Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari today foreclosed any chance for a referendum as a path to bring healing and closure to the vexing issue of Biafra. He made the statement during a media event in New York City at the end of his visit to the United States as the leader of Nigeria’s delegation to the 71th United Nations’ General Assembly.
The president stated that the choice left for Biafran activists is to form a political party that would advance their interest within the Nigerian democratic space.
The president’s advice to Biafrans activists came a day after commercial activities in some key cities in the South East, and South-South of Nigeria were grounded following a stay at home order from the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB ). There were also protests in various cities around the world by Biafran activists demanding the release from prison of IPOB’s leader, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.
In recent past, the president had been dismissive of Biafran agitators as kids who did not see the Biafra-Nigeria Civil War. A few weeks ago, while speaking to Youth Corp members who visited him at his country home in Daura, the president pressed on them to ask their friends to forget Biafra.
Mr. Buhari also used the opportunity offered by the media event to outline the accomplishments of his trip to the General Assembly. He stated that Nigeria was well represented at various meetings held as part of the General Assembly. President Buhari talked about Nigeria’s signing of the Paris Climate Change Accord and progress made at the Chad Basin conference. He announced that the US and the UK pledged over $300 million dollars to support the efforts of his government.
Media personnel at the event were disappointed that the president was not going to take questions from the media despite the event being tagged a press conference. At the insistence of SaharaTV’s Adeola Fayehun, the president reconsidered the position and took just three questions. He also granted a ten-minute interview to the Hausa Service of the Voice of America.
Accompanying the president to the event were the governors of Lagos and Zamfara states. Other government officials present were ministers of Foreign Affairs, Justice, Defence, Internal Affairs and other top government officials.
Buhari departed New York for Abuja after the press conference.