We return this week with some of the most exciting stories that made headlines last week. These include Femi Adesina telling Nigerians to ‘calm down’ in order to figure out Buhari’s achievements, and Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, declaring that no agency may stop Nigerian leaders from stealing.
These stories are not just served to remind you of what have transpired but to let you know why they may be critical in shaping the country’s political future. Enjoy!
1. Begging for Buhari
Following mounting criticisms over President Muhammadu Buhari’s perceived inactions, his aide on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, on Thursday, August 6, 2020, urged Nigerians to “calm down” in order to locate the achievements of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Adesina, obviously, was borrowing from an expression made popular by youngster Oreofeoluwa Babalola who was seen in a viral video pleading with his mum to ‘calm down’ and not punish him for certain misdemeanours.
Adesina had said, “If you listen to some people; angry youths, religious leaders, political analysts, newspaper columnists, news reviewers, so-called activists, then nothing positive is happening in the country. It is all about insurgency, banditry, killings, joblessness, corruption, lack and deprivation. True? False!
“Those things are there, as they are also in many countries of the world. But they are not the only things happening in Nigeria. Only that we would not see the positive things except we calmed down. We would never enjoy the rainfall if we expect rainstorm to carry away our rooftop at any moment. Calm down. I’m just telling you to be ‘calming’ down.”
Why it matters
Adesina’s desperate pleas suggest that the best of Buhari’s governmental strides may not have impacted Nigerians visibly enough to allow for citizens’ unforced praises.
Indeed, he may have unintentionally forced a narrative that now places his principal in awkward position. Should Buhari’s performance not speak for itself? As Nigerians seek patiently and diligently, it would seem that the more they look, the less they see.
2. Umahi’s August sermons
On Tuesday, August 4, the governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, sermonised on corruption.
He said: “There is no amount of EFCC, ICPC that will stop a leader from stealing. It is only God and conscience that will. When you get older as a leader, what do you want to see in a path that you have crossed before? What do you want to see?
“What do you want your children to be known for? How do you want people to respect your children? Respect them that you stole all the money or that you built all the mansions? We should know that all these wealth are nothing. It must pass from one hand to another.”
Why it matters
Governor Umahi may have restated the obvious. Corruption is unarguably a pandemic in the country and looks to have reached an irredeemable height.
The low marks for Nigeria’s anti-graft institutions is an indication that the reactionary approach has failed woefully to engender new norms. Hence, the call for a value reorientation system that recommends a proactive response.
But is Umahi, like other leaders, not frustrating the anti-corruption war by refusing to institutionalize and domesticate the federal initiative?
Unless there are conscientious efforts to honestly reengineer the country’s value systems, the August sermon by Umahi may amount to shedding crocodile tears.
3. Lai’s ‘hate speech’ joker
The announcement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday, August 4, that the Federal Government had raised the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million has continued to reverberate.
The minister made the statement while unveiling the Reviewed Broadcasting Code in Lagos. Justifying the increase in hate speech fines, Mohammed said the government did that to deter people who willingly violate the provision in the broadcasting code to destabilise the country.
Why it matters
The uncommon resolve to checkmate ‘hate speech’ points to government’s great discomfort with the rising community of dissenters. That the administration is jittery may not be completely unfounded. What with the burden of unaccomplished goals measured against the administration’s promises.
By sidelining the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and thrusting himself forward as driver of the process, Lai Mohammed leaves an eerie feeling that the N5million penalty is intended to intimidate and gag perceived opponents of the government.
The onus is on the Buhari government to prove that it’s not plotting to breach the fundamental rights of citizens under whatever guise.
4. Edo House of drama
Edo State, last week, was a beehive of political activities but the most interesting events were the drama that revolved around the state House of Assembly on Thursday, August 6.
Notable were security operatives’ invasion of the assembly, purported inauguration of 17 state lawmakers, and alleged sack of the assembly speaker. The peak of the drama came with Governor Godwin Obaseki literarily supervising the removal of the assembly complex roof and the blockade of its gates with heaps of sand.
Why it matters
The desecration of Edo House of Assembly illustrates very sharply the little respect the political class has for the country’s democratic institutions. Indeed, it reveals in unmistakable terms the pretentious respect for the principle of separation of power and rule of law.
What transpired in Edo is not an isolated case but a manifestation of the growing culture of impunity that defines the resolve of the ruling class to turn democracy on its head for pure selfish ends.
For the informed, what played out in Edo amounts to scenes from a theatre of the absurd.
5. Sadiya’s N.5bn food ration
On Monday, August 3 the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, told a bewildered nation that the Federal Government had spent about N523.3 million on school feeding programme during the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to her, the Home Grown School Feeding Programme of Buhari’s government was modified and implemented in FCT, Lagos and Ogun states following a presidential directive of March 29.
Why it matters
The project remains largely unbelievable and Nigerians have continued to interrogate the integrity of the entire exercise. Without assured transparency, the conclusion of many is that the venture could only be a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to siphon public funds.
What were the criteria for choosing the three launch sites? Which schools were chosen and why were they selected? What manner of data were generated and how were they evaluated?
Until Sadiya resolves these queries, and many more, her claims would remain what many Nigerians are supposing it to be, another ‘government magic’.
6. Al-Qaeda in Nigeria
On Tuesday, August 4, the Commander of the United States Africa Command, Major General Dagvin Aderson, said that Al-Qaeda was already taking root in the North-West of Nigeria.
Speaking at a virtual press briefing, he said that the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and Al-Shabab had forced over 9,000 schools to close down in the last five years in different African countries, including Nigeria.
Why it matters
The US revelations simply reinforce what Nigerians had always known. And, the facts are that the northern belt of the country remains largely in the throes of terrorists and bandits. It also speaks to official lies that the insurgents have been ‘technically defeated.’
Therefore, despite official position, the report of Al-Qaeda’s infiltration of North-West Nigeria should call for serious concern.
For instance, what is the truth in a recent online video which claimed that some members of the Abubakar Shekau-led faction of Boko Haram insurgents have settled into Niger State, North Central Nigeria, and conducting themselves without let or hindrance.
The buck stops on Buhari’s table and he must take total responsibility and not make Nigerians wallow in the feeling that he had done his best.
Have a great week ahead as QuickRead makes a return next week Sunday.
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- QuickRead: CAN fights CAMA, NBA benches El-Rufai; four other stories of note last week. Why they matter - August 23, 2020