President Muhammadu Buhari has advised Biafra activists to toe the path of democracy by joining a political party to advance their interest within a united Nigeria.
According to him, a referendum, which some of the agitators are clamouring for, is unlikely.
The President stated this at the weekend during a news conference in New York to mark the end of his visit to United States for the 71st United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA).
“What I see is those who feel strongly about creating a state within Nigeria, rather than joining a party and campaigning. You cannot practice democracy by creating a state within Nigeria,” Buhari said.
The President also addressed a claim that his nephew, Alhaji Mamman Daura, takes decisions for him on national affairs. He said the rumour was from an online medium.
“I don’t know where they get that information from. I stood for the election; I visited every local government in Nigeria by air, by road and so on, and was credibly elected. So, whosoever feels like (I’m not the president) he lost somehow. That’s his problem, not my problem,” he said.
While acknowledging the attention the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaigners attract to the plight of the missing Chibok girls, the President urged the media to also focus on the plight of those affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
He said: “More than 20,000 people were affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. Some are now orphans. Some children don’t even know where their parents are, let alone knowing where they’re from. I think this should get your attention more than the over 200 Chibok girls.
“Those who took them claim they’re there and alive. It’s a question of negotiating and maybe give them what they want and they’ll release them. We’re negotiating, we’re doing everything we can get them out, so they should be patient.”
In a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President reviewed all his major and side events during the trip and highlighted the issues on which he sent a clear and direct message to world leaders.
He said: “I mentioned that the plight of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) arising from Boko Haram terrorism is of particular concern to us. For this reason, we have taken concrete steps to address their humanitarian needs and to ensure that necessary conditions are established to enable the voluntary return of the displaced persons to their homes in safety and dignity.”
While acknowledging that Nigeria as a developing country has been adversely affected by the global economic downturn, he said Nigeria is undeterred and has embarked on a wide range of reforms to diversify the economy and shift emphasis to mining, agriculture, industrialization, infrastructure development and the creation of the enabling environment for Foreign Direct Investment.
He also noted that fighting corruption remained prime importance to his administration.
The campaign, he said, is already yielding positive gains including significant stolen assets recoveries.