Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu has dismissed criticism against President Muhammadu Buhari’s apparent silence on the crisis arising from the agitation by the banned Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) while highlighting problems in other countries in his statement to the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The governor who is part of the president’s delegation to the annual event, told State House correspondents in New York on Wednesday that the president did not want to escalate the crisis to the level of the world body.
He maintained that the IPOB issue was a local issue that could be contained by local means even though he acknowledged that Buhari highlighted other daunting problems facing Nigeria such as the Boko Haram insurgency, corruption, and repatriation of stolen assets.
He said: “IPOB agitation is not something you escalate to the level of the United Nations for now. It’s something that you can contain. It’s something that you can contain within what I will call our territorial jurisdiction.
“Why escalate it to the United Nations? That means, it’s like us wanting to bring what…I mean, they (United Nations) know of it. It’s not that they don’t know of it but it’s not an issue for now and it will never be an issue in Nigeria for me as a person.
“But when you talk about crises, a number of security concerns in Nigeria, what is happening from Chad and its effect on Nigeria and other neighbouring countries, the president mentioned it in his speech.
“The president also mentioned about Boko Haram and the assistance we have received. He did say something about countries that have assisted us. He mentioned their names and thanked them.
“So, it’s not that our security issues were not addressed or other issues were not addressed like security, corruption that is more tied to our funds that are outside.
“So, all those things have something to do with the country. If you are retrieving monies from all these western world, it has something to do with the country.”
Akeredolu praised as wonderful, the statement delivered by the president to the august body, saying that the highlight was Buhari’s call for the setting up of a UN delegation to interface with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, over the escalating nuclear crisis between his country and the United States.
According to him, “I did listen to the address and it was a wonderful speech, not too long, not too short either. It was just enough to cover the subject matter.
“The highlight of Mr President’s speech for me was his reference to the United Nations to set up a committee or a delegation to meet with the North Korean president and to find a solution to this threat of nuclear proliferation.
“That was a wonderful thing and I think that was the highlight of it.
“But Mr. President’s speech had quite a lot of pluses and when again the president said we should not forget old crises and now jump trying to find solutions to new ones and made a reference to what we have had over the years; resolutions on Israel and Palestinians, that if we leave all those ones and keep jumping to other ones, you will never get a solution. So, those are very important points, highlights in his speech.”
On Buhari’s appeal to world leaders to cooperate in the retrieval of stolen assets, the governor was of the view that such call was necessary to make the process of repatriation of Nigerian stolen funds easier.
His words: “The cooperation of countries within the United Nations normally…what all of us know is that we found some difficulties in recouping looted assets that are in some nations.
“So, we need most of these nations with the cooperation of the United Nations to cooperate so that we can retrieve these monies faster than we get so that people don’t put in a lot clog, disrupting the retrieval of all these looted monies.
“So, the point was being made that the time is now for nations where our monies are kept to come in cooperate with us in the right sense of it rather than play to the gallery.”
On the value of his presence in New York for the people of Ondo state, he said his selection as a member of the president’s delegation was a recognition for the state.
He assured that he would use the opportunity to seek out foreign investors for Ondo state.
Akeredolu added: “The greatest value of my presence in New York is that look, being part of the president’s delegation puts Ondo state right there.
“Every other person now knows that Ondo state is there. In addition to that, we had investment forum, we had other fora we are going to attend to see how we can sell Ondo state.
“So, we are not here only to be part of the General Assembly. No. but there are other things we try to do to meet up with people who can invest in Ondo state. So, we are trying to sell Ondo state.”