Chris Steven, Abuja
Igbos in Nigeria Movement has urged the people of the south-east states to be discerning in their choices in the general elections saying that strategies that have failed the region in the past must not be repeated again since they will yield the exact same results.
The movement, which spoke through its President, Maxi Ifeanyi Igwe in Abuja on Friday also urged Igbos to cooperate with the Nigerian Army and other security agencies in ensuring that the elections are not hijacked by thugs that hide under agitation to foment trouble.
Igwe called on Igbos to disregard the call by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu for the boycott of the elections even as he noted that such demand can only be made by someone that is interested in getting the Igbos to be labelled as anti-democratic elements that did not support the entrenchment of democracy.
He stressed that “The Igbo states, being peaceful, would not have needed the Army’s nationwide Operation Python Dance had IPOB and other divisive elements not engaged in a needless sabre-rattling that created the impression that war is afoot. But this is not who we are in Igboland, we are pro-democracy any day and we will not allow history to misjudge us as a people because of a few recalcitrant renegades.
“Every other geo-political zone has been agitating for restructuring and what we have seen them doing is getting candidates across the spectrum to commit to pursuing this agenda. The people of these other geo-political zones have in essence made a strong statement that the agitation for true fiscal federalism will pick up pace once they have elected candidates that are favourably disposed to restructuring.
“The south-east cannot, in this sense, be different by trying to achieve the same objective through violence and calling for the disintegration of the country as IPOB and Kanu are doing. The region must also not make itself unnecessary enemies by being abusive of other ethnic nationals and directing hate speech against them as we have seen from Kanu since he resurfaced from hiding,” he noted.
Igbos in Nigeria Movement’s president counselled against bloc support while asking that Igbos should freely vote for candidates of their choice without feeling coerced. According to him, “Past experience has shown that Igbos are singled out for undesirable special treatment each time they vote as a bloc for a candidate, something that the other ethnic nationalities do not do. Other geo-political zones allow their people to vote for candidates of their choice, which ensures that whoever emerges the winner will not feel than an entire geo-political zone or ethnic group voted against them.
“This is why we advise those creating the false impression that the entire Igbo nation has endorsed any one particular candidate to desist from the unwholesome act as it would be unfair for them to set up the entire south-east for victimization when a wrongly endorsed candidate loses the election as happened in the past.
“We also urge our people to shun violence and other political actions that inimical to the growth and development of Nigeria. This appeal becomes necessary given the worsening instances of threats and counter threats that politicians are issuing against each other. Our people need to read between the lines and appreciate that the ancestral homes of these candidates and cities where they have huge business investments will at no time record political violence even if we allow impassioned support for the them to ignite Igboland.
“Not only must the people refrain from violence we urge our people in Igboland to support the Nigerian Army and all security agencies that have deployed to maintain the peace during the elections. The support to the army and other agencies is to ensure that thugs that have been hired to unleash violence on the political opponents of their paymasters do not succeed. The people must also be careful of the incitement from IPOB and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is now clearly acting out a script that does not accommodate the interest of the Igbos,” Igwe charged.