From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Federal Government has claimed that secession agenda and activities in Nigeria is no longer succeeding due to the failure of secessionists to intimidate and extort money from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Garba Shehu, made the claim at a media interaction at the secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja.
He assured that the disturbing spate of insecurity in the South East would soon be a thing of the past, as the army would soon crush criminals terrorising the zone.
“The first question is about the unity of this country; calls for secession and the claim that the presidency is not talking. The presidency has been talking. And our position is clearly that this country is one, it is united, and by the grace of God will continue to be united.
“One thing is that you can’t intimidate Buhari. You can’t bully him. A lot of these people who are calling for secessions are the problem of this country and I am happy that reasonable opinion and reasonable voices are now rising. Is it not only yesterday we were reading Afenifere, the most credible faction of Afenifere saying we are not for secession. Ohanaeze 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 vault and brings money to settle people. President Buhari will pay no one. He is not going to pay, and now it is clear that having ignored all of that, reasonable opinions are coming from those states and from those regions. We have all heard the governors in South West denounced all of these things. So it’s 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,” he said.
On agitation for a national conference to address the country’s challenges, Shehu said there was no need for that as it would not do more than a parliament which was mandated to ensure the sovereignty of Nigerians.
He added that any democrat in heart and practice should believe in the tripartite structure of government, noting that a lot of those calling for secession are unelectable, adding that they should contest election if they felt otherwise.
On the spate of kidnappings and banditry in the country, Shehu said though it was not a commendable development, the act had been on for long, even before the country gained independence.
He blamed the development on bad eggs in our communities who revealed military secrets to bandits.
He recalled how a tea seller in a particular state near the airport always revealed the movement of military personnel to bandits whenever they moved their aircraft to attack.
“The sponsors of bandits hired him, built a house for him, bought him a Golf car and gave him money to do bigger tea business.
“Each time an aircraft took off from Katsina Airport to go and operate in Zamfara, he will call them on phone and say they are coming, by the time they get there, the target have disappeared,” he said.
Shehu said there was need for all hands to be on deck to rid out communities of such informants because the military were as human as we are with blood running in their veins.
On the current unrest in the South-East, Shehu said though criminals were fighting to gain upper hand, no criminal or terrorist was bigger than the country.
“None of them is mightier than our armed forces, this structure has been there, they were certificated and praised, they stabilised the entire West Africa region,” he said.
He noted the role the Nigeria military played in ensuring peace and stability in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Gambia, saying they stood out.
He said all the military needed to combat terrorism and acts of banditry in the country was time, support and prayers from Nigerians.