President Muhammadu Buhari says he is disappointed in some community leaders who failed to caution “hot-headed” youth calling for the dismemberment of the country.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has been seeking a sovereign state, citing marginalisation of Igbo people as its reason.
In his Independence Day broadcast, Buhari said his government will not and cannot allow such advocacy.
Recalling his days in the army, Buhari said most of those calling for the division were not born during the tragic civil war, which led to the loss of two million lives.
“As a young army officer, I took part from the beginning to the end in our tragic civil war costing about 2m lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering. Those who are agitating for a re-run were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict which we went through,” he said.
“I am very disappointed that responsible leaders of these communities do not warn their hot-headed youths what the country went through. Those who were there should tell those who were not there, the consequences of such folly.
“At all events, proper dialogue and any desired constitutional changes should take place in a rational manner, at the national and state assemblies. These are the proper and legal fora for National Debate, not some lop-sided, un-democratic body with pre-determined set of objectives.
On the challenges facing the country, the president said the country’s savings were squandered when the price of crude oil was $100 per barrel.
Crude oil price was at its highest during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan.
When the country entered a recession in August 2016, the Buhari administration blamed the Jonathan administration for it, saying the past government emptied the treasury despite huge oil revenues.
He said because of that the country was left with social and physical infrastructure deficit.
“However, in spite of oil prices being an average of $100 per barrel and about 2.1m barrels a day, that great piece of luck was squandered and the country’s social and physical infrastructure neglected. We were left with no savings and huge infrastructure deficit,” he said.
“The APC government’s campaign rallying cry to restore security, re-balance the economy and fight corruption was not all rhetoric.
“The country must first be secured. The economy must be re-balanced so that we do not depend on oil alone. We must fight corruption which is Nigeria’s number One enemy. Our administration is tackling these tasks in earnest.”
The president also said the country had made appreciable gains in political freedom.
He added that Nigerians had been free to hold and disseminate opinions, but that the “freedom” is now subject to abuse.
“In the past two years, Nigeria has recorded appreciable gains in political freedom. A political party at the centre losing elections of state governor, national assembly seat and even state assemblies to the opposition parties is new to Nigeria. Added to these are complete freedom to associate, to hold and disseminate opinions. Such developments clearly attest to the country’s growing political development. But like all freedoms, this is open to abuse,” he said.