By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah, Abuja –
President Muhammadu Buhari this morning read the riot act to agitators of secession and proponents of hate speech in the country, warning that his administration will not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble.
He declared categorically that Nigeria’s unity had been settled and is, therefore, not negotiable.
This is contained in his broadcast to the nation aired live on national television and radio stations at 7:00pm today.
Buhari returned to the country on Saturday after spending 103 days in the United Kingdom on medical vacation.
While he was away, threats of secession and hate speeches dominated the country’s public space, culminating in a quit notice by Arewa youths, asking the Igbos to leave the North before October 1.
Our sister publication, LEADERSHIP Sunday, had yesterday reported exclusively that issues bordering on hate speech, the quit notice issued Igbos living in the North and the growing agitations for secession that almost overheat the polity in the president’s absence were some of the major things Buhari will be addressing in his broadcast today.
In his broadcast this morning, President Buhari described calls for secession as a step taken too far, even as he declared that Nigerians are free to live anywhere they wish to reside in the country.
He said, “In the course of my stay in the United Kingdom, I have been kept in daily touch with events at home.
Nigerians are robust and lively in discussing their affairs, but I was distressed to notice that some of the comments, especially in the social media have crossed our national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation. This is a step too far.
“In 2003 after I joined partisan politics, the late Chief Emeka Ojukwu came and stayed as my guest in my hometown Daura. Over two days we discussed in great depth till late into the night and analyzed the problems of Nigeria. We both came to the conclusion that the country must remain one and united.
“Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable. We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble and when things get bad they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood”
Declaring that “every Nigerian has the right to live and pursue his business anywhere in Nigeria without let or hindrance”, the president, “I believe the very vast majority of Nigerians share this view”.
Buhari, however, pointed out that he was not denying the fact that “there are legitimate concerns” as “every group has a grievance”, just as he noted that “the beauty and attraction of a federation is that it allows different groups to air their grievances and work out a mode of co-existence”.
On calls for restructuring the country, he said, while the National Assembly and the National Council of State are the legitimate and appropriate bodies for national discourse, “the national consensus is that it is better to live together than to live apart”.
Urging security agencies in the country not to let the successes achieved in the last 18 months become a sign to relax, the president declared that terrorists and criminals must be fought and destroyed relentlessly so that the majority of Nigerians can live in peace and safety.
Buhari continued: “Therefore, we are going to reinforce and reinvigorate the fight against elements of Boko Haram which are attempting a new series of attacks on soft targets, kidnappings, farmers versus herdsmen clashes, in addition to ethnic violence fuelled by political mischief makers. We are going tackle them all.
“Finally, dear Nigerians, our collective interest now is to eschew petty differences and come together to face common challenges of economic security, political evolution and integration as well as lasting peace among all Nigerians”.
The president reiterated his resolute commitment to ensuring that “these goals are achieved and maintained”, even as he thanked Nigerians for their prayers for his quick recovery.
“I am very grateful to God and to all Nigerians for their prayers. I am pleased to be back on home soil among my brothers and sisters”, he stated.
FG Approves Special Courts For Hate Speech
Meanwhile, the federal government has approved the creation of special courts for the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of terrorist acts, kidnapping and purveyors of hate speeches.
The approval was made by the National Economic Council (NEC) which rose from its day-long retreat on National Security, with a consensus on a raft of issues aimed at tackling many of the security challenges in the country.
According to a statement by, Laolu Akande, spokesman of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, NEC was convened to review current security challenges across Nigeria with a view to finding lasting solutions to identified problems.
He said the decision was one of the highlights of the one-day retreat made up of governors of the 36 states of the federation, the FCT minister and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and chaired by the vice president.
He said the retreat discussed concerns about the delay in the entire criminal justice system and NEC members concluded that prompt action by law enforcement agencies is imperative.
The statement noted: “NEC members urged prompt action in the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of terrorist acts, kidnapping and purveyors of hate speeches.
“To facilitate this, the designation of special courts was also advocated and the consensus was that judicial and executive arms of the Federal and State Governments will be working together to establish such courts.
“The FG will also be helping States develop a template on how such special courts would be established, and managed”.
On farmers, herders clash in the country, he said NEC members recognized the conflict is essentially a problem of land use, which has however taken an ethnic and religious coloration.
According to Akande, it was agreed that both the federal government and states need to properly define the problems and eschew the ethno-religious construction of what is otherwise an economic challenge.
“NEC members stated that it would be useful bringing the different groups together-herdsmen and the farmers -to meet and discuss, and also work out some of the issues that concern them”, he stated.
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