By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-President Muhammadu Buhari has canvassed for the establishment of special courts to expedite the trial of corruption suspects, saying it would underscore the seriousness of his government’s anti-corruption war.
He also stated that it would be extremely difficult for agitators of Nigeria’s break-up to succeed.
This was even as south-east zone present a list of demands on the pitiable infrastructural deficits of the area.
The president spoke while playing host to the Council of South-East Traditional Rulers led by their Chairman, His Royal Majesty, Eze Eberechi Dick who is also the chairman, Abia State Traditional Rulers Council at the State House on Thursday.
Dick had while making his speech called the president attention to the state of roads in the south east amongst other matters.
He said: “Your Excellency, on behalf of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers, it is a great honour and privilege for me to lead a delegation from the South East on a visit to Mr. President.
“Permit me sir to say that since your assumption of duty as the Executive President of Nigeria, we have been following your programmes with keen interest and I must commend Your Excellency for the focused fight against corruption, which has eaten deep into the very existence of Nigeria.
“Your Excellency Sir, I have the mandate of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers to inform you of the Council’s support for your programmes, especially the war against insecurity and corruption.
“We also want to use this opportunity to commend Your Excellency over the choice of some of our sons for the positions of Ministers in your cabinet. We thank you immensely for considering them worthy of this appointments and appeal to you to appoint more.
“Mr. President Sir, while we are happy over the award of contracts for the construction and maintenance of some federal roads within the South East geo-political zone, we want to use this opportunity to request for the rehabilitation of Aba-Ikot Ekpene, Onitsha – Enugu, Owerri Port Harcourt, Owerri Aba, Abakaliki federal roads.
“We also express our gratitude to you for continuing with the construction of the Niger Bridge, which when completed, will surely reduce the suffering of our using that route.
“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 rule 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 mentioned grievances for serious considerations, which includes:
“Neglect of the South East in the Amnesty Programme; Deplorable state of Federal Roads and other infrastructure in the South East; Relegation of oil Producing States of the South East in NDDC projects and Exclusion of the South East in key federal appointments; Anti-Nationalistic treatment of Igbo people by other Nigerians. We also want to call the attention of Your Excellency to the criminal activities of kidnappers, some cattle herdsmen which are posing serious security challenges to the people of South East.
“In the recent times, so many lives and properties worth billions of naira have been lost. While the Governors and Traditional Rulers of the zone have been managing the situation, we want to call on the federal government to use all the instruments of power and resources available to you to come to our aid and rescue.”
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.
The President said he hoped that the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria 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.”
President Buhari also reiterated the essence of the unity of Nigeria, urging those contemplating its break-up to have a rethink.
He 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 South-East 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.
The President also appreciated 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 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” will be the government’s next target, now that “we have managed to calm down the North-East.”