In apparent reference to some militants’ agitation for Niger Delta Republic, former President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday called for caution, saying there is no alternative to a united Nigeria.
He also confirmed that he has been liaising with traditional rulers and others to douse militancy in the Niger Delta.
Dr. Jonathan spoke to reporters at the presidential Villa in Abuja after a 20-minute meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
He spoke against the background of the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta – including bombings of oil facilities.
The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) is spearheading the bombings.
Another group, the Adaka Boro Avengers (ADA), set last Monday for its declaration of Niger Delta Republic.
But the event was aborted by the heavy presence of the military in Kaiama and other places in the region where the declaration was supposed to take place.
The group, in a statement calling off the plan, said it was prevailed upon by the former president and some traditional rulers.
When asked yesterday about his involvement in stopping militancy, Jonathan 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.”
On his belief about Nigeria’s statehood, he said: “Those of you who have followed my talks when I was here, my emphasis is that we need a United Nigeria and I always emphasise that Nigeria is great not just about the oil, so many countries produce more oil than Nigeria and nobody notices them.
“We are great because of our size, the human resources we have, the diversity we have, if we fragmentize 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 issues are resolved.”
But the former President declined to speak on the anti-corruption war being waged by the Buhari administration, in which many top functionaries of his administration and party – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are currently facing the anti-graft agencies following allegations of sleaze.
“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. I will talk at the appropriate time when most of these things are resolved.” He said
On why he was at the Villa, he said: “You asked why I came to see the President today, one key thing is that having been a head of government, a former president, you become a state property. That’s the privilege you have. But every privilege has its corresponding responsibility.
“And once you become a state property, most of your international engagements, that have to do with public addresses and some international assignments, become a national assignment, you brief the President.
“Even when I was here, the former presidents used to do 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 be leading the AU election monitoring team to Zambia, I came to brief the President about some of this external engagement . It is the tradition.” (The Nation)