FORMER president Dr Goodluck Jonathan paid a courtesy visit to his predecessor President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday where he made it clear that he opposes the disintegration of Nigeria as it would make the country an insignificant nation.
Since Dr Jonathan lost the last presidential elections and President Buhari assumed office in May last year, several militants groups have been calling for the disintegration of Nigeria. These calls have been particularly vociferous in the Niger Delta where Dr Jonathan hails from as they feel President Buhari has been indifferent to their plight.
Disassociating himself from the calls for the dismemberment of the country, Dr Jonathan visited the presidential villa yesterday where he made it clear that he believes that if Nigeria is divided into smaller republics, the country would be forgotten by the world. Later, Dr Jonathan and President Buhari held a private meeting which lasted for about 30 minutes.
Dr 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. However, Dr Jonathan 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.
“It’s not just about me but about all the traditional rulers, elders and opinion leaders that are of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, as 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 but we are great because of our size, the human resources we have and the diversity we have, so 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,” Dr Jonathan added.
He, 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. He noted that as a former president, it was a tradition to brief the president on his engagements outside the country.