Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, on Thursday said calls for secession in some quarters in Nigeria was unacceptable.
The minister made this known while delivering a speech virtually at the opening ceremony of the 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) held in Bauchi State.
Mohammed, however, said it was rational and ideal for citizens to call for restructuring and true federalism, adding that whatever challenges facing the country can be overcome.
“While it is alright for citizens to call for restructuring and true federalism, what is not acceptable is the call in certain quarters for secession.
“Whatever challenges we have today as a nation, can and will be surmounted. In fact, the Federal Government had set in motion the necessary machinery to tackle the challenge of insecurity.
“We should therefore not allow today’s challenges, whether in the area of economy or security, to jeopardise our unity,” he said.
The information minister, who apologised for not being able to be physically present in Bauchi for the event, however appealed to NIPR to use its platform to work for the unity of Nigeria.
“That task has never been more urgent than now against the background of discordant voices in the country and calls for separation.
“I see NIPR as a capable partner in government’s effort to douse the tension in the land and beat the drum of unity rather than the drum of war.
“May I also repeat my call to NIPR to raise voice against those fanning the embers of disunity and discord in the country. Without a country that is peaceful and secured, there can be no development.
“This administration is doing everything possible to return peace and security across the country,” the minister said.
He further urged the NIPR to partner with the federal government in the fight against fake news, misinformation as well as hate speech.
Earlier, Mallam Mukhtar Suraju, the National President, NIPR, said the event was coming at a time when Public Relations was solely needed to redirect the compass of the country.
He observed that all promises the country held were bedevilled by so many challenges, many of which he said were ordinarily avoidable and unnecessary.
Suraju said the challenges ranged from insecurity to social tension occasioned by mutual mistrust and suspicion among leaders of various components of the country.
He, however, added that NIPR believed in Nigeria and its continued corporate existence.
“We believe we are much better off together than staying in bits and pieces but this must be based on trust and confidence of all of us and one another.
“We must therefore continue to engage ourselves constructively and sincerely so that we will bequeath a better nation to future generations of Nigerians,” he said.
Gov. Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, who was represented by his Deputy, Alhaji Baba Tela, appreciated NIPR for allowing the state to be the host of the AGM.
Mohammed, who said the NIPR meeting was first of its kind in the whole Northeast, explained how much he relished his professional bond with the institute.
He also expressed gratitude for the cordial relationship between his administration and the state chapter of NIPR, adding that such a relationship will not only be maintained but also strengthened.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that activities that graced the occasion include cultural dance and conferment of ‘fellow’ title on some members who were also given their fellow medallion, among others.