shake Across the Niger (HSAN), anchored on the heroism of Major General J.T.U. Aguiyi Ironsi and Lt. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, though long overdue, has finally burst the myth of Igbo-Yoruba irreconcilable differences and spiteful rivalry, thus, providing new impetus for resurgence of the same bold, patriotic and nationalist solidarity of the two ethnic groups from the 1930s to the 1950s that earned independence for Nigeria in 1960
“We believe that the foregoing measures will reposition Nigeria to reach credible nationhood, attain its full potential and respect in the community of nations thereby enabling us to effectively lead the campaign for the political and economic renaissance of Africa and the black race – the very goals for which the Zik of Africa and the sage Chief Awolowo and a host of other founding nationalists lived and sacrificed so much”, they added.
The Communique further stated, “today’s Hand Shake (HS) is not a one-off event, but only the first of a progressive and continuous re-socialization project that will, in short order, reach out to embrace other compatriots in the South-South (SS) ,Middle Belt [MB], North Central (NC) North East (NE) and North West(NW) zones of the country;
“We decided therefore, to establish a standing Joint Action Committee to drive this process, and to continually articulate fresh ideas and strategies to sustain the current zeal and momentum of mutual understanding and collaborative actions aimed at resuscitating Nigeria politically and economically in order to position her to earn her rightful place among the contending nations in the world.
They stated that the composition and mandate of the Joint Committee and its sub-committees, along with the full report of today’s Hand Shake, will be posted in due course.
According to the communiqué, ” in a long history of close relations and association, the Igbo and Yoruba have no recorded instances of violence against each other’s ethnic group, such as inter-ethnic mass killings and destruction and/or seizure of property; that instead, they have lived, worked and prospered together, accommodating and respecting their differences;
“We expressed awareness that grievances generated by past errors on both sides can no longer justify or sustain dissection between the two groups whose solidarity and mutual collaboration have the capacity to dramatically change the fortunes of Nigeria, thereby also, change the fates of the African continent and the black race”
All the Speakers at the occasion talked about the need for peace and unity in the country.
Former Governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko said ” We now live in a world where machines are being built to think, a world in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) threatens our fundamental assumptions of employment. We can therefore not afford to be cocooned in the prejudices of the past, some of which are based on the perceptive errors and indiscretions of some of our leaders living or dead”
“For sure, we must learn and cherish our history and allow it to enlighten our choices of today and tomorrow but we must resist the temptation of perceiving history as an invitation to live in the past. I hate poverty. I believe in God’s word that He created us in His own image. That to me means that He wants us to live decent lives, not the obviously subhuman living most of our countrymen and women have been consigned.
“When God decreed at creation that we should ‘…Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth..’, it couldn’t have been His intention that our women should continue to die in efforts to be fruitful. I hate it that one out of five of our children die of essentially preventable diseases before they get to the age of five. I hate the devaluation of life (which is worse than currency devaluation) that has translated to be rampant and unchecked killing in every part of our country.
“I hate to be considered an inferior human being because my country, my race has refused to excel in virtually all areas of human endeavour. We, that were once forced into slavery have now become voluntary slaves and are ready to take any risk to so be. Yes, even the risk of traversing deserts and oceans in the most hazardous manner is game. Our young ones, the strength of our today and the wisdom of our future have become objects of derision, victims of hard drugs and all manners of occultism and cultism.
“We thirst for a turnaround. We pray and shall continue to pray for it. But we must also be ready to work for it… peacefully through shared perceptions and agreed concrete democratic actions.
“We all agree that the structure of our nation is not serving us well and that in many ways, it hinders development. Indeed, many of the challenges listed heretofore, and the list is certainly not exhaustive, are but a manifestation of the defective structure this nation has been forced to operate, especially since military incursion into governance in 1966. No one needs to be a development expert to know that we are not doing well on the development front. The good news, however, is that we are capable of doing better. We are capable of posting great results on the platform of composite development and national unity. What we simply need to do, and I dare say urgently, is to redesign this structure, with a view to making it more functional.
“I am glad that in spite of everything, some semblance of consensus is emerging around the more critical of the issues, not just across the Niger, but indeed all over the country. It has become clear, as I have often averred, that restructuring is not a South versus North thing. Rather, it is about unleashing the potential of all parts of our nation for rapid development.
” My conviction in this regard is what has made me align with the mainstream Yoruba political tendency, personified by Afenifere, which has perhaps more than any group in this country, put the restructuring argument on the front burner. It is the reason why as Governor of Ondo State, I supported the convocation of the 2014 National Conference and the southwest delegation in every way possible. I am persuaded that what that Conference came up with is good enough a starting point in rescuing our nation from this suffocating structure that has hamstrung development for decades, and promises to keep doing so for as long as it is in place.
“As we proceed to develop this concept of handshake further, let us please note three critical issues. The first is that seeking to build a stronger bond between the East and West or better still across the Niger, is not inconsistent with our desire for national unity. Indeed, it is the case that when two significant units of a system work in harmony, it portends greater prospects of the entire system doing the same, and being more functional. The closer the East and West work, therefore, the surer the path of peace and development for Nigeria.
“Secondly, a comb through the history of our existence as East and West reveals profound pieces of evidence that should ordinarily serve as the basis of greater bonding between our two peoples. This is what the two objects of celebration today, Aguiyi-Ironsi and Adekunle Fajuyi, personify. Let us, therefore, let go of our disagreement, misconceptions, and pains of the past. Our narrative must change otherwise, the evident generational transfer of animosity will continue if unchecked.
Ex-Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, called on the Nigerian government to ban herdsmen from operating in Nigeria and to equally outlaw them as terrorists owing to the wastage of lives and property perpetrated by them in virtually all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria
Chief Kayode who represented the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, noted that time of reckoning had come where the Yoruba, Igbo, South South, and Middle Belt should work together for a prosperous nation, said that there was a gang plan in Nigeria to emasculate Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt, pointing out that this should not be allowed to happen.
Chief Kayode who represented the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose at the event moved the audience with nerve shattering statement, drew tears from the eyes of women and made them to remove their clothes in reaction to the heaviness of his speech, said that what was done to the IPOB for agitating for Biafra freedom, was reprehensible and added that he would never forget Nnamdi whether he is dead or alive.
He said that it was more reprehensible that 2000 Igbo’s lost their lives during the civil war while 300 Igbo were killed on the day Faguyi and Ironsi were killed.
“some people are regarded as slaves and vassals in Nigeria whereas others are the masters, a situation he said should not been allowed to happen in future. Some people in Nigeria see themselves as slaves and vassals whereas some others see themselves as the masters,” Kayode said.
The former Aviation minister said that the convocation of the gathering was long over due because of its importance and urged all and sundry to stand up to redress the anomaly, pointing out that first, Nigerians must apologize to the Igbo for the pogrom they suffered.
Speaking at the occasion, former military governor of Akwa Ibom State, Idongesite Nkaga who represented Edwin Clark, sued for physical federation whereby the oil producing states should be given 50 per cent of the allocation while the rest of the federating States take the rest of 50%.
He regretted that the Yoruba’s and the Igbo had been on parrellel line because Awolowo and Zik were on parrellel and said this should not be so that the two divides can work together for the betterment of Nigeria.
He also said that the South South stood for true federalism. “South South is very, very clear about true federalism, ” he said pointing out that it should not be taken easy again so that marginalisation would cease in Nigeria.
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