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 the 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 has disappeared,” he said.
Shehu said there was a 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 Nigerian 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
Secession agitators cannot intimidate Buhari, says Presidency
The Presidency has declared secession agitators cannot intimidate or bully President Muhamadu Buhari to dance to their tunes.
It also foreclosed likely convocation of another National Conference to discuss differences among the Federating Units.
The Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the President, Malam Garba Shehu, stated these at the maiden edition of media interactive session of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Professional Forum.
Shehu, who said the Federal Government has been committed to unity, declared Buhari won’t open the vaults for agitators to placate them.
The presidential spokesman was reacting to allegation the Presidency has been quiet on agitators calling for secession.
According to him: “Look, one thing with this President is that you can’t intimidate Buhari. You can’t bully him. A lot of these people who are calling for secessions are the problem of this country and I’m happy that reasonable voices are now rising.
“Is it not only yesterday we are reading Afenifere, the most credible faction of Afenifere saying we’re not for secession. The Ohanaze Ndigbo 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 booth 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. The Governors in the South-west, we have all heard them, they have denounced all of these things.
“So it’s 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.”
On calls in some quarters for a National Conference to discuss Nigeria’s unity, the presidential aide said: “What can National Conference do more than a parliament?
“Anyone who is a democrat in heart, in practice and in their belief 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 each 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 were crying for this secession, they are unelectable. If you think you are electable go and contest for a parliamentary seat whether House of Representatives or Senate and come and table an amendment for 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 change of structure at 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.”