The Presidency has condemned Ohanaeze Ndigbo for criticizing President Muhammadu Buhari’s Independence Day Speech.
In an earlier reaction to the President’s Independence Day broadcast, Ohanaeze speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Uche Okpaga, had alleged that the present administration’s anti-Igbo policies fuelled agitations in the geopolitical zone.
“Hate speech started from Buhari and he has continued to implement policies against the existence of Ndigbo. The agitations did not come from oblivion; it is part of his policies which I describe as sentimental and lopsided.
“These policies had fuelled agitations and so, he should not blame Igbo leaders but his administration. We blame the agitation on his administration and not Igbo leaders,” the group said.
But a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said it was unfair for Ohanaeze, to blame the recent unrest in the South-East on the Federal Government.
While claiming that many of President Buhari’s critics wanted ‘settlement’ to keep quiet, Garba Shehu called for all Nigerians to partner with the Federal Government in promoting peace and stability in the country. He said:
“President Buhari was not abdicating his responsibilities. He didn’t request any political leader to do anything seminal or out of the box. All he said is, ‘talk to your out-of-the-line-youth so that we have some peace.’
“Igbo leaders need not to be on the defensive for the misbehaviour of IPOB which they rightly condemned.
“The President was simply saying that the regional leaders also have a role to play in keeping their hot-headed youths in check.”
Shehu stressed that the President’s admonition also applied to leaders of every other geopolitical zone of the country, and not only the Ohanaeze from the South-East.
“President Buhari was simply calling out the regional leaders to their responsibilities, making them aware of the crucial role they can play. This should not be seen as an attack on the Ohanaeze or on any other regional leaders,” he said.
Shehu reiterated the President’s position that the National Assembly, as a key institution in democratic governance, “is the proper venue for the ventilation of, and resolution of all contentious issues” including restructuring.
“You are either for democracy or for its opposite. For us in this government, democracy is the country’s chosen system of government and we are determined to deepen and uphold it.”
Shehu referred Nigerians questioning the success of the present administration so far to look at the mirror and see themselves. His words:
“We inherited a country in tatters — its economy, its security and in its social relations. President Buhari deserves credit for rebuilding what has been destroyed.
“As for those critics who are used to being settled by successive governments, with false claims to being so-called conscience of society, popping out from the cupboard on and off to drive the country towards religious and ethnic polarisation, they have no other motive but to rock the boat of good governance.
“What they yearn for is to be picked out to be paid to keep quiet. The Buhari government has abolished ‘settlement.’
“Polarizing speeches that aggravate Nigerian against a brother Nigerian are causing damage to our democracy, rocking at the very foundation of our unity and they better not cross those red lines as warned by the President.”