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2019: The Igbo and Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

By Muhammad Ajah

The Igbo are very intelligent and hard-working people of Nigeria. I am one and I am proud to be. Certainly, their contributions to Nigeria’s building and unity can never be undermined. Down into the history of Nigeria, they are actually the real Nigerians who believe in the oneness and progress of the country. They are everywhere within Nigeria and wherever they find themselves, they establish themselves. They buy lands and build their own homes. They own properties and establish business outfits. Investigations have shown that the Igbo have developed many places across Nigeria more than they have developed their own original birthplaces, though unarguably, some find it hard to trace their ancestral origin due to their love to live in any part of Nigeria. Despite the fact that they have lost heavily through induced tribal and religious conflicts, that has not deterred them from pursuing legitimate livelihood anywhere in Nigeria.

This national spirit, if imbibed by other ethnic groupings in Nigeria, especially the majority, it will conquer the easily instigated acrimony amongst Nigerians with their different backgrounds. While the Igbo stand out in this laudable dimension, it is regrettable to say that they lack abysmally in the political game in Nigeria. I may be wrong but I find it very difficult to comprehend why the Igbo have always allowed themselves to be used as mere political compliments. They are often very slow in keying into the ever evasive national politicking or “politricking”. And I think I cannot argue favourably if the Igbo have not been a laughable stock in Nigeria especially since 1999 when democracy was fully restored in Nigeria.

The Igbo had had the best opportunity in the 19 years of democratic governance, most particularly between 1999 and 2015. Even before the civil war, the Igbo were a favoured people in Nigeria. The only positions they have not had is the president and vice president of Nigeria since 1999. They do not need the vice presidential position, since it is generally believed in Nigeria that the position is a mere appendage to the President’s seat. Vice presidents between 1999 and 2015, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and Arch. Namadi Sambo are living references to that belief and practice. Like the situation found in many states of the Federation, it was tales of woe and frustration for the VPs and deputies. However, the vice president of Nigeria from 2015 Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, methinks, has a different experience. I am sure that late Dr. Alex Ekweme had a very wonderful experience as the vice president of Nigeria in the early 1980s. Within this period in review, the Igbo massively controlled the nation’s security and economy. Details on this can make a book or volumes. What more would a people require to solidify their political strength for the future! But alas, it was a lost opportunity.

The Igbo have allowed themselves to be deceived many times by themselves and by their enemies. Their agitations for this and that are anything induced by alien forces. They need restructuring so that they can taste the leadership of Nigeria under democracy like the other two major ethnic groups of Nigeria have done. When the ample opportunity came, it was taken to a son of a close ethnic group that actually represented them very well, though I doubt if he understood or spoke Igbo fluently. Besides, how many Igbo people can speak their language very fluently? Each time a real opportunity is coming to the Igbo, they prove hesitant to accept it basically on the grounds of the induced agitations that have outlived contemporary times. Why does it look as if the Igbo are being remotely controlled?

Personally, I cannot understand the strong opposition, not mere opposition but hatred a segment of the Igbo has for Buhari and his administration and by extension the party that produced him, the All Progressives Congress (APC). I have made extensive investigations on this through the social media and physical inquiries and can say that there is no genuine reason advanced by the segment. However, I was able to deduce three points. One is that the Igbo are roundly in the opposition, the PDP and APGA. Two is that the Buhari’s toughness on indiscipline and fiscal recklessness, embedded in corruption, has affected the free flow of wealth and lavish life. This, by extension, has manifested badly on traders and contractors who milk from the government purse in collaboration with top civil servants and government functionaries. The Igbo are referred to be the major traders and contractors.

The third, as I managed to figure out, is the status of Buhari as a God-fearing man, at least to the mortal comprehension. Any man with such spirit must don himself with integrity, honesty and humanity. Such man must be a warrior against evil. And reports are viral that Nigeria had been under the siege of the evil. Fighting evil with evil cannot yield any result than evil. That is why as the 2019 general elections approach, some Nigerians prefer to have any man who can guarantee reversion to the previous squandermaniac system, any man who can give rebirth to hooliganism, waste and looting with impunity so that “the money will circulate”. They do not like Buhari, not on performance, not on sincerity of purpose but because he is “stingy” – he is not sharing the national cake to those who have the ability to grab theirs even if with impunity. This is the greatest Buhari’s sin.

Despite the glaring facts and political development, the Igbo seem not to start reading the hand-writing on the wall. Though a cluster from the elite is accepting the reality, they need to work hard to ensure that they do not allow the forthcoming opportunity elude them. They have to impress on their followers to stop henceforth those distractive actions that have made other major groups of Nigeria suspicious about the Igbo, thus reluctant over leaving the leadership of the country under their care since the civil war which the Igbo were, allegedly, lured into.

The Igbo should play down on secession and prove the manhood in them. If there are three main men in Nigeria, the Igbo should not prove the weakest amongst them. In developed world, strength is not measured by number. They have all it takes to exert their strength in Nigeria. The current Igbo leadership should work in tune with the political grandeur in Nigeria today and strategize for the future. Those on the corridor of power in the present federal government are doing their best but assurances must be extracted that they are genuinely Nigerians and not pretenders because an Igbo adage says that every man has a heart which is a sealed bag and only the owner knows what it contains. The future of Nigeria is glittering. But who is he from the Igbo who can wear the big shoes to be left by Buhari?

Recall the controversies the few years of the leadership of their close clan generated in the country. The unity of Nigeria should never be compromised or mortgaged. There must be guarantee that whoever is to takeover power in Nigeria has the oneness and progress of Nigeria at heart like the Igbo have practically displayed. Maybe “the beautiful ones are not yet born”, because some of the Igbo leaders today hoping to takeover power from Buhari in 2023 have ethno-religious complexities. It is said that charity begins at home. Reflections show that some of these leaders have question marks on their management of the diverse human backgrounds and resources in their domains. How more this mismanagement can affect the nation at the federal level!

In one of my articles in support of Buhari’s reelection bid come 2019 and its connection with the Igbo Presidential aspiration, I was subjected to harsh criticism by some of my readers from my Igbo clan. Some described me as a Hausa man using a Yoruba newspaper “The Nigerian Tribune” to claim love for the Igbo and its hope to lead Nigeria. Some of them outrightly described me as a diehard Buharist, trying to lure the Igbo into voting Buhari on the mere account that he will hand over power to them in 2023. Some of them queried how Ajah gave birth to Muhammad? In the interpretation, Ajah is an Igbo name and Muhammad is a Hausa name. Simple! This is a very myopic conception in the 21st century. The Igbo and its leadership should accept the reality and review the approach to this (mis)conception.

I am Igbo with the full love for Igbo’s progress in Nigeria. As a political dude, every human being being a political animal, I am much interested in the actualization of an Igbo President of Nigeria than million of those who claim Igbo but only show their love for the Igbo on talk shows and social media. Many Igbo people dented with entrepreneurial spirit hardly make time to reflect deeply on the existence called Nigeria. They merely depend on stereotyped conjectures by some over-tortured politicians or conspicuously their religious orators who preach extensively of the world than of the soul. They are at it again, not only enlisting the Igbo on the need to ensure their civic duties towards Nigeria by acquiring the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PCVs), but unfortunately insisting that their followers must vote on the national divisive line of religion.

The Igbo must know that they have endured the second-class citizenship in Nigeria for too long and no one can change the situation except themselves. This means that they must think out of the box and reason magnanimously with the current political tide. The Igbo have no political party of their own that can match the political parties they regard as regional. I heard one prominent Igbo politician claiming that the All Progressive Congress (APC) is now for the North and Southwest while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or its affiliate CUPP is of the South.

Let me laud the labour and productivity minister, Chris Ngige, for his apt description of the Igbo. He said that the Igbo people are currently suffering from self-inflicted marginalization and have the opportunity to redeem themselves. He wants Igbo people to read the political calculations and see that Buhari will win in 2019 and asserted that only Buhari’s presidency in 2019 could guarantee Igbo presidency in 2023. The electoral strength of the whole Southeast cannot match that of Northwest alone or even that of the Southwest that is now completely APC territory.

The Yoruba who, I concur, are the stabilizers of Nigeria’s politics, as well as other ethnic groups are planning and working hard to takeover power in 2023. After all, it is generally believed that competence should be the yardstick for the nation’s elections, selections and appointments. That should be after the Igbo might have had their turn of leadership of Nigeria. But if the Igbo decide to maintain their obduracy and did not vote for Buhari in 2019, there is the consequence of being left out in the power sharing that will come thereafter. And I doubt if any God-fearing man will hand over power to his certified foe. Peradventure the Yoruba succeed Buhari, the Igbo will still cause stir as normal. But the consequences may be harsher than ever before. I rest my case.

Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail mobahawwah@yahoo.co.uk.

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Opinion

Atiku’s withdrawal from the debate is a tactical masterstroke

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By Farooq Kperogi

I’ve read commentaries that aver that Atiku’s decision to bail out of Saturday’s presidential debate in protest against Buhari’s decision not to participate in it was a tactical error. I disagree. Here is why.

The presidential debate is designed to be a match–or, if you like, a push and pull– between the defending champion, i.e., Buhari, and contenders to the title he holds, i.e., Atiku, Moghalu, Madam Oby, Sowore, and others. If the defending champion declines to thrown his hat into the ring, the entire match becomes pointlessly self-injurious to the challengers. In other words, it would have been a fatal strategic and tactical error for Atiku to partake in a potentially bruising contest with other challengers while the defending championing sits pretty somewhere unhurt.

I’ve read other people suggest that Atiku, being Buhari’s closest challenger, should have used the opportunity of the debate to sell himself to Nigerians. Well, that’s what #NgTheCandidates town hall chat is there for. You don’t sell your agenda by making yourself vulnerable to potentially deathly blows from other challengers who don’t hold the title you are fighting for.

Instead of pillorying Atiku for not taking part in the debate, we should question the other candidates for agreeing to participate in a meaningless dueling match with each other when the defending champion who holds the crown they want to grab chose to run away. Their performance in the debate would only be meaningful if it’s measured against the performance of the defending champion.

From a tactical point of view, I also don’t blame Buhari for refusing to show up for the debate. His mental and physical infirmities are now on full display and would be exposed even more in the unscripted, back-and-forth format of a debate. The cabal that minds him already deeply regrets allowing him to take part in Thursday’s town-hall chat because his cringe-worthy performance at the event dramatized his dementia and aggrandized his unfitness for the job of president. His campaign trail mishaps aren’t helping, either. Another bruise from a debate would seal his fate before Election Day.

In a tragic irony, Buhari and Atiku are less qualified for the presidency than all the other contenders are, yet it is either of them that will emerge president in February. That’s why both candidates are more guarded and strategic in their choices than the rest.

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Lalong as God’s plan for Plateau

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Gov. Lalong

Gov. Lalong


By Victor Pam

As the campaigns continue to heat the polity, we must be careful about the choices we make because our options can be our albatross, as well as our Messiah. I say this for two reasons, one is because of the empty promises flying around like promissory notes and the other is the attempt to put a veil on the eyes of the electorates by politicians who are advancing causes they know too well they cannot deliver on. I am from Plateau State, and as they say, charity must begin from home.

I recall I asked myself a couple of questions when Simon Lalong came on-board as governor of the state, questions like, is this going to be different from others? Would Plateau experience peace and tranquillity, would workers have a reason to smile? Would Plateau experience any form of infrastructural upliftment? Would pensioners have a reason to smile? And many more that I can’t recollect.

I also promised to keep a tab on the workings of government regarding the delivery of the dividends of democracy to the people of Plateau State that have seen and experienced the worst of governments since 1999. Indeed, Plateau had been unfortunate; my friends used to taunt me. But today, I am not sure anyone of them can tease me as regards governance in Plateau. And I say this with all sense of humility and sincerity of heart.

To say Plateau has experienced a change would be an understatement. And to also say Governor Simon Lalong remains one of the best things that happened to Plateau would also be uncharitable. What would be charitable and most appropriate is to say Simon Lalong was God’s plan for Plateau state because of the remarkable improvements experienced in all aspects of life on the Plateau. From the prompt payment of salaries to clearing the backlog of pensions. Generally, governance was delivered at the doorsteps of the people.

Anyone conversant with the happenings in Plateau under governor Simon Lalong would agree with me that God indeed heard the cries of the people when he delivered Simon Lalong to us as governor. It is incredible to state that despite the cash crunch that hit the country and the inability of most states to pay salaries, it was only Plateau state that was paying wages even before the end of the month. It felt like magic to many other governors on how Governor Simon Lalong was able to achieve such feat.

If one takes an opinion survey of civil servants in the state to ascertain whether there has ever been a time salaries were delayed under Simon Lalong, the response would be an overwhelming no. That has never happened since Simon Lalong assumed leadership of the state. From what I gathered, the governor vowed that never again in the history of Plateau state, would workers be denied their wages given the fact that the state is mostly a civil servant state. And when you have the bulk of the people in the public service what is the rational thing to do? To ensure that salaries are paid as at when due.

In my opinion, doing such would also have a multiplier effect on the economy of the state in the sense that there would be a movement within the ecosystem that would, in turn, generate activities that oil the wheels of progress, which is the case in Plateau state in the past three years of Simon Lalong.

It would be tantamount to questioning God should the people of Plateau make the mistake of casting their votes for those that have been making empty promises. And the curious part is that these people that are making those empty promises were part of the rot experienced in Plateau state. The difference is that they only changed their clothing’s. Would the people of Plateau allow themselves to be so deceived?

I am not sure the people of Plateau would want to trade Simon Lalong for anyone else. I am not sure the workers and pensioners have forgotten how God has used and still using Simon Lalong to better their lives through the numerous interventions in the state. Let me add this for free. It only takes a man that is upright and with the fear of God to do what Governor Simon Lalong is doing in Plateau state. He came on-board at a time that depression had enveloped the cloud and hopelessness was the order of the day. But undeterred he set out for impactful governance that has put the state on the path of glory once again.

Governor Simon Lalong is an upright man with the fear of God, unlike past governors that ruled like they were gods themselves because how could one explain a situation where a governor can go to bed and sleep when the people that elected him are hungry and dying of starvation. These same people also divided the state along ethnic and religious lines. It was so bad in the Plateau that at some point some ethnic groups see themselves as superior to all other ethnic groups in the state. This was how unhealthy the atmosphere was in the Plateau before the coming of Simon Lalong. But all of these have indeed changed for better.

There is now mutual respect amongst the various ethnicity in the state. There are no superior or inferior groups, so much so that it has translated to an improved relationship that has brought about lasting peace in the state. I will say this without fear, if not for the coming of Simon Lalong, I am not sure there would have still been a Plateau state because all the indices for disintegration were in place and it was just only a matter of time before its manifestation. Most of us residing in Plateau had perfected plans to move elsewhere with our families.

Indeed, Plateau state has never had it this good before, there has been lots of infrastructural development across the state, despite the lean resources coming to the state. In my opinion, what people do not understand is that Governor Simon Lalong has been able to do all of these because he placed the interest of the people above his interest. And I am not sure people, including him, could dip their hands in government coffers to embezzle funds meant for the people. I make bold to say that embezzlement of government cannot be associated with the present administration of Simon Lalong, if that was the case, I doubt if he would have been able to pay salaries promptly, settle the backlog of pensions and pensions payment up to date in the state and many more.

Like a messiah, he came to set the captives free. Today, Plateau state under Simon Lalong is an example of how to work for the people. I have assessed his administrative style using different parameters as a development expert, and the result of my assessment is the reason for this piece. Some could say that I am excited, some could also say I am elated. But I would say and I ecstatic with what is happening Plateau state. And I am not sure the good people of Plateau would want to leave the known for the unknown. That would be the height of ingratitude to God. Governor Simon Lalong is indeed Gods plan for Plateau state. This much the people know, and this much they are willing to go with as the elections approach.

Pam is an advocate of the masses writing from Jos.

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PMB as God’s will for Nigeria

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari


By Sunday Garuba

The elections are around the corner, and again, the hysteria that usually greets such exercises has rented the air. There has been lots of politicking going on around the country. Political strategists and analysts are at their best-giving situations and scenarios that would shape the outcome of the elections. In all of these, I know for a certain that indeed 2019 is the year of greatness for Nigeria.

As usual, clergies have made all manners of positive predictions as regards the future of the country. And this is coupled with the relative peace that has permeated the nook and cranny of Nigeria indicates that something good is about to happen in Nigeria. So far the few prophecies that have been released suggest that Nigeria’s greatness might be around the corner.

I am happy as well as sad for two reasons; one is the fact that since the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, a lot has changed in the way we do things as a people and as a country. And I am sad for the fact that those that contributed to the downfall of Nigeria have all ganged up against a man that believes so much in Nigeria and they are hell-bent on undermining him and all the efforts he has put in to set Nigeria back on track. Now, this is the irony of life that calls for serious concern from all well-meaning Nigerians.

I am of the opinion that one of the best things that happened to Nigeria was the providential coming of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. What many did not understand then was that God indeed heard the cries of Nigerians who had been subjected to all manner of abuse by those saddled with the task of governing us. They took us all for a ride and stole our commonwealth. And they did all of these with so much impunity. The way and manner President Muhammadu Buhari won the elections indicated that God indeed loved Nigeria and would never allow the disintegration of the country.

This was on the heels of the various predictions on how Nigeria would not remain as a country after 2015. But God used President Muhammadu Buhari to thwart the plans of evil ones against Nigeria. And this much can be verified with the way and manner the president has carried on since he assumed leadership of the country. He has put the interest of the country first and above his interest. For him, the wealth of Nigeria belongs to all and not for a select few. And this has been his undoing and why the hawks that have held this country down for years are all gathered to ensure that he is voted out so that business, as usual, can resume. But they will fail. Just like the holy bible says in Psalms 91 vs. 7 “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” The evil plot against President Muhammadu Buhari shall not come near him if God is on the throne.

I am not one of those that would be blinded by religion or ethnicity and shy away from realities of life. And I would also not hide under the umbrella of faith to deny the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari has impacted positively on the lives of the average Nigerians on the street. Take it or leave, President Muhammadu Buhari was God’s will for Nigeria in 2015 and he remains God’s will for Nigeria in 2019.

If not for anything, let us admit that he has freed our commonwealth from the hands of looters and for this singular act, they have vowed to take him out. But if God is for him who can be against him? No one. Also, but for his intervention, the Boko Haram insurgency would have engulfed North East Nigeria and by extension the whole country. Should we not be grateful to a man that has shown an unalloyed commitment to the Nigerian cause? Should we not appreciate God for this rare gift to humanity? Should we not stand up in unity and defend a man that is clearly on the side of the masses? Do we need a soothsayer to tell us that if not for President Muhammadu Buhari, the entity called Nigeria might have disintegrated?

All of these are questions the intelligent minds should ask if we must be honest with ourselves. We should not be deceived by the narrative bandied around by people with questionable characters. We should not fall for their gimmick that would take us back donkey years. I want to believe that we have gotten to that stage of our existence where we can decipher between good and evil.

President Muhammadu has indeed not failed in the discharge of his duties as president of this great country. This is evident in the numerous people-oriented projects that are ongoing around the country. And what do we owe this great and selfless man? It’s simple. Nigerians must unite with the voice of God to ensure that we defeat the evil ones at the elections. Nigerians must come together with one loud voice to say enough is enough to those that have milked us dry.

Nigerians must vote massively for President Muhammadu Buhari in the coming elections because here is a man that has not failed and his words to the citizens have been a strong bond. I am of the opinion that in the very least if we do not know or remember where we are coming from, we should at least know where we are going to. And with a man like President Muhammadu Buhari, we know he has been destined to take us to the promised land. Let us make no mistakes about this. For Nigeria, it is forward ever, and backward never. Enough is enough.

Bishop Garuba is the President, national inter-faith and religious organization for peace.

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