Nigeria in recent years have not witnessed the kind of tension that gripped the country in 2017 the way it did when the North and the South and in this case, the southeast were at daggers drawn, issuing threats and counter threats that nearly set the country on fire.
Nigerians will not forget in a hurry the tension created by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Movement for the Actualization of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Arewa Youth Forum (AYF) who issued several quit notices and counter-quit notices after personnel of the Nigerian Army reportedly invaded the home of the leader of the IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
However, while this was going on, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State; where Igbos has greater percentage of investment in the north didn’t rest on his oars. He not only ensured that the lives of Igbos were secured, Ganduje made sure that the businesses of Igbos living in Kano State were touched as well.
However, in appreciation for the lives and properties of Igbos which he worked tirelessly to preserve, the chairman, Southeast Traditional Rulers Council, His Eminence Eze (Dr) Eberechi Dick (JP), the Eze Udo 1 of Mgboko Ngwa Amaise Autonomous Community in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State at his palace at the weekend in an event that attracted the Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and former Central Bank of Nigeria’s Governor and among other dignitaries in attendance, conferred on Ganduje the Agu Na Eche Mba 1 of Igbo land in kano State.
Dick used the opportunity of the event to call for unity and harmonious co-existence of the Southeasterners and their northern counterparts.
Recall that, two days before the conferment of the title, members of pro-Biafra agitation group, Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) had warned Ganduje not to step into the southeast over a list of reasons why Ganduje’s visit in the region would not be welcomed.
Ganduje accompanied by his wife Hafsat and her Abia counterpart, Deaconess Nkechi Ikpeazu information commissioner, Garba Mohammed and among others were also being accompanied by leaders of Igbo community in Kano State.
The southeast traditional ruler’s council chairman who debunked the title having any kind of political undertone in an interview with journalists said that the unity of the country was nonnegotiable, stressing that the country would function better when there is peace and harmony among members of various ethnic groups in the country.
Speaking on the title given to Gov. Ganduje, Eze Dick said “We, the traditional rulers in the East decided based on the report and plea of our people residing in Kano, to honour the governor of Kano, Umaru Ganduje with chieftancy title for the way in which he has being making sure that their lives and property are protected.
“The title is significant because it will go a long way to show that we the Igbos are united with our brothers in the North. Our wealth in Kano is too much and since the governor brought out his strength to secure our wealth, we appreciate it.
“Whatever MASSOB is saying, we the fathers know that this governor has done us no bad. He is a good man. I advice MASSOB to look onto us the Royal Fathers, we can never mislead them. Our brothers in the North love us. We shall always protect them here and I know they’ll reciprocate it over there.”
Eze Dick also used the opportunity to call on the federal government to pay attention to the deplorable road networks in the southeast which he had promised to attend to in one of the traditional rulers visit to Aso Rock.
“I’ve gone for a lot of mission on behalf of Ndi-Igbo. I’ve gone with notable traditional rulers in Igbo Land to see Buhari to present some of our needs to him and he assured us that he will take care of them. We have asked him to touch our roads, rail and also appoint our people where necessary. Azikiwe said he wanted one Nigeria so that our people will continue to do their businesses anywhere freely and we stand on that one Nigeria. It has no political undertone at all. We are not politicians. It’s done to foster peace.”
In his speech, Ganduje said “I cherished event like this that seeks to bring us together and strengthen our unity despite our diverse rich cultures. It has always been my firm belief that diversity should not be used as an instrument to divide. We cannot subscribe to the Machiavellian principle that differences in language, customs and laws divide people, making them difficult to hold together.
“On several occasion, I turned down offers by many different organizations and traditional institutions to give award or confer on me traditional title. However, I gave it a second thought after critical examination considering the excellent working relationship we have with His Highness, Igwe (Dr.) Boniface Ibekwe, Eze Ndigbo Kano towards promoting the cause for peaceful co-existence not only with the Ndigbo but other ethnic groups resident in Kano.
“Our brave, collective pursuit in uniting this nation, underscores the fact that for as long as we have a common purpose, will find no obstacle big enough to stop us from marching on. I personally commit, in my capacity as the Governor to support all effort in ensuring that this country continue to remain one.
“It has been my personal conviction that anyone who chose to come to stay in Kano should never be addressed as non indigene. And in ensuring that my conviction is real, we appointed senior aides into the government from major ethnic groups living in Kano.
“In fact during the heights of the quit notice served by Coalition of Arewa Youth, I had to personally intervene by summoning series of meetings at the Government House, Kano to not only douse the simmering tension, but harmoniously resolved the crisis.
“We have also introduced an Annual Inter-Religious and Community Conference towards strengthening Inter-Faith and Community Relations for Harmony, Peace and Sustainable Development in Kano state.
“Your Excellency, His Eminence, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me say here that the decision by His Eminence to confer on me a traditional title has no political undertone whatsoever. I am not aspiring to be the President of this country.
“My willingness to accept it is merely based on need to wax stronger, the longstanding relationship between the people of Kano, the Ndigbo and other ethnic nationalities.”
The host governor, Okezie Ikpeazu represented at the event by the Secretary to the State government; Dr. Eme Okoro said “we promise to abide by this move made by our traditional rulers in keeping this nation peaceful and united.
“What has happened today will go a long way in making things better for us all as Nigerians. From this move, it’s obvious that from now henceforth, Kano is the home of Abia people while Abia will always be a home for the Kano people.”
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