President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday reiterated the essence of the unity of Nigeria, urging those contemplating its break-up to have a rethink.
He made the call while speaking at a meeting with the Council of South-East Traditional Rulers at the State House, Abuja.
Buhari, according to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, warned that the question of having another country out of Nigeria was misplaced.
“The question of having another country out of Nigeria is going to be very difficult. From 1914, we have more than 200 cultures living with one another. God had endowed this country with natural resources and talented people. We should concentrate on these and be very productive,” the President said.
Addressing specific issues raised in the address by the traditional rulers, the President gave the assurance that the South-East will also benefit from the new railway architecture being put in place by his administration.
On their request for more representation for the South-East in his government, the President said that he was “very conscious of the sensitivities of the South East”, on account of which, he gave the region’s four out of five states senior ranking ministers in the Cabinet.
He appealed to the traditional rulers to persuade their people to give his government a chance and to continue to serve as beacons of culture and traditions of their people.
He assured the delegation that kidnapping and cattle rustling, which he described as “unfortunate” will be the government’s next target, now that “we have managed to calm down the North-East.”
In taking note of the profuse commendation for his administration’s war against corruption and insecurity by the traditional rulers, President Buhari expressed frustration at the endless nature of some ongoing trials, citing some of the cases as going far back to the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“We are asking the judiciary to clean itself. Nigerians are tired of waiting. They want some actions,” he stated.
The President said he hoped that the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Attorney-General of the Federation will come to some form of agreement by which specially designated courts will give accelerated hearing to some corruption cases that are pending, arguing that “we want Nigerians to know we are serious.”
Chairman of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers, His Royal Majesty, Eze (Dr) Eberechi N. Dick (JP), requested for roads and other projects among other issues, and assured the President of their support for his leadership and programmes.
According to a copy of the presentation to the President at a obtained by our correspondent, Dick urged the President to consider some of the demands made by Biafra agitators including the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Stressing that they are not against one united Nigeria, the group said there was need for the government to look at some of the grievances.
He said: “On the issue of the agitation by some of our youths like IPOB and others for a Biafran Republic. We have continued to engage and preach to them that every problem of the nation can be best resolved through peaceful dialogue and respect for the rule of law.
“While, we re-assure Your Excellency of our total belief in one united and indivisible great nation of ours called Nigeria, we also want to call the attention of the federal government to some of their mentioned grievances for serious considerations, which includes:
“Neglect of the South East in the Amnesty Programme, deplorable state of Federal Roads and other infrastructure in the South East.
“Relegation of oil Producing States of the South East in NDDC projects and exclusion of the South East in key federal appointments.
“Anti-nationalistic treatment of Igbo people by other Nigerians. We also want to call the attention of Your Excellency to the criminal activities of kidnappers, some cattle herdsmen which are posing serious security challenges to the people of South East.
“In the recent times, so many lives and properties worth billions of naira have been lost. While the Governors and Traditional Rulers of the zone have been managing the situation, we want to call on the federal government to use all the instruments of power and resources available to you to come to our aid and rescue.
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