Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, has said that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has businesses everywhere, adding that his government had mobilised and would continue to mobilise the military and the police to go after them.
Buhari who spoke in in a pre-recorded interview on Arise News Television, categorized all Igbo People as IPOB members, noting that despite having businesses everywhere, nobody is disturbing the group.
He said some leaders of the South South, had approached him to say they have no business with IPOB, which according to him, means that they will be encircled.
“IPOB is just like a dot in a circle and they have nowhere to turn to. They are spread everywhere and they have investments and properties everywhere and in other areas,” Buhari said.
“They don’t know what they are doing. How we will handle them is to mobilise the police and the military to go after them. I’m happy that some South-South leaders came to me and said they have nothing to do with IPOB, so they will be encircled”
Buhari also contradicted himself while trying to defend his administration’s nepotism and lopsided appointments.
Speaking on the general perception that his administration had concentrated appointments in the North than Southern Nigeria, the president said “You better get the list of our civil servants if you think there are no people from the South East. There are people from the South East, but they know they have to go through the mill.”
On the failure of his administration to adequately include people from the South East and the entire southern region in his government, especially into security services and Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), he said: “People who have been there for 18 years…they trained in Zaria or in Abeokuta, they climbed through the ranks and because they found [themselves] under all the circumstances, the crisis and everything, and they gradually rise to that status and you think [I will] just pick somebody just to balance up? These positions have to be earned. There are people who have been there for 10-15 years.”
He added that geographical balance should not be the basis for appointing security chiefs.
“If you don’t join, you’re not forced to join, but when you join, you go through the rigmarole…and you learn by the system,” he said.
On the massive retirement of major generals from the army over their subordinate as Chief of Army Staff, he said: “Do you know where he (Major General Farouk Yahaya) was serving before he became the Chief of Army Staff? You can’t just pick somebody because he is wearing seniority (sic). You will put somebody who has suffered with the soldiers, they know him, he fought with them and so on. I tell you the truth, on individual basis, I have forgotten some of these chaps, I don’t know them.”
Asked if years of operational experience did not matter in appointing the service chiefs, Buhari said “It is, [but] for the soldiers to be effectively led, it must be somebody they know…”
The president also defended his government’s decision to spend $1.9 billion on a rail project to the Niger Republic, saying he has family members there.
According to him, his government’s decision to build rail lines from Kano to the country was to allow his Nigerien relatives easily have access to Nigeria.
“I have cousins, family members, etc., in Niger Republic. I shouldn’t just cut them off,” Mr Buhari said.
He also cited transportation of oil from the neighbouring country to Nigeria and job creation as other reasons for constructing the rail line.