From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki, Agaju Madugba, Katsina, Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja and Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
President Muhammadu Buhari has warned those trying to foment trouble in the country, saying Nigerian’s unity not negotiable.
He declared that Nigerians have the right to live and do business in any part of the country without let or hindrance.
In a national broadcast this morning, President Buhari, who returned to the country on Saturday, after 104 days in London, United Kingdom, for medical treatment, said the country was better staying together.
He ordered security agencies to step up the fight against insurgency, so that the gains of the past 18 months will not be lost.
The president enjoined Nigerians to play down on petty differences and come together to face economic, security, environmental and other challenges facing the country.
President Buhari’s speech reads: “I am very grateful to God and to all Nigerians for their prayers. I am pleased to be back on home soil among my brothers and sisters.
“In the course of my stay in the United Kingdom, I have been kept in daily touch with events at home. Nigerians are robust and lively in discussing their affairs, but I was distressed to notice that some of the comments, especially in the social media have crossed our national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation. This is a step too far.
“In 2003, after I joined partisan politics, the late Chief Emeka Ojukwu came and stayed as my guest in my hometown, Daura. Over two days, we discussed in great depth till late into the night and analysed the problems of Nigeria. We both came to the conclusion that the country must remain one and united.
“Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable. We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble and when things get bad they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood.
“Every Nigerian has the right to live and pursue his business anywhere in Nigeria without let or hindrance. I believe the very vast majority of Nigerians share this view.
“This is not to deny that there are legitimate concerns. Every group has a grievance. But the beauty and attraction of a federation is that it allows different groups to air their grievances and work out a mode of co-existence.
“The National Assembly and the National Council of State are the legitimate and appropriate bodies for national discourse.
“The national consensus is that, it is better to live together than to live apart.
“Furthermore, I am charging the security agencies not to let the successes achieved in the last 18 months be a sign to relax. Terrorists and criminals must be fought and destroyed relentlessly so that the majority of us can live in peace and safety. Therefore, we are going to reinforce and reinvigorate the fight not only against elements of Boko Haram, which are attempting a new series of attacks on soft targets; kidnappings, farmers versus herdsmen clashes; in addition to ethnic violence fuelled by political mischief makers. We shall tackle them all.
“Finally, dear Nigerians, our collective interest now is to eschew petty differences and come together to face common challenges of economic security, political evolution and integration as well as lasting peace among all Nigerians.
“I remain resolutely committed to ensuring that these goals are achieved and maintained. I am so glad to be home.”
Earlier yesterday, there was celebration at the Aso Villa chapel, where Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo and several worshippers sang various songs in Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages to thank God for Buhari’s safe return.
Speaking at the service, the Aso Villa Chapel’s Administrator, Rev. Isaac Ambi, said: “We want to rejoice with our father, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, for the safe return of our President and our father, Muhammadu Buhari. And we also want to thank God on how he has used you in piloting the affairs of Nigeria while the president was away.”
Also speaking, Prof. Durosinmi Etti, who urged the worshipers to celebrate the Lord for what he had done in the president’s life, led the church to sing: “What shall we say unto the Lord, All we have to say is thank you Lord.”
A special ministration with the title: “All Things are working for my good” was also rendered by the choir to honour the Lord for spearing the president’s life.
In his sermon entitled: “What is new for a Christian,” Ambi, using John 15:1-11 and Psalm 23, as anchor texts, urged everyone who had accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour to continue to live life according to the dictate of Christ.
“A Christian life is a matter of relationship; knowing the rules and the regulation. So, what is your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? We are supposed to have a kind of relationship that draws our strength from Jesus Christ,” he remarked.
According to him, one of the new things a Christian has include a new position, a new possession, a new product and s new focus.
“As soon as we receive Christ, we will experience the great exchange according to 2 Corinthians 32. So, you have a new position because Jesus has taken the centre stage in your life and that is why a Christian must not engage in shady deals. Second Corinthians 5:17 says if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature,” he said.
Individuals and groups, including the South East Governors Forum (SEGF), governors Aminu Masari and Abiola Ajimobi of Katsina and Oyo respectively, have reacted to Buhari’s return.
Chairman of the SEGF and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor, described the recovery of Mr. President as great work of God and wished him total recovery as he assumes duty.
The forum thanked Nigerians for praying for his speedy recovery, adding that it showed that the people were becoming more patriotic despite the varying political lines.
It called for more prayers and dedication to service by every Nigerian, noting that it was only through unity of purpose that the country could achieve greatness.
Masari in a statement also commended Nigerians for their steadfastness in prayers and moral support to the president while Buhari was away.
“God has answered the prayers of Nigerians and friends of Nigerians across the globe by healing and returning President Buhari home in better health” Masari said in a statement sign by his Senior Special Adviser, Abdu Labaran Malumfashi.
Governor Ajimobi, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy, Mr. Yomi Layinka, expressed delight in the renewed vigour of the president, which he said should reinforce the people’s belief in the awesome powers of God.
He called for continued prayers for the well being of Buhari and leaders at all levels for the country to remain cohesive and return to prosperity and abundance.
Meanwhile, Kogi State government has declared today as public holiday and Thanksgiving Day .
Governor Yahaya Bello said the gesture was in line with the “support of the Kogi people for the renaissance of our nation by Mr. President.
He enjoined the people of Kogi to also use the occasion to pray for the president, as he resumes his responsibilities of repositioning Nigeria.
Similarly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State said with his return, the challenge for the delivery of dividends of democracy has been reactivated and expectations from the citizenry rekindled.
The party, in a statement by the Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Steve Otaloro, praised the president for the confidence reposed in his Vice, Osinbajo by handing over the reins of power to him. It said the development demonstrated the belief in the political system of the country.
The crux of the overwhelming solidarity witnessed in the return of President Buhari is the total support for the president’s drive in continued fight against treasury looters, recovery of national assets and funds as well as rebuilding the national economy, the statement said.
It urged the citizenry to continue to pray for the president to enable him deliver good governance.
Also, reacting, an APC chieftain in Abia State and Board of Trustee (BoT) member, Prince Benjamin Benedict Apugo said the fact that Buhari came back not only alive, but also fully recovered, was a thing of great joy for him, his family, APC members in the state and Abians in general.
He noted that the president’s return will oil and reinvigorate the machinery of government and called on him to re-jig his cabinet to inject fresh blood that would better the lots of the people.
Apugo condemned the activities of the group that campaigned that the president should either return home or resign, stressing that it was insensitive and out of place to force the president home when doctors had not satisfied him fit to resume duties.
“It is quite unfortunate that the group, whatever their name is, did not act wisely. When someone’s father is sick and went to the hospital for medical attention, you don’t force him back home, unless you don’t love him and want him dead.
“We know that those who embarked on the protest acted a script written by the opposition, but I’m happy that the president has returned not on the weight of the so-called protest, but based on his doctors’ advice.”
While the Deputy National Chairman (South) of the party, Chief Segun Oni described the home coming as a soothing balm on the tensed political atmosphere in Nigeria, a traditional leader and industrialist, Prince Olusegun Aderemi urged the president to apologise to Nigerians over long his absence.
In a statement signed by his media aide, Mr. Steve Alabi in Ado-Ekiti yesterday, Oni said seeing Buhari in good health has put a lie to the wishes of those who don’t wish the nation well.
Oni advised some of the Buhari’s antagonists to stop playing politics with every issue, especially when it touched on health, saying, they were not God.
But Aderemi who spoke with newsmen in Aramoko Ekiti, said Buhari should not blame anybody who was aggrieved and expressed his or her grievances over his long absence, noting that, it was their right to express their feeling. He said though it was not the wish of Buhari to stay away from the country for over 100 days, as a democrat he should apologise to those who felt strongly about his absence.