MEMBERS of the Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CNEEPD) have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for adopting a civil approach in tackling the recent youth uprising across the country and not resorting to suppress it using force.
Last Tuesday, Nigerian Army troops opened fire on unarmed demonstrators at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos demanding the scrapping of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (Sars) police unit, killing several of them. This cold blooded murder sparked a national outrage across the country and people have since taken to the streets, setting fire to public buildings and looting warehouses, shops and the homes of the wealthy.
Internationally, the Nigerian government has come under fierce criticism for the way it has handled the matter. Over the weekend, the crisis spread further with the emphasis now focused on the raiding of warehouses as it was discovered that Covid-19 palliatives distributed to states was being hoarded.
Despite the significant number of deaths involved the CNEEPD praised President Buhari over the way he has handled the matter. It also praised Ohaneze Ndigbo, the Igbo socio-cultural organisation, for distancing itself from inciting statements of the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) leader Nnamdi Kanu.
CNEEPD national coordinator Zana Goni, and its national women’s leader, Hajiya Mario Bichi, issued a joint statement in which they praised the way the protests were handled professionally. They also vowed that they will project the issues of alleged marginalisation of the southeast geo-political zone with a view to changing the equation.
In addition, they appealed to all Igbos to support the administration of President Buhari to succeed. According to the CNEEPD, the president’s wisdom in handling the youth uprising was the reason normalcy is returning in a short time in spite of the violence that trailed the nationwide action.
“We wish to sincerely thank president Muhammadu Buhari, the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces for his wisdom in handling the youths uprising that resulted in killings, looting, stealing and burning down of both private and public properties in some states of the federation. These actions by some misguided youths and criminal elements who were out to deliberately instigate religious and ethnic tensions in Nigeria were unfortunate.
“However, we thank the president for the civil approaches he used in dousing the tension. Northern youths were smart enough not to allow themselves to be used by crisis entrepreneurs who are out to destabilize our country,” their statement added.
They thanked the northern youths for exercising restraint despite the high level of provocative comments and videos on social media during the violent protest which were intended to provoke them into a reaction. They also thanked Ohaneze Ndigbo and other southeast groups for disowning what they referred to as inciting statements from Ipob and its leader Nnamdi Kanu, saying their actions have proven that the region has an unshaken belief in the unity of Nigeria.
“The northern youths have proven that they have outgrown the antics of the agents of destabilisation. We also wish to strongly commend how swiftly the Ohananze Ndigbo, South East Peace Practitioners, Igbo Youths Worldwide, Igbo Leagues of Professionals and several other Igbo groups distanced themselves from the so-called Ipob leader of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu over his inciting comments which was aimed at setting us up against each other during the protests.
“This has endeared the Igbo nation to the north once again and has also has shown their resolve to build one and prosperous Nigeria of our dream where peace and justice shall be the hallmark. As elders, we must clearly state that the country has not been fair to Igbo people in all ramifications and we must admit this fact as true Muslims,” the statement added.