Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja maintained his stance on calls for the restructuring of the country, insisting that those making the calls had personal agenda for their advocacy.
The president who made the comment while receiving a group of traditional rulers from Urhobo ethnic group in Delta State, said such agenda being pushed by advocates of restructuring could only be accommodated by the constitution.
Spokesman of the group, Moses Tiger, had demanded the restructuring of the country, appointment of an Urhobo as a minister, boundary adjustment and investigation of the sale of the land given by an Urhobo community to the military, location of a university in their territory as well as federal government investment in agriculture.
Responding, Buhari who described the demand for boundary adjustment as a constitutional matter, also said it was impossible to appoint more than one minister from Delta State but promised to ensure an investigation into the sale of military plots of land in the area.
He called for the support of the group for his administration, pleading that elders of the region should restrain their young men from oil installations vandalism because the communities would also suffer from its effects.
He also solicited to be given the cooperation the people gave the administration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for 16 years, saying whereas the PDP government enjoyed relative peace from the Niger Delta and equally made bumper harvests from oil production, the reverse was the case when he ascended power.
According to him, when he got to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) upon his advent as president in 2015, he was told that there were no savings in the treasury despite the rise of oil price to as high as $143 per barrel while production of crude oil cruised at over two million barrels per day.
He said their cooperation with his administration would go a long way in promoting the utilisation of the resources in the country for the overall development of the country as he expressed appreciation to them for their recognition of the efforts of his administration including the appointments of Urhobo into various positions by his government.
He said: “I am pleased that you appreciated the efforts being made by this administration in line with the numerous demands of the country. You mentioned something which is topical these days, the calls for restructuring Nigeria. Every group asking for restructuring has got their own agenda and I hope it can be accommodated by the constitution. I assure you that you are not forgotten and I’m pleased you appreciate the appointments by this administration of some citizens of your kingdoms.
“Boundary adjustments you asked for is a constitutional problem as well as the ministerial slot you asked for. If you look at the result of the election that brought this administration in, you will see that this administration has a lot of restraint in the sense that the constitution makes a provision that there would be a representation in the executive council from each state.”
He said it was not possible to appoint a minister from each of the ethnic groups in the country, explaining that it would amount to have about 250 ministers that would be unwieldy.
The president thanked them for maintaining the peace in the Niger Delta, explaining that it would assist his administration to build the infrastructure necessary for the development of the area.
“When I look at the infrastructure, the roads, rails, power, I asked where the money has gone. Where the Nigerian elite that know this damage are is being done to the resources of the country?” he asked, adding, “So, I plead with you leaders of these communities that your resources have been sustaining this country throughout these years for restraint of control, so that the cooperation you gave to the previous administrations will be extended to this administration so that the country can realise the resources which are mainly under your seat.”