By Julius Oweh
THE one hundred and four days of President THE one hundred and four days of President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical sojourn opened the fault lines of the nation and a clear advertisement that ours is pretending to be a nation.
For those days, the ship of the nation was clearly adrift with an absentee president and a nominal acting president that could not deliver effective leadership because of some deep rooted cabals and interest group. In fact, the nation was on auto pilot and the information managers did a poor job about the president’s health status. As you read this piece, Nigerians are yet to be told the nature of the president’s illness and how much the nation has spent in treating him.
Therefore any talk about the buy made- in- Nigeria product campaign of the present administration is shattered by the medical tourism of the president. The less than seven minutes broadcast of the president, failed to address the pressing issues of the moment- restructuring and fiscal federalism. Furthermore, the hard stance of the president in his words `the unity of the nation is settled` is a clear indication that the president is very far from the reality of the moment. He has to climb down from the high horse and address the needs of the people especially those of the south.
There is too much distrust and the perception of his administration in some quarters is that he only ministers to the needs of the north. That is very far from his mandate, and the oath of office and that of allegiance that he swore to.Let it be emphasised that ours is a limping federation with clear marks of unitary system. Let those with plastic ears continue to delude themselves that our federation is working.
The unity of the nation cannot be settled where there are clear evidence of citizens and subjects in one entity. Majority of southerners and some northerners with patriotic hue are of the firm conviction of the need of restructuring and entrenching the ethos of federalism. You may not like the ill mannered nature of Nnamdi Kanu’s Independent People of Biafra, IPOB ,his caustic tongue and uncouth language. But it is the symbol of the sickness that plagues the nation. Similarly, you can condemn the bombing of pipelines by the Niger Delta militants; the message is that the goose that lays the golden egg is neglected.In well organised federal country, the local councils are not part of the federating units. Even our 1999 constitution says that the federating units shall be the states and the federal capital territory. But in another clause, the local councils are listed in the constitution.
This is clearly an aberration and the national legislators who are supposed to correct this anomaly via constitutional amendment are idling away by simply contemplating their political navel. These are grave signs that the nation is drifting and those who are supposed to stop the drift are more interested in cornering the wealth of the nation for self, family and their cronies.
There are too many problems plaguing the nation and it shows that both the executive and the legislators at the federal level have lost grip of effective governance. The Fulani herdsmen are decimating the nation, killing people with effortless ease and government pretends that all is normal. There is still Boko Haram bombing the country, yet government lives in the denial of the existence of the terrorist group. There are too many agitations for self governance with IPOB getting the infamous position as number one.
There are too many people running their mouths with hate speech and giving ultimatum to other Nigerians to leave their regions. Kidnapping and armed robbery are now the signature tunes of the nation with the security operatives overwhelm. Add the unemployment scourge and the harsh economic down turn, the nation is just waiting to explode or at best acquiring the toga of a failed state. There is little or no governance at the state level where governors see the payment of salaries as one of their achievements.
The local councils have been so strangulated that they only exist by their signboards. The ills of the nation are just too numerous with an uncaring and indifferent government looking the other way. But this piece must give kudos to the civil society groups and the press for always pointing out the faults of these men in the corridor of power. The truth must be told. The darkness is imminent and it would be a great tragedy for Nigeria to fail as a nation and disintegrate into many states. It is not too late for the Buhari administration and the national assembly to retrace their steps and do what is needful for the benefits of all Nigerians and generations to come. Restructuring and institutionalization of fiscal federalism could douse the flames of agitations and the raging political furnace. To borrow a leaf from the eternal lines of John F Kennedy: Those who make peaceful change impossible, made violent change inevitable. I rest my case.Julius Oweh, a journalist.