The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) on Wednesday cautioned the federal government and the governors of the five states in the southeast to be very careful in dealing with cases relating to the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and their leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, as well as the Yoruba self-determination leader Sunday Igboho. The Conference warned that self-determination agitations should be differentiated from cessationist war.
The CNPP in a statement by the Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, indicated that it is “constrained to break silence on the matter as it has become very clear that government at all levels have failed to differentiate self-determination struggles from secessionist war.”
The CNPP admonished the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government and the five governors in southeast Nigeria that undermining the realities of the struggle or understanding the difference between the two scenarios has devastating dangers. The Conference stated that “peace will eventually elude the southeast, in particular, and the country in general if the current approach is sustained.”
The CNPP counseled the federal government to negotiate with aggrieved youths in the country as late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua did with the Niger Delta militants. The group recalled that “President Muhammadu Buhari in his Independence Day speech harped on the need for dialogue in the country.”
The CNPP declared: “There is no alternative to dialogue in conflict prevention and management.
“For this reason, self-determination, as a political aspiration should not be treated by governments in the same way a people who take up arms against the state should.
“For instance, recently, a veteran Nollywood actor was arrested and detained for adorning himself with a certain attire. How can someone be arrested for wearing coloured clothes, just because the government feels it connotes a self-determination struggle by a people who have over the years complained on injustice?
“Was the cloth an indigenous people’s militia uniform or that of a people that have taken up arms against a country in a bid to secede from it to warrant such embarrassing outing by our security agencies?
“The federal government should as a matter of urgency begin to genuinely respond to the age-long infrastructure decay in the southern Nigeria rather than opening war fronts in all parts of the country.
“The challenges of poverty, unemployment in the country, and a feeling of lack of a sense of belonging in southeast, just like in other parts of the country, should be addressed by the federal government and the states with uttermost sincerity.
“We advise the federal government and the southeast governors to channel their energy towards preventing conflicts as their current all-stick-approach has not only escalated conflicts over the years as seen the northern Nigeria but have also given the country a piece of the grave yard where peace exists at all.
“The approach in dealing with issues bothering on criminalities should be different from strategies against matters relating to self-determination agitations as the latter is a right in contemporary public international law.
“We therefore urge all the southeast governors and the federal government to come to a round table and negotiate with Nnamdi Kanu-led youths, sincerely address their concerns and those of other citizens in the region for peace to reign and create a sense of belonging in the region. The same should be done with the Sunday Igboho-led youths and the EndSARS agitators.
“There is nothing invested in conflict prevention that should be considered too costly compared to human lives that will be preserved.
“More so, it is cheaper to address the worries of the younger generations than to deploy the state’s coercive forces against them. Conflicts, when escalated, may leave the country’s already precarious economy in much more mess than we are experiencing at the moment.”