Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media, says those calling for secession from the country are its problem.
He said this on Tuesday in Abuja at an event organised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Professional Forum to showcase the achievements of the President Buhari-led administration. Shehu added that Buhari would, however, not be intimidated by the calls for secession by some persons, pointing out that the country will remain united no matter what.
“For those saying that the presidency has not been talking, our position is clearly that this country is one and will remain united by the grace of God. “You can’t intimidate Buhari, you can’t bully him, a lot of these people who are calling for secession are the problem of this country, I am happy that reasonable voices are now rising,” he said.
Shehu expressed delight that Afenifere, Ohanaze Ndigbo and other socio-cultural regional groups are beginning to speak against secession. “We have heard the governors in the South-West, they have denounced all of these things, so it’s a sham, Nigerians want to be one and united,” he said. He expressed optimism that whatever challenges the country might be having, with unity and love, such challenges would be addressed.
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. “We are all in this together and we just have to work together to rid this country of these elements,” he said. Speaking 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 added that all the military needed to combat terrorism and acts of banditry in the country was time, support and prayers from Nigerians.
He further noted that as at today, Boko Haram was no longer fighting for Islamic Caliphate, but for food and weapons which they want to replenish and money, adding that they had turned to armed robbers, attacking soft spots. Shehu said the military was getting ready not only to stop Boko Haram from coming to the towns, but to stop them on their tracks in the forest.
He, however, appealed to the media to have a rethink on how they reported acts of terrorism in the country in the name of balancing stories. He stressed that a terrorist and a bandit could not be equated with a legitimate government, adding that publicity is oxygen to terrorism and banditry. Shehu, therefore, charged Nigerians to begin to see the country as half full instead of half empty.
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