Former President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday said he was against the disintegration of Nigeria, saying he was working with other leaders to find solutions to the renewed crisis in the Niger Delta.
Mr. Jonathan spoke to journalists at the presidential villa after a private meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
The former president, who met with Mr. President Buhari for about 15 minutes, said he was at the villa to report his international engagements to the incumbent president.
“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 engagement, that has to do with public addresses and some international assignment becomes a national assignment, you brief the president. Even when I was here the former presidents used to do that and see me. I have been coming but 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 this external engagement. It is the tradition,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan said he was staunchly opposed to the secession of any part from the country.
He said Nigeria was only termed “great” because of its size and diversity and not necessarily because of its oil.
“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,” Mr. Jonathan said. “Those of you that have followed my talks when I was here, my emphasis is that we need a united Nigeria and I always emphasize that Nigeria is great not just about the oil – so many countries produce more oil than Nigeria 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.”
A group known as Adaka Boro Avengers had threatened to declare an independent Niger Delta Republic on Monday, but said it cancelled the plan following the intervention of Mr. Jonathan and other leaders in the area.
“That has been my focal position and without peace, there cannot be development anywhere in the world,” the former president said. “We are all working collectively to see that issues are resolved.”
On the ongoing anti-corruption campaign that has seen several of his former appointees arrested and prosecuted, Mr. Jonathan said he would speak when most of the court cases are resolved.
“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,” he said.