President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday called on the Igbo people of South-east to disregard what he described as the “senseless” call by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and others, for the zone to secede from Nigeria.
He also told the people that his coming to the zone was a demonstration of “our strong belief in the unity of Nigeria,” adding that “as the most populous country in Africa, with over 300 ethnic groups” that the country’s diversity is unique among nations.
Buhari made this statement in the speech he delivered at the state visit to Ebonyi State on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, at the Abakaliki Township stadium.
He said he was “grateful to the people of Ebonyi as well as the South East traditional rulers, who today, bestowed on me traditional titles. To the Ndi Ebonyi, I am Enyioma 1 (Good Friend) and to the South East, I am Ochioha of Ndigbo. I thank you for this honour and kind gesture.
“My presence here today is a demonstration of our strong belief in the unity of Nigeria. As the most populous country in Africa, with over 300 ethnic groups, our diversity is almost unique among nations.
“The people of the South East are known for their ingenuity, industrial and commercial talent. There is no part of Nigeria where you will not find Igbo entrepreneurs, both men and women, contributing to the development of their adopted communities.
“So 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. A Nigeria where we sustain our national unity without compromising on our cultural identities. A Nigeria where the aspirations of its people is guaranteed without prejudice to tribe or religion. A Nigeria, where we can sleep at night knowing that tomorrow will be better than today.”
On current development projects of the Federal Government in the South-east Buhari said, “For example, we recently mobilized the contractor of the 2nd Niger Bridge back to site. We have also made provisions in the 2018 budget proposal to ensure this project is completed as early as possible.
“We are also upgrading the Federal Medical Centre in Umuahia by constructing a Modern Medical Diagnostic Centre. This will further bring quality and affordable health care to the region.
“In the agricultural sector, the states in this region have participated in all Federal Government agricultural initiatives. For instance, Ebonyi was among the first few state government’s to sign up to the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative. The program has already created thousands of direct and indirect jobs in this fertile part of our country.”
He added, “For the South East, I am pleased to inform you that our 2018 budget proposal has allocated up to N10 billion for the development of the Enyimba Industrial Park and Nnewi Auto Park. Both projects will be implemented in collaboration with the respective state governments and the private sector. Again, these are classic examples of the partnerships between the federal and state governments in the region to improve the livelihoods of Nigerians – politics aside.
“In October 2017, we commenced the payment of pensions to police officers who were granted Presidential pardon in 2000 after serving in the former Biafran Police during the 30 month civil war. These officers, and their next of kin, have waited for their pensions for 17 years since the Presidential pardon.
“I want to assure the Ndigbo that the welfare and well-being of every Nigerian is important to us. We stand for inclusivity and will not leave any section or citizen behind.”
Buhari’s visit to Ebonyi is the first time he has visited any part of South-East since emerging president over two years ago.
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