Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, spokesman for the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), says he is convinced the presidency has run out of ideas.
Shehu attributed the recent calls for secession to charlatans sponsored to threaten and bully the president into making the wrong decisions.
“I want to assure Nigerians that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is addressing multiple challenges that are facing the country especially in dealing with security and yet we are still making progress in agriculture, economy, anti-corruption,” he said.
“It is sad for the country that opposition is exploiting some of these things. It is quite unfortunate and I want to assure that the president remains focused in preserving the security and unity of this country.
“We accept that dissent is allowed, this is a democracy and people have a right to tell truth to government but we must be careful in doing that. Nobody can bring down the government because this is a government elected democratically.
“Government in a democracy come through periodic elections and if we have a government in office as we have, sponsored by political parties to win the elections, it is telling you that that confidence of the public is still there.
“People with strong ambitions, wait till four years, in fact, in our case, two more years to go to election and President Buhari will not be a candidate in that election.”
Responding, Baba-Ahmed said the manner in which Shehu spoke has made him depressed and also think the presidency has run out of ideas.
The NEF spokesman added that Nigerians want an end to the kidnappings, not excuses.
“Hearing him speak in this manner, I’m more depressed than I was when I came into this studio. This how the spokesperson of the president will respond, just telling people arrests are being made?
“We don’t see anybody being arrested. If they are arrested, why are they not being prosecuted? Yes, he’s right, banditry and kidnapping has become an industry,” he said.
“This thing has grown into a big industry right under the nose of the president. There’s no way you can deflect attention from this. How do you explain the grown sophistication of the criminals in this country?
“You can only do that by acknowledging the failure of the government to secure its citizens. Listening to Garba, to be honest, I just think that the presidency has run out of ideas.
“When they’re confronted with a very serious challenge, they go around looking for all sorts of diversions and excuses. Nigerians don’t want to hear any of this. We want a stop to the kidnappings.”