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In the haze of the lacerating bashing on Monday, I shared my view of the president’s address on Facebook. Sometimes, I do this in that social crucible to distill the opinions of a cross section of people on a subject – in view of an impending treatise.
“It will only take a pliable and malleable god to please some Nigerians. The president did a broadcast and addressed minatory issues – ethnic tension, Igbo quit notice and hate messages – affecting the country; yet some citizens think his speech was vacuous. I may not like this government, but President Buhari hit the core issues of the moment in his address. It shows he is attuned to the rhythm of the times,” I wrote.
My takeaway from reactions to this piece was that some Nigerians expected more than a five-minute speech. They wanted a long and detailed “epistle” touching all national crevices. But I am of view that the president addressed the bleeding issues of the moment with precision and gravitas in that speech.
Two days before the broadcast, I wrote an article to nudge the president on some of the issues that required exigent tackling. One of the issues was “the Igbo quite notice”.
Lest we forget, two few months ago, some northern youth groups asked the Igbo to leave the region by October 1. Despite peace meetings and entreaties, the groups stuck to their guns.
Although, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo subtly waded into the matter, the northern youth did not withdraw their threat.
In the article, I urged Buhari, being from the north and with an irrepressible following in the region, to make a deft and definite statement by stepping in. I am glad he did that duty.
I am elated that 72 hours after his declaration that Nigerians are free to live anywhere in the country, Arewa youth did a volte-face – they withdrew their threat.
As it is, Buhari may have saved Ndi Igbo in the north from doom. We may not appreciate the magnitude of his intervention, but he has dealt a coup de grace to a very potent threat. Well, he is the president.
Also, just days ago, there was a hate-brewed song targeting the Igbo rippling in the north; coupled with the quit notice, it was clear that the situation might combust.
As a matter of fact, it is reassuring that in his first speech since his return from the UK, the president chose to intervene in this direction.
I must admit that the speech might not have contained all the fine details that Nigerians desire, but it addressed the vitals of the moment. At present, Nigeria is teetering on the brink of a hate war, and its existence is threatened; it was judicious of the president to have planted his speech on unity.
In conclusion, I believe in the coming days the president will tackle other issues. But I must add that his government is fasting chipping away at its support. I had great optimism when this government took charge of the country’s affairs two years ago, but that optimism has evaporated. For the good of toiling and long-suffering Nigerians, I hope the president wakes up and save the day.
In defence of Garba Shehu
Shehu has come under a fusillade of attacks for being brutally honest about rodents in the president’s office. It is a tough job for the man, but I believe he is fending off the missiles well. Although, it sounds ludicrous that there are rodents in the president’s office – the reason he is working from his residence – but it is a possibility. Shehu’s only offence was being honest about the situation. When Buhari came back from his first trip to the UK in March, the same Shehu told Nigerians that the president would be working from his residence based on his doctor’s advice. Why would he want to pool wool over the eyes of citizens now? Enough of the unnecessary attacks please.
Force did not kill Niger Delta militancy and OPC; it will not kill IPOB ‘secret police’
In Nigeria, ethnic “police” or militants have always risen on the wings of the frustration of a certain group. They start off as civil watchdogs, and then descend into barbarity. I remember how the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) which initially won the support of most people in the south-west by dint of its feats became a figure of brutality and assault.
The Obasanjo government did all it could to crush OPC, but it could not extirpate the group. The government arrested and paraded Gani Adams, the leader of the group, like a criminal on national TV. But today, Adams is an influential chief in the south-west, and OPC still breathes, albeit, gently. Also, the same Obasanjo government unleashed force on militants in the Niger Delta, but that did not solve the problem. Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua, his successor, ended up begging them for peace, and I am aware that the Buhari government is negotiating with their elders now. So, the government should take care in dealing with IPOB and its secret police, considering the charge given to military chiefs by the president on Tuesday to tackle the group. Naked force and brutal crackdown will only make IPOB go underground, and who knows the monster that may emerge afterwards.
I suggest dialogue now that it is still morning. But why do we have to keep saying this? Have we forgotten how Boko Haram started?