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Nigerian president Buhari denounces Biafran secessionists, corruption

IPOB leader Nnamdi-Kanu, in white, second from left

WEST AFRICA – Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari over the weekend lashed out against dissenters seeking Nigeria’s “dismemberment” as the country marked its 1960 independence from Britain. The Nigerian leader also said corruption remained the African oil giant’s “number one enemy.”

Buhari said, “As a young army officer, I took part from the beginning to the end in our tragic civil war costing about two million lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering.

“Those who are agitating for a rerun were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict which we went through,” he said.

The Nigerian leader, who fought in the 1967-70 Biafran war, told media group that those seeking to carve up the country had no idea of the havoc they could potentially wreak.

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari

The Nigerian president stated, “I am very disappointed that responsible leaders of these communities do not warn their hot-headed youths what the country went through. Those who were there should tell those who were not there, the consequences of such folly.”

Eye witnesses say the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement of the Biafra region wants an self-governing state for the Igbo people who dominate the southeast region.

In view of the movement’s desire, tension has been building since October 2015 when the group’s influential leader Nnamdi Kanu was arrested and held in custody until he was released on bail in April this year.

Presently, the Nigerian government has formally banned and categorized the IPOB as a terrorist organization, accusing the group of stoking tensions by making false claims online of genocide against Igbos.

Buhari has for “proper dialogue” in the provincial and national legislatures to resolve the matter and defuse the tensions, saying: “These are the proper and legal fora for national debate, not some lop-sided, un-democratic body with pre-determined set of objectives.”

“In spite of oil prices being an average of $100 per barrel and about 2.1 million barrels a day, that great piece of luck was squandered and the country’s social and physical infrastructure neglected,” he said.

Several international organizations have considered Nigeria very corrupt. The West African economic superpower is ranked by Transparency International as one of the world’s most corrupt countries. Last year it was placed 136 in a list of 176 nations.

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Dave Okonjie

Dave Okonjie is a public affairs analyst, researcher and senior issues correspondent.
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