Buhari who broke his silence on the agitation triggered by the recent arrest and detention of the Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kalu, declared that he was not in office to preside over the balkanisation of the country.
He had the backing of a leading traditional ruler in the Southeast and Obi of Onitsha, Nnaemeka Alfred Ugochukwu Achebe who asked the protesters to shelve the idea of secession from the rest of Nigeria.
“The corporate existence of Nigeria as a single entity is not a subject of debate and will not be compromised,” Buhari affirmed in a message to the investiture of Achebe as the 7th Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
The message was delivered by the Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Onwuka, who himself is from the Southeast.
He said:”the country is currently facing challenges of insurgency and other forms of insecurity that has become a threat to Nigerians to live their country and be educated in their country.
“The security situation in the country entails that every Nigerian must discharge his responsibility in bringing about peaceful coexistence.
“The menace of insurgency and actions of some people agitating for dismemberment of this country will be surmounted.
“I therefore sound a note of serious warning that the corporate existence of Nigeria as a single entity is not a subject of debate and will not be compromised.”
On the state of education in the country, Buhari pledged to “put our education system back on sound track.”
Universities, according to him, “should on their own part key into the wave of change across the country. As pacesetters, the universities must avoid any corrupt practices.”
Although Obi was cautious in his prepared speech on the unrest in the Southeast and other parts of the country, he later said in an interview with reporters that pro-Biafra agitators should have a rethink.
He said the agitation violates Nigeria’s constitution of the country and the principles of democracy.
The traditional ruler drew their attention to the inherent dangers involved in their action, emphasising that Nigeria remains a united and indivisible country irrespective of the numerous challenges.
He urged them to channel all their grievances through their elected representatives in the National Assembly for consideration, rather than embarking on violent protests that could result in breakdown of law and order in the region.
He said the renewed agitation for a Biafran state would not solve the various economic and social problems confronting the Southeast zone or add any value to the development and progress of the entire country.
The geo-political zone, he said, remains an integral part of Nigeria and the leaders from the area so much believe in the unity of the country and would always work towards sustaining such bond.
In his prepared speech, he said:”we may have lost our bearing as a nation with the discovery of petroleum in the 50s. A false sense of national wealth has turned us into a nation of frolickers and hustlers, who are fighting one another for a greater share of the proverbial national cake, and spending it extravagantly, rather than leveraging the God given windfall to build a stable, diversified, and more prosperous nation.
“As the volume of production and market value of petroleum have fallen, that is, as the national cake has shrunk in size, the competition and struggle for a stake in that cake has become more intense.
“Thus, today, there is tension everywhere – Niger Delta, Boko Haram, MASSOB, industrial strikes, armed robbery, kidnapping, ethnic rivalries, tension between and within the political parties, etc. The sum total is that, our national mindset, particularly amongst the upper and middle classes, which includes most of us in this audience, has been focused on the consumption, rather than the creation, of our national wealth.”
He added: “we spend unbelievable amounts importing petrol and subsidizing its retail price whilst our three refineries with adequate capacity to meet our national requirement are literarily moribund, despite huge sums spent on endless turn around maintenances; smaller and less endowed countries successfully operate their own refineries optimally and do not suffer scarcity.
“Nigeria is probably the largest importer of electric generators in the world despite our endowment with natural sources of energy, such as petroleum, coal, hydro and solar energies, and the huge sums spent by successive governments on the power sector. On the other hand, a smaller country, Ghana, takes gas from Nigeria and generates most of its electricity requirements.
“Our food import bill, spent mostly on rice and wheat, is about $22 billion annually, yet our country is blessed with vast arable land and a large population of young jobless people that can be usefully deployed to agriculture.
“Road construction in Nigeria is more expensive than most parts of the world, yet our roads are breaking down faster than we build them because the traditional mode for heavy haulage, namely, railways, pipelines and waterways, are comatose; a trailer load of petrol from Mosimi to Maiduguri causes more damage to our roads than the value of the product being transported.
“A majority of our state governments have recently taken the so-called “bailout loans” for recurrent expenditure, meaning that future generations are being inflicted with the burden of the profligacy of the current generation.”NATION