The Northern Consensus Movement (NCM), an amalgamation of community based socio-cultural and economically inclined northern organisations, has withdrawn a 14-day ultimatum issued to Igbos resident in the North to evacuate.
The NCM rescinded its order after a meeting convened at the instance of the Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, with the leadership of the Umuchieze Cattle Market regarding the state government’s decision to make the cattle market a daily one.
The decision to withdraw the quit notice was announced by the president of the group, Comrade Awwal Abdullahi Aliyu, who led the leadership of the Umuchieze cattle dealers to the meeting at the Governor’s residence on Tuesday.
Aliyu said that after the meeting with Governor Otti, they have realised that there was no tribal sentiment attached to the Abia State government’s decision.
He declared that Governor Otti means well and is interested in the security and safety of the traders at the cattle market, contrary to earlier circulated allegations that he had asked northern residents in Abia State to leave.
He said, “That is how governance and leadership should be. Communication is very important. Governor Otti is a leader that understands the importance of communication and also the feelings of the people. And this talk had truly brought out a peaceful atmosphere.
“I’m using this medium to say that we’ve cancelled that 14-day ultimatum that was given to easterners.”
He commended the Governor for his promise to assist the vulnerable members of the northern community in the market rent accommodation outside the market as well as to hold periodic meetings with them on issues concerning their wellbeing.
Comrade Aliyu advised the northern community resident in Abia State to be law abiding, respect constituted authorities and be good ambassadors of the Northern people, wherever they find themselves.
“Respect leaders, respect elders, do not break the law, this is what our culture had taught us,” Aliyu cautioned, adding: “We will continue to pray for peace, unity and good governance in Abia, and the south east and Nigeria as a whole.
Governor Otti while receiving his guests restated that his interest in making the Umuchieze Cattle Market a daily one is to end the killings, kidnappings and other criminal activities going on in the market.
The Governor emphasised that he is a detribalised Nigerian, noting that he does not know about segregation and can never be associated with tribalism.
He stated that government’s earlier directive was misunderstood and pointed out that the aim of making the market a daily one was to secure the place in the overall interest of the traders and residents alike.
Governor Otti said that the meeting, convened at his instance, was to explain the true position of government, adding that without security, there would be no development.
“Anytime we allow religion and ethnicity to play a role in what we are doing, we are missing the point. What I have come to do in governance is to give service to the people. We want everyone living in Abia State to live in peace and harmony,” he said.
The Governor told his guests that the state government had decided to enforce the use of markets as markets and had devoted a lot of money to rebuild the cattle market and make it a proper market.
“Wherever you come from, you will agree with me, even in Kano, Kaduna, everywhere, markets are markets and homes are different from markets.
“We are going to divide the market into different sections. You’ll have the cattle section, you’ll have the electronic section, you’ll have the textile section and everything that anybody wants to buy. We will upgrade it in such a way that those who are operating in the market will be very happy.
“We are not going to tolerate any brothels or hotels or where people will be pretending that they are accommodating people meanwhile they’re selling (hard) drugs and selling mkpurumiri (methamphetamine), I’m sure you’ve heard about that.
“I have also said that we will secure the entire market and fence it round and there will be a gate to enter and a gate to exit,” Governor Otti explained.
In his contribution, the special adviser to the Governor on security, Navy Commander Macdonald Uba, (Rtd) said the incessant crimes in and around the cattle market necessitated the measures put in place by the government.
He disclosed that in the past two months, the crime rate in the market has reduced.
The Governor’s aide said the state governments intention in making the market a daily one and non-residential is to ensure the safety of the traders and residents of Umunneochi LGA.