Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, believes members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) would not have taken to the streets if former President Goodluck Jonathan did not lose the 2015 election.
In an interview with PUNCH, Adesina said he was very sure that the generation that fought the 30 months civil war to keep Nigeria as one will never be part of the quest of the current agitators.
He said if a referendum was conducted in the south-east, the result will show that a larger number will prefer to stay within the Nigerian federation.
“Why did we fight that 30-month grueling civil war to keep Nigeria one if at the end of the day, people will just stand up and say ‘we are dismembering the country’?” he asked.
“What is IPOB asking for? They say they are being marginalised, when did they realise that they are being marginalised? Is it about 12 months ago when power changed hands? If the former President Goodluck Jonathan government had continued, would there have been that agitation? Were they not saying he is Ebele Azikwe and he is their brother and that his administration was an administration of the south-east?
“The issue is that even among those who live in that geographical area that used to be called Biafra, is there a consensus that they want self-determination? Among those who are there, there is no consensus. Those young people got together because they never experienced war, they never knew the trauma of the civil war in which more than two million Nigerians died. They are the ones beating the drums of self-determination.”
He also reacted to various allegations of dictatorial tendencies levelled against Buhari, the state of the economy, militancy, among other issues.
“We know that this president is a democrat and he is very liberal. We know him when he was a military ruler, now we have seen him as a democrat. We know he is playing the game according to democratic principles and ethos. One thing I am very sure of is that this president is a democrat,” he said.
Adesina also expressed confidence that the current administration would change the country for better.
“Nigeria is like a plane taking off with its nose in the air. As long as the nose of the plane is in the air, you know that it is gaining altitude. Before this government came, the nose of the plane was down and one did not know whether it would land safely or crash-land. There is a lot of hope in the country now,” he said.
“This time last year, we did not know whether Boko Haram would advance into the core south and core-west. It seemed it would because Boko Haram was not just confined to the north-east then; it was in the north-west and north-central. The sect was active in Abuja, it was active in Kogi and the next thing was that it was going to make a foray into the south-west and go into the south-south and we know what would have happened to the country if that had happened. So if you compare the security situation this time last year with the situation now, you will know that Nigerians have a lot of reasons to be thankful to God.
“Anybody who blames this government for the nation’s economic woes does not understand the issues. A government does not run down the economy in 12 months. This government came on board to meet an economy which the President said had been vandalised. What this government has been doing in the last one year is coping with the consequences of the rot that the previous government left behind. It is not only about the previous government, but an accumulation of what was done by the many governments in the 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party in power.
“Do not forget that these were years that oil sold for an average of $100 per barrel and there was a time it hit $140 per barrel. How come we did not save? How come we have no reserve? How come infrastructure is at the stage it is? Anybody who says this government caused it does not just understand and I would want to pity such a person.”
The presidential spokesman said the government was on top of the situation in the Niger Delta, saying most of those behind attacks on oil installations have been arrested.
“Saying government is at a loss is not right because each time this (pipeline attacks) happens, in a couple of days, those who did it are apprehended. I am sure that in everywhere it has happened, those responsible have been apprehended within a number of days,” he said.
“So you cannot say the government is at a loss because it has the capacity to deal with it. I am not saying that it is by the use of force or arms alone that government is going to respond to it, but then, this government does not lack capacity to respond to that development.”