The federal government at the weekend described agitation by pro-Biafra protesters in the Southeast as completely legitimate.
The FG stated this at the weekend through the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, describing the agitation as an offshoot of the state of the country’s economy, noting that things could have gotten worse but for the efforts of the current administration.
The minister was speaking at a News Agency of Nigeria Forum in Abuja, appealing to leaders in the country not to exploit the economic situation to further destabilise Nigerians.
He also called on leaders to be courageous enough to come out and defend the unity of the country and not consider the fact that “in the short term it might be politically fashionable for them to be on the side of some agitators.”
According to the minister, the current agitations by citizens were “completely legitimate,” but assured of the Federal Government’s commitment to strengthening the economy.
“There are many political frontlines in Nigeria, religious, ethnic and the like but these things do not come to the fore until when there are serious economic problems like we are having today.
“I have listened to the complaints of many of these agitators and right down it is economic.
“They must understand too that but for this furtiveness of this administration, this country would have been by far much worse.
“There is need for Nigerians to understand also that these are not ordinary times and that the government is not just making excuses.
“I appeal to our leaders not to exploit this situation to further destabilise Nigerians; our leaders should be courageous enough to come out and defend our unity.
“In the short term, it might be politically fashionable for them to be on the side of some agitators but in the long term, it is in the overall interest of Nigeria that we all understand our differences, respect them forge a united Nigeria.
“There will be no alternative to one united Nigeria.”
Mohammed said there was need for government to have accurate and timely information on complaints presented by citizens.
“The most important thing is that the government must do a lot of self-assessment itself.
“The government has the responsibility to listen to all; it also has the responsibility to analyse issues to see which complaints are genuine and those that are not and look into them.”
Corruption, Terrorism: Lai gives Buhari pass mark
Similarly, the minister gave the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari pass mark in its fight against corruption and terrorism in the country.
Mohammed, who said the administration had done very well in these two areas, stated that one major achievement of the Federal Government’s fight against corruption is that for the first time in a long time, people have begun to appreciate the fact that corruption is an ill.
He added the Buhari administration will go beyond prosecuting people for corruption by changing the way Nigerians did things, adding that government would soon launch a campaign tagged “Change begins with me”.
“We did campaign majorly on creating jobs for our youth, building the economy, fighting corruption, and addressing insecurity.
“I think so far we have done very well in the area of fighting insecurity and terrorism; we have done very well in fighting corruption.
“All Nigerians agree that corruption is one of the major ills of this society and one major achievement of this fight against corruption is for the first time in a long time people have begun to appreciate the fact that corruption is really an ill.
“But beyond prosecuting people, this administration is bent on changing the way Nigerians do things.
“And this is why this administration is going to start very soon a massive campaign to re-orientate Nigerians to let them know that they cannot continue to do things the same way and expect different results.
“It is not all about criminalising people, who have been corrupt; of course if you have been corrupt we are going to follow due process; but it is more about a total change, total sanitising of our society.
“We are working very hard to break our campaign, which is `Change begins with me’.
“ Every Nigerian wants change, but they do not know that that change is embedded in them.”
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