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Sunday, August 1, 2021

When Buhari finally spoke

LEADERS, particularly in democratic societies, are expected to have constant engagements with the citizens, most especially at challenging moments. Such desperate situations requiring urgent conversations are presently playing out in Nigeria, as the nation speedily tilts on the edge, and drifting fast into the precipice.
WITH insecurity reaching its feverish-pitch, reflected in the spates of kidnappings, arsons, killings and palpable reports of invasion by trans-national terrorist groups, Nigerians are despondent, and clothed in a climate of fear. This is more so as the United States of America and other international players have variously warned the country of a systematically-organised aggressions by international terror organisations, such as ISWAP, ISIS, etc.
AMIDST the frustrating helplessness and despondency thrown up by these attrition, with Nigeria tripping to the edge, and sliding fast into a state of lawlessness, people naturally got agitated and expected the president to do the needful and unveil his plans to address the security challenges, particularly having to speak to Nigerians. However, the President seemed incommunicado for a very long time, with the silence of a graveyard, as he recently finally spoke. While the silence of the President lasted, Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, released a couple of statements on behalf of the presidency, that seemingly encompassed a greater number of individuals that were obviously not joint-holders of the mandate given to President Muhammadu Buhari.
HOWEVER, the President finally spoke during a meeting with the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakub, when he was on hand to brief the president about the various attacks on INEC facilities across the country, particularly in South-Eastern Nigeria. Making an obvious reference to the Nigeria Civil War, and his participation, the President had decried the activities of people promoting violence, declaring that he would deal with them “in the language they understand”.
THE Civil-War referencing in the statement of the President caused tongues to wag, with both Nigerians and members of the international community adducing the spirit and attitude discernible from the statement to the posturing of a military dictator, which obviously brought to light the odious past of the President, as a military ruler under which the rights of citizens were violated. The deletion of the video of the President where he made this statement, posted on the official handle of the Presidency, by Twitter equally generated far-reaching reactions, including the indefinite suspension of the operations of Twitter in Nigeria by the government.
THE Hope is of the opinion that even though the lessons of the Civil War have not been lost, the threat-laden response of the President to the avalanche of security problems in the country was provocative, to say the least, and a radical departure from the conciliatory, inclusive and reassuring dispositions required to blur divisions, and mend fault-lines, without necessarily compromising responsible and responsive democratic responsibility and task of defending the sovereignty of the country. Simply put, the consequences of this statement are devastating, amidst distrust between the citizens and the government. This is more so as the government has been too slow in tackling the numerous challenges confronting the nation.
WHILE noting that ensuring the security of lives and property was one of the three cardinal programmes of his campaign, which led to his emergence as President in 2015, it is our opinion that insecurity has escalated under the watch of President Buhari led regime, notwithstanding the acclaimed successes recorded in that area. The Hope believes that part of what fuelled insecurity under this administration is the inability of the government to build an all-inclusive government, through appointments of Nigerians across ethno-religious lines into critical sectors of the country, specifically the appointments of security chiefs and other handlers. The hues and cries about marginalisation and the attendant agitations have further aggravated the precarious security situation in the country.
THE Hope firmly believes that the trauma of the Civil War should not be reopened, in a manner that can once again resuscitate personal and collective anguish and losses of loved ones, economic gains and ancestral connections. The President must continue to provide good leadership that would engender reconciliation and peaceful co-existence, not minding the divisive propensities of certain individuals.
THIS is more so as The Hope is strongly of the opinion that genuine reconciliation, peace-building, justice and fairness in the polity are necessary ingredients for national cohesion, citizenship participation and collective nation-building. No doubt, The Hope opined that this is not a time to issue threats, but a period to pull all together to confront the monster of insecurity.

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