Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, has revealed his plan for tackling the Biafra agitation, including that by the outlawed secessionist group, IPOB.
He made the disclosure while speaking at Chatham House in London on Monday.
“I will talk and discuss with all agitators. There is nothing wrong in that; people agitate even in my house and I have talked with them,” he said responding to a question.
According to Mr Obi, the agitations are a cumulative effect of leadership failure over the years which he promised would be solved by good governance.
“When people start seeing justice, fairness, an inclusive government and doing the right thing, all those things will start reversing itself and that is what Datti and I are discussing,” the presidential hopeful said.
He condemned all agitators but insisted that attention must be paid to the reasons for the agitations all over the place. “Not just the IPOB, we have the Yoruba nation and all sorts.”
“When you have created this level of massive poverty where 63 per cent of your population is poor, you will create all sorts of problems,” Mr Obi said.
IPOB has been accused by the Nigerian government of being responsible for the attacks in the south-east region of Nigeria that have led to the killings and kidnappings of hundreds of people in the region.
The leader of the group, Nnamdi Kanu, is in detention and is being prosecuted by the government for treason.
The group wants an independent country for the Igbos to be carved from the south-east and some parts of south-south Nigeria.
Insecurity and Ethnic tension
Fielding a similar question on how he plans to tackle the security challenge and ethnic tension in Nigeria, Mr Obi said the ethnic tensions in Nigeria today are a result of injustice, unfairness, exclusion, and marginalisation.
“As long as we start doing the right thing, as long as we start building an inclusive society; where people’s talent and hard work match their opportunities, you start seeing those things go down,” Mr Obi said.
He said Nigeria has an existential threat which leaves no room for the usual transactional leadership. “It is either you are a Nigerian or you look for another country.”
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Mr Obi noted that security is the first commitment of his administration if elected. “Securing Nigeria is not impossible. I secured Anambra State as governor and it will not be different,” he said.
His government, he said, will apply the carrot and stick method. They will dialogue with those who are available for dialogue and will deal with those who are not interested.
“Nigeria must be secured. We will not shy away; we will deal with it,” Mr Obi said.
He added that it was time to resonate the spirit of the Nigerian military: the same spirit they used in securing Africa in the past during peace missions, he said.
Mr Obi is the second Nigerian presidential candidate in this electoral cycle to speak at Chatham House, a London-based think tank, following his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Bola Tinubu’s session there in December.
Two other candidates, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), are also expected to speak there.
A total of 18 candidates are scheduled to take part in next month’s election but only four of them are believed to have a chance of victory. The four are Messrs Obi, Tinubu, Kwakwanso and Abubakar.
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