President Muhammadu Buhari has urged those who stole public funds to negotiate and return the loots peacefully.
Buhari, who spoke at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday during an Eid el-Fitr homage by residents paid of the Federal Capital Territory, warned that if the looters fail to comply, they would not know peace as the government would continue to pursue them.
“Please, tell those with plenty of money which does not belong to them to try and negotiate and return it in peace so that we will be in peace. Otherwise, we will continue to look for it,” he said.
The president also urged the Niger Delta militants who are blowing up oil and gasfacilities in the region to embrace peace and give the country a chance.
Buhari asked the militants to realize that the unity of the country is not negotiable.
He said the slogan used in the 1960’s, ‘Go On With One Nigeria (GOWON)’, remained very apt today as keeping Nigeria one is a task that must be done.
He noted that while there had been a lot of improvement in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency, government was currently focusing on the Niger Delta militancy.
The president assured the Niger Delta people of justice, saying they would get their dues in accordance with the constitution.
He said his administration had begun the process of identifying the number of groups and their leaders with a view to appealing to them to sheath their swords.
“On security, we have made a lot of improvement. Regarding the Boko Haram insurgency, there is improvement. We are now concentrating on the militants to know how many of them in terms of groupings and leadership as well as plead with them to try and give Nigeria a chance. In those days, we never thought of oil. All we were concerned about was one Nigeria. So, please pass this message to the militants, that one Nigeria is not negotiable. And they had better accepted. The Nigerian constitution is clear as to what they should get, and I assure them there will be justiceý,” he said.
The president also regretted that in spite of the change in name and form of the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), the power situation in Nigeria remained unreliable.
According to him, the radio is now a major source of information dissemination in the country as those who do not have electricity at home can easily walk into a barber’s shop or drinking joint and listen to the radio.
“Those who watch television are at the mercy of what used to be called NEPA. Whichever form NEPA has taken now, it has maintained the tradition of unreliability. It is not everyday that the people get the news,” he said.
Buhari, who said he knew there were a lot of problems in Nigeria, assured, however, that the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, was working hard with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to ensure that about 13 states begin rice production.
According to the president, the programme is giving the government confidence as many farmers are already returning to the field.
Earlier in his remarks, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the past one year had been tough for the country due to the mess left by the immediate past administration.
Osinbajo said the Buhari administration inherited a huge financial mess and was still clearing the rot it met on ground.
He assured that the present administration would place the nation on a strong footing, and prayed that as Buhari grows older, he would be stronger.
FCT Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello, on behalf of Abuja residents, presented a giant season’s greeting card to the president and the Aso Villa chapel, a mirror and another card.
Those in attendance included Secretary to the Government of the Federation Babachir Lawal, National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno, some members of the Federal Executive Council, security chiefs, religious leaders and traditional rulers.
The Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara sent representatives to the event.