By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi and Iheanacho Nwosu , Abuja
Africa’s richest man and Chairman of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has condemned the recent quit notice given to Nigerians of Igbo extraction by some northern youths to leave the region on October 1, 2017 or face physical attacks.
Dangote reportedly said this when some business executives from Lagos Business School (LBS) visited his multi-billion dollar refinery and petro-chemical projects in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, at the weekend.
The billionaire businessman noted that the youths only spoke because they sought relevance. Condemning the hate speech against Igbo, Dangote queried why the media gave such jobless youths relevance.
“Some fellows who have no relevance and values came out to issue a warning that Igbo should leave the North. I am surprised everybody started talking about this nonsense. Why are we talking about it? Obviously, in a place where there is a lot of joblessness, it is expected that this kind of jobless people would come out with all sorts of anger.
“We understand the reasons why they are angry, but, they cannot justify their action when they have decided not to work. They only issued the senseless warning to keep themselves relevant.”
Three weeks ago, a coalition of Arewa youths issued eviction notice to Igbo living in the North to leave on October 1, 2017.
Represented by their leaders at the meeting were Arewa Citizens Action for Change, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Arewa Youth Development Foundation, Arewa Students Forum and Northern Emancipation Network on Igbo Persistence for Recession, among others.
In a statement read by Mallam Abdulazeez Suleiman, on behalf of others, the northern youths said, “the region is tired of the marriage hence the need for restructuring.”
The go home order has drawn criticisms from other parts of the country.
Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, kick-started a peace and conflict resolution dialogue with leaders of thought in the North and South East.
Regardless, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), apex umbrella body of the North, has faulted growing clamour to restructure Nigeria.
The ACF said advocates of restructuring have failed to follow due process.
The body, in a statement signed by its spokesman, Muhammad Ibrahim Biu, reiterated that, although there was nothing wrong with the campaign, those seeking restructuring must follow due process.
Prominent Nigerians, including former military President, Ibrahim Babangida, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, have canvassed immediate restructuring of the country.
The ACF said demands could have been better handled.
“ACF calls for due process, through our present democratic structures rather than just crass agitation, if we are to achieve true federalism. However, ACF has observed, with regret, that, in most cases, the discussions are taking place without regard to our present democratic structure, as the issues are in some cases presented as “demands” by one group or the other.
“Unfortunately, in most cases, they are followed up by some ultimatum to the government to accept or face deadly consequences. It should be clear to all the agitators that restructuring a complex, big and diverse country as Nigeria is a serious business that must take account of the views of all its citizens, and not just of those that shout the loudest.
“More so, such discussions must be free of threats, intimidation or blackmail from any group or individual. Genuine restructuring must therefore be just, fair and equitable to all…”