…Says, no need for any National Confab
‘No criminal or terrorist is bigger than Nigeria’
…Agitation for separation never this loud in previous administrations, PFN tells Presidency
…Secessionist groups only asking Buhari to change his ways of governance – MBF
…Change tactics, Ohanaeze tells Presidency
…History won’t be kind to present govt, if…. – CAN
By Anayo Okoli, Ola Ajayi, Peter Duru, Omeiza Ajayi & Luminous Jannamike
The Presidency yesterday reacted to the growing wave of secessionist agitations in some parts of the country, stating that President Muhammadu Buhari can neither be intimidated nor bullied into giving in to the threats of such agitators.
But the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, in a swift reaction, said continued separatist agitations by various ethnic groups under Buhari’s administration had never been this loud, compared with previous administrations that had governed the country.
Similarly, the Middle Belt Forum said secessionist agitations in the country were not intended to bully or intimidate President Buhari, but to ask him to change his ways and style of governance in order to keep the country united.
However, describing the secessionists as mercantile agents who were only out for pecuniary gains, the Presidency said President Buhari will not open the vaults to share free money to anyone.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, stated government’s position yesterday in Abuja while giving a scorecard of the Buhari administration at an event organised by the All Progressives Congress, APC, Professional Forum at the national secretariat of the party.
He also dismissed calls for the convocation of a national conference, saying with an elected parliament in place, having such a conference was a non-issue.
Shehu added that the Boko Haram terrorists are currently fighting for survival as the Federal Government had cut their supply chain.
‘You can’t intimidate Buhari’
“On the unity of this country and the calls for secession and the insinuation that the Presidency is not talking, the Presidency has been talking. And our position is that this country is one, is united, and by the grace of God will continue to be united.
“Look, one thing with this President and the National Secretary of the party has said a bit of that, you cannot intimidate Buhari; you cannot bully him. A lot of these people who are calling for secession are the problem of this country and I am happy that reasonable opinion, reasonable voices are now rising. Is it not only yesterday we were reading Afenifere, the most credible faction of Afenifere saying they were not for secession?
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo has said this over and over again. So this thing about secession is, they had used it in the past. You create secession and break up Nigeria and then you intimidate the sitting leader and then he opens the vaults and brings money to settle people.
“President Buhari will pay no one. He is not going to pay and and now, it is clear that having ignored all of that, reasonable opinions are coming from those states and from those regions.
“Now, the thing about the South-East is part of the earlier conversation we just had now. Criminals are fighting to gain the upper hand but I tell you that no criminal or terrorist is bigger than this country. None of them is mightier than our armed forces.
“This structure has been there. They were certificated and praised for World War One, World War Two, they stabilized the entire West Africa region. Without Nigeria, would there be Liberia in its present form? Would there be Sierra Leone in its present form, even Gambia? So just give it time and support and pray, we will win against these forces.
“The governors in the South-West, we have all heard them, they have denounced all of these things. So, it is a sham, Nigerians want to be one, they want to continue. Yes, there are problems and we are hoping that as people united and loving of one another, we will come together and solve our problems and that leads me to the next question, whether there should be national conference?
‘No need for national conference’
“What will national conference do more than a parliament? Anyone who is a democrat at heart, in practice in their beliefs, should believe in the tripartite structure of government. In governments that are democratic, there must be a parliament, the executive arm of the government and the judiciary, each one being independent and cooperating with the other.
‘’We have an elected parliament, which mandate is to be the custodian of the sovereignty of the Nigerian people.
“Look, a lot of these people who are crying for this secession are unelectable. If you think you are electable, go around for a parliamentary seat, whether House of Representatives or Senate, and come and table an amendment to the constitution.
‘’The process is on-going as we speak now under the Deputy Senate President. They are calling for memoranda; why can’t you present what you want? So the issue is that people who are not democrats want a parallel parliament to be set up and this constitution does not recognize two parliaments in this country.
“We have one parliament that is sovereign, that is the custodian of the sovereignty of the Nigerian people. If your member representing you has failed to present this request that you want, whether it is change of structure at state, local government or national level, pull him out four years after, don’t vote for him. Put another representative who will do what you want. This is how democracy works — periodic elections,” he stated.
He also described President Buhari’s onslaught against corruption and other social vices as total and unsparing, saying not even his family members who run foul of the law would be spared.
‘Buhari won’t shy away from Nigeria’s problems’
In his remarks, National Secretary of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC of the APC, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, said President Buhari would never shy away from the problems of the country.
“The President is a listening man that a;ready knows many of the things you complain about. Once you bring anything or those issues before him, he will take it with commitment. Another thing we have achieved recently is the issue of the pump price of petroleum.
“The party said no to it, even though they had discussed it. It doesn’t matter the circumstances. The party said the time was not ripe. That is the position of the party, and they listened. We have tabled the matter.
“There has been no government like this in the history of the nation, and I am not playing politics. Show me any government that has done more than President Buhari, that has direct link with the masses”.
Chairman of the forum, Akeem Akintayo, in his opening remarks, said professionals in the party would continue to contribute their quota to national development, whether they are in government or outside it.
He asked the party leadership to look inwards when making appointments, saying there were very many technocrats within the party.
Separatist agitations loud under Buhari — PFN
Reacting to the Presidency’s declaration yesterday, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, said continued agitations for separation by various ethnic groups under President Buhari’s government had been too loud.
National President of PFN, Bishop Francis Wale Oke, who stated this while hosting members of Lagos State Varsity Christian Union who paid him a courtesy visit in Ibadan, said those with the President do not tell him the truth.
He explained that though PFN held President Buhari in high esteem and would always pray for him, it would not shy away from telling him the truth.
Bishop Oke said: “President Buhari should know that politicking is over and governance is the thing he should prioritize. Govern all Nigerians with love and be a father to all Nigerians. Don’t allow any group to lord their will on other ethnic groups in Nigeria.
“A lot of people perceive that there is nepotism in appointments and that a certain people dominate the security apparatus. When a security team sits to meet, a larger percentage of Nigerians whom they are going to speak about is absent.
“It’s people that love you that would tell you the truth. We are not begging for oil blocks or appointments. What we are asking for is that you should govern with equity and justice to all. A lot of damage has been done under this administration, particularly in the area of security.
“There is high level of insecurity. There are killings, kidnapping, rape and bandits demanding millions of naira from their victims. When we voted for you, we paid our ransom; for bandits to be asking us to pay ransom means that government has failed. At times, people pay ransom and still get killed.
“People who surround you won’t tell you the truth. You have fought in the Nigerian army to keep Nigeria one. Please, weigh in with that experience and stop banditry and kidnapping going on in Nigeria.
“We, in PFN are supporting you; that’s why we are telling you the truth. Agitation for separation under this administration has never been this loud in our country. There is agitation in the South-South, South-East, South-West and even in the North. We plead with you to rise to the occasion. It’s not too late to bring Nigeria back.”
Agitators just want Buhari to rule well — MBF
In its reaction yesterday, the Middle Belt Forum, said secessionists were not out to intimidate President Buhari as alleged by the Presidency but were only trying to make him sit up and lead the country in the right direction.
National President of MBF. Dr. Bitrus Pogu, insisted that no one was interested in bullying or intimidating the President.
He said: “The issue is that for the government to make such a statement indicates that the government is aware that there are secessionist groups.
“Secondly, when they talk about bullying, I ask, who is bullying who? Secessionist groups are sending a message to President Buhari that his government and his way of governance is so bad that people prefer to leave the commonwealth called Nigeria.
“So it is a massage for the government to change its ways so that these movements and agitations will die down. In essence the agitations are there because the way the President is governing the country is not palatable, people do not appreciate it, as such people prefer to leave the country.
“Therefore, the issue of using the word bullying does not even arise in the first place. It is rather better for the federal government to say, whatever it is that is pushing people to instigate secessionist tendencies would be addressed, so Nigeria can progress as one indivisible entity.
“So the statement by the Presidency is an indictment of government and rather than government issuing threats, it should look passionately at the issues and try to address them so that Nigeria will be better for it.”
Change tactics, Ohanaeze tells FG
Also reacting yesterday, the Chidi Ibe-led faction of Ohanaeze Ndigbo called on Buhari’s government to change tactics and hold a roundtable meeting with agitators.
Secretary General of the group, Isiguzoro Okechukwu, said Ohanaeze would assist the Federal Government to bring all Biafra agitators to a roundtable discussion to foster peace.
“We hopefully expect them to grab this rare opportunity and talk with them. The best approach is to change tactics and strategies in dealing with secessionist threats rather than resorting to an eye for an eye.
“The Federal Government should know that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander; it is not fair to use carrot and stick policy for bandits and Boko Haram members in the north and use brutal forces against agitators in the south.
“Negotiations are the best approach for rebuilding trust and confidence among agitating groups. Incarceration and military actions are outdated weapons used to win the battle against secessionist threats.’’
History’ll be unkind to this govt, if…— CAN
On its part, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, said history will not be kind to the present government, if Nigeria broke up before the end of his tenure.
CAN’s Vice Chairman (North), Rev. John Hayab, who described the claim by a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, as the display of fake arrogance, urged the President to tackle the factors responsible for the agitations, adding that things were not working well in the country
“It is not a cheering news that many groups in Nigeria now are clamouring for secession. Everyone will desire to see Nigeria growing as a big, united, strong and dependable nation.
“But, the current realities have created room for more people and interest groups to seek secession from what they see as a nation without hope or future.
“As our President, you cannot expect Buhari not to talk tough. However, history will not be kind to him, if this nation breaks up during his tenure as President.
“The challenge now is whether all that is happening now across every state and region is just to intimidate or bully the President?
“The truth is that things are not going on well and the President should come up with measures to convince Nigerians that he means well and he is truly in charge.
“Claiming that he is not intimidated by threats from secessionist is only a display of fake arrogance that this administration is known for,” CAN stated.