Periods of social anomie open opportunities for delinquents to thrive in society. And so Nigerians discovered on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 when separate groups of self-styled Northern youths at a joint press conference in Kaduna, issued an infamous declaration that ordered Igbo living in the North to leave the region before October 1, 2017.
The youth groups who had been unknown until their villainous outing, in a rather remarkable way birthed themselves into odium with their declaration.
The basis of their declaration was the May 30 lockdown of the South-East and parts of the South-South, orchestrated by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the now defunct Biafra.
The declaration was laced with so much vitriol that should not have emanated from a Nigerian towards another. Besides the ultimatum to the Igbo, the Northern groups also declared the readiness of the North to leave the federal arrangement.
Given constitutional rights to freedom of expression, the vituperation of the groups could ordinarily have been simply dismissed as lack of intelligence but for its threat to the unity of Nigeria.
It's even more saddening that the “northern youths” made their iniquitous outing at Arewa House, Kaduna, which serves as a centre for historical documentation on Northern Nigeria. Arewa House was also the residence of the only Premier of Northern Nigeria, the late Sir Ahmadu Bello.
That these groups were given accommodation by the authorities of Arewa House to gush such ill-tempered denunciation of the Nigerian federation and draw the North into a cataclysmic agitation is indeed troubling. The management of Arewa House should as a matter of living up to its principles of safeguarding true Northern and Nigerian values not give accommodation to such naysayers.
It is especially so, given recent calls on how to calm and collapse the inflamed agitations from the Southeast. The North needs not be added to this bitter brew of poisonous passion.
We commend those who chose to put the secessionist youths in their deserved place of disregard by refusing to serve as purveyors of anarchy.
We |will continue to regard groups that inflame ethnic or regional acrimony with contemptuous disdain.
We also welcome the swift response of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, the umbrella social-cultural group in Northern Nigeria which was quick to disown the youths.
The prompt response of the ACF is undeniably salutary as it goes to assure that the youths at the forefront of the declaration did not have their backing
The Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere has also distanced itself from the assertions of the Northern youths, affirming in sober resonance that the Yoruba would not link up in any conspiracy against the Igbo.
The apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohaneze Ndigbo, despite the provocative pronunciation has also sought to calm nerves with a supplication for calm.
Vanguard also commends the revulsion of Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State towards the agitators. However, the order to arraign signatories to the infamous Kaduna Declaration on charges of incitement should, however, be pursued with tact.
These youths who are oblivious of the misery many Nigerians passed through during the civil war should be handled with discretion to ensure that they are positively influenced for their good and the good of everyone.
Times like these call for extra vigilance from all, and words should be couched in ways to heal and not inflame.
Vanguard calls on all concerned stakeholders to refrain from rancorous remonstrations that endanger the peace of the polity. The polity as it is, is grappling with many centrifugal forces. The insidious demands of the youths that met last Tuesday at Arewa House must not be added to the cacophony.
We call on the leaders and various stakeholders of this diverse federation to vote for Nigeria with their voices and wisdom, rein-in their angry youths and give Nigeria a chance.
No group has the right to give any group quit notice to leave any part of Nigeria, or threaten to tamper with lives and property. This is totally against the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which is binding on all Nigerians, including elected and non-elected leaders.