Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, says the presidency is pleased that Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo groups found its statement worthy of attention.
Speaking when he featured on a programme on Channels Television, Shehu had likened the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) to Ohanaeze and Afenifere, saying the group should not be criminalised.
Both groups had replied Shehu, asking him not to compare them with Miyetti Allah.
Replying the groups in a statement issued on Friday, Shehu said the presidency is pleased that “Afenifere and Ohaneze Ndigbo found our insights worthy of attention even when they disagreed with our view”.
Shehu added that dialogue remains an important tool under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. He also said criminals cut across all divides and not restricted to just one ethnic group.
Shehu said: “The point both socio-cultural groups missed, however, by insisting that government should not to talk to Miyetti Allah is the need to address and engage Nigeria’s ethnic, religious, cultural and economic plurality. The need to engage all groups of Nigeria is as much relevant today as it was then.
“The Presidency’s position is that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is equipped to address these issues. The security challenges faced by Nigeria today make the task of addressing the issues very urgent.
“Miyetti Allah, like any other trade, community, ethnic organization or interest group is a legal stakeholder in our nation and should be respected. We maintain that the government needs to engage all stakeholders and seek partnership in building our country.
“It is right to state that there are criminals among every group in Nigeria and in every country. There are criminals among the northern population as there are in the southern part of the country. It is not good to generalise blames.
“As the President has stated time and again, transparency and dialogue are essential for public enlightenment and nation building.”
Shehu dismissed the allegation that the federal government plans to allegedly appease MACBAN with N100 billion.
According to him, even if Miyetti Allah had demanded money, “this government would have dismissed them as yet another dubious group”.
“The issue of money was never raised at any of the meetings between the representatives of government and Miyetti Allah. If they had raised it, this government would have dismissed them as yet another dubious group, like the many making claims to be representing our trusting people but serving their own interests,” he said.
“The people spreading such rumours should be helped to see the truth and participate in nation building, and not become crisis messengers.”
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