By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari says he is fully committed to the unity of Nigeria, and will devote his time and energy to promoting it for the benefit of Nigerians.
The President made his feelings known during a visit to the State House by a delegation of Benue State Council of Traditional Rulers led by the Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.
Buhari called for better appreciation of the historical relationships among various communities to sustain the nation’s unity.
He observed that ties between the Tiv and his own ethnic Fulani stock, which predated him and the current generation, helped in ensuring peaceful and harmonious co-existence among the people.
The president expressed optimism that such cordial bonds would continue to endure among various groups and serve as strong unifying force in the country.
He decried the misunderstanding of internal conflicts by many people at home and abroad, citing the farmer-herders clashes which in several places had been misconstrued as religious, ”when in fact, they arose from social and cultural factors.”
He restated his appeal for better understanding of the nation’s diverse cultures to engender healthier co-existence among the people, while fortifying and strengthening the unity of the country.
Responding to the narration of the Tor Tiv on the plight of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the recent conflicts in the state, the President said he was aware of that, as well as things happening in the North East, the North West and the South-South.
He noted that it was in realisation of the foregoing and the urgent need to ameliorate the plight of the IDPs that he created the new Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development “so that we have a ministry that coordinates their demands and avoid duplication of resources.”
The president expressed delight with the leadership of the Tor Tiv and other traditional rulers in their various communities, as well as their strong support for his administration.
He promised to look into the “long list” of the delegation’s demands, and thanked the royal fathers for showing appreciation to programmes his administration had been doing in the state in terms of projects and appointments.
Earlier, the Tor Tiv had described the recent triumph of the President at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal as “God-given victory and mandate to reconstruct, rebuild and unify the country and take it to the Next Level of socio-economic development.”
He said “we are here to pledge our support and encouragement to your administration and its laudable programmes.”