In a speech that lasted 4 minutes on radio and television, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari this Monday morning put trouble makers on notice: “Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable,” he said, and “I believe the very vast majority of Nigerians share this view.”
Though the president, who returned to the country on Saturday after 104 days on medical vacation in London, did not mention names, he was obviously referring to contributors of posts on the social media as well as to the Arewa youths who issued a quit notice to the Igbo, members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Middle Belt groups, Niger Delta groups and several other ethnic militias threatening to dismember the country after October 1.
The delivery of the speech showed a president who is still recuperating from an illness. The address aired on TV and radio at 7am contains 449 words, but the tape was cut and joined at least three times, indicating that it took much longer than 20 minutes to record the short speech. The full text of the president’s speech:
My dear citizens:
I am very grateful to God and to all Nigerians for their prayers. I am pleased to be back on home soil among my brothers and sisters.
In the course of my stay in the United Kingdom, I have been kept in daily touch [sic] with events at home. Nigerians are robust and lively in discussing their affairs, but I was distressed to notice that some of the comments, especially in the social media, have crossed our national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation. This is a step too far.
In 2003 after I joined partisan politics, the late Chief Emeka Ojukwu came and stayed as my guest in my hometown Daura. Over two days we discussed in great depth till late into the night and analyzed the problems of Nigeria. We both came to the conclusion that the country must remain one and united.
Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable. We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble and when things get bad they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood.
Every Nigerian has the right to live and pursue his business anywhere in Nigeria without let or hindrance.
I believe the very vast majority of Nigerians share this view.
This is not to deny that there are legitimate concerns. Every group has a grievance. But the beauty and attraction of a federation is that it allows different groups to air their grievances and work out a mode of co-existence.
The National Assembly and the National Council of State are the legitimate and appropriate bodies for national discourse.
The national consensus is that it is better to live together than to live apart.
Furthermore, I am charging the security agencies not to let the successes achieved in the last 18 months be a sign to relax.
Terrorists and criminals must be fought and destroyed relentlessly so that the majority of us can live in peace and safety.
Therefore we are going to reinforce and reinvigorate the fight not only against elements of Boko Haram which are attempting a new series of attacks on soft targets, [BUT ALSO] kidnappings, farmers versus herdsmen clashes, in addition to ethnic violence fuelled by political mischief makers. We shall tackle them all.
Finally, dear Nigerians, our collective interest now is to eschew petty differences and come together to face common challenges of economic security, political evolution and integration as well as lasting peace among all Nigerians.
I remain resolutely committed to ensuring that these goals are achieved and maintained.
I am so glad to be home.
Thank you and may God bless our dear nation.