Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima has explained that the issues posed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is more urgent than those by Islamic Sect Boko Haram, and that is why he left his state to visit the South-East governors.
He said this in Owerri, where the delegation from the Northern Governors Forum met with Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, Nation reports.
It was reported on Monday that President Buhari had sent the delegation to meet with South-East governors in an effort to unite the nation.
The delegation, also including governors Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina, Aminu Waziri of Sokoto, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, and Simon Lalong of Plateau, had earlier met with governors of Rivers and Abia States, Nyesom Wike and Okezie Ikpeazu.
Governor Shettima, in Owerri, said the purpose of their travel is to forestall a mass movement of Nigerians from one part of the country to another.
He said the urgency of the crisis was why he left the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in his state, to join the other governors in the visit.
Remember that the Boko Haram sect has so far claimed responsibility for several attacks that have led to thousands of deaths.
They were also behind the infamous abduction of the 276 Chibok girls, over half of whom are still in their custody.
Recently, they attacked an oil exploration team, abducting 4 members of the staff of University of Maiduguri, all of whom are still in captivity.
Shettima, speaking at the meeting, said although, on Tuesday morning, 25 people were killed in his state, he was on the South-East mission because of what it means to the country. He said:
Only this morning, 25 people were killed in my state via explosions carried out by three suicide bombers, but I have to be on this mission because of what it means to the nation.
What we wanted to forestall actually was a mass movement of Nigerians from one part of the country to another. It was a very dangerous signal.
We equally invite our brothers from the South East to visit some of the northern flash points like Kaduna, Kano and Jos, and together we can talk to our Igbo brothers and sisters there to assure them of the safety of their lives and properties.
Make or break, this country belongs to all of us. The population of Syria is a paltry 22 million. Only 2 million Syrian refugees are knocking on the doors of Europe and it is causing reverberation. How then do you perceive a situation where 35 million English-speaking Nigerians are knocking on the doors of Europe?
That is why we have a moral obligation as stakeholders to make things work in this country. We are all part of the leadership challenges we are facing in this country, and none of us can exonerate him or herself from blame.
Like I said earlier in Aba, the hope of the black man rests not with the hard-thinking South Africans or the obsequious Kenyans who are struggling to be more white than the white men, but with the people of this country.
If you see an African walking on the streets of London and would not leave the way obsequiously for the white man to pass, you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you that that black man is a Nigerian.
If we allow this country to implode, up is the Sahara Desert, Niger is already a failed state. The population of Niger is only 11 million while Kano has a population of about 30 million. We can eat up the entire food reserve of Niger Republic within a week.
Down is the Atlantic Ocean and the tiny countries of Benin Republic, Togo and Senegal. Maybe some of us will migrate to Gambia. The entire food reserves of those tiny West African countries can be exhausted within two weeks.
Shettima thanked the Imo State governor for the warm reception, while referring to him as a merchant of peace. He said:
In politics, perception counts and symbolism matters. So we are here largely to identify with our governor colleagues; to visit the northern communities in their states and to reassure them that our governor colleagues are equal to the task.
In fact, I had to pay a visit to the governor of Rivers State where we were earlier on, and Chief Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and, of course, the merchant of peace in Imo State (Okorocha) for rapidly responding to the emergency situations in their respective states by declaring dusk to dawn curfews. They equally stopped the nation from reaching the boiling point.
While we were in Rivers, we were not opportune to address the northern community. But in Aba and Umuahia, we were able to do so and thank the governor, because the reports we got directly from the northerners residents in Umuahia, Governor Ikpeazu had solved 70 per cent of their problems; that they had never had it so good of a governor that responded rapidly to the challenges they were facing in their communities.
Okorocha, in turn, thanked the delegation for their visit, and for promoting peace across the nation. He said:
Even between husband and wife, without communication, a break-up is inevitable. And we should not only communicate between ourselves as governors, we should also communicate with the ordinary citizens on the streets.
He added that the unrest in the South-East is a result of people’s perception that President Buhari would abandon that part of the nation, because they did not vote for him. He said:
As untrue as that may be, it remains the general feeling of the people in this part of the world. So, you coming to bridge the gap is a right step in the right direction.