Tuesday 17th of October 2017

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Nigeria's Buhari welcomes 'proper debate' for reforms

Lagos,Oct 2:-- Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said on Sunday that calls for restructuring of the country were "legitimate" but warned that they had to be decent and follow legal channels such as the parliament.


"At all events, proper dialogue and any desired constitutional changes should take place in a rational manner, at the National and State Assemblies. These are the proper and legal fora for national debate, not some lopsided, un-democratic body with pre-determined set of objectives," Buhari said in a 17-minute speech commemorating Nigeria’s 57th independence anniversary.


He said attaining freedom [from British colonial rule] was one of the most precious of human desires and that October 1 "is always a day for celebrations" despite the "trials and tribulations" the country had gone through.


The president boasted that political freedom had blossomed under him in the past two years, while economic and security challenges were being tackled along with a robust anti-corruption fight.


He warned however that such freedom was now "open to abuse", a tacit reference to the secessionist agitations in the country's southeast led by the now proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).


"Recent calls on restructuring, quite proper in a legitimate debate, has let in highly irresponsible groups to call for dismemberment of the country. We can not and we will not allow such advocacy," according to Buhari.


"As a young Army Officer, I took part from the beginning to the end in our tragic civil war costing about 2 million lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering. Those who are agitating for a re-run were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict which we went through," he added.


The president slammed some community leaders for not reining in the secessionists.


"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," the 74-year-old leader said.


"Government is keeping up the momentum of dialogue with stakeholders in the Niger Delta to keep the peace. We intend to address genuine grievances of the communities. Government is grateful to the responsible leadership of those communities and will pursue lasting peace in the Niger Delta," he added.

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