Last week, the Presidency counseled non-state actors who derive pleasure in criticising President Muhammadu Buhari.
This is not unconnected with the never-ending criticisms trailing the perceived shortcomings of the Buhari-led administration.
This, and two other stories, attracted conversations around the Nigerian project.
When, where is right to knock govt?
On July 21, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, advised non-state actors to desist from criticising the Buhari administration in foreign countries.
“There’s nothing to gain by disparaging your country overseas. Every citizen must respect their nation. Those countries they go to and say bad things about Nigeria, their citizens dare not do that,” Shehu stated.
The Presidency’s discomfort comes at a time that the country’s image is receiving a lot of battering for the failing attempts of its managers to harness Nigeria’s huge endowments for developmental goals.
Indeed, what dominates the media space are reports of rising insecurity, economic downturn, secessionist agitations, among others.
While it is arguable that Nigeria is struggling with a battered image, the admonitions by the presidency continue to expose its intolerance to opposing views or dissenting voices.
Some public figures had walked this path, and the most recent example that worked up the Buhari administration is the Bishop Matthew Kukah virtual address to the United States Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs regarding the wave of insecurity ravaging Nigeria.
Shehu, in the performance of his Spin Doctor duties to the President, has to come to terms with the fact that the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression is not one that stipulates physical boundaries for holding an opinion, especially if it has to do with perceived bad governance.
Worthy of note also is that acts of intimidation or harassment may do little to dissuade citizens from protestations unless there is a remarkable improvement in the quality of services rendered to the people.
Two other talking points
Hunting corrupt contractors
President Buhari, on July 23, urged contractors and other privileged Nigerians not to give him or other public officers financial gifts, but pursue acts of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Buhari made the statement when he visited the Emir of Daura, Dr. Umar Faruk, at his palace, in Daura, Katsina State.
“I don’t want your cheque. Go and assist our communities,” he said.
Buhari’s position rubs on his anti-corruption crusade and exemplifies his stand against contractors who indulge in different forms of shady deals to keep getting juicy contracts.
Indeed, Buhari’s submissions could not have come at a better time than now when several MDAs are mired in over-invoicing and non-remittance of revenues generated by them in disregard of extant rules.
Needless to add that it would amount to mere posturing unless the President walks the talk by prosecuting public officers, and contractors caught in the act of siphoning resources belonging to the state for personal gains.
This would help bring the sanity he craves for.
On July 20, President Buhari charged Nigerians to aspire for a united and prosperous Nigeria instead of fanning the embers of division.
Speaking to corps members who paid him Sallah homage at his residence at Daura, Katsina State, he said: “I assure you that, there is much better of a united Nigerian and rather than a fallout.”
Buhari’s preachment on Nigeria’s unity cannot be over-stressed. As desirable as it is, there must be conditions precedent for unity, peace and stability to reign.
While it could be argued that there is strength in unity, these conditions cannot be far from justice, equity and fair play.
The President and the ruling party must honestly ask themselves if the administration has truly acquitted itself in terms of giving all federating units a sense of belonging in the Nigerian project.
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