…Says, no need for any National Confab
…’ No criminal or terrorist is bigger than Nigeria’
By Omeiza Ajayi, ABUJA
The Presidency on Tuesday reacted to the growing wave of secessionist agitations in some parts of the country, stating that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot be intimidated or bullied into giving in to the threats of such agitators.
Describing them as mercantile agents who are only out for pecuniary gains, the presidency said Mr Buhari would not open the vaults to share free money with anyone.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu stated the government’s position on Tuesday in Abuja while giving a scorecard of the Buhari administration at an event organised by the All Progressives Congress APC Professional Forum which held 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 is a misnomer.
Shehu added the Boko Haram terrorists are currently fighting for survival as the federal government has cut their supply chain.
“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 clearly 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?
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“The Ohanaze 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 he 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.
“Now, the thing about the Southeast 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 stabilize 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 southwest, 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?
“What National Conference do more than a parliament? Anyone who is a democrat at heart, in practice in their beliefs they should believe in the tripartite structure of government. 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 ongoing 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 a change of the structure at the 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 afoul of the law would be spared.
National Secretary of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC of the APC, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe said President Buhari will never shy away from the problems of the country.
“The President is a listening man that many of the things you complain about, he already knows them. 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 a government like this in the history of the nation. And I am not playing politics. Show me any government that has done much than President Buhari that has a direct link with the masses”.
The Chairman of the forum is Hon. Akeem Akintayo in his opening remarks said professionals in the party will continue to contribute their quota to national development whether they are in government or outside the government.
He asked the party leadership to look inwards when making appointments, saying there are very many technocrats within the party.