Over 100 National Youth Service Corps members went to pay the President a visit in Daura, Katsina State, at his residence on Tuesday. While speaking to them the President enjoined those among them to tell their colleagues to forget about anything like a sovereign ‘Biafra State’ which could happen only if the South-East part of Nigeria secedes from the nation.
The Nigerian Civil War between 1967 and 1970 which the nation will forever remember as an ugly experience was as a result of the attempted secession of the South-East from Nigeria. The President said that as a soldier he had fought in the civil war and he had done so not for the oil in the South-East but to ensure he unity of his beloved nation and also that he would never let the nation break under his watch.
Buhari recalled his experience as a military commander fighting in the civil war. He said, “As a military commander, I walked from Degem, a border town between the North and the East, to the border between Cameroun and Nigeria. I walked on my foot for most of the 30 months that we fought the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War, in which at least two million Nigerians were killed.
“We were made by our leaders to go and fight Biafra not because of money or oil, because oil was not a critical factor then, but because of one Nigeria.
“Thus, if leaderships at various levels failed, it was not the fault of the rest of Nigerians who had no quarrel with one another. So, please tell your colleagues that we must be together to build this country. It is big enough for us and potentially big enough in terms of resources.
“Those who work hard will earn a respectable living. I have seen this country, I fought for this country and I will continue to work for the unity of this country.”
Furthermore, the president hailed General Yakubu Gowon for inaugurating the NYSC scheme in 1973 as the president says he appreciates the program so much and that whenever he sees the former head of state he will thank him for it as he said it has helped to foster unity in the nation.
He said, “I asked for those from the other end of Nigeria because I very much appreciate the NYSC scheme and whenever I see General Gowon, I always thank him for that.’’
Mr. Egbewumi Adebolu, the Corps Liaison Officer in Daura appreciated the President for receiving them into his home and also for making their stay in Daura a memorable one, he also informs the president that the youths believe in the program to reduce unemployment in the nation. He also thanked the president for the gift of cows, bags of rice etc which he gave as personal gifts to the community to celebrate the Sallah.
However, the President’s statement to the corps members did not sit well with the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra.
Comrade Samuel Edeson, the MASSOB spokes man said that all Igbos including those who were addressed by the President are Biafrans. He said, “Every Igbo man is a Biafran. Biafra has come to stay and Buhari should know that 95 per cent of Igbo want Biafra.
“We are not going to take up arms against the Nigerian government but we will make the country ungovernable until we actualize Biafra.
“There is no way we will forget Biafra and there is nothing the government will do that will make us to give up the struggle.
“Even if they continue to oppress and intimidate our members, we will continue to push ahead with the struggle.”
He advised the President to hold a meeting of all ethnic nationalities and discuss Nigeria’s future. He said, , “Rather than telling the NYSC members to tell their people to forget Biafra, he should call the Biafra agitators and other ethnic nationalities to a roundtable meeting to discuss how Nigerians would continue to live together.”
Also the President of the Ohanaeze Youth Council, Maiz Okechukwu Isiguzoro said the president should set all Biafra agitators free, especially Ben Onwuka. He said, “Buhari should ask himself why the Biafra agitation resurrected during his tenure. He should also explain what he meant by 95 per cent and five per cent.
“The people of the South-East are angry and there is hunger in the land. There is a total collapse of infrastructure in the zone; federal roads are no longer passable.
“The South-East zone has the highest number of unemployed youths in the country. Those NYSC members that went to see him will be unemployed tomorrow.
“The only solution to the agitation for Biafra is restructuring. Ohanaeze Ndigbo is not calling for secession but we are calling for restructuring. The North-West has seven states but the South-East has only five; it is not acceptable.
“If Buhari fails to restructure the country, we are afraid that those calling for secession may succeed so if he really wants Igbos to forget Biafra, he should restructure the country.”