Deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu and other senators from the South East on Tuesday met with President Muhammadu Buhari over the tension generated in the region, following the killings by Nigerian troops of members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB when they recently invaded the country home of their leader, Nnamdi kanu in Afara Ukwu, Abia State.
The Senators, led by Ekweremadu, also used the opportunity to table the grievances of the South East people, who believe they have been badly treated by the Buhari administration.
Talking to State House Correspondents after the meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Mr. Ekweremadu said the discussion with the president was fruitful.
We discussed about pressing issues affecting the South East, he said.
The Deputy Senate President reiterated his belief that dialogue remains the best bet in addressing some of the issues affecting the region.
He said, “For us from the South East, we believe that dialogue is better than any other form of engagement.
“So, we decided to visit the President and present to him some of the concerns of the South East including the issues of roads, general infrastructure; the rail, airports and others.
“We also discussed the issue of security with him and of course the issue of IPOB. We had a good conversation and he promised to look into the issues.”
The Chairman of the South East Senate Caucus, Eyinnaya Abaribe, on his part, told newsmen that the South East remained the most shortchanged region in the country.
Abaribe said, “This is the southeast caucus in the Senate and we came to see the president because of the issues we have in the southeast.
“We had a fruitful discussion with the President. He has promised us that he is going to look into the problems of southeast.
“We know that there are problems everywhere but we also believe that the South East is the zone that is far much shortchanged at this time than other zones.
“We also talked about the issue of appointments from the South East, especially with respect to the National Security Council. The President also told us that governors of the South East have also engaged him in the same problems we engaged him in.
“We are reassured with the response we got from the President and we look forward to further interaction with him in this manner.”
There has also been calls by the South East governors for the withdrawal of troops from the region. President Buhari had deployed soldiers to the South East under the guise of “Operation Python dance II” before he left for the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The Nigerian government had claimed that the operation was to combat the rising incidence of crimes and criminality such as kidnappings and also to check the excesses of the unarmed and totally peaceful members of the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) campaigning for self determination of the South East of Nigeria.
But a cross section of Nigerians believe it is to harass, intimidate and silence pro-Biafra agitations which was turning into an unstoppable movement in the region.
IPOB had accused the Nigerian military of killing about 22 of its members when its soldiers stormed Kanu’s residence. Since then the wherabout of the IPOB leader and his parents is unknown. IPOB say the military abducted them.
The Nigerian military has denied the allegation.