Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari differed from what many consider as dominant issues holding the country down. These are the factors of ethnicity and religion which have a long history of acting as divisive influences among Nigerians.
Buhari, in his wisdom, rather heaped the blame on the Nigerian citizenry.
We explore his thoughts in this edition of Aso Rock Watch while also x-raying two other stories that drove national conversations past week.
Unbundling Nigeria’s problems
On June 30, President Buhari declared that the Nigerian people are Nigeria’s problem, not ethnicity or religion as seen by many.
The President said this while receiving members of the Muhammadu Buhari/Osinbajo (MBO), Dynamic Support Group, who visited the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, to present a compendium of five-year achievements of the administration.
Chronicling his travails to get justice at the courts, after disputed results of 2003, 2007 and 2011 presidential elections, he said, among others: “Our problem is not ethnicity or religion, it is ourselves.”
Buhari’s considered view of Nigeria’s problem could be seen as a simplistic response to a complex matter.
It could well be perceived as diversionary tactics given the humongous failure of the Buhari administration to appropriately harness the country’s diversity for maximum benefits.
Indeed, if the blame for mismanagement of the country’s different ethnic and religion interests is to be apportioned to citizens, then the President must consider himself leader of the pack of failures.
If there is a time Nigeria has been widely polarised along ethnical and religious lines, it is now. The growing secessionist movement in the South West for a Yoruba Nation is mostly driven by the President’s perceived pampering of armed herdsmen, generally assumed to be from his ethnic group, who have been blamed wanton destruction of lives and property.
On the other hand, the cries of marginalisation, especially from the people of the South, owing to Buhari’s offering of juicy appointments to most Northern Muslims, remains a big cause of worry.
President Buhari must, therefore, resist the temptation to be overly simplistic in his appreciation of the troubles with Nigeria but come to grips with the fact that the quality of leadership offer led Nigerians over the years has been terribly abysmal.
What the country needs is a leadership that can best harness Nigeria’s diversity encapsulated in the the number of its ethnic groups and culture. Buhari has just two years to change the narrative. Will he?
Two other talking points
Buhari, address NDA’s threat!
The Presidency, on June 27, declared as unnecessary the threat by the militant group, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), saying that he has already addressed their concerns.
The group had, on June 26, threatened to unleash ‘Operation Humble,’ which it said would bring “down target oil installations capable of humbling the economy into permanent recession,” unless their demands such as development of the Niger Delta and restructuring are met.
The Presidency, through Femi Adesina, had reacted thus: “…the germane issues had been responded to, especially call for restructuring of the federation, and the inauguration of a Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).”
Buhari’s casual response is typical and portends great danger for the region in particular and the country in general.
It would be recalled how, in 2016, the group attacked oil fields and terminals and pushed the country’s oil production and export down between 1.4 and 1.5 barrels per day from its original capacity of 2.2 and 2.3 million barrels per day.
While violence is not advisable to addressing issues, it is doubtful if waving off the threat is the most tactical response to a potentially volatile issue.
It does seem that dialogue is the most sensible and sustainable option here. It is curious though that President Buhari has continued to allow the law that set up NNDC to be thrashed by its current leadership.
Osinbajo’s security assurances
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on June 29, assured that kidnapping, banditry and insecurity would soon become things of the past.
Speaking at an ECWA event in Kaduna, and represented by the Chaplain, Aso Rock Villa, Pastor Joseph Oluseyi Malomo, he said: “We all desired a nation devoid of any form kidnapping and terrorism….We must reject politics of identity and ethnicity. Nigeria is going to be a shining nation, and insecurity will soon end.”
Osinbajo may have done well to reassure Nigerians on the challenges of insecurity. As persuasive as he sounds, the Vice President, however, must appreciate that Nigeria’s security challenges have gone beyond the realm of mere assurances.
The people are in dire need of government action to secure their lives and property. Osinbajo, and his principal, Buhari, must act fast and stop the quick descent into anarchy.
By John Chukwu…
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