By ANDREW ESSIEN ABUJA
The presidency has fingered those calling for the secession of the country as those responsible for the nation’s problems.
It also ruled out the calls for another National Conference to discuss the much talked about unity of Nigeria, insisting that President Muhammadu Buhari cannot be intimidated and bullied over their selfish interest.
The government also ruled out monetary reward as a form of settlement to secession agitators.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, made this submission on Tuesday at the national secretariat of APC during a media interface organised by the APC Professional Group.
“The presidency has been talking. And our position is clearl that this country is one, is united, by the grace of God will continue to be united.
“Look, one thing with this President is that you can’t intimidate Buhari. You can’t bully him. A lot of these people who are calling for secessions are the problem of this country and I’m happy that reasonable voices are now rising. Is it not only yesterday we are reading Afenifere, the most credible faction of Afenifere saying we’re not for secession. The Ohanaze Ndigbo said this over and over again.
“So this thing about secession is, they had used it in the past. You create secession and break up Nigeria and then you intimidate the sitting leader and then he opens the booth and he brings money to settle people.
“President Buhari will pay no one. He is not going to pay and now it is clear that having ignored all of that, reasonable opinions are coming from those states and from those regions. The Governors in the South-west, we have all heard them, they have denounced all of these things.
“So it’s a sham, Nigerians want to be one, they want to continue. Yes, there are problems and we are hoping that as people united and loving of one another, we will come together and solve our problems.”
When asked whether President Buhari will convene another National Conference to discuss the unity of Nigeria, the President’s spokesman urged those calling for it to understand the functions of the parliaments in a democratic system of government.
“What National Conference do more than a parliament? Anyone who is a democrat in heart, in practice in their beliefs they should believe in the tripartite structure of government. Governments that are democratic, there must be a parliament, the Executive arm of the government and the Judiciary, each one being independent and cooperating with each other.
“We have an elected parliament, which mandate is to be the custodian of the sovereignty of the Nigerian people.
“Look, a lot of these people were crying for this secession, they are unelectable. If you think you are electable go and contest for a parliamentary seat whether House of Representatives or Senate and come and table an amendment for the constitution.
“The process is ongoing as we speak now under the Deputy Senate President. They are calling for Memoranda, why can’t you present what you want? So the issue is that people who are not democrats want a parallel parliament to be set up and this Constitution does not recognize two parliaments in this country.
“We have one parliament that is sovereign, that is the custodian of the sovereignty of the Nigerian people. If your member representing you has failed to present this request that you want whether it is change of structure at state, local government or national level pull him out four years after, don’t vote for him. Put another representative who will do what you want. This is how democracy works, periodic elections,” Shehu said
While reeling out the achievements of Buhari-led administration, Shehu said the president has done well especially in infrastructure and poverty alleviation and others.
“In 2016, President Buhari launched the National Social Investment Programme, currently the largest such programme in Africa and one of the largest in the world. Currently, the National Social Register of poor and vulnerable Nigerians (NSR) has 32.6 million persons from more than 7 million poor and vulnerable households, identified across 708 local government areas, 8,723 wards and 86,610 communities across the 36 States of the country and the FCT.
“From this number, 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households (comprising more than 8 million individuals, in 45,744 communities from 5,483 Wards of 557 LGAs in 35 states and the FCT are currently benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, which pays a bimonthly stipend of N10,000 per household.
“In January 2019, President Buhari launched Nigeria’s Micro-Pension Scheme – which allows self-employed persons and persons working in organisations with less than 3 employees to save for the provision of pension at retirement or incapacitation.
“Establishment of Survival Fund, National Youth Investment Fund, and National Special Public Works Program, and the Covid-19 Targeted Credit Facility (TCF), to support millions of small businesses, households and young people, with federal grants, loans and stipends.”
Speaking earlier, National Secretary of APC Caretaker Committee, Sen James Akpanudoedehe, accused opposition parties of playing politics with the achievements of the current administration.
“They want to downgrade the government. There have not been a government like this in the history of the nation. And I am not playing politics. Show me any government that has done much than President Buhari that has direct link with the masses?”
On the fuel increase, he said: “Another thing we have achieved which is recently is the issue in the pump price of petroleum. The party said no to it even though they have discussed it. It does not matter the circumstances. The party say the time is not ripe. That is the position of the party. And they listen. We have table the matter.
“One of the thing they are doing for you now, is that we should attach you to all political appointees who are working for the party. Who keep defending the President from lies of the detractors and those who are against him. They want to downgrade the government.