President Muhammadu Buhari has again reiterated the essence of the unity of Nigeria, urging those contemplating its break-up to have a rethink.
The statement comes as separatist groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) increase the tempo of their call to break away from the country.
Speaking at a meeting with the Council of South-East Traditional Rulers at the State House on Thursday, President Buhari 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 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 region 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 federal cabinet.
President Buhari used the occasion to appreciate the good work of the ministers from the region in the federal government, saying that they are doing very well for the country.
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.
The president 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 lamented.
Buhari said he hoped that the acting chief justice 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.”
Earlier in his address, the Chairman of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers, His Royal Majesty, Eze (Dr) Eberechi N. Dick (JP), had made requests for roads, other projects among other issues, even as he assured the president of their support for his leadership and programmes.