Publish Date : 30.03.21 || category : politics
At Tinubu’s colloquium: Why we must avoid war — Buhari
ABUJA — President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday that Nigerians are better and stronger together in the entity called Nigeria, noting he defended the unity of the country as a soldier during the civil war between 1967 and 1970. The President spoke virtually from Aso Villa as chairman of the 12th Bola Tinubu Colloquium, “Our Common Wealth: The Imperative of National Cohesion for Growth and Prosperity’’, to celebrate the 69th birthday of All Progressives Congress chieftain, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in Kano. He spoke against the backdrop of calls by groups and individuals for secession in different parts of the country. While the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, and other individuals and groups are calling for creation of Oduduwa or O’Odua Republic, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, as well as Niger Delta ex-,militant leader, Asari Dokubo, are agitating for a Biafran Republic. Buhari’s declaration also came on a day Iba Gani Adams said the clamour for Oodua Republic is long overdue, adding that the call for self-determination is a true reflection of the present mindset of all Yoruba sons and daughters in the diaspora. Similarly, a coalition of over 174 Yoruba groups in Diaspora, Yoruba One Voice, YOV, restated its avowed commitment to the actualisation of O’odua Republic, saying the call for self-determination remains the last option for the Yoruba nation. But the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, vowed yesterday that under his watch, the Nigerian Army will be resolute in dealing decisively with any and every threat confronting the country. Nigerians better, stronger together — Buhari Speaking at the colloquium also virtually attended by the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo; House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila; Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; among others, whose flights to Kano were disrupted by poor weather, President 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, 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 he 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. “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 first-hand 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 first-hand the unspeakable horrors of war, not just from fellow soldiers from both sides but from 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.” If Nigeria breaks up, visa will be needed to move around – Osinbajo ***Calls for new tribe of committed Nigerians Also speaking on the issue, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo told the advocates of the break up of Nigeria that if it happens, people will require visa to move around. He said: “By this gesture governor Ganduje has helped us to tell two stories; this is the first time that the colloquium is being hosted outside Lagos and Abuja, the capital city. “And it is befitting that Kano should be that place, this city of radical and progressive ideas and ideologies, a city whose leading political lights have been left of centre, which is the dominant tendency within our great party the APC. “Second, it helps us to underscore the point that this country and its people are stronger and more powerful together than apart. For the purveyors of breaking up into small components/countries, perhaps they should be reminded that we would not have been able to accept Governor Ganduje’s offer to come to Kano at short notice since we would all have needed visas to come to Kano.” The Vice President called for a new set of Nigerians across all divides who are committed to a country operated on high values integrity, justice, love, among others. He said: “We believe that we now have an opportunity to increase the numbers of a new tribe of Nigerians; a tribe of men and women of all faiths, tribes and ethnicities committed to a country run on high values of integrity, hard work, justice, and love of country. “A tribe of men and women who are prepared to make the sacrifices and self-constraints that are crucial to building a strong society; who are prepared to stick together, fight for equity, and justice side by side. “A tribe consisting of professionals, businessmen, politicians, religious leaders, and all others who believe that this new Nigeria is possible and already we have built and are building the building blocks for this new Nigeria.” Prof. Osinbajo extolled the leadership style of the former Lagos state governor, saying that central to that style is; first a belief that development, economic, social, political development depends on enabling a contest of ideas. He opined that, “Whether that is within a political party or its caucuses, a cabinet meeting or even just thinking through a problem. “By exposing his thoughts and ideas constantly to debate and contestation, he refines his views constantly and is at the cutting edge of issues as varied as artificial intelligence, vaccines, to even what sort of legal processes or arguments should be filed in a matter in court! “I remember once when he was suggesting to me that he thought it was better that we should contest jurisdiction in a particular case and so many other times when he had introduced his own legal thoughts to a matter. I have had to keep reminding him that he is not a lawyer! And I am sure others have had to remind him several times that he is not many different things. “Second, and perhaps more importantly, because he is not afraid of having his ideas scrutinized, criticized by even subordinates, he is able to lead a vast array of persons of strong, deeply held convictions, and a variety of ideologies. “The third in that leadership style is that he is completely comfortable engaging across ethnic, religious, and partisan divides. “It is his belief that national development is only possible where we, the leaders are constantly interrogating ideas, perspectives, and opinions which are what led some of us who worked with him through the years, to formalize our constant debates so that on his birthday we open up discussions on some issues or issues of national importance.” He observed the latest Tinubu Colloquium came at a time when a combination of challenges worsened by the fallouts of a global pandemic has created a storm of socio-economic problems. “The default mode of some at times like this is to stoke tendencies viewpoints and opinions that threaten the federation and our unity,” he lamented. Oodua Republic long overdue — Adams However, as the President was delivering this speech, the Aare-Ona-Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, was saying the clamour for Oodua Republic was long overdue. Also, a coalition of over 174 Yoruba groups in Diaspora, Yoruba One Voice, YOV, said the call for self-determination remained the last option for the Yoruba nation, insisting that long years of misrule, nepotism and failure to embrace true federalism and also tackle the protracted spate of insecurity across the country had been the bane of Nigeria. The group added that the southwest would no longer play second fiddle in the entity called Nigeria. Iba Adams and YOV made their declarations during an international webinar conference where over 1,000 participants from all over the world expressed their readiness to seek justice and liberty for the South-West. Those present at the conference, with the theme: ‘Dealing With Critical Fault-Lines of a Failed Federation: Is it to Unbundle or Restructure the Leviathan?’ were the guest speaker, Prof. Akin Alao; Aare-Ona-Kakanfo of Yorubaland, who is also the Grand patron of YOV, Iba Gani Adams; General Secretary, Dr. Sina Okanlomo; Prof.Olufemi Oluyeju, Prof.Kolawole Raheem, Prof. Kehinde Yusuf, Prof.Seun Kolade, Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo, Basorun Akin Osuntokun, Prince Adedapo Adesanmi, Olori Oluwakemi Adedipe, Mrs.Omoladun Orolugbagbe, Tokunbo Soyinka, Bamidele Seteolu, and others. In his remarks, Iba Adams said the voice of the people was the voice of God, adding that the attendance of participants at the conference was encouraging He said: “YOV is a coalition of all Yoruba groups and socio-cultural organisations in the diaspora that came together to rescue the Yoruba race from a rudderless nation called Nigeria. We decided to raise our voices against the unjust system that had for a very long time become the nemesis of our race. “A race of about 200 million people spreading across the world cannot continue to play second fiddle in a country called ours. We cannot continue to live in self-denial and complete hopelessness.” He restated his beliefs in the ability of the Yoruba nation to recreate a better nation, stressing that the destiny of the Yoruba people had always been in their own hands. Earlier in his welcome address, Dr. Shina Okanlomo gave reasons for the parley, saying Nigerians of Yoruba descent in the diaspora are worried about the growing trends of insecurity in the country. The YOV scribe said the group was determined to recreate a nation that allowed justice, fairness, equity and transparency. Okanlomo, while admitting that the Yoruba race remains the most progressive and forward-looking, lamented that the South-West was always at the receiving end, despite the obvious fact. “In the past, the progressives ideas and philosophies of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo as premier of the Western Region became the focus and templates for regional growth and development, especially, for other regions. “The glory of those years was noticeable in education, economy, infrastructure and other sectors, but today, the South-West has been zoomed out, through systemic political intrigues that tend to destroy our values for a just society,” he said. He added that the group will map out workable and intellectual solutions that will take into account all areas that had since affected the development of Yoruba nation. Also speaking, Prof. Femi Obayori noted that different nationalities that were forced together had always been the bane of regional rivalries, political instability, and social crisis, noting that the Yoruba have the right to determine whether to be part of Nigeria or not. In his lecture, Prof. Alao described Nigeria as a fractured federation, arguing that the British imperialists did more damage to the unity and sanctity of Nigeria than any other country in the world, even as he noted that failures of leadership remained the reason for continued agitations for a new Yoruba nation. He said: “Nigeria is at a crossroads. The concept of our amalgamation was rooted in fraud, selfishness and distrust. And sadly too, the process of achieving independence and choosing our leaders have been so deficient. “There has always been a deliberate attempt by the North to frustrate the economic activities of the South-West. “For instance, when insecurity persists, there will be famine when farmers could no longer go to their farms, educational system will be paralysed when students could no longer go to schools, so how do we secure the future when there is no food and education?” Alao said the prolonged spate of unrest and insecurity, including killings, kidnappings and banditry, became more pronounced when a particular section of the country determines the fate and destiny of other regions. Army’ll deal with threats confronting Nigeria — Attahiru Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, has that under his watch, the Nigerian Army would be ruthless with any and every threat confronting the country. Attahiru, who made the vow at the opening ceremony of the combined COAS First Quarter Conference and Nigerian Army Operations Retreat 2021 at Command Officers Mess, Asokoro, Abuja, directed Field Commanders, General Officers Commanding, Corps Commanders and other formation commanders to give serious attention towards improving the tempo in all army operations across the country. Disclosing that the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDS, had been a major impediment to troops and operations in the North-East theatre of operation, the COAS said concerted effort was also being made to eliminate the threat. “In line with the President’s directive and my intent to rebuild the Nigerian Army into a formidable force, I conceived the vision of having ‘A Nigerian Army that is re-positioned to professionally defeat all adversaries in joint environment. “To breathe life into this vision, I released my philosophy of command which has readiness, capacity, continuous leadership development and duty to country as cardinal pillars. “Readiness entails mission-oriented training, functional manning and equipping, while capacity will be built on the dependability of the Nigerian Army to accomplish any mission in line with norms enshrined in our core values and ethics. “Continuous leadership development on its own ‘will ensure that the Nigerian Army continues to roll out innovative 21st century commanders and, of course, duty to count entails loyalty and sacrifice to our fatherland. “As formation commanders and principal staff officers, your role is critical to the attainment of my vision. Therefore, I implore all of you to immediately key into the vision so that together, we can take the Nigerian Army to greater heights. “I am particularly pleased with the initiative to hold the Nigerian Army Operations Retreat as part of the First Quarter Conference after so many years. You will agree with me that the retreat provides a platform to reassess the threat environment and review our operations, with a view to identifying gaps that could be addressed in the planning and conduct of future operations. Combat enablers coming — COAS “As I speak, we will soon be receiving combat enablers that would enhance and boost our operations. Concerted effort is also being made to eliminate the threat of improvised explosive devices which has been a major impediment to troops and our operations in Operation Lafiya Dole. “I want to assure you that I am determined in rebuilding the fighting skills, capacity, confidence and morale of our troops across the various theaters of operations. “In order to achieve this, my top priorities for the second and third quarters of the year would’ be training. I will ensure that through functional training, officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army are equipped with the right competences and skills to effectively undertake the missions in addition to develop special operations forces. “This would be closely followed by procurement that ensures appropriate kitting and provision of protective gear, weapons, equipment and platforms. “Administration is a key principle of war; hence troops’ welfare will also be given paramount attention. Let me, however, remind you all that no effort will be spared in achieving these goals, it is command responsibility to ensure the sustenance and maintenance of all equipment, while measures must be emplaced to ensure sound administration of troops and their families. “At this juncture, let me appreciate all the officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army for their unrelenting sacrifice and efforts in ensuring that the Nigerian Army fulfills its constitutional responsibilities. “However, as the saying goes, the only easy day was yesterday. As such, I will continue to demand that you redouble your efforts, so we can decisively deal with our adversaries or any group or person that threatens the peace and stability of our great nation.’’ Military deploying new tactics to end violent extremism – Defence Minister Minister of Defence, Maj Gen Bashir Salihi Magashi, retd, said yesterday the military has keyed into the dynamic global approach in combating violent extremism in the various theatres of operations in the country. Gen Magashi stated this when the British Minister for Armed Forces paid him a courtesy call at the Ministry of Defence Headquarters, Ship House, Abuja. He said: “Government appreciates the support of the British government in building capacity and capabilities of the nation’s Armed Forces to be combat-ready in dealing with threats by violent extremists.” While tracing the historical linkage between UK and Nigeria, the minister said the military bilateral cooperation between the two countries should be taken to higher pedestal, especially now that the nation moves toward ending terrorism, banditry and kidnapping. The Minister outlined specific and special areas of interventions by the UK that will impact meaningfully on the nation’s aggressive and decisive march to final victory over the adversaries threatening national sovereignty and integrity. In his address, the British Minister for Armed Forces, James Heappe, lauded the Federal Government’s efforts in maintaining the sanctity and integrity of the country. He pledged continued support of the UK government in the areas of training, intelligence sharing as well as technical and tactical inputs to end all forms of threats on land and at sea in the Gulf of Guinea to decisively deal with piracy. Both ministers reviewed the existing bilateral agreements between the two countries, with a view to working out a new framework of action to fast track actualisation of national aspirations to end the insecurity bedeveling the country.. The British Minister for Armed Forces was accompanied on the courtesy call by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, and the Defence Adviser, British High Commission, Abuja, Paul Warwick.