IN search for peace and the need to protect the sovereignty of Nigeria, Northern representatives visited Igboland to beg for understanding in keeping Nigeria as one united nation. Seventeen governors of the Northern states, adopted the measure and sent only five governors on the peace mission to the Southeast region.
The five governors were those of Sokoto, Aminu Tambuwal; Plateau, Simon Lalong; Kebbi, Atiku Bagudu; and Kastina, Aminu Bello Masari. They were led by the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, who is also the chairman of Northern Governors forum. However, the journey in search of peace and dialogue to resolve some of the contending issues threatening the unity of Nigeria, started after the ugly developments of the Operation Python Dance by the Nigerian military in the Southeast region, with Abia State recording unsavoury results.
The first port of call by the governors was Abia and finally before their departure, they visited Imo State. Governor Shettima, who spoke on behalf of the northern governors did not hide their dissatisfaction with the trend of things in the country, as it has affected the unity of the country. He also did not rule out the fact that the problem of the region could be solved by Southeast leaders, adding that lack of quality leadership may have been the bane of development in the region.
He was of the view that the Southern leaders mostly in the Southeast region, ought to have the capacity to address the problems of their people. The Borno State governor went further to link the seeming controversies in the region to the elite who he said “created” the problems. He also said that such leaders were only concerned with what will be in their pockets.
Shettima said: “The problem of this country is with the elite who are fanning the embers of disunity and selfishness. They want to restructure their pocket and remain wealthy. Look at the roads in the Southeast region, the Enugu/Onitsha Expressway, the second Niger bridge, among others and tell me who you want to blame.
“Let me tell you, the Igbo have benefitted from the Nigeria project and it is good that we tell you that we are here fundamentally to thank our colleagues for what they have done and thank them for standing for national unity. Know it that what binds us together is superior to whatever will divide us. So, we should be the change bearers in this country.”
Speaking, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, was of the opinion that the visit of the northern representatives would further make the country indivisible. It was in the same gathering that Okorocha said that peace was not only expensive but that the time has come to achieve peace at all cost.
He defined Nigeria as a country that is inseparable and that the country would be better as a united entity. Okorocha jettisoned the idea of secession and advocated that citizens should be allowed to rule states other than their states of origin to see if the issue of united country could be achieved. The governor said: “Your visit at this time, is a sign that we are one and not separable. Nigeria is better as one united nation and many nations make reference to us because of how united we are.
“Peace is expensive and we must pursue it at all cost. We should remember our history as nation builders and not nation destroyers. In order to achieve our aim, I want to suggest as governors that after our four years, we should be allowed to govern other states, at least for six months. It will help us understand ourselves.”