Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has revealed that high-profile sponsors, including a member of the national assembly, are behind the secessionist activities of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho.
The president said this on Friday during a nationwide address to mark Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary.
Buhari said those sponsoring violence and making hate speeches to instigate disorder would be arrested and prosecuted.
Besides insecurity, the President spoke on the economy, food security poverty eradication and education.
Nigeria marks 61 years today as an independent nation.
Restating that Nigeria’s “unity is not negotiable, he announced that while efforts were ongoing to prevent further misuse of social media, the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria had been lifted. It is however subjected to some conditions.
He also said, “Nigeria Roadmap on Local Refinery” was on track with the inauguration of a modular refinery in Imo State.
The President added that a second modular refinery will come on board in December in Edo State and a third in Bayelsa State in 2022.
He said further that the revelations were made possible by the arrest of two separatist figures; the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Kanu, and the arrowhead of the Yoruba Nation Agitation Movement, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho.
The President, who said the federal government believes that every grievance by any section of the country could be resolved through dialogue, however, warned that any person or group found in the act of inciting violence would be arrested and prosecuted.
According to him, those who had caused serious chaos and violence did so through words, using lies, targeted hate speeches to propel violence, which had led to the death of many citizens and destruction of property. He called on all Nigerians to reject the lure by those he described as ‘evil people’ from plunging the country into further crisis.
Citing section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the President said the security and welfare of Nigerians remained the prime focus of his administration.
“Our resolve for a peaceful, united and one Nigeria remains resolute and unwavering.
“That said, our hope is not to fight for peace. We can always settle our grievances peacefully without spilling any blood.
“I will therefore take this opportunity, on this special day that symbolises the unity and oneness of our great nation, to ask all Nigerians to embrace peace and dialogue, whatever your grievances.
“Nigeria is for all of us. Its unity is not negotiable. And its ultimate success can only be achieved if we all come together with a common goal of having peace and prosperity for our nation.
“We shall continue to work on dialogue-based solutions to address legitimate grievances. But we remain ready to take decisive actions against secessionist agitators and their sponsors who threaten our national security.
“The recent arrests of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, and the ongoing investigations being conducted have revealed certain high-profile financiers behind these individuals. We are vigorously pursuing these financiers, including one identified as a serving member of the national assembly.
“Fellow Nigerians, this is a clear example of how people abandon their national leadership positions for their selfish gains. Instead of preaching unity, they are funding and misleading our youth to conduct criminal acts that sometimes lead to unfortunate and unnecessary loss of lives and property.
“As the so-called leaders run abroad to hide, our innocent youths are misled and left in the streets to fight for their senseless and destructive causes.
“Government will continue, with a greater level of peoples’ participation and in collaboration with our international partners, to improve the security architecture, reduce enabling environment for criminality to thrive and eliminate opportunities for terrorism financing”, he said.
Speaking generally on security, President Buhari noted that progress had been made in the fight against terrorism and banditry, which had been the major features in the northern part of the country.
According to him, to support and sustain the ongoing campaign to keep the country safe and peaceful, the armed forces had recruited over 17,000 personnel, while the police had been granted leave to recruit 10,000 personnel yearly for the next six years.
More than 8,000 terrorists had surrendered as evidence of the various efforts, Buhari said.
“As our economy continues to open after the COVID-19 related lockdowns, we have also seen the resurgence of insecurity in certain parts of the country.
“In the last four months, the gallant men and women of the military and security agencies have made tremendous progress in addressing these new security challenges. We are taking the fight to our enemies from all angles and we are winning.”
He said the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, the Deep Blue Project, was launched to secure Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea.
On measures being taken to secure the country, Buhari said: “I am also pleased to note that most of the Air Force platforms we acquired over the past three years have started to arrive in Nigeria. These will positively impact our security operations in all parts of the country.
“In line with section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the security and welfare of Nigerians continue to be the prime focus on which programmes and projects of our government revolve”.
President Buhari, who identified social media as a useful platform, said it had been misused to coordinate criminal activities.
He said that he has directed the lifting of the suspension of the activities of Twitter in Nigeria as long as the microblogging site fulfilled some conditions.
He said: “As we embrace the digital economy in Nigeria, we are fully aware of the prospects and the perils. Our policies have been developed to enable Nigerians to take advantage of the prospects and avoid the perils of digital technologies.”
“Rather some users have misused the platform to organise, coordinate, and execute criminal activities, propagate fake news, and promote ethnic and religious sentiments.
“To address these negative trends, the Federal Government of Nigeria suspended the operations of Twitter in Nigeria on June 5, 2021, to allow the Government to put measures in place to address these challenges.
“Following the suspension of Twitter operations, Twitter Inc. reached out to the Federal Government of Nigeria to resolve the impasse. Subsequently, I constituted a Presidential Committee to engage Twitter to explore the possibility of resolving the issue.
The President lamented the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country, saying that the last 18 months had been the most difficult in the history of the country.
“Nigerians came together as one to fight against COVID-19. It is this attitude and by the special grace of God, we continue to survive the pandemic as a nation and indeed, provide leadership and example at regional and international levels.
“The doomsday scenario predicted for our country never came. Even as the Delta variant continues to spread, we have built the capacity we need to respond now and into the future”, he said.
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He cautioned Nigerians against taking the pandemic lightly, admonishing that they adhere to public health and social measures, put on the mask and get vaccinated.
“We can control this pandemic, but it requires effort on everybody’s part. The investments we made in response to COVID-19 will also serve our country to tackle any future disease outbreaks or pandemics.”
The President rejected the lack of easy access to COVID-19 vaccines, saying: “I will take this opportunity to remind the global community that the current state of access to COVID-19 vaccines is unacceptable. We cannot afford a situation where a handful of countries keep the global vaccine supply to themselves at the expense of other nations.
“We must act now to accelerate the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. This is the message I conveyed to the international community in New York last week.
“As we push to source vaccines for our immediate needs, we shall invest more to support our pharmaceutical and research agencies to come up with ideas for locally developed vaccines. Should another pandemic arise in the future, our question is simple; will Nigeria be ready?”
He said the Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Health, Education and Science and Technology have been directed to work with local and international pharmaceutical companies and research organisations to enhance Nigeria’s domestic pharmaceutical capacity.
“Already, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority is raising a $200 million fund for this initiative that will complement the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ongoing N85 billion Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme to support local researchers in the development of vaccines and drugs to combat communicable and non-communicable diseases, including COVID-19,” he stated.
Speaking on the ongoing reforms in the oil and gas sector, Buhari acknowledged the achievement made in passing the almost two decades old Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), adding that the new law would help in removing the dark corners in running the nation’s oil sector.