Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has declared that the state will continue to be home to people of the Igbo Ethnic Nationality.
Governor Wike gave the assurance during a meeting with South-East Governors, the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo and the Igbo Community in the state at Government House, Port Harcourt on Sunday, a statement signed by Kelvin Ebiri, Special Assistant (Media) to the Governor, stated.
The Governor said in the wake of the Oyigbo crisis, people peddled the rumour that he was driving Igbos out of Rivers State, an he denied, saying rather the state had an enduring relationship with the Igbos.
“Tell your people, Rivers people will continue to live together with Igbos. Don’t allow your sons to tell you lies. Igbos are innovative and hardworking. There can’t be Nigeria without Igbos. Nobody should take them for granted. But that doesn’t mean you must allow criminals to spoil your name”, Wike told his guests.
“If I hate Igbos, I won’t appoint your son into my state cabinet two times. But you have to obey rules. Don’t allow criminals to dictate to you”.
The Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, who commended Wike for his warm reception, warned Igbos to be weary of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, even as he expressed fear that the outlawed group was instigating another civil war.
The Ebonyi Governor said the Ndi Igbo delegation was in Rivers State to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the news of the killing of Ndi Igbo in Oyigbo. He disclosed that they found the news to be false.
Umahi, who with other Igbo leaders listen to Governor Wike’s narrate the atrocious activities of IPOB in Oyigbo that culminated in the imposition of curfew in the entire Local Government, warned Igbos to be wary of IPOB as the group was bent on instigating another civil war that will result in the murder of Igbo people.
The Governor described as “nauseating” IPOB’s hoisting of their flag in Benue and Rivers State with claims those states belonged to Ndi Igbo. He condemned it telling Gov. Wike that the Igbo leadership was opposed to the expansionist policy of IPOB.
Umahi, who revealed that he has huge investment in Rivers State, urged Igbos living in the state to respect the Government and people of Rivers State in order for them to continue to live and do business in the state peacefully. He said that Ndi Igbo do support any form of criminality.
Also speaking, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, said the meeting had reinforced the existing closeness between Igbos and the people of Niger Delta.
He described Governor Wike as a champion of restructuring of Nigeria and a man who loves justice.
He explained that the leadership of Igbos cannot remain aloof while a few misguided persons, who did not experience the brutal reality of the last civil war, continued to fan the ember of disunity.
Nwodo said he was elated to hear from Igbo leaders that under the leadership of Governor Wike Igbo businesses have continued to thrive.
Former Rivers State governor, Dr. Peter Odili, lauded the Igbo leaders for the peace initiative and decision to visit Governor Wike.
He stated that every governor desires peace to govern and Governor Wike is no exception. He stressed that the people of the state endorse every measure taken by Governor Wike to ensure lasting peace in the state.
Present at the meeting were the Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu.
Other dignitaries were the Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo; former Governor of Rivers State, Sir Celestine Omehia; the Chairman of Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council and Amayanabo of Opobo, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja; National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus, among others.