PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, reiterated the essence of the unity of Nigeria and urged those contemplating its break-up to have a rethink.
He spoke while receiving members of the Council of South-East Traditional Rulers at the State House, Abuja, warning 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,” he said.
Addressing specific issues raised in the address by the traditional rulers, the president gave assurance that the South-East would 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 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 cabinet, saying they were doing well for the country.
He appealed to the traditional rulers from the South-East 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,” would 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, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
“We are asking the judiciary to clean itself. Nigerians are tired of waiting. They want some actions,” he lamented.
The president said he hoped that the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation would come to some form of agreement by which specially designated courts would give accelerated hearing to some corruption cases that were pending, arguing that “we want Nigerians to know we are serious.”
Earlier in his address, chairman of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Eberechi Dick, had said the royal fathers in the region believed in the unity of the country and had consequently been impressing upon members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to press their case peacefully.
He, however, urged the president to address some of the issues they were agitating for.
“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 rale 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 grievances for serious considerations,” he said.
Eze Dick listed some of the grievances to include non-inclusion of the South East in the amnesty programme; deplorable state of federal roads and other infrastructure in the region; relegation of oil producing states of the region in NDDC projects and the exclusion of the region in key federal appointments.