IMMEDIATE past president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has expressed his opposition to the break-up of Nigeria, while confirming that he and other elders in the Niger Delta region were holding talks with those behind renewed militancy in the area, with the view to seeing how to end the crisis.
Many militant groups, including the Niger Delta Avengers, which has been blowing up oil installations in the Niger Delta, have caused increased tension by their activities. One of the groups, Adaka Boro Avengers, threatened to declare Niger Delta Republic on August 1. On the appointed day, the group had announced that appeals from prominent personalities, including Jonathan, Chief Edwin Clark, King Alfred Diete-Spiff and Ankio Briggs, made it to suspend the plan to declare a Niger Delta Republic.
Speaking to journalists yesterday, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Jonathan said he stood for a united Nigeria.
Asked his role in effort at resolving Niger Delta crisis, the former replied: “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.
“Those of you that have followed my talks when I was here, my emphasis was that we needed a united Nigeria and I always emphasised that Nigeria was great, not just about the oil. So many countries produce more oil than Nigeria but nobody notices them. We are great because of our size, the human resources we have, the diversity we have. 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 issues are resolved.”
On his mission to the Presidential Villa, Jonathan said: “One key thing is that having been a head of a 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 assignment become a national assignment; you brief the president.
“Even when I was here, former presidents used to do that, come 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 elections monitoring team to Zambia. I came to brief the president about some of these external engagements. It is the tradition.”
The former president, however, declined comment on the fight against corruption in the country, saying it would be unfair to comment since there were many cases in court.
He said: “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.”
The former president arrived the State House at exactly 1.55pm with a black Range Rover marked KWL 86 CN. He was received at the forecourt of the president’s office by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Domestic Matters), Malam Sarki Abba, accompanied by his former security detail.