Jonathan Meets PMB, Says United Nigeria Greater Than Oil - EazyFeeds

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Thursday, 4 August 2016

Jonathan Meets PMB, Says United Nigeria Greater Than Oil

Following threats by some militants in the Niger Delta region to declare a Republic, former President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday said he was opposed to the disintegration of Nigeria.

According to him, if Nigeria is divided into smaller republics, the country would be forgotten by the world.

He made these comments after a private meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The meeting for about lasted 30 minutes.

Reporters gathered that apart from the Niger Delta militants, there have been renewed agitations in the South East for the Republic of Biafra.

But speaking to State House correspondents, the former president asserted that without peace, there cannot be development anywhere in the world, adding that he was working with leaders in the Niger Delta to resolve the contending issues in the region.

He said, “It’s not just about me but about all the traditional rulers, elders and opinion leaders that are of the Ijaw ethnic nationality; we have been in touch to see that peace reigns in the country.

“Those of you that have followed my talks when I was here, my emphasis was that we needed a united Nigeria and I always emphasise that Nigeria is great, not just about the oil.

“So many countries produce more oil than Nigeria, nobody notices them; we are great because of our size, the human resources we have, the diversity we have. If we fragmentise the country into small components, we will be forgotten by the world.

“That has been my focal position, and without peace there cannot be development anywhere in the world. We are all working collectively to see that the issues are resolved.”

Jonathan, however, declined to make comments when asked about his thoughts on President Buhari’s anti-corruption war on the grounds that most of the cases are still in court.

“I don’t want to talk about that one because there are too many cases that are in court; it will not be fair to make comments, and I will talk at the appropriate time when most of these things are resolved.”

On his mission to the Villa, Jonathan said he visited the President Buhari to update him about his international engagements, especially his recent appointment as leader of the African Union election observation mission to Zambia.

He noted that as a former president, it was a tradition to brief the president on his engagements outside the country.

“You asked why I came to see the president today; one key thing is that, having been a head of a government, a former president, you become a state property. That’s the privilege you have, but every privilege has its corresponding responsibility,” he said.

“Even when I was here, the former presidents did that. And see me; I have been coming. Most times I come in the night; that’s why you don’t see me. I came to brief the president about some of my engagements. As you are aware, I will lead the AU election monitoring team to Zambia. I came to brief the president about some of these external engagements. It is the tradition,” he stated.

Also yesterday, former head of state, Gen Yakubu Gowon (retd), backed calls for the restructuring the country.

He however said this must be done without the disintegration of the country.

Gowon said this when Senator Shehu Sani, the vice chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, paid him a courtesy visit yesterday in Abuja.

Reacting to calls by some Nigerians to restructure the country, Gowon said though a good idea, the restructuring should be done within the context of a united Nigeria.

He recalled that Nigeria was restructured under his leadership as the head of state with the creation of states in 1967.

“We can restructure within one Nigeria context. I did it in 1967; we created states to stop Eastern Nigeria from seceding. We had to do something to ensure the fear of their seceding did not exist, a serious issue of a part of the country wanting to break away when we had already lost a part to Cameroon.

“If we had allowed the Eastern Region to go away, the map of Nigeria would have looked funny; it would have been tilted one way. So, we decided, overnight, to break the fear through the creation of states. If we had to save the country, that was the only way to do it. We also ensured that no state was too big or too small to threaten the unity of the country,’’ he said.

Gowon, in 1967, announced the creation of 12 states from the then existing four regions of North, West, Mid-West and East regions, namely, North-West, North-East, Kano, North-Central, Benue-Plateau, Kwara, West, Lagos, Mid-West, Rivers, South-East and East-Central.

The former head of state added that the call for true federalism by some Nigerians was also not a bad idea, as long as it was done within the context of the nation’s unity.

“What is true federalism? As long as it means respect for oneness of our country, it is all right, but if it means to break away, it is not my way of thinking,’’ he said.

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