A delegation of northern governors has met with the Governors Nyesom Wike and Okezie Ikpeazu of Rivers and Abia States as part of efforts to douse growing tension in the country in the wake of a military operation against members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and the backlash against northerners in Rivers and Abia.
The delegation led by the head of the Northern Governors Forum, Governor Kashim Shettima, included Simon Lalong (Plateau), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Aminu Masari (Katsina), and Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi).
The governors thanked Wike for protecting northerners when IPOB members went after them for reprisal attacks last week.
Said Shettima: “Governor Wike we are mightily proud of you. We are mightily associating ourselves with you. Nigeria is greater than political differences. We belong to one political family and that is the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“No interest should be bigger than the Federal Republic of Nigeria. You believe in the Nigerian Project . For that, we remain eternally grateful.”
In his response, Wike said he believes in the unity of Nigeria and his government will not be a part of those calling for the disintegration of Nigeria.
“We owe it as a duty to protect every Nigerian living in the state.I will not allow any group intimidate, harass or attack other Nigerians living in the state. We are Rivers people and we belong to the Niger Delta,” he added.
In Abia, the leader of the delegation, Shettima said: “We are here to show solidarity. We have a moral obligation to ensure that Nigeria remains one. Nigeria is the largest conglomeration of black people in Africa, and we cannot afford to separate.
“We are not separating from Nigeria. If we separate where do we go? North is the Sahara Desert and Chad cannot contain us. If we go South, it is the Atlantic Ocean. The South is too small for us and the mountains of East Africa with their so many challenges cannot accommodate us. Thank you for rising to the occasion, Nigerians are better as one.”
“I am here with Northern Governors who respect and promote the unity of the country, Nigeria.
“We, the leaders have a role to play in bringing about peace and stability in this nation. We are here to show support and solidarity in the kind of leadership exhibited by our brother Governor in times of crisis and conflict, he rose to the challenges of leadership.”
“Our brothers from the South-East can come to any part of the North to stay and do their business as nobody has the right to drive away any Nigerian from any part of the country.”
“We want the South East Governors to reciprocate this visit by visiting the flash points to assure your people residing there of their safety in the North as we have assured you of the safety of your people residing in the North.”
In his response, Ikpeazu said the visit showed that Nigeria still remained one despite efforts to push her overboard by a few.
He added: “I am delighted by this show of solidarity by our brothers from the North. When this crisis started I asked (myself) what will my brother governors in the North do?
“I assure that the security of all Abia residents both indigenes are non-indigenes are guaranteed.”