Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has asked members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to give them six months to dialogue with the federal government in resolving their grievances.
Speaking at the presidential ministerial press briefing on Thursday, Umahi appealed to the youths in the region to submit their demands to their governors in order to present them to President Muhammadu Buhari.
He noted that if in the next six months the governors have not substantially addressed their grievances, they will join the youths in their agitation.
Umahi said dialogue is the best way to address the marginalisation and exclusion of the South East from the affairs of the nation.
He said: “We are calling on our youths to submit their demands to us, we will come to the centre and submit.
“If in the next six months we have not substantially addressed it, we can join you in the agitation but right now we don’t support you to insult the president, leaders of south-east and other leaders. That is not agitation, that is foolishness. Agitation is agitation.
“So we have to tell ourselves the truth, if we want to address marginalisation and exclusion from the affairs of the nation, we have to apply wisdom.
“We shouldn’t go by the way of violence and allow people to hijack peaceful demands of our people. This is our position.”
Umahi also condemned the recent attacks on government facilities including offices belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The governor said some people in the South East region are convinced that the 2023 elections will not hold.
Umahi said those with such a mindset believe that if elections do not take place, the national assembly will declare a state of emergency in the region.
He said the country will remain together under the 1999 Nigerian constitution (as amended), noting that “until it is changed, nobody can do anything about it”.
“A lot of people have been brainwashed in the south-east about Biafra. The Biafra I desire is the Biafra of the mind, Biafra of development, the Biafra where each state of south-east will deploy the resources that we are getting from the centre, and from our IGR to develop our place,” he said
“That is the Biafra that I see. I see a Biafra of equity and justice all over the regions. That’s what I see.
“So, some of them have been indoctrinated that there will be no election in 2023 and that is very dangerous.
“Because, if you say there will be no election in your region, then the national assembly could make an emergency law to say there will be emergency rule there and there is nothing you can do about it.”