The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), says Nigerians are better and stronger together, adding that he defended the unity of the country as a soldier during the civil war between July 1967 and January 1970.
Buhari spoke virtually from Aso Villa on Monday as the chairman of the 12th colloquium to celebrate the 69th birthday of All Progressives Congress stalwart, Bola Tinubu.
The colloquium held in Kano, was themed, ‘Our Common Bond, Our Common Wealth: The Imperative Of National Cohesion For Growth And Prosperity’.
The event was also virtually attended by the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo; House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila; Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; amongst others, whose itineraries were disrupted by poor weather from the Abuja airport to the Kano airport.
Delivering a speech, Buhari said the theme of the occasion was suitable for the contemporary issue of secession and national unity in the country.
He said, “Despite occasional inter-ethnic tensions in our national history, it seems to me that we have all agreed on one point that notwithstanding our diversity or ethnicity, culture, language and religion, Nigerians are better together, even stronger together.
“Asiwaju (Tinubu) himself is a known advocate of unity and cohesion in Nigeria. This has been a constant factor in his outstanding political career from the time his served in the short-lived senate in the third republic to his involvement in the struggle for the actualisation of the June 12 mandate of the late Chief MKO Abiola to his much acclaimed years of service as the governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007.”
Growing disaffection and dissatisfaction in the country had made some persons declare their support for Yoruba Nation and Biafra Republic.
Popular Yoruba rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo also known as Sunday Igboho; as well as the Chairman of socio-political group, the Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination, Prof Banji Akintoye, and other proponents of self-determination had recently declared their allegiance for the Yoruba Nation.
A former militant in the Niger Delta region, Mujahid Asari-Dokubo, had also recently announced himself as the leader of the new Biafra de facto Customary Government, citing “injustice and marginalisation” on the Igbo people as the reason for his aspiring for a “better life for his people”.
Speaking, however, on Monday, Buhari said the civil war caused “unspeakable horrors”, adding that Nigerians must see unity and peace as blessings of nationhood.
The President recalled, “I can also relate personally to the ideals of One Nigeria. As a military officer, I have served with great comrades from all the nooks and crannies of our country.
“In the course of my career, I have also been opportuned to serve in all parts of Nigeria seeing firsthand the enticing possibilities of a strong, united nation.
“More importantly, I fought for the unity of Nigeria during the civil war – 1967 to 1970 and I saw firsthand the unspeakable horrors of war, not just from fellow soldiers from both sides but from the civilians, innocent children, women and the elderly left behind.
“As we all know the peace-keeping recovery and reconstruction that followed could also not have succeeded under an atmosphere of inter-ethnic animosity. We must count our blessings in Nigeria and see in them the crucial factors of peace and unity.”