Okezie Ikpeazu, Governor of Abia State, has said some of the complaints raised by the proscribed Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) are valid.
IPOB, a secessionist group led by Nnamdi Kanu, has long campaigned for the exit of the Igbo nation and communities in the South-South region from Nigeria.
The group has been linked with attacks on security agencies and facilities in the South-East region, especially since the formation of its security outfit codenamed the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
But speaking in an interview on Tuesday, Governor Ikpeazu noted that he does not agree with the strategy used by IPOB but insisted said some of the issues raised by the group are valid and should be addressed.
According to him, the only way the agitation of secessionist groups such as IPOB can be subdued is when elected officials acknowledge and consider the complaints of Nigerians and work towards fostering unity in the country.
“I have taken my time to listen to some of these issues raised by IPOB: issues about injustice, issues of marginalisation, issues of trust deficits within the polity called Nigeria as it concerns people from south-eastern Nigeria. And I think some of those are valid issues and they should be addressed and spoken to; they should be addressed squarely so that everybody and those of us that are in government today can have a foothold within the south-east region to continue to promote the unity of Nigeria,” Ikpeazu said on Arise TV.
“I do not subscribe to the strategy of IPOB in pursuing their goals. And the reason is because I’m yet to see the end of the tunnel from where I’m standing and I do not like to take a plunge in the dark. We must engage and discuss the issue which is bothering them and everybody and we can’t continue to pretend as if these issues are not valid.
“Equal rights and justice is an indelible right of all citizens and if through impunity and carelessness we allow a group of people to begin to feel like they’re not rightly represented within the polity, it creates a lacuna where people are no longer confident in the government to protect them and take care of their interest within the polity. There’s bound to be agitation one way or another. Some of these reactions may extrapolate to levels that may undermine national convention and unity.”