- As group issues U.S 72hrs ultimatum
The United States (US) has urged the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to run an inclusive government as well as dialogue with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other restive groups across Nigeria.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, stated this in Benin City on Friday, when he was hosted by Governor Godwin Obaseki at a dinner.
To this end, Symington advised Buhari to treat Nigerians as equals, irrespective of their ethnic back ground, so as to ensure peace and unity of the nation.
He was in Benin City for an exhibition of photographs by Chief S. O. Alonge, a photographer of the Royal Court of Benin, organised by the United States Diplomatic Mission and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art at the National Museum, Benin City, Edo state.
The Ambassador, who also paid a visit to the Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) camp in Ohugua, Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo state, reminded that Nigeria’s population is projected to climb to 450 million by 2050 amid concerns of rising youth restiveness and other socio-economic implications.
Symington stressed that the country would stand a better chance to exploit its potential by giving priority to justice administration, girl-child education and delivery of good governance.
According to him, despite the challenges that may come with a huge population, the onus lies on Nigerian leaders to carve a positive narrative for the country by being benevolent in handling issues of development and justice administration.
He added that there was need to embrace everyone irrespective of where they come from, as members of a united Nigeria urges Buhari, Nigeria to dialogue with IPOB.
Earlier, the US had called on the President Buhari administration to explore the option of dialogue when resolving internal crisis in Nigeria.
The advice was given on Thursday, September 28, in Washington DC when the US institute of peace (USIP) convened a conference titled – Peace in Nigeria: How to build it, and America’s role.
The gathering which had in attendance US officials, diplomats and Nigerian leaders, explored possible options beyond military operations in resolving Nigeria’s internal crisis.
The speakers at the symposium advised the Nigerian government to strengthen the responsiveness of state institutions, address grievances and perceptions before they escalate.
Thomas Hushek, the Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Conflict and Stabilisation Operations, US Department of State, said durable peace in Nigeria will require a painstaking dialogue.
The diplomat stated that Nigeria is a very critical US partner on the continent, but added that the Buhari government must in its pursuit of peace first identify the options that citizens want implemented.
He said: “Achieving stability or building political peace is a political endeavor.”
Hushek noted that the Nigerian government’s responsiveness to people’s needs would build trust and encourage durable peace in the country.
Meanwhile, Lai Mohammed who is the minister of information and culture has expressed disappointment that the United States does not agree that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is a terrorist organisation.
In an interview on BBC Focus Africa on Wednesday, September 27, the minister said the utterances and acts of IPOB showed they were terrorists.
He said the federal government does not agree with the US stance that the separatist group was not a terrorist organisation.
When asked about what he thought concerning the position of the US that IPOB was not a terrorist group, Mohammed described it as unfortunate.
Lawyers orders US to withdraw support for IPOB
In response, some Lawyers have stormed the Embassy of the United States of America in Abuja with 72 hours ultimatum demanding U.S withdrawal of support to IPOB.
The protesters under the aegis of League of African Democratic Lawyers (LADL) said the US is working towards destabilizing Nigeria’s democracy by openly supporting secessionists’ agitations led by IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
The protesters led by LADL country representatives, John Oboh, in a letter delivered to the US ambassador to Nigeria urged the U.S government to urgently withdraw its endorsement of IPOB.
Oboh also called on the U.S government to respect decisions taken by the Nigerian government in accordance with its laws.
He said the lawyers and human rights activists will be forced to carry out civil disobedience in tandem with democratic practices if the support for IPOB by the U.S is not withdrawn within 72 hours.
“Considering that the recognition of IPOB will simultaneously reignite all these separatist movements while encouraging even the politically oriented ones among them to turn violent, the various international organizations are not equipped to deal with continent-wide pockets of violent insurrections that will result.
“The remaining stable countries of the world must then be prepared to host the portion of Africa’s 1.2 billion people that will pour over their borders,” Oboh said.
Oboh added that Kanu and other leaders of the commanders have repeatedly insisted on “referendum or violent breakup of Nigeria.”
As earlier reported, the US advised the Nigerian government to explore possible options beyond the use of military force to address conflict situations in the country.
The acting assistant secretary, bureau of conflict and stabilisation operations, US department of state, Thomas Hushek, said durable peace in Nigeria will require a painstaking dialogue.
Credits| Vanguard, Naij, Guardian