By our reporter| The south-east region does not want to secede from Nigeria, Ebonyi state governor, Dave Umahi said on Thursday.
Umahi who stated this while speaking at the presidential ministerial press briefing organised by the presidential communications team at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, said though some of the agitations of the youth in the region are “rightful”, they have been hijacked and become violent.
According to him, despite the security challenges plaguing the south-east, the region does not want any form of war but wants to be part of a peaceful Nigeria.
He, therefore, called on aggrieved groups to come forward to air their grievances and demands.
Umahi said, “The situation in the South East is a mixture of reality, fake news, and war propaganda. Are there rightful agitations in the Southeast? Yes. Has it turned violent? Yes. It’s been hijacked.”
“In the southeast, we don’t want war, we don’t want to secede, we want to be a part of a fair Nigeria where justice, equity, and freedom exist.
“I have offered, and all the south-east governors…present your demands, embrace and renounce and hand over to us.
“There is no region in the country today that does not have one thing or the other against the federal government.
“But we have not sat down to discuss and that is what we are demanding from our youth, whether banned or barred, let us hear your grievances. Give us six months to engage the federal government to address all these.
“I believe in dialogue, I believe we can sit as people, discuss and find what our differences are and we can also, together, discuss how we can strengthen our cooperation as a people.”
Umahi also condemned the razing of two offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ebonyi, described the reason behind the incident as “a terrible mindset”.
He urged security operatives in the region to intensify efforts in curbing the security challenges in the region.
“A lot of people have been brainwashed about Biafra; that there will be no elections in the region in 2023,” he said.
“INEC offices are not being burnt in other parts of the country. It’s a terrible mindset for anybody to be doing this. They are criminals.”
“Ebube Agu is a change of name. My state has signed our Ebube Agu into law and it has come to stay. It is to protect the people. Once you are not a criminal, you are safe,” he said.
“No matter what name you bear, you are banned or barred and causing trouble in the south-east, Ebube Agu will address that with the security agencies.”
Umahi, who doubles as the chairman of Eastern governors further stated that those against the southern governors’ resolve to ban open grazing want killings to continue in the country.
According to him, the south has no grazing routes, and allowing cattle to move freely would mean trespassing on people’s property,
He, therefore, asked the federal government to implement ranching and business models for livestock management.