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Buhari’s foreign forum

By Donu Kobara
SEVERAL people have grumbled to me – and in various public fora – about the speech, Mr President gave at the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, earlier on this week…on the grounds that he barely focussed on Nigeria and mostly talked about other African countries and the rest of the world.

President Muhammadu Buhari  at the UNGA72 held in New York.

I’ve not hesitated to criticise Muhammadu Buhari whenever I have concluded that he has gone down the wrong path. But I’m with him on this occasion and don’t understand why some folks expected him to list our multiple woes at UNGA.

As far as I’m concerned, the speech was fine because UNGA is more about international relations than domestic issues…and is an opportunity for heads of state to come across as cosmopolitan statesmen rather than local champions.

Buhari backyard: Having said this, Buhari shouldn’t tarry too long overseas because he has one helluva mess to sort out in his own backyard. The stand-off between the military and Indigenous People of Biafra activists, for example, is extremely worrying.

No government on earth is going to cheerfully tolerate ongoing belligerence from any sub-section of the population; but I’ve heard it said by numerous objective (ie, non-Igbo) commentators that the army has gone too far and is cracking a nut with a sledgehammer. And I personally think it very strange that a rag-tag band of ethnic warriors – most of whom don’t have a clue how to fire a gun or build/detonate a bomb – have been “elevated” to terrorist status.

Emmanuel Ugwu, a writer I chanced upon when I checked out the Sahara Reporters website, describes IPOB as “an amorphous personality cult that has formed around Nnamdi Kanu”; and I couldn’t have put it better myself.

On this page, I recently complained about the deification of Kanu…a process the government has inadvertently assisted by turning him into a martyr.

Now it’s illegal to own Biafran paraphernalia – flags and so on. And the internet is full of harrowing videos purporting to show IPOB members being harassed, humiliated and murdered by soldiers. Social media is at full throttle.

I have received these videos from so many different sources, including foreign ones. An APC member friend tells me that most of them are fake…and that a lot of law enforcement personnel have been killed or injured by IPOB boys. But a more commonplace view is that the army is an evil, lying human rights abuser.

Where will it all end? Not well for the government’s image, I suspect.

In the meantime, while the usual Igbophobists spout hateful anti-Igbo rhetoric and carry on as if all Igbos are dangerous secessionists who must be quelled, let us please remember that Kanu does not speak for every member of his tribe.

Many Igbos feel marginalised but have no interest in joining the IPOB bandwagon and are totally committed to the One-Nigeria ideal. Some Igbos don’t even feel marginalised, fondly recalling times when their kith and kin have held key Federal positions such as Minister of Finance and President of the Senate.

I personally do not regard Nigerian unity as non-negotiable. As far as I am concerned, Nigeria is a semi-failed state that should look into every alternative modus operandi, with a view to achieving better results in future.

And I would strongly urge Buhari and his supporters to not only sit down with disgruntled Igbos and find out what exactly is bothering them…but also seriously reconsider this administration’s reluctance to embrace restructuring.

A word is enough for the wise.

I totally agree!

NOBEL Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has said that it is sickening for anybody to be canvassing a second term for President Muhammadu Buhari.

I couldn’t agree more. Our Oga At The Top is only halfway through his tenure; and there are, in intelligent circles, legitimate concerns about his age, health and limited achievements to date.   So why not wait and see how he gets along in the next 18 months before sychophantically pledging support for a second term?

The lawmaker representing Kaduna Central, Senator Shehu Sani, has accused some politicians of regarding Buhari as a meal ticket…and of urging him to seek re-election in 2019 for selfish reasons – ie, to ensure their political survival (Buhari is immensely popular with the masses in some parts of the North).

“The reasons the masses want Baba to continue is not the same as with the reason the elite want Baba to seek re-election,” says Sani. “…The former see him as a good force who should continue to lead them to the land of their dreams…”.

Soyinka doesn’t even think we should wait and see how Buhari does in the coming months. He wants Buhari to make it clear, NOW, that he is not going to run again in 2019. And I understand Soyinka’s reasons for expressing this opinion.

After all, as Soyinka points out, the most positive of Buhari’s programmes and projects don’t have to take a rest if their author takes a permanent rest.

“People can be very scornful by saying is it anti-corruption we are going to eat but it is up to us to see that…the anti-corruption fight is empowered…”.

Hear, hear!


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