The presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, last week, said the arrest and trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, would accelerate the demise of the secessionist group.
Shehu was reacting to an editorial by a London-based magazine, The Economist, criticizing President Muhammadu Buhari government’s failure to address the myriad of challenges including the crippling economy, corruption, and insecurity rocking the country.
The presidential aide’s remarks triggered conversations among Nigerians last week.
We tracked two other stories from the Presidency for your reading delight.
Will Kanu’s trial fast-track IPOB’s demise?
Shehu had said on October 24 that IPOB would soon die following the arrest and subsequent trial of its leader for alleged treasonable felony and other charges by the Federal Government.
The Presidential aide who made the remarks in a statement said: “In the South-East, IPOB – which the Economist rightly describes as ‘delusional’ – the arrest and present trial of the terrorist leader of the group is the beginning of its demise. The President’s administration is redoubling efforts to have IPOB rightfully designated as a terrorist group by our allies outside Nigeria – an act which will collapse their ability to transact gains from crime and extortion in foreign currencies.”
Shehu’s statement continues to portray the body language of the Presidency as one that is not in a hurry to think out of the box in addressing rising feelings of injustice which are confirmed to be grounds for secessionist agitations led by IPOB in the South-East.
If Shehu is rightly adjudged to be speaking for the Buhari-led administration, his utterances clearly betray the intentions of his principal and also hints at the desperation of the government to crush the group by fair or foul means.
Indeed, the Presidency’s disposition highlights the shortsightedness of the administration and gives it away as one that is playing the ostrich, pretending to forget in a hurry the rapidly growing influence of IPOB which has in the last caused citizens in the South-East region to sit at home every Monday against government’s directives.
The Presidency must cease playing the ostrich now and act smart by opening its doors to political options, including dialogue, as this would help douse the tension in the region, occasioned by concerns over marginalization.
Two other talking points
Buhari’s position on tenure extension
President Buhari on October 29 ended speculations that he was secretly pursuing a tenure extension agenda by stopping campaigners on their track.
Buhari, who addressed some Nigerians in Saudi Arabia, said: “I swore by the Holy Qur’an that I will serve by the constitution and leave when my time up. No Tazarce (tenure extension). I don’t want anybody to start talking about and campaigning for an unconstitutional extension. I will not accept that.”
Buhari’s remarks reaffirm his commitment to keeping to the dictates of the constitution he swore to uphold.
It positions him as one who is determined not to alter the growth of Nigeria’s democracy, especially at this time when military takeover of power from despots and sit-tight leaders has become the new order in Africa.
Mr. President’s timely warning to the tenure extension campaigners goes to arrest any form of confusion or unrest that would have permeated different parts of the country.
No doubt, keeping silent in the face of such needless distraction would have fuelled unrest in the already heated political space.
President’s special praise for military
President Buhari on October 25 praised the Nigerian Armed Forces for ensuring Nigeria’s stability and peace amidst the various challenges.
In his address at the launch of the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day emblem in Abuja, Buhari said, among others: “Our country’s efforts at nationhood since independence have been challenged by civil strife, civil war and much uprising and violent agitations.
“The exploits of our Armed Forces to maintain peace as well as their disposition to the unity of Nigeria have contributed in no small measure to our stability.”
Buhari’s encomium on the Armed Forces could not have come at a better time. The country’s armed forces are the unseen heroes of the Nigerian State.
Many military personnel have paid the supreme price and several others became permanently incapacitated in the course of defending the country’s territorial integrity from external aggressors and internal enemies including the Boko Haram insurgents, bandits and other violent non-state actors.
Across the country’s six geopolitical zones, the military is over-stretched, fighting one criminal group or the other and this has not dampened the troops’ morale in the quest to defend their fatherland.
However, beyond the commendation, President Buhari as the country’s Commander-In-Chief must make the welfare of the armed forces a priority and address the various complaints that have bogged down the military including the provision of substandard arms and ammunition and lack of motivation among others in the last few years.
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