Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to step up the fight against the Islamist militants and violent proponents of secession in his first speech after returning from three months of sick leave in London.
Nigeria’s national unity is “not negotiable,” Buhari, 74, said Monday in a nationally broadcast address. “Terrorists and criminals must be fought and destroyed relentlessly so that the majority of us can live in peace and safety.”
Buhari, who returned to the capital, Abuja, on Saturday, after treatment for an undisclosed illness, didn’t say if he had informed the National Assembly that he’s resuming office. He had temporarily handed over power to his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo.
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He returns at a time when Africa’s biggest oil producer faces a host of threats. The economy contracted last year for the first time since 1991 amid low revenue from crude exports, a conflict with the Islamist militant group Boko Haram has killed tens of thousands of people and threatened parts of the northeast with famine, and secessionist agitation by ethnic Igbos and tensions between them and the northern Hausa people are intensifying.
“We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble and when things get bad they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood,” he said.