The Director General of Voice of Nigeria, VON, Osita Okechukwu, has defended the non-arrest of the Arewa youth who issued a quit notice to Igbos to leave the 19 states of Northern Nigeria.
Mr. Okechukwu described the non-arrest of Yerima Shetimma and other leaders of the Arewa youth coalition as strategic.
“Arrest and detention wittingly and unwittingly make agitators celebrities,” he noted.
Mr. Okechukwu was reacting to the speech of John Nwodo, the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo during the inauguration of 100-member advisory committee on economic and political affairs, in Enugu at the weekend.
“What remains worrisome is the incapacity of the police to make needful arrests in the situation pointing to double standards from our security forces,” Mr. Nwodo reportedly said.
In a statement at Akpakwume Nze, Enugu State, on Sunday, Mr. Okechukwu disagreed with Mr. Nwodo that the security agencies were playing double standards by not making arrests over the quit notice.
He recalled that it was the arrest and long detention of an equally provocative and unknown Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) that made him a celebrity.
“His detention gave rise to the disgusting and sordid situation in the country today. Methinks the non-arrest of Yerima Shetima and cohorts of the Arewa Youths for their arrant, unpatriotic, unconstitutional and provocative quit notice is strategic.
‘”Strategic in the sense that more than any other factor was the arrest and long detention of harmless, but as well provocative Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which led to this sordid scenario. Detention made Kanu with no fixed address became an instant celebrity.Had Kanu not been arrested his agitation could have fizzled out unnoticed.” the VON DG said.
Asked whether he consulted the Inspector General of the Police before coming to this conclusion, Mr. Okechukwu quipped: “I didn’t consult the Inspector General of the Police or any security officer for that matter, but common sense. The security chiefs might have reasoned that it is better to allow the storm to boil over, instead of creating another celebrity. As time is the healer of all wounds.”
“I’m surprised why Chief Nnia Nwodo, our President General, who loves us, the millions of Ndigbo who live in the north more than ourselves did not worry, why Nnamdi Kanu was not rearrested after serial violation of court order. Is it not double standard to allow somebody who flagrantly violates court order to move about freely? If by the same token, Kanu is not rearrested, I bet you that his sponsors will thin down,” he said.
While agreeing that as the President General of Ohaneze, Mr. Nwodo should be concerned about the fate of Ndigbo worldwide, Mr. Okechukwu said, “I have great and tremendous respect for Chief Nwodo and was part of his campaign against Professor Chinwike Ejike, who incidentally hails from my area.”
He, however, advised that in times like this, prominent leaders like Mr. Nwodo should be more pragmatic and strategic.
“We have passed this road before and we know that the fault lines can be strengthened,” he said.
Mr. Okechukwu said the Ohaneze leader should not bother himself with unknown Arewa youth or fringe groups in the North, but rather listen more to the likes of the Emir of Katsina, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Arewa Consultative Forum, Northern Governors Forum and the Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, by extension the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Mr. Okechukwu argued further that, “Did you hear him talking of being in solidarity with Afenifere? Is that strategic choice among two contending Yoruba groups? Afenifere without being immodest is no more the Afenifere of yesterday. Does it make strategic sense being in solidarity with Afenifere, instead of the major Yoruba group, led by Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who today are quietly and smartly harvesting the silent infrastructural revolution going on under President Muhammadu Buhari.”
On the advisory economic and political affairs committee Ohaneze set up on Saturday, Mr. Okechukwu said it was a welcome development, and he would like to work with them.
He advised the committee to work with Igbo ministers and other officials especially Geofrey Onyeama of foreign ministry, Okechukwu Enelamah of trade and investment, Ben Akabueze of Budget Office and Abraham Nwankwo of Debt Management Office.
“It bothers one that Chief Nwodo seems to be playing politics with our destiny. Yes ooOh! we are marginalised, but has Chief Nwodo led Ohaneze ever found time to summon some of us to ask what our scant offices can offer Ndigbo? I doubt if he neither met nor replied the profound congratulatory letter President Buhari wrote to him?”
He noted that there are commonalities between the terms of reference of the committee and President Buhari’s projects in the south-east, which includes completion of the 2nd Niger Bridge, revamping of Enugu coal and establishment of University of ICT Campus in Enugu.
Asked if he was opposed to return to regional government and the report of the national conference of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Mr. Okechukwu said it does not matter whether he opposes or supports the conference report, arguing that the conference did not recommend regions, but creation of more states.
“If we join hands and demand one additional state based on equity and justice, Nigerians will listen to us, than outright secession,” he said.