Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday took to state TV in his first speech since returning from a long medical absence in Britain in a bid to dampen mounting separatist tensions in the country.
The 74-year-old, who received treatment for an undisclosed condition in London, looked thin as he read slowly from a prepared statement in which he also vowed to redouble the fight against Boko Haram militants.
“I was distressed to notice that some of the comments [in my absence], especially in the social media have crossed national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation. This is a step too far,” he said.
“The national consensus is that it is better to live together than to live apart,” added Buhari, who returned to Nigeria on Saturday after more than 100 days away.
Nigeria is facing a number of breakaway movements, including the Indigenous People of Biafra led by fierce Buhari critic Nnamdi Kanu in the country’s southeast which is dominated by the Igbo ethnic group.
The group has become increasingly vocal in its bid to win independence in recent weeks, with Kanu previously appearing in images meeting a private army.
Arewa, a radical Muslim youth group in the country’s north, has issued an Oct. 1 deadline for all Igbo people to leave the region.
Boko Haram militants have been fighting a bloody insurgency in the country’s northeast since 2009 in a bid to establish a hardline Muslim state.
Buhari vowed renewed energy for the fight against “terrorists and criminals,” singling out Boko Haram, kidnappers and those responsible for ethnic violence.
“We will tackle them all,” the president said.
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