The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, is preparing a list of demands to present to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, aimed at improving relations between the South-West and South-East regions, Politics Nigeria has learnt.
Sources familiar with the organisation’s operations revealed that Ohanaeze leaders are deeply concerned about the continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who has been in prison since the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.
Previous attempts to secure Kanu’s release, involving a coalition of political leaders, Southeast governors, and Ohanaeze, have been unsuccessful, partly due to the apparent politicisation of the issue. The source suggested that the direct involvement of some governors in earlier efforts may have hindered progress, as authorities interpreted the moves as political manoeuvring rather than genuine efforts for regional stability.
Despite these setbacks, a fresh push to secure Kanu’s release is underway, alongside efforts to establish collaborative measures with the Federal Government.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo is also concerned about the tense political atmosphere that characterised the 2023 elections, particularly in Lagos State, where the Labour Party (LP) defeated the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the presidential election. Leaders fear similar tensions could resurface between the Igbo and Yoruba people under President Tinubu’s leadership.
“Ohanaeze is not silent on the potential political solution for Nnamdi Kanu,” a source close to the organization said. “But that’s not the only issue. The group is examining several matters and plans to present key demands to President Tinubu once the issues are finalized.”
It was also learnt that a meeting scheduled for later this week will finalise the list of demands. While securing Kanu’s release remains a priority, broader issues will be addressed.
“We want to strengthen the relationship between the South-West and the South-East,” said another source. “The era of constant tension and suspicion between the two regions must end. If we want a united Nigeria, the South-West and South-East cannot continue to operate based on mutual distrust.”
The source revealed that the demands presented to Tinubu would encompass a range of areas, including addressing the political marginalisation of the Igbo people and ensuring their equitable participation in the nation’s governance, promoting greater economic collaboration and social interaction between the two regions. Others are addressing infrastructural deficits and ensuring equitable distribution of resources in the Southeast, tackling the growing insecurity in the Southeast region, addressing the long-standing ecological challenges faced by Southeast states and seeking Federal Government intervention to alleviate the suffering of the people.
Once the demands are finalized at the upcoming meeting, Ohanaeze will seek an appointment with President Tinubu to present them directly. The organisation plans to hold the meeting in Lagos before the end of the week.