President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the country on Saturday to the joyful embrace of a relieved nation and a thunderous welcoming ceremony.
However, the ecstasy of the reception should in no way becloud the president to the difficult issues that await him. The president would, however, be helped if he rides on the thrill of the joyful reception to address the many thorns that have solidified on his in-tray.
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
North-South Tension: A divided nation
Undoubtedly the greatest challenge facing the president would be a response to the agitation in the country for restructuring as represented by the quit notice to the Igbo in the North and the reciprocal quit notice issued by Niger Delta militants to the Hausa Fulani in the Niger Delta.
President Buhari as a war time military officer and subsequently as a general who in the early eighties suppressed an Islamic uprising in the Northeast would be expected to toe the line of keeping the country united.
However, given the fact that his appointments helped to stoke claims of marginalisation, focus would be on how the president carries out the series of appointments awaiting him. Would the Southeast which has cried out over being left out from the Buhari government get a relief?
NIA/SGF – Drawing the Curtain
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was the head of the three-man committee that also had the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno which was mandated by the president to probe allegations of financial irregularities raised against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal. The same committee was also mandated to investigate circumstances behind the discovery of an estimated N13 billion cash in foreign currency belonging to the Nigerian Intelligence Agency, NIA in an Ikoyi safe house.
The committee was expected to have submitted the report to the president on May 8, but the president hurriedly left the country just before the deadline given to the committee.
The NIA DG, Ambassador Ayodele Oke, and Mr. Lawal have been on suspension since April. Given the significant roles of the SGF in the coordination of government policies and programmes and the equally significant role of the NIA in the security architecture of the government, it is expected that the president on resumption would immediately draw a curtain on the issues around the NIA/SGF on resumption.
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY – No love lost
Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Senate President Bukola Saraki visited the president at least twice during his latest stay in the United Kingdom. However, that does not in any way reflect a warmth in the relationship between the two arms of government.
Indeed, while the president was away, the Senate vowed not to consider memos from the presidency and turned away some nominations made by the Acting President.
The crisis was not helped by an alleged instruction from the Acting President to nominees to the Independent Corrupt Practises and other related offences Commission, ICPC, the Nigerian Pension Commission, PenCom and Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB to resume office even though their nominations had not been confirmed by the Senate.
The Senate had refused to consider the nominations and gone on recess extending the wait by the nominees and the government.
“We will advise the Acting President who was quoted to have given the directive for the resumption of the nominees that the directive was illegal and not right.
“The Senate will not support any action that is not in line with the law.
“We advise the nominees to hold on until they are cleared by the Senate as required by the law before resuming in their respective offices.
“We do not want anything that will cause problem between the executive and the legislature,” Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi was quoted as saying in a statement last weekend.
APC – Unravelling
To the embarrassment of members of the president’s party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, their party has become a sort of laughing stock with allegations of incoherence in policies and strategies.
At the recent convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Abuja, Chief Tom Ikimi, ironically chairman of the merger committee of the APC, taunted his former party for its inability to host its long delayed national convention or even to inaugurate its Board of Trustees, BoT.
The APC is undeniably enmeshed in a crisis of identity given the antipathy of some of its leading members to one another.
President Buhari who had been the unifying factor in the party if he is up to it physically is expected to provide the leadership that could pull the party out of its doldrums.
The necessity of the APC unifying would not be lost on the president as his agenda and long time legacy could be imperiled if he is unable to win or project a successor in 2019.
THE CABINET AND CABAL – Fresh legs
As the president went on his medical leave and his seemingly average performance in office began to ricochet against his once unassailable persona, questions began to arise over the makeup of the cabinet and indeed the inner circle.
Days before he left, speculations that the president was about to take control of his government from those he had seemingly delegated authority to, to wit, that is the famed cabal, began to reverberate.
Some allege that it was on account of a planned cabinet shakeup that portfolios were not assigned to the two ministers that were screened just before his departure but who were left without a portfolio. The two ministers were last week assigned their portfolios following mutterings across the polity that Acting President Yemi Osinbajo was only a figurehead who lacked real authority.
THE PRESIDENT’S HEALTH – The right to know
When the president speaks to the nation, critical-minded Nigerians would be looking up to the president to speak up on what took him away from the millions of Nigerians who voted him to the office a little over two years ago.
Given the embarrassment of contradicting his own stance against foreign medical tourism, many Nigerians would want to be assured that only a very critical reason justified the president’s resort to the United Kingdom for 104 days.
BOKO HARAM REVIVAL – Defeat order was given two years ago
Just a little over two years ago on August 13, 2015, the president gave the service chiefs a three-month deadline to defeat Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group that had scourged much of the Northeast and the North.
Three months later, the government information system pronounced the terrorist group to have been technically defeated.
However, despite the claim of victory, much of Borno State had remained largely unsafe with only the state capital, Maiduguri as a relatively safe enclosure.
However, two years after the marching order even Maiduguri has been faced with numerous attacks staged by the insurgents with the University of Maiduguri, a fancy spot for the insurgents.
Presently some academics involved in the exploration of oil in the Chad Basin were recently kidnapped by the terrorists.
The president’s return would give the Commander-in-Chief to propound fresh strategies to sufficiently defeat the insurgents.