To push the arguments further, some have said that the President was yet to wean himself of military mentality. They said his less than four-minute national broadcast on Monday could have been taken from the archives of the military putsches of yore in which he played a prominent role. They said, instead of showing remorse, Buhari simply barked orders and relayed the old woman’s tale of his Daura meeting with the late Biafran warlord, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, where their two-man summit arrogantly concluded that the indivisibility of Nigeria was not negotiable. They faulted the President for accusing some social media ‘warlords’ of crossing the ‘national red lines’ by questioning the rationale behind our collective bonding in the face of the remarkable difference in our socio-political interactions. And, above all things, they heckle the President for shoving the loud calls for restructuring out of the presidential window and placing it at the doorstep of the National Assembly and the privileged conservative group of elders known as the Council of State as the “legitimate and appropriate bodies for national discourse.”
You know what? This government, no matter how well-meaning its intentions, is not only running from its shadows but also playing the ostrich like the others before it. Clearly, this is not the time to seek refuge in the five leprous fingers of a National Assembly that has proven to be incapable of addressing the issue of restructuring and realignment of a nation on the throes of a break-up. The gulf is too deep and nothing has shown that a legislative patch-up would not end up aggravating the matter. I equally doubt if the Council of State, as presently constituted, could resolve the matter going by the fact that the President is not under any obligation to implement its decisions which are merely advisory without any force of authority. It should be commonsensical that shifting the goal post at this stage of the restructuring activism is tantamount to playing with fire. There can be no better time to confront the issues more than now when all manner of characters are threatening fire and brimstone if nothing is done to redress the glaring fault lines that have been with us since the Lugardian contraption of 1914.
Yes, red lines have been crossed but it is not only on the social media. Like the President noted, people have the rights to ventilate their opinions, live peacefully with others in any part of the country without let or hindrance while we keep working on an acceptable mode of coexistence with one another. That is where it stops. If you ask me, there is something uncannily unsettling about Buhari’s assertion that “Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable.” With due respect Mr. President sir, that is a white lie because present realities do not justify that prognosis of one, indivisible country. Nations don’t survive on the basis of hollow proclamations. Instead, nations thrive when equity, justice, fair play and rule of law take preeminence over and above all other things. Can we, in all honesty, rate Nigeria as a nation? Have we imbibed the fine principles and ethos of democracy that make governance easy for whosoever is in control of the levers of government?
If the President must know, absolute power corrupts absolutely. And that can only happen if the people are docile enough to sleep on their inalienable rights. There is a saying that no one builds something on nothing. Those Buhari refers to as “irresponsible elements” bent of foisting problems and violence in the country are products of the many years of bad governance. They didn’t just wake up and take umbrage against the system. They are rebels with causes even some have chosen to behave like common touts in their advocacy. Over the years, these persons have raised genuine and legitimate grievances against the state and the need to address them so that everyone would have a sense of belonging. The irony is that most of the recommendations on how best to tackle these grievances were never implemented. The white papers are either in one government office gathering dust or they get stalled at the National Assembly on the pretext that only two chambers are constitutionally empowered to legislate on such issues. We have been dancing on the same floor for as long as this democratic experiment has lasted and it has taken us to this path of increasing and disturbing violent activism from all corners of the country. By the way, those who blame it all on the Nnamdi Kanu-led IPOB or the deadly herdsmen/farmers clashes across the country miss the point. Such violent agitations had been with us for long and they persist because no one has summoned the political will to grab the bull by its horn.
The point is: Nigeria’s indivisibility cannot and should not be negotiated on the shackles of AK-47 as the President’s action tends to suggest in his speech. It is one thing to challenge the nation’s security forces to ‘crush’ all elements of dissents in the system. It is another kettle of fish to tell us the mechanism the government has put in place to engage these persons with a view to addressing their legitimate grievances. By the way, I speak not only of IPOB but all the groups that have expressed total lack of faith in the ways the affairs of this country is being handled. We cannot continue to dump the resolutions of conferences in the dustbins and expect peace to reign. The gun cannot permanently silence the agitations of a repressed, abused, raped and alienated people. That is why the drumbeats of war keep sounding in spite of the huffing and puffing by the authorities to deal with dissidents. Question is: Is this government, which has expressed its belief in restructuring, ready to walk its talk or would it shift the goal post like its predecessors?
To my mind, this matter should not be waved aside like the lethargic attention being given to the dangerous invasion of the President’s office by rodents during his absence from the country. In saner clime, no one would laugh over such sacrilege. How, in the first place did rodents (of whatever hue) find their ways into the inner crevices of the President’s office such that they inflicted damages that would now force him to work from his official residence? Does it mean that bureaucratic bottlenecks stalled efforts to keep the office in good shape before the President’s arrival? Or did the President forget to drop the keys to the office to the man charged with the responsibility of coordinating the affairs of government while he was away on medical vacation? What if the Acting President had an urgent need to check some files in that office, would he have had any access to that place? How bad was the damage and how much would it cost the taxpayers this time especially now that the expertise of the Julius Berger team would be needed to chase away the rodents?
It is shocking that The Presidency has not debunked this laughable excuse as regrettable and a slip of the tongue. In fact, it would have been better if they had told us that, due to the delicate treatment of the president’s ailment, his doctors advise that he works from home for the time being. This fallacy of rodents’ invasion is a no-brainer in a year when Aso Rock and some of the Federal Government agencies appropriated the sum of N1.91bn for clearing of sewage and fumigation. In fact, details of the budget indicated that the State House, Abuja would spend N52.83m on sewage charges and fumigation while its liaison office in Lagos would spend N10m. We are spending this heavy fund on fumigation and rodents still have the effrontery to feast on the furniture and air conditioning fittings in that place! Oh, what a country!