USA Africa Dialogue Series - Fw: the resurrection of their nemesis


The resurrection of their nemesis

by

Anthony Akinola*

 

            Being the folk hero that he is, there was wild jubilation in some parts of the country following the return of President Muhammadu Buhari from his "medical vacation" in the United Kingdom, not least because of the uncertainties surrounding his health.  Had he been dead, as rumour mongers had said, there might equally have been wild anger directed at the "affiliates" of those perceived to be overjoyed by such a death.  We have a history of uncontrollable anger and recriminations following the deaths of notables: Adegoke Adelabu in 1958; Ahmadu Bello and Tafawa Ballewa in 1966; and Moshood Abiola in 1998.  There is hardly any doubt that ours is still one delicate society where the unguarded utterances of some could pose grave danger to the lives of innocent individuals.


            In all honesty, the Muhammadu Buhari administration has not been the failure his detractors would want to make of it.  Buhari does not deserve a death wish!  There might have been hunger in the land but this has been the result of many decades of careless planning.  An over-dependence on oil means our economic fortunes will continue to fluctuate as oil prices fluctuate on the world markets.  There can be no quick fix to the economy, diversification is the answer.  We must return to the farms and start tending again the oil palm and cocoa trees, as well as growing our own foods. 


            The Buhari administration has done reasonably well in curtailing the nuisance of the Boko Haram sect, scoring a high pass mark in the area of national security. However, the menace of Boko Haram still continues on a daily basis, suggesting there is still more to be done before we can assume or conclude that peace has returned completely to the North East.


            It would also seem that the Niger Delta region has known relative peace in recent weeks.  Hostilities would appear to have ceased in the region.  Something President Buhari must now acknowledge and appreciate is that dialogue and persuasion are the essential and most potent tools in achieving peace and understanding in a divided society.  The use of force comes in as a last resort.  Professor Yemi Osibanjo, as Acting President, did very well in lessening the tension in our polity and has been rightly praised by a grateful boss for doing a very good job.


            The same dialogue and persuasion can also be extended to the pro-Biafra activists.  The disintegration of Nigeria cannot be in the best interests of the Igbo,. as separatist elements among them would want to assume it is.  More than any other ethnic group in the Nigerian federation, the Igbo have contributed greatly to the demographic integration of society.  The Igbo population is second in size to the indigenous population of every other region outside the South East.  This demographic reality of the Nigerian state makes the "clamour" for Biafra an ill-considered adventure.  However, President Buhari must continue to emphasise what unites us in Nigeria, as well as fighting the negative impacts of what divides us.   He is President of all, regardless of the pattern of voting in the 2015 elections. 


            The Buhari Administration, so far, deserves commendation in its efforts to reduce corruption in our society.  The fight against corruption could not have been the easiest of fights, being a fight against a very tiny but powerful minority.  Many had assumed that Muhammadu Buhari would be dumping the thieves of our patrimony in prison as he did during his authoritarian regime of December 1983 to August 1985.  The truth of the matter is that we are now in a democracy of some sort, and Buhari does share power with those who might not buy into his enthusiasm about the fight against corruption.  He would need to persuade these corruption- enthusiasts that it is in our collective and long term interest that Nigeria is corruption –free.  He would also need to garner the support and goodwill of ordinary Nigerians by the honesty and fairness of his approach. 


            Didn't it make world headline news that a Nigerian had stashed away 9.8 million dollars in an uncompleted building?  With corruption so widespread among the privileged elite, one didn't need to wonder why some had wished Buhari dead.  However, his "resurrection" and a future transformation of our anti-corruption agencies into powerful and viable institutions, could mean that the pests destroying our economy would be successfully fumigated!

*Anthony Akinola writes from Oxford, UK.

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