Former Abia State Governor Orji Kalu said yesterday that the agitation for a sovereign state of Biafra was adversely affecting Southeast’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Kalu spoke in Abuja at a joint news conference with members of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) after a meeting.
He said he opened up consultations with the group following issuing of threats and counter-threats in the country.
The former governor said the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, was not the only one talking about Biafra.
He said he had access to other agitators and would keep talking to them.
“It is an issue of great concern to the region; the young people on the street do not know the damage the Biafra agitation does to the GDP of the region.
“The GDP of the area has gone down grossly; I am an entrepreneur and I know it.
“Cameroon, Chad, Niger and others used to buy goods from Aba; now how many of them still go there?
“We resolved this issue when I was the governor of Abia; I resolved it with Ralph Uwazulike and he listened; we will speak with Nnamdi Kanu and he will listen.’’
Kalu said the diversity and demography of Nigeria was its strength.
According to him, every part of the country has something to offer for its development, anybody who thinks otherwise is making mistake.
The former governor urged the group to support the call for restructuring since it did not mean breaking up the country.
“Nigeria needs to restructure economically and other wise. Many states cannot pay salaries.
“We need to put more money on capital projects; I recommend 25 per cent for recurrent and 75 per cent for capital.
“If the federal and state governments had invested in agriculture, the North should be making about 150 billion dollars from agriculture yearly.
“This is the only country that traverses from Atlantic Ocean to Sahara desert; some people are asking God to give them just one; we have to keep the country united,’’ he said.
He thanked the Chairman of CNG Shettima Yerima, for coming for the meeting, adding that there would be further consultations to reach a common ground.
Kalu assured southerners living in the North that they were safe and Nigeria was also safe.
Yerima said he had been engaging with Kalu via telephone since the quit notice issue came up.
Yerima, who is also the Chairman of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, said Kalu had shown a lot of concern and was worried that the unity of Nigeria was being threatened.
The groups, few months ago, issued the threat following the agitations for the State of Biafra by the IPOB.
According to Yerima, since the threat was issued lot of things have changed.
He said many prominent traditional and religious rulers, governors and well-meaning Nigerians have spoken to the groups.
Stressing that they believed in one united Nigeria, he said more consultations are ongoing after which they will carry out a review and give the final position on the threat.
According to him, the youths were not in a hurry to withdraw the threat.
Shettima said: “The public might think probably this is the first time we are meeting; certainly no. We’ve been talking on phone ever since this issue of ultimatum came. He (Kalu) has been engaging us in talking until today that we agreed to honour his invitation and to also speak to the public.
“His worries and concern was basically on the issue of how do we maintain the unity of this country in line with the present situation of things in the country. It is only those who are blind or ignorant that will say the unity of this country is not being threatened.
“It has been threatened, but you have prominent Nigerians, people like him who have shown a lot of concern and worried over the situation.”