Ladies And Gentlemen Of The Press,
We welcome you to this world press conference. This press conference is for two key purposes:
A) The unveiling of the South East/Igbo APC Progressives Roundtable (SIAPRO).
B) To specifically intervene and address the South East/Igbo/Nigeria situation in general and specifically the tension existing between Igbos and our Yoruba compatriots in Lagos state.
South East/Igbo APC Progressives Roundtable is an intellectually driven collective of core and proven Igbo progressives and patriots of the APC stock from the South East and neighboring states with the following core objectives:
To serve as a credible platform to unite all southeast Igbo APC progressives from the 5 southeast and neighboring states and to develop a common voice on issues concerning its members, the southeast geopolitical zone, the Igbo ethnic nationality, and the Nigerian nation for the common good of all.
To provide credible civil leadership and to serve as an advocate for the Southeast as well as a trusted and responsible mediator between the Southeast geopolitical zone and the rest of the nation.
To work assiduously towards the restoration of peace, unity, sanity, and progress in the southeast geopolitical zone.
To strive for the emancipation and re-integration of the Southeast geopolitical zone and ndi Igbo in general back into nationalism and its rightful place in national politics, leadership, and governance.
To strongly advocate for the recognition, reward, and protection of all APC South East Igbo progressives who have resolutely and patriotically stood their ground for the APC, progressivism, and the nation, in spite of relentless attacks and threats to their lives, properties, and livelihoods, as well as the families of those compatriot progressives who have lost their lives for the cause.
State Of Our Zone
We are all witnesses to the gradual and shocking decline and recession of the Igbo nation and the southeast geopolitical zone since the 2015 general elections that saw to the electoral loss of President Goodluck Jonathan and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). This is due to a combination of factors, including wrong political calculations, deception, lies and fake news, and propaganda amongst others. The consequence of this is a gradual and continued isolation of the southeast and Igbos in the politics of Nigeria.
The tragedy of the situation is that a purely political situation was misappropriated and exploited by all manners of individuals and interests from within and outside the Southeast. Today, the once peaceful and progressive southeast has been reduced to a place of desolation where fear and terror reign, and the blood of the innocents; sons and daughters, and visitors alike flow like rivers, desecrating the land and grieving the souls of our forebears.
A vocal minority amongst us Igbos has held our dear Igbo land and the southeast hostage these last few years. Deploying brute force, anti-intellectualism, terror, and like tactics hitherto alien to Igbo land, they have cowed, blackmailed, and essentially terrorized the majority of peace-loving and law-abiding Igbos into a forced silence. Thereby giving the impression of a conquered territory where every Igbo man and woman is a thoughtless and unwise ignoramus which is not true.
The situation with and in the southeast has become most untenable, suffocating, embarrassing and a genuine cause for concern to all well-meaning and wise Igbo people especially as these elements amongst us have exported their indiscretion beyond the shores of the south east, indeed even beyond the shores of Nigeria. The recent and deteriorating situation in Lagos between some Igbos and Yorubas is a classic and unfortunate example.
Ndi Igbo And Lagos
It must be stated that Igbos have been known for ages to be noble guests who do nothing but add value to their hosts in a symbiotic relationship. This has been the way of our forebears. That is how our forefathers forged the relationships, and bonds and created the wealth that many of us are enjoying or benefitting from today. Igbos have never been known to be a burden to their hosts. That is the reason that regions, states, villages, hamlets, and families across the length and breadth of Nigeria (South, North, and West) are filled with noble, peace-loving, and hardworking Igbos, a multitude who have fully settled in and have no plan of leaving.
It goes without saying that nowhere else in Nigeria is that bond of friendship, deep integration, and all round success more pronounced and enduring than in Lagos. It is therefore heartbreaking what happened in Lagos recently where largely misguided Igbos with little or altered sense of history embarked on a fight that was needless, tactless, and profitless. An Igbo proverb says ‘obiara be onye abiagbula ya’ – a visitor should not be a burden or source of misfortune to his host. Unfortunately, some of our brother Igbo Lagosians allowed external negative influences to drive them to almost remove the seats from their own buttocks.
As progressive democrats, we believe that every Nigerian has a right to aspire to any political office that he or she is qualified for and to vote and be voted for wherever one resides and pays taxes and we will not support any act to deprive anyone of such rights but the place of ‘ako na uche’ (tact and wisdom) must always be preserved. Lagos is no less Yoruba land as Anambra is Igbo land just like Lagos is not a no man’s land, just like Ebonyi is not a no man’s land. Any contrary view to these is as irresponsible as it is provocative. These are facts that must be stated clearly and we do state them clearly.
In view of all the above, with every sense of sincerity, and responsibility, we hereby publicly appeal to and urge our Yoruba brethren and compatriots in Lagos to overlook any provocations, disrespect, and or insults that they may have endured flowing from the last election cycle. Friendship is a burden that weighs both ways. The mutually beneficial and long-term relationship between Igbos and Yorubas in Lagos is cemented in intertribal marriages, long-term, intricate, and rewarding business relationships, and decades of successful political collaboration cannot be jettisoned because some individuals who have no or poor sense of history.
We are aware of some recent unhealthy and unproductive utterances by some individuals of significant standing in Igbo society. It is trite Igbo wisdom that age and status compel a certain level of responsibility and restraint in words and conduct. We condemn such comments that seek to deepen the divide and create unnecessary tension and bad blood and responsibly urge such individuals to desist forthwith in the interest of peaceful co-existence and national unity.
As we responsibly take due and proper cognizance of the unacceptable conduct of some Igbos, we state that there has equally been unacceptable conduct in words and action across the board, including those throwing fire into the southeast from other tribes and zones, unwarranted attacks, victimization and a blanket characterization and stigmatization of Igbos. We equally condemn such acts, as the conduct of one or some can and should not be seen as true for all or used to judge all. We equally call on all those concerned to desist forthwith.
Ndi Igbo And Nigeria
We wish to responsibly and humbly remind our fellow Nigerians that the Igbo tribe is still the land of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Akanu Ibiam, Alvan Ikoku, Micheal Okpara, Cyprian Iwene Tansi, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo, Cyprian Ekwensi, Philip Emegwali, Micheal Echeruo, Emeka Anyaoku, Sam Onunaka Mbakwe, Alex Ekwueme, Chuba Okadigbo, Dora Nkem Akunyili, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Osita Osadebey, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo, Chioma Ajunwa-Opara, Uche Diala, to mention but few. That Igbo land has not changed.
SIAPRO is made up of bona fide Igbo intellectuals who have paid their patriotic dues. We acknowledge without fear or favor that there are serious issues of concern to ndi Igbo and the southeast. These issues definitely need to be addressed but the approach should be constructive engagement and sincere dialogue and neither by confrontation, violence, conflict nor by secession. It is our hope that our other Igbo brothers and sisters will join us in the task of forging a different and more productive approach to addressing the valid issues that bother ndi Igbo and the southeast.
For all the unfair antagonism faced by southeast Igbo APC progressives in the last 8 years, the party and President Muhammadu Buhari have continued to enjoy significant support in the zone. In return, President Muhammadu Buhari has undoubtedly done well for the south east. His strides in the area of infrastructure in the southeast are commendable. The second River Niger Bridge which is unarguably the most significant infrastructure project in Eastern Nigeria since the end of the civil war is a magnificent testament to that. We as ndi Igbo are very grateful and we say thank you.
The 2023 presidential election in spite of identified challenges was one of the most competitive and credible elections in Nigeria since the return to civilian rule in 1999. We commend all the presidential candidates as we once more congratulate the president-elect, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his well-deserved victory. That victory was contributed to by the fearless and resolute support, diligent hard work and sacrifice of many southeast Igbo progressives and voters of Igbo extraction nationwide. We assure the president-elect of our continued solidarity and patriotic support while we expect that he will do even more for the southeast as he has already promised. We expect that he never forgets.
It is important for us to state that the majority of Igbos are law-abiding and patriotic Nigerians who believe in unity and respect the sovereignty of Nigeria. Igbo land or South East is not a conquered territory. Not by anyone from within or from without. We seek and shall continue to promote peace and unity, reconciliation, and reintegration of the southeast but the task of restoring the southeast is not one for the Igbos alone. It is one for all Nigerians and we hope you will join us.
There have been complaints and excuses from the outside of not knowing who to talk to or who to engage with amongst the Igbos or in the South East. We Are Igbos. We Are Progressives. We are Nigerians. We Are Igbo Progressives in Nigeria. We are here, we are ready and we extend a hand of friendship, peace, reconciliation, and solidarity with renewed hope to all, hoping that you will meet us halfway.
God bless the federal republic of Nigeria.
Dr Uche Diala
Francis Ogwuegbu Esq
Dr Armah Elibe