President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday asked those who have stolen the nation’s commonwealth to come and negotiate how they will return their loot.
He said the move has become necessary so that all may know peace.
The President has also told militants engaging in renewed violence in the Niger Delta in clear terms that the unity of the country remains non-negotiable. President Buhari spoke when Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammed Bello, led residents of the FCT to pay him Sallah homage at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The President said looters would not know peace if they refused to return stolen funds because his government would continue to be on their trail.
“Please tell those with plenty of money which does not belong to them to try and negotiate and return it in peace so that both they and us will be in peace, otherwise we will continue to look for it,” the President said.
On security, the President expressed delight that his government had made a lot of progress in fighting terrorism in the North East. He regretted that while the anti-terrorism war is being won, the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta resurfaced.
Buhari said the Federal Government had commenced the process of identifying the number of groups involved in militancy in the region with a view to getting their leaders and appealing to them to give Nigeria a chance.
He said he was in agreement with the slogan made popular by a former military Head owon (retd.), that to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be accomplished.
He made it clear to the militants blowing up pipelines and infrastructure in the region that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable.
The President said, “Please pass the message to the militants that one Nigeria is not negotiable. They better accept this fact. “The Nigerian constitution is clear as to what they should get and I assure them that there will be justice.”
Buhari also admitted that despite the change in name and form of the National Electric Power Authority, the power situation in the country has remained unreliable. He said that was why the radio has become a major source of information dissemination as those who do not have electricity at home can easily walk into a barber’s shops or drinking joints and listen to the radio before continuing their journey.
“Those who watch television are at the mercy of what is used to be called NEPA. Whichever form it (NEPA) has taken now, it has maintained the tradition of unreliability. It is not everyday that the people get the news,” the President said.
Buhari also admitted that there were a lot of problems bedeviling the nation, especially on food production. He disclosed that the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh; and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, are working hard to address food production problem.
He said the CBN was borrowing the minister money outside the budget so that he can assist states especially the 13 states that can produce rice. The President expressed the belief that once the nation can feed itself, more money can be spent on infrastructure and social services. Earlier, Osinbajo said that it has been a tough journey for the present administration because of the clean-up exercise it embarked on since inception.
He said the Buhari administration inherited what he called “huge financial mess” from the past administration. He however expressed joy that things have started looking up, adding that things would soon be better for the nation and Nigerians.
“We will place the country on a strong footing,” Osinbajo assured Nigerians.
Osinbajo prayed for Buhari that as he grows older in age, he would be stronger in strength, adding that the President will have enough strength to be victorious no matter the challenges facing him and the country. Highlights of the Sallah homage included when the Minister of FCT presented a giant season’s card to the President while representatives of the Aso Villa Chapel presented him with a big mirror and a giant season’s card. Buhari later took time to shake hands and pose for photographs with all his guests one after the other.
Representatives of the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; members of the Federal Executive Council and top presidential aides attended the event.