President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to the people of South East region not to buy into the idea of Biafra being promoted by the members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
He assured Igbo of fair share of his developmental projects next year, revealing that some key projects had already been designed for the region, especially in the area of road infrastructure, agriculture and social services, captured in the 2018 budget.
Speaking at the Abakaliki Township Stadium, as part of programmes lined up for his one-day visit to Ebonyi State, President Buhari asked Igbo to work for the country’s unity, saying the agitation for the realisation of Biafra was “a senseless propaganda” being promoted by “some misguided youths” in the region.
He said dividing the country across ethnic lines was tantamount to betraying the efforts of Nigeria’s founding fathers.
“I am asking you all not to buy into the senseless propaganda on secession. Igbo is Nigeria and Nigeria is Igbo, both are inseparable.
“We must, therefore, continue to commit ourselves to the development of Nigeria by sustaining our national unity without compromising our cultural identities, a Nigerian where the aspirations of its people is guaranteed without prejudice to tribe or religion, a Nigerian where we can sleep at night knowing that tomorrow will be better than today.
“The task of nation building is a continuous one. Our founding fathers from all corners of this country worked together to actualise the creation of one Nigeria. After independence, the same founding fathers worked together to maintain this one Nigeria.
“Yes, they had differences of opinion at times; after all, they were only human. And yes, they had moments of weaknesses and doubt, but again no one is perfect. However, one thing they all protected until the end of their lives was having one Nigeria for all Nigerians. Today, Nigeria is 57 years old. Nigeria has gone through many pains, but has also achieved significant successes.
“Its citizens are leaders in all aspects of human development, but we rarely celebrate these successes. Some misguided Nigerians will rather channel their energies to propagating negative stories and senseless rumours. Over 68 per cent of Nigeria’s population is under 25 years old. They have little knowledge of Nigeria’s journey. They were not born during the dark days of the civil war and nation building afterwards. The task of nation building is a continuous one; it relies on the successful transition of factual knowledge from one generation to another. This means it is our collective responsibility to ensure we do not betray our founding fathers as we transfer the Nigerian project from one generation to the next.
“As our national anthem says, the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain. So, parents, speak to your children about the importance of their heritage, culture and being open-minded. Teachers, teach your students about the history of the nation and how it was a correlation of diversity that brought it to existence. And as leaders, we must lead by example, tolerance and acceptance of diversity.”
Also speaking earlier, when he addressed stakeholders, Buhari had said his visit to Ebonyi State was a demonstration of the belief in the unity of Nigeria.
“When I met with the leaders of the South East in Abuja last month, they raised several issues of concern, including the state of the roads and infrastructure in the region. I want to assure you that we will deliver on our promises. Our 2018 budget included many strategic projects for the region in the area of road, power, agriculture and social services.”
President Buhari expressed delight to be in Ebonyi State, noting that he was glad that the state has fared well.
He praised Governor Dave Umahi for his developmental strides while thanking traditional rulers in the state for bestow on him a chieftaincy title.
He said: “I am delighted to be in Abakaliki today to interact with the good of Ebonyi State and again with the South East region as a whole. I want to extend my gratitude to the people of Ebonyi State for their hospitality and the warm reception since my arrival a few hours ago.
“I will like to commend His Excellency, Governor David Umahi, for his vision and commitment to the development of Ebonyi State, which included some of the projects I commissioned since my arrival. They are laudable.
“I am also grateful to the traditional rulers of Ebonyi State who bestowed on me the traditional title: Ezi Enyi Oma 1 (Good friend 1). I thank you for this honour and kind gesture.”
Governor Umahi thanked the president for “supporting the state in many ways.”
“You have helped us quite a lot, especially in the area of agriculture revolution and solid mineral. Today, you made us a giant in agriculture and so, we have here with us 2,000 bags of rice and 2,000 pieces to give to our president.
“It is a prayer answered because you have sown in the land of Ebonyi and God has given you the strength and health to partake in that seed that you planted. We are grateful to give back to our father who has given so much to us,” Umahi said.
The president, incontinuation of his visit to the South-East would be in Anambra State today where he is expected to meet with chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC).