President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday told Niger Delta Militants to give Nigeria a chance, reiterating in clear terms that the unity of Nigeria was non-negotiable.
He also told those who had looted the country’s treasury to return the stolen money in their possession if they wanted to have peace.
President Buhari made these comments when the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, led some residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to pay him Sallah homage at the presidential villa, Abuja.
He lamented that while the anti-terrorism war was being won in the North East, another militancy resurfaced in the Niger Delta.
President Buhari also recalled the slogan made popular by a former military head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd.), that keeping Nigeria one was a task that must be accomplished.
He said: “We have to concentrate on the militants to try to know how many of them in terms of groupings; try to get in touch with their leadership to try to persuade them to please give Nigeria a chance.
“I assure them that when we were very junior officers, we were told by our leaders, by the head of state, Gen. Gowon, that to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done.
“We never thought of oil. What we were after was one Nigeria. Please pass the message to the militants – that one Nigeria is not negotiable. And I pray they better accept it. The constitution is very clear…I assure them there would be justice.
“And please persuade those who have plenty of money that does not belong to them to try to negotiate and return it in peace so that both they and we will be in peace; otherwise, we will continue to request.”
President Buhari also lamented the incessant power outages in the country, saying that despite the change in the name of the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), the power situation in the country had remained unreliable.
“Those who watch television are at the mercy of what used to be called NEPA. Whichever form it (NEPA) has taken now, it has maintained the tradition of unreliability. It is not every day that the people get the news.”
On food sufficiency, the president gave the assurance that both the minister of agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, were working hard to address the food production problem.
On his part, Vice President Osinbajo admitted that it had been a tough journey for the Buhari administration because it inherited a country in a huge financial mess from the past administration.
He, however, expressed hope that Nigerians would smile soon, adding that the administration would place the country ‘on a strong footing.”
Muslims mark bomb-free Sallah
Muslims across Nigeria, yesterday, marked a Sallah devoid of any bomb blast for the first time in six years since the menace of Boko Haram insurgency took root.
Also, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has advised Nigerians to embrace farming in order to produce adequate food for local consumption and for export.
The sultan gave this advice in Sokoto while delivering his Eid-el-Fitr message to the Muslim Ummah to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
He said: “Nigerians are really facing difficult times, occasioned by the global financial crunch, due to the falling price of oil. But happily, God, in His infinite mercy, has endowed Nigeria with vast fertile land, with each region having its own peculiar comparative advantage.
“We should, therefore, collectively go back to the farms, and engage in both rain-fed and dry season farming. With this, we can produce adequate food to be locally self-sufficient and even export the surplus.’’
Abubakar, who said Nigeria had no business importing food, appealed to Nigerians to be patient and to continue to pray fervently for the country’s unity and progress.
The Sultan also appealed to Muslims to sustain the virtues of Ramadan, namely, patience, piety and assisting the needy.
He condemned the recent blast in the Holy Mosque of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in Medina, Saudi Arabia.
The Sultan praised the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, for spending more than N250 million on Ramadan feeding programme, and for his efforts at revamping the state’s education sector.
Abubakar called on parents to enrol their children in school to enable them acquire both Western and religious education.
“Education is the only key to success and no nation can fully develop without according it the priority attention it deserves,’’ he said.
In Zaria, Kaduna State, the emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris, described religious tolerance as a critical element for national integration.
Idris, who is also the chairman, Kaduna State Council of Emirs and Chiefs, said this after the Eid-el-Fitr prayers held at his palace in Zaria.
He said, “no nation has ever witnessed development in an atmosphere of rancour, acrimony, disunity, and war. We, therefore, call on our subjects, in particular, and Nigerians in general, to shun all forms of rumour peddling as it will certainly breach the prevailing peace.’’
In Uyo, the chief imam of the Uyo Central Mosque, Alhaji Mohammed Adamu, urged the federal government to come up with policies and programmes that would help revive the nation’s economy to reduce the suffering of the people.
Adamu gave the advice while speaking with newsmen after the Eid-el-Fitr prayers to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
He applauded federal government’s policies and programmes and expressed the hope that they would improve the living condition of citizens.
In Gombe State, the chief imam of the Gombe Central Mosque, Alhaji Alkali Pindiga, called on the Muslim faithful to continue to pray for the peace and stability of the state and the country in general.
Pindiga, who was speaking in his Sallah sermon in Gombe, said there could not be any meaningful development in the country without peace and stability.
Meanwhile, in Enugu State, the Imam of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Lt. Col. Abubakar Tahir, called on Muslims to use their wealth to improve the lives of the under-privileged.
He gave the advice after the Eid prayers held at the division’s praying ground to mark the end of Ramadan.
Tahir also called on Muslims to always give alms to the needy and to be honest in all they do in life.