A coalition of women group under the aegis of the Nigerian Women for Peaceful Coexistence and Unity has said that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable.
The group’s leaders, former senator, Florence Ita-Giwa; former deputy governor of Lagos State, Sinatu Ojukutu; and rights activist; Kafilat Ogbara, made the assertion in Lagos on Sunday at an event organised to commemorate Nigeria’s 57th independence anniversary.
On the demands of the Indigenous People of Biafra, the convener of the group, Ita-Giwa, recalled the consequences of the 1967-70 civil war and called on the separatist group to sheathe their sword.
“Many of us here are living witnesses to the horrors of the Nigerian Civil war between 1967 and 1970. Two million innocent souls were lost in that war.
We lost spouses, fathers, and siblings and loved ones. Many of us lost three years of our lives and our parents had to start life afresh at the end of the war,” she said.
While stressing that the group is not affiliated to any political party, Ms. Ita-Giwa said the group aims to ensure that peace reigns in the country again.
“We most passionately call on all such persons to stop forthwith. No nation on earth has ever survived two civil wars. As mothers and grandmothers, we stand resolutely for the unity of Nigeria.
The federal government needs to review past reports on the subject of restructuring. Having been a refugee during the war, another civil war should not be encouraged.
“Our advocacy is coming at a time when the unity of the country is on the tenterhooks. The rising call for Biafra in the South-east and the yet-to-be-defeated insurgency of Boko-Haram in the North-east have been a daily threat to the lives of many Nigerians.”
On her part, Mrs. Ojukutu appealed to persons she described as “misguided advocates of secession” to tone down the rhetoric.
“It is obvious these people never experienced the last civil war and they have no knowledge of the consequences of war. Employing inciting words and denigrating others in speeches for the dubious purpose of gaining relevance has grave repercussions, we passionately call on such persons to stop. If you feel you are marginalised, you can complain in a good way and you don’t have to call for secession,” she said.
“We understand the pervasiveness of the issue has forced the FG to deploy the armed forces to different parts of the country for the maintenance of law and order. We however caution that the deployed troops strictly adhere to proper rules of engagement so that the human right of citizens can be protected,” she said.
Mrs. Ogbara said the prompt execution of the national budget would go a long way in stimulating the economy.
“As mothers and grandmothers, we will be failing in our duty if we refrain from identifying with the agony of millions of Nigerians who through no fault of theirs, have to eke out a living in displaced persons camps all over the count. The founding members of Nigeria bequeathed a united and virile country to us,” she continued.
“It is our most cherished desire and in fact our sacred duty to do same for the generation that is coming after us. We want our children and grandchildren to also have the benefit or inheriting a united and virile Nigeria.”
The group said it will visit other parts of the country to spread the message of peace and unity.