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OPINION: Gaza strips in Nigeria

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OPINION: Buhari’s presidency at Nigeria’s expense [1]

LIKE his predecessor Nigeria’s President, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is not enamoured with visiting states in the country in a scheduled and organized manner. Also like Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari he is in love with frequent travels abroad in the guise of wooing foreign investors. In reality he makes the sorties abroad in search of acceptance and validity by the West given the controversies of the election through which he was declared president and his own not too ennobling personal circumstances-disputed identity, queried schools, dodgy certificates or diplomas, association with drug traffickers,documented forfeiture of drug money in a foreign land, among many others. He also frequently goes abroad on medical tourism. On the health issue, it has been like from Buhari-to-Buhari. But unlike Buhari we pray that Tinubu will not have the need to spend103 consecutive days in a hospital bed abroad.

Recently, President Tinubu’s infrequent local trips took him to Minna, capital of Niger state. But to invite Tinubu to Minna, the state governor, Mohammed Umar Bago, had first to go to Abuja to grovel, squat and to virtually walk on all fours before the president to make him accept the invitation. Some said, however, that the fawning and grovelling of the governor was a form of apology for misspeaking at a newspaper’s award ceremony a few days earlier where Bago was reported to have referred to an opposition politician, Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party, as ‘our leader’. It was said that that reference to Obi so publicly rankled the deity in the Villa. If the governor had the temerity to be effusive in publicly eulogizing Obi, then the president would be in order in equally publicly humiliating the governor. While Bago was probably inside the cavernous bowels of the Aso Rock Villa, the picture of his grovelling and crawling before the president had started trending on the social media worldwide. The image was pathetic to behold. There is nothing in recent memory that can be compared with that unsightly humiliation of a sitting state governor, not anywhere in the world. Not even the prime minister of Britain approaches the King of England in such an undignified manner. The ugly sight of the governor in front of a ‘towering’ Tinubu diminishes our constitutional democracy. Regime apologists and misguided ‘culture activists’ will soon begin to claim that Bago’s degrading display was a show of respect to the occupant of a higher national office who happened to be older than him. It was not. Bago was not in the Villa in his personal capacity. On that occasion, he was carrying with him the dignity of Niger state and its peoples. When he grovels, it was the whole of Niger state that was grovelling before Tinubu. When he crawls, it was the entirety of Niger state that was crawling before the president. We know that we are operating a ranka dede or kabiyesi democracy but should we so recklessly and shamelessly project same to the world? Eventually, probably because of Bago’s rolling on the ground and diminishing his office and people, Tinubu accepted to visit the state to commission some farming implementsand equipmentrecently acquired by the government of Niger state, and then also commission the refurbished late Mallam Abubakar Imam Airport in the state capital. Imam was said to be a highly revered journalist from that area. But when the plaque was unveiled the airport had changed name from Mallam Abubakar Imam to Bola Ahmed Tinubu [International]Airport, Minna. However, Tinubu is not to blame for that act of perfidy although a man who sets store on morality and decency would have declined that unmerited and dubious honour. Commissioning farming instruments cannot be stretched to be a high-minded achievement for which he had to be so honoured.

Furthermore, Niger state indigenes and residents are also part and parcel of Nigerian citizens who have been visited with hunger bordering on starvation by the tardy economic policies of the honoree. On this score, Bago ranks very high on sycophancy, hypocrisy and hubris. And he found a ‘victim’ in the president who has so many holes in his name and who is in urgent need to fill the gaping holes. But the crux of the matter in last week’s visit of Tinubu to Niger state was not the foregoing. What should be of concern to discerning Nigerians was his casual statement that if the governors of the states in Nigeria carved out and allocated lands to him,he, [President Tinubu], will solve the protracted and usually very bloody herders/farmers crisis within three weeks. In 10 months since his accession to the presidency, Tinubu has proved himself incapable of possessing or grasping the fine details of statecraft in the 21st Century. His proclivity and disposition and tardiness in policy formulation and implementation are befuddling. And Nigerians are paying a very huge and steep price because of the actions of a president who appears to be unstable in his ways and certainly chaotic in his methods.

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Tinubu needs to be stopped on his order to the states to award lands to him to build Ruga or herders’ enclaves in every state of Nigeria. Save us the explanation that the president merely made a request for land. No he didn’t. We operate a weird federal system where a presidential statement invariably carries the weight of a law. Grovelling, fawning and crawling before a president, any president for that matter, is not only in the DNA of Bago. It’s in the make-up of many governors, especially the current crop. Sooner than we can imagine many governors, without consulting with their people, will begin to fall over themselves to allocate vast portions of lands to Tinubu for Ruga. Who among them will not like to be in the good graces of a president who is knownto be vicious and vindictive? Who among the governors will dare to be in the cross hairs of a man whose iron grip on Lagosstate since after his governorship is legendary?

Who among the governors will dare to do anything that would portray him as opposing a president who has in less than one year elevated favouritism and nepotism to veritable instruments of governance? But the existential threat Nigeria faces in this presidential demand for land in the states to build Ruga settlements in the heart of the country’s territory is foreboding. It should be rejected and stoutly resisted. It will be a dagger in the heart of Nigeria. It will be akin to having Gaza Strips in every state and especially in southern states.Like in the Middle East, our Gaza Strips will have no peace and the host communities will be perpetually troubled.

President Tinubu’s demand for lands in states is a clear indication that he does not understand the issues concerning the so-called herders-farmers clashes. There’s nothing like herders-farmers clashes and a poor definition of a problem will only result in a solution that will cause more problems. Herders-farmers clashes was framed by the Buhari regime and sold to themainstreammedia. And the media ignorantly ran with it. What we had, and we are still having, is terrorismon farmers bythe so-called herders. Simply put, they are not herders, they are terrorists masquerading as cattle rearers. So what President Tinubu is asking for is for states to allocate lands to him to build enclaves for terrorists many of whom are said to be foreigners. Many Nigerians expressed outrage when a Buhari spokesman suggested some years ago that indigenes of the Middle Belt should consider surrendering their ancestral lands to terrorists in exchange for their lives. Now Tinubu plans to up the ante. He is ordering us to embrace terrorists for whom he will build staging posts for their acts of terrorism in all the states of the country. That should not happen. That will not happen.

By Tinubu’s thoughtless demand for lands, he is setting up the governors for blame whenever the so-called herders unleash their terrorism on farmers, going forward. He will claim that the bloodletting would have been avoided if the governors had allocated landsto him to build a haven for terrorists. If the governors, especially governors in the southern parts of the country, are mindful of their legacy, this is the time to vigorously and forcefully push back on this dangerous proposal by Tinubu. Political party affiliation should be of no consideration in rejecting Tinubu. By the way, cattle rearing or livestock trade is a multi-million Naira business. If this be the case, why is the Nigerian state bent on deploying public wealth or resources for the benefit of a few people. Herds of cattle that roam the country and destroy farmers’ crops and during which some farmers are raped, maimed and killed by the terrorists do not belong to the boys who shepherdthem. The cattle belong to well-heeled individuals. Some of the owners of these herds of cattle are well educated, widely travelled and appreciate the place of ranching in their business. They can afford the financial requirements for ranching and access to credit should the need arise. They are also well connected and can approach any state government for allocation of lands for their ranching business. Their business will prosper and they will contribute their own quota to curbing terrorism in the country. Of course, it will be a lot easier for a state to hold the owner of any ranch to account in the event the place is used as a staging post for any terrorist activity. Tinubu has a history of ill-digested and haphazard policies including petrol subsidy removal, floating of the Naira, students loan scheme, wage awards, expats employment tax, among others. These policies and programmes have turned out to be driven by the whims of the president. They were obviously not attended to by vigour and rigour and they lacked the benefits of consultations with relevant stakeholders. Nigeria cannot afford the plot to build terrorists’ enclaves in the states in the guise of accommodating herders. It will be a recipe for disaster.

AUTHOR: UGO ONUOHA


Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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