President Muhammadu Buhari, while calling out bandits for their nefarious activities, last week, mocked them for living in what he called a fool’s paradise. He also threatened to deal with them while condemning a recent killing of 15 people in Goronyo and Illela Local Government Areas of Sokoto State.
We also tracked two other stories from the seat of power.
Bandits living in fool’s paradise?
President Buhari in a statement issued on November 16 by his media aide, Garba Shehu, said: “This administration will not tolerate this state of affairs where criminals deprive the people of their means of livelihoods and turn them into beggars and refugees. The bandits are living in a fool’s paradise if they believe that they can’t be crushed.”
Buhari’s regular rhetoric on the bandits no longer excites most Nigerians. To many, it is now a ready-made reaction whenever the criminals strike.
Instead of issuing empty threats, the President should match words with actions by supervising the complete decimation of bandits and Boko Haram insurgents that have turned the North into a killing field.
This is the only way he can convince Nigerians that he truly understands the constitutional role of government, and that he has what it takes to protect citizens from criminals who have continued to make life miserable for all.
Unless this is accomplished, Nigerians will continue to perceive Mr President as a toothless dog that can only bark but not bite.
Two other talking points
Negotiating Kanu’s release
President Buhari on November 19 promised to consider the demand by a group of South-East leaders under the aegis of Highly Respected Igbo Greats to release the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, unconditionally.
He had said: “You’ve made an extremely difficult demand on me as leader of this country. The implication of your request is very serious. But the demand you made is heavy. I will consider it.”
Buhari’s promise to consider Kanu’s release will go a long way to deescalate tension in the South-East. It shows the power of dialogue in resolving even the most complicated situations.
The development also holds the prospect of changing the long-held perception that the President has a preconceived disposition towards Ndigbo.
While the presidency toys with a political situation to the Kanu dilemma, it remains to be seen if the celebrated political prisoner would accept to be released on some conditions.
Also interesting would be how the presidency manages the aftermath of Kanu’s release, whether unconditional or not.
On Nigeria’s delist from US blacklist
The Presidency on November 19 accused extremist groups, including the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), of orchestrating falsehood and misinformation that made the United States list Nigeria among nations engaging or promoting activities inimical to religious freedom in the country.
The President’s media aide, Garba Shehu, said in a statement: “This sad and uncalled for ban came on the heels of 12 months of lies by some extremist groups and the banned terrorist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB’s well-funded international media campaign.
“Nigeria should never have been on the list. It was included after paid right-wing American lobbyists were funded millions of dollars by IPOB to spread falsehoods and misinformation about Nigeria.”
The rhetorics from the Presidency can only worsen an already tensed situation and does very little to rebuild confidence in a system riddled with so much bad blood and mutual suspicion.
Rather than hold on to straw, and blame perceived opponents, the government may do well to engender a stronger stakeholder mentality that would reassure dissenting voices of their justiciable place in the Nigerian project.
Trading blames, instead of seeking enduring solutions is certainly not the way to go, and at the core of this approach is the insistence on justice and fair play.
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