LABOUR minister Dr Chris Ngige has revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari has accepted to engage in dialogue with Igbo leaders to help address the ongoing agitations taking place across the southeast geo-political zone.
Over recent weeks, the southeast has been a hotbed of violence with armed gangs attacking public buildings like police stations, correctional facilities and Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) offices. With the violence growing by the day, Igbo leaders have been under pressure to address the matter.
Among the grievances the youth across the southeast have is that they are marginalised when it comes to federal appointments and the unchecked activities of Fulani cattle herdsmen. Due to the combination of all these problems, secessionist agitations have increased lately, leading to the growing popularity of organisations like the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob).
After a meeting at Aso Rock yesterday, Dr Ngige, himself from Anambra State in the southeast, said President Buhari has agreed to meet with Igbo leaders to address all these issues. He added that the federal government is working out some modalities to ensure that the people of the region do not feel unwanted in Nigeria.
Dr Ngige said: “We looked at the security situation, especially in my zone, the southeast and we made some proposals to him based on the yearnings of the people and what the government also wants. We are following up with dialogue, which at the end of the day, is what will happen.
“We have to talk and we have to discuss. The minister of defence, minister of interior and service chiefs were in Enugu last Saturday and we’re going to do follow-up meetings on that. We briefed President Buhari and he accepted that dialogue is the way to go in all this.”
Over recent months, there has been a heavy security presence in the southeast, with allegations of widespread human rights abuses. President Buhari himself had promised to crackdown on anyone trying to destabilise his government, leading to allegations that he is singling out the Igbos for special punishment.