Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, elder statesman, has enjoined President Muhammadu Buhari to treat Nigerians equally and refrain from giving preference to any particular group, tribe or religion at the detriment of others.
Speaking exclusively with Daily Independent in Abuja, Iwuanyanwu, who is the publisher of Champion newspapers, urged President Buhari and other leaders in position of authority in the country to emulate former military President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), who accommodated all Nigerians, irrespective of their tribe or religion in his government.
He said anyone who has been sworn in as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must see the entire country as his constituency and treat everyone equally irrespective of whether they voted for him or not.
“Nigerians want the president to treat everybody equally, whether the person voted for him or not, or whether the person is in his political party or not. Once you are the president of Nigeria, you have sworn an oath to work for everybody and be the president of all.
“When Babangida was in power, if you go to his office, you will see every tribe in Nigeria represented there. There is no group in Nigeria you won’t see working there. I am advising President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders today to emulate Babangida. If you are a president, make sure that you bring federal character to bear in the staff serving you. It gives confidence in other people when they come, they will see that you recognise and value their people”.
Speaking further, Iwuanyanwu said people only focus on the president on the need to run an all-inclusive government while neglecting other political office holders.
“If you are the vice president, you also do the same. Many people talk of the president treating Nigerians equally well all the time. It is not only the president that should do that. If you are governor, minister or senator, treat Nigerians equally too. Don’t favour only your ethnic group and neglect others”.
Pouring encomiums on IBB who turned 80 today, Iwuanyanwu said the former military ruler takes friendship seriously and has the gift of building relationships with people across the country.
“Babangida made it a habit of building friendship everywhere. He takes friendship with people seriously and he will endear himself to you so much that you can’t afford but to appreciate him. I don’t think everybody can do some of the things he did.
“Like in my own case, when my father died. I was in the mortuary in Owerri. I told him casually that my father died but I didn’t expect that he will come. When I was at the mortuary, they told me that he was outside. There was heavy rainfall and it was beating him. I came out and I saw him. He followed me to the church, from the church, he went to my house. He spent the whole day with me and went back in the evening to Abuja. That is the way he treats all his friends”.
“He married our daughter, Maryam, an Igbo girl. In our culture, when somebody marries your daughter, he is your son-in-law. So, Babangida practically is the son of every Igbo person. As for me, the seven states of Igboland (Delta, Rivers and the five South-East states) gave me a title Aha eji ejemba Ndigbo (the name that opens all doors).
“That means every Igbo child is my son and every Igbo lady is my daughter. So, Babangida is my son by virtue of marrying my daughter and I feel proud that he has all these capacities.”