The Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has called on all stakeholders to deploy everything within their powers to appeal to the youths to desist from wanton destruction of public and private property as government has noted their grievances and are steps initiated to tackle them.
The Governor was speaking at a Special non-partisan Stakeholders Town Hall Meeting convened to foster peace in Abia State in the face of peaceful protests by Nigeria youths whose well intended protest was hijacked by criminal elements to destroy public and private property.
He said the essence of the meeting was to bring the Stakeholders up to speed to what has befallen Abia State as a result of the recent protest and to chart the way forward.
Governor Ikpeazu regretted the looting and destruction of banks, the Onions Market Aba, Police Stations, burning of 18 brand new trucks belonging to an Igbo man among others saying that what was faced in Abia was not the ENDSARS Protest but a well orchestrated plot to take Abia State back in development.
He said their actions threaten the fragile unity of the nation, adding that Igbos contribute heavily to the GDP in Lagos alone and do various businesses in the North and other parts of the country.
He informed the Stakeholders that he was in regular touch with his colleague Governors from other parts of the country, especially in the North, appealing to them to safeguard the lives and properties of our people who live there.
The Governor appealed to our people to avoid violence because our people stand to lose most when the country is volatile since we are the tribe that you can find in every part of the country.
Governor Ikpeazu, who disclosed that his administration has done great in empowerment of youths in the State from 2015 to date including having 60% of his cabinet drawn from youths, ensuring LGA elections are held to include youths in leadership, creation of the Homeland Security with 300 Security Guards trained, employement of scores of young persons in TIMASS, establishment of E4E with 3,400 youths on the data base and linking up of youths to Federal Government empowerment programs amongst others.
Speaking also, the Deputy Governor, Hon. Ude Oko Chukwu higlighted the efforts of the present administration in expanding the participation of youths in the governance of the State.
He appreciated the issues raised by various groups in the meeting and assured that further engagements of the various groups will be sustained. He appealed to all to go back and convince people to embrace peace, stressing the need for youths to key into various skills acquisition program introduced by the government.
Also Speaking, the Minister of State for Mines & Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Oga thanked the Governor for agreeing with the directives of the Federal government to convene the meeting to inform the stakeholders on the negative implications of fanning the embers of violence and war.
He said, the unity in diversity is of essence to the Igbo man and if there is no peace, the Igbo man has more to lose and x-rayed the consequences of war including violence, hunger, homelessness among others. According to him, being united as a nation is the strength of the nation.
He agreed that the youths have rights to protest but not through violence and urged all stakeholders as opinion moulders to appeal to people that they should refrain and appealed to the youths to engage the government.
Contributing, the Member representing, Bende Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Hon. Ben Kalu challenged the stakeholders to take the message of peace home and assist government to maintain peace and tranquility.
He praised the Muslim community for preaching peace at their mosques on Friday. He said said that the youths need to be part of governance and called on them to stop the protest as their voices have been heard.
Hon. Kalu appreciated the avenues created by the Governor to employ more youths and said if more youths are engaged in various employment, it would curb youth restiveness.
He commended the State for the way it managed Covid-19 in the State as well as the fact that no warehouse where palliatives were kept was broken, as the State distributed all its palliatives to the people and said it is a sign of transparency.
In his speech, the Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly, Chief Chinedum Orji regretted that the hitherto peaceful protest was hijacked by rioters and called for calm as well as requested everyone to join hands with government to achieve peace in the State.
He urged politicians to empower the youths so that the youths would assist in the fight against criminals. He equally requested the National Assembly to enact a friendly law of job creation assuring that Abia State House of Assembly would domesticate it.
In their various speeches, the Chairman, Abia Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Joseph Nwabekee, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Apostle Emmanuel Agomoh, Chairman, Northern Community, Alhaji Sariki Yaro Danladi, NANS representative, Comrade Frank Eme Orji, representative of SUG Presidents, John Nwakanma, Moses Ogbonna, Hon. John Godson among others called for empowerment of the Local Government Councils to empower the youths and other stakeholders.