- Yerima Shettima said the north, like every other part of Nigeria, does not need a civil war
- Yerima said a referendum would help give Nigeria a new direction and open the door for those willing to leave the country
- He confirmed that the Arewa youths were reviewing the quit notice it issued Igbos in the north
The national president of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Yerima Shettima, has urged the Nigerian government to organise a referendum arguing that this is the best way to put to an end the agitation for Biafra.
Shettima, while speaking with NAIJ.com on Wednesday, August 23, said a referendum was the only solution to allow the Igbos in Nigeria go if they win during the exercise.
Shettima said Nigeria had been bedeviled with the challenge of trying to manage its unity since independence in 1960. He wondered how long this would continue to plague the nation.
“The referendum is the only means to resolve this challenge once and for all,” he said. “It would be easy to know those who support Biafra and those who do not.
“A referendum will help Biafra to go peacefully and avoid war.
“Nigeria cannot afford another civil war and since we are signatory to international agreements and treaties, it would just be right to settle these agitations once and for all to know those who would remain and those who love to go.
“While we are reviewing the quit notice, we want the government to look into the issue of a referendum.
“We don’t want bloodshed in the country because of any perceived forced unity.”
He also confirmed a scheduled meeting in Abuja for Thursday, August 24, concerning the quit notice issued to Igbo people in the north.
Shettima had earlier said in Gombe that the country needed referendum urging President Muhammadu Buhari to consider it since it would create an officially opened door to those who do not want to be part of Nigeria.
“The president just came back from his medical vocation.
“In normal circumstances, one should have expected him to take some time to have a clear review of situations in the country after spending 103 days abroad.
“His statement is a welcome development to some extent because there are issues; the unity of the country is being threatened.
“I think the focus of the president was basically on the threat to our national unity and those were the key issues he spoke about.
“In addition, that we would no longer tolerate anybody undermining the security of the country. Certainly, agreed, it should be that way as he felt.
“But I feel also that on the side of international law to which Nigeria is signatory, it is expected that government must create an exit door for those who feel they want to leave through a referendum and as stipulated in the 1999 constitution.
“It would not augur well if we insist on living with people who do not want to be part of the country and they keep threatening the unity of the country. It may even appear to the international community like a mockery.
“If the government is up and doing, let us abide by the demands of the international law by creating an exit door for those agitating for self-determination.
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“Certainly, the IPOB cannot be said to be speaking for the South-East because they are less than ten percent of the Igbo communities who are willing to remain in Nigeria,” he said.
According to him, the position of the northern youths was being misunderstood by some people.
“Our call is being misunderstood. We have been misquoted by mischief-makers who made it seem we are calling for violence.
"That is why we are not faceless and we respond to calls anywhere for dialogue with elder statesmen,” he said.
NAIJ.com earlier reported that the presidency, through Babafemi Ojudu, an aide to Muhammadu Buhari, met with Arewa youths over the quit notice they issued to Igbo people in the northern region recently.
The three-month quit notice will expire on October 1, and this had been causing tension in the country with groups in the south-east urging their people to return home.
Watch this video as Nigerians speak about the introduction of the Biafran Security Service: