Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari says citizens are better together and even stronger together despite occasional inter-ethnic tensions in the country’s national history.
The Nigerian leader stated this at the 12th Bola Tinubu Colloquium, with his comments coming amidst calls for secession from several groups across the country.
A statement by Mr Buhari’s media aide, Femi Adesina stated that the president participated virtually in the event to mark the 69th birthday of the former two-term Governor of Lagos State, and commended the celebrant for always being an advocate of unity and cohesion in Nigeria.
“Today’s event promises an even more relevant and impactful discussion than ever before. The theme for this 12th edition, “Our Common Bond, Our Common Wealth: The Imperative of National Cohesion for Growth and Prosperity,” speaks to a very contemporary but potentially ruinous trend, which, in my view, we must all join hands to check at once,” the statement read.
“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 of ethnicity, culture, language and religion, Nigerians are better together; even stronger together,” President Buhari said on Monday at the Colloquium that held in northwestern Kano state.”
The President said his experience of working in all parts of the country showed possibilities of a strong, united nation.
“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. I have seen over and over again that their goodness or failings did not depend on ethnicity or religion.
“In the course of my career, I have also been opportune 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 of 1967 to 1970, and I saw first-hand the unspeakable horrors of war, not just on fellow soldiers on both sides, but on the civilians: innocent children, women and elderly citizens that they left behind. As we all know, the peace-building, 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,’’ the President added.
President Buhari also said: “I think the lessons of this Colloquium are clear. Our very best course of conduct, whether as leaders and citizens, is to now ensure that justice and harmony reign in Nigeria; to devote the resources of our country solely to its development and for the benefit of all our citizens; and in the process, to ensure that every Nigerian feels comfortable in every part of Nigeria.
“We all have a stake in the Nigeria project and, while playing our respective parts in its unity, peace and progress, we must constantly keep faith with the promise of a greater Nigeria.”
President Buhari noted that the objectives of the colloquium, which seeks to provide answers to national issues, further reflect the personal principles of Bola Tinubu in promoting the unity and welfare of the country.
“I think this Colloquium is a fitting reflection of the service that Asiwaju has given, not only to Lagos State but to Nigeria and Africa; as well as his continuing commitment and influence, as one of the great pillars of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Equally I salute all those who have kept this Colloquium culture alive and thriving, making it a rich source of wisdom in our common quest for a better world and, of course, a greater Nigeria.”
By Abel Ejikeme