SECESSION: NIGERIANS BETTER, STRONGER TOGETHER — BUHARI.

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said Nigerians are better and stronger together in the entity called Nigeria, noting he defended the unity of the country as a soldier during the civil war between 1967 and 1970. The President spoke virtually from Aso Villa as chairman of the 12th Bola Tinubu Colloquium, “Our Common Wealth:  The Imperative of National Cohesion for Growth and Prosperity’’, to celebrate the 69th birthday of All Progressives Congress chieftain, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in Kano. He spoke against the backdrop of calls by groups and individuals for secession in different parts of the country. While the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, and other individuals and groups are calling for creation of Oduduwa or O’Odua Republic, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, as well as Niger Delta ex-,militant leader, Asari Dokubo, are agitating for a Biafran Republic. Buhari’s declaration also came on a day Iba Gani Adams said the clamor for Oodua Republic is long overdue, adding that  the call for self-determination is a true reflection of the present mindset of all Yoruba sons and daughters in the diaspora. Similarly, a coalition of over 174 Yoruba groups in Diaspora, Yoruba One Voice, YOV, restated its avowed commitment to the actualization of O’odua Republic, saying the call for self-determination remains the last option for the Yoruba nation. But the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, vowed yesterday that under his watch, the Nigerian Army will be resolute in dealing decisively with any and every threat confronting the country.

Speaking at the colloquium, President Buhari said the theme of the occasion was suitable for the contemporary issue of secession and national unity in the country. He said: “Despite occasional inter-ethnic tensions in our national history, it seems to me that we have all agreed on one point, that notwithstanding our diversity or ethnicity, culture, language and religion, Nigerians are better, even stronger together. Asiwaju (Tinubu) himself is a known advocate of unity and cohesion in Nigeria. This has been a constant factor in his outstanding political career from the time he served in the short-lived Senate in the Third Republic to his involvement in the struggle for the actualization of the June 12 mandate of the late Chief MKO Abiola to his much acclaimed years of service as the governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007. I can also relate personally to the ideals of One Nigeria. As a military officer, I have served with great comrades from all the nooks and crannies of our country. In the course of my career, I have also been opportune to serve in all parts of Nigeria, seeing first-hand the enticing possibilities of a strong, united nation. More importantly, I fought for the unity of Nigeria during the civil war – 1967 to 1970, and I saw first-hand the unspeakable horrors of war, not just from fellow soldiers from both sides but from civilians, innocent children, women and the elderly left behind.

As we all know, the peace-keeping recovery and reconstruction that followed could also not have succeeded under an atmosphere of inter-ethnic animosity. We must count our blessings in Nigeria and see in them the crucial factors of peace and unity.” Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, speaking on the issue, said: “By this gesture governor Ganduje has helped us to tell two stories; this is the first time that the colloquium is being hosted outside Lagos and Abuja, the capital city. And it is befitting that Kano should be that place, this city of radical and progressive ideas and ideologies, a city whose leading political lights have been left of center, which is the dominant tendency within our great party the APC. Second, it helps us to underscore the point that this country and its people are stronger and more powerful together than apart. For the purveyors of breaking up into small components/countries, perhaps they should be reminded that we would not have been able to accept Governor Ganduje’s offer to come to Kano at short notice since we would all have needed visas to come to Kano.” The Vice President called for a new set of Nigerians across all divides that are committed to a country operated on high values integrity, justice, and love, among others. He said: “We believe that we now have an opportunity to increase the numbers of a new tribe of Nigerians; a tribe of men and women of all faiths, tribes and ethnicity committed to a country run on high values of integrity, hard work, justice, and love of country. A tribe of men and women who are prepared to make the sacrifices and self-constraints that are crucial to building a strong society; who is prepared to stick together, fight for equity, and justice side by side. A tribe consisting of professionals, businessmen, politicians, religious leaders, and all others who believe that this new Nigeria is possible and already we have built and are building the building blocks for this new Nigeria.”

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, has said that under his watch, the Nigerian Army would be ruthless with any and every threat confronting the country. Attahiru, who made the vow at the opening ceremony of the combined COAS First Quarter Conference and Nigerian Army Operations Retreat 2021 at Command Officers Mess, Asokoro, Abuja, directed Field Commanders, General Officers Commanding, Corps Commanders and other formation commanders to give serious attention towards improving the tempo in all army operations across the country. Disclosing that the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDS, had been a major impediment to troops and operations in the North-East theatre of operation, the COAS said concerted effort was also being made to eliminate the threat. “In line with the President’s directive and my intent to rebuild the Nigerian Army into a formidable force, I conceived the vision of having ‘A Nigerian Army that is re-positioned to professionally defeat all adversaries in joint environment. To breathe life into this vision, I released my philosophy of command which has readiness, capacity, continuous leadership development and duty to country as cardinal pillars. As I speak, we will soon be receiving combat enablers that would enhance and boost our operations. Concerted effort is also being made to eliminate the threat of improvised explosive devices which has been a major impediment to troops and our operations in Operation Lafiya Dole.

I want to assure you that I am determined in rebuilding the fighting skills, capacity, confidence and morale of our troops across the various theaters of operations. In order to achieve this, my top priorities for the second and third quarters of the year would’ be training. I will ensure that through functional training, officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army are equipped with the right competences and skills to effectively undertake the missions in addition to develop special operations forces.” Defense Minister, Maj Gen Bashir Salihi Magashi, retd, said yesterday the military has keyed into the dynamic global approach in combating violent extremism in the various theaters of operations in the country. Gen Magashi stated this when the British Minister for Armed Forces paid him a courtesy call at the Ministry of Defence Headquarters, Ship House, Abuja. He said: “Government appreciates the support of the British government in building capacity and capabilities of the nation’s Armed Forces to be combat-ready in dealing with threats by violent extremists.” While tracing the historical linkage between UK and Nigeria, the minister said the military bilateral cooperation between the two countries should be taken to higher pedestal, especially now that the nation moves toward ending terrorism, banditry and kidnapping. The Minister outlined specific and special areas of interventions by the UK that will impact meaningfully on the nation’s aggressive and decisive march to final victory over the adversaries threatening national sovereignty and integrity. In his address, the British Minister for Armed Forces, James Heappe, lauded the Federal Government’s efforts in maintaining the sanctity and integrity of the country. He pledged continued support of the UK government in the areas of training, intelligence sharing as well as technical and tactical inputs to end all forms of threats on land and at sea in the Gulf of Guinea to decisively deal with piracy.

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