- Listen to their demands – S/East traditional rulers
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday reiterated the essence of the unity of Nigeria and urged those contemplating its break-up to have a rethink.
He spoke while receiving members of the Council of South-East Traditional Rulers at the State House, Abuja, warning that the question of having another country out of Nigeria was misplaced.
He said: “The question of having another country out of Nigeria is going to be very difficult. From 1914, we have more than 200 cultures living with one another. God had endowed this country with natural resources and talented people. We should concentrate on these and be very productive.”
Addressing specific issues raised in the address by the traditional rulers, the President gave assurance that the South-East will also benefit from the new railway architecture being put in place by his administration.
On their request for more representation for the South-East in his government, the President said that he was “very conscious of the sensitivities of the South East”, on account of which, he gave the region’s four out of five states senior ranking ministers in the federal cabinet.
President Buhari used the occasion to appreciate the good work of the ministers from the region in the Federal Government, saying that they are doing very well for the country.
He appealed to the traditional rulers from the South East to persuade their people to give his government a chance and to continue to serve as beacons of culture and traditions of their people.
The President assured the delegation that kidnapping and cattle rustling, which he described as “unfortunate” will be the government’s next target, now that “we have managed to calm down the North-East.”
In taking note of the profuse commendation for his administration’s war against corruption and insecurity by the traditional rulers, President Buhari expressed frustration at the endless nature of some ongoing trials, citing some of the cases as going far back to the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“We are asking the judiciary to clean itself. Nigerians are tired of waiting. They want some actions,” he lamented.
The President said he hoped that the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Attorney-General of the federation will come to some form of agreement by which specially designated courts will give accelerated hearing to some corruption cases that are pending, arguing that “we want Nigerians to know we are serious.”
Earlier in his address, the Chairman of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers, His Royal Majesty, Eze Eberechi Dick had said the royal fathers in the region believed in the unity of the country and had consequently been impressing upon members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to press their case peacefully.
He however urged the president to address some of the issues they were agitating for.
The royal father said: “On the issue of the agitation by some of our youths like IPOB and others for a Biafran Republic. We have continued to engage and preach to them that every problem of the nation can be best resolved through peaceful dialogue and respect for the rule of law.
“While, we reassure Your Excellency of our total belief in one united and indivisible great nation of ours called Nigeria, we also want to call the attention of the Federal Government to some of their mentioned grievances for serious considerations, which includes:
“Neglect of the South East in the Amnesty Programme Deplorable state of federal roads and other infrastructure in the south east.
“Relegation of oil producing states of the South East in NDDC projects and exclusion of the South East in key federal appointments
“Anti-nationalistic treatment of Igbo people by other Nigerians.”
He also made requests for roads; other projects among other issues, even as he assured the President of their support for his leadership and programmes.