•Vows never to lobby anybody to stop secessionist agitations
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
President Muhammadu Buhari has talked tough against the ravaging insecurity across the country, warning criminals attacking security formations that no criminal or terrorist is bigger or mightier than Nigerian armed forces.
Speaking during an event to present the scorecard of the government, which was organised by the APC Professional’ Forum at the party National Secretariat in Abuja, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, said President Buhari cannot be intimidated by anyone.
He said “Criminals are fighting to gain the upper hand but I tell you that no criminal or terrorist is bigger than this country. None of them is mightier than our armed forces. This structure has been there. They were certificated and praised for World war one, World war two, they stabilize the entire West Africa region. Without Nigeria, would there be Liberia in its present form, would there be Sierra Leone in its present form, even Gambia? So just give it time and support and pray, we will win against these forces.
“Look, one thing with this President (is)… you can’t intimidate Buhari. You can’t bully him. A lot of these people are calling for secession, they are the problem of this country and I am happy that reasonable opinion is now being heard, reasonable voices are now rising. Is it not only yesterday we are reading Afenifere, the most credible faction of Afenifere, saying we are not for secession.”
Shehu also said the issue of secession has been part of Nigeria politics, as it has been used in the past by people who do not mean well for the country to intimidate sitting leaders to open up the vault of the country and share money to those stoking the pressure of secession as bribe to stop such pressures.
To this end, he said President Buhari will never lobby anybody to stop the pressures for secession, adding that those calling for the breakup of the country are neither electable nor democrats and that President Buhari will not pay anybody to stop the pressure because Nigerians want to be one and united people.
“The Ohanaze Ndi Igbo has said this over and over. So, this thing about secession is, they had used it in the past. You create secession and threaten to break up Nigeria and then you intimidate the sitting leader and then he opens the vault 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 not 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 is 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”, he said.
Speaking further, Shehu dismissed the possibilities of the President convening a National Conference saying whatever role the conference would play in the polity is what the National Assembly is constituted and paid to do. He asked those with agitations to approach the National Assembly Constitution Review Committee with their memorandum for appropriate legislation.
While pointing out that the Constitution of Nigeria does not provide for creating two parliament, the Presidential spokesman said “What National Conference do you want more than a parliament? Anyone who is a democrat in heart, in practice and in their beliefs, they should believe in the tripartite structure of government.
“For 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 the other. We have an elected parliament, which is mandated to be the custodian of the sovereignty of the Nigerian people.
“Look, a lot of these people who are crying for this secession, they are unelectable. If you think you are electable, go around for a parliamentary seat, whether House of Representatives or Senate and come and table an amendment to 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”, he said.
Speaking earlier, the National Secretary of the APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), James John Akpanudoedehe, said the President is a listening leader who wants to empower faithful party members.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator of the APC Professionals, Akeem Akintayo, said during the electioneering process, political parties go into social contract with her citizens after the election is won and concluded with primary responsibility to deliver the social contract promised during the electioneering campaigns.