President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, wondered why some Igbo men are clamouring for separation.
He described as “unthinkable” attempts by any Igbo man to leave the country.
The president said Igbo people are relevant in Nigeria, adding that they have successful businesses across the country.
The President spoke at a town hall meeting with South-East leaders during his one-day official visit to Imo State.
Buhari’s visit to Imo State came about two months after the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamndi Kanu, was arrested overseas and extradited to Nigeria to face trial.
The outlawed IPOB had called for people to stay home and for businesses to close to protest against Buhari’s Imo visit.
On Thursday, main roads were empty and markets and shops remained shut in Owerri, The PUNCH reports.
A statement quoted the president as saying that with less than two years left in his eight-year tenure as the President of Nigeria, security would remain a major priority for his regime.
The statement signed by Buhari’s media aide, Femi Adesina, was titled, ‘I want to be remembered as a president who stabilised Nigeria, President Buhari tells South-East leaders’, on Thursday.
Acknowledging the resourcefulness and enterprising spirit of Igbo people, the President said, “The fundamental thing about the Igbo people is that there is no town you will visit in Nigeria without seeing the Igbos being in charge of either infrastructure or pharmaceutical industry.
“Therefore, it is unthinkable for me that any Igbo man would consider himself not to be a part of Nigeria.
“The evidence is there for everyone to see that Igbos are in charge of Nigeria’s economy.”
Noting that no country can make any meaningful progress without the development of infrastructure, the president expressed regret that successive governments at the Federal level contributed to the decay of critical infrastructure in the country.
He promised that the Federal Government would complete ongoing key projects in the South East, including the 2nd Niger Bridge as well as the railway lines and routes linking the region with other parts of the country.
“I firmly believe that when you get infrastructure right, Nigerians will mind their own businesses,” he said, adding that as a group, the Igbos stand to benefit more from the ongoing development of infrastructure in the country because “they are more enterprising”.
Buhari had earlier commissioned four projects executed by Governor Hope Uzodinma, including the Naze/Ihiagwa/Nekede/Obinze link road, the Balloon Driven/Flood Control drainage at Dick Tiger Road, the Egbeada Bypass road and the New Exco-Chambers, Government House, Owerri.
Addressing Imo residents at the commissioning of Egbeada bypass named after a prominent son of the State, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the president said he was very impressed with the level of work done by the State government.
“I am very pleased with what I have seen and I assure you that I will support Imo State within the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said.