By Ikeddy ISIGUZO
SOME Nigerians spend their time searching for moments to blame President Muhammadu Buhari. Nothing will make them change their minds about a man who sacrificed his retirement for unapparelled service to his fatherland.
A major challenge Nigerians face with the President is a refusal to accept that his ways are not ours. He is honest, transparent, incorruptible; a principled man of impeccable character. Who among those who question his judgements possess these qualities? Should we not be grateful to have him at the critical moment of our history.
He spoke loudly about the shooting in Lekki on Wednesday. We ignored him because as usual, we wanted him to do things our ways. Did the President not chair the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday 21 October 2020, just a day after the Lekki incident? What did he say about it?
Nothing. His silence was deafening. Some of the greatest speeches are rendered in silence. The President did.
We failed to hear him since he did not say what we wanted to him to say. We all carry on as if we are the President. We even ignore hits.
Senator Ita Enang, the high-ranking presidential Senate Liaison Officer in response to Channel Television’s morning programme, Sunrise Daily about a statement from the President, Enang said, “Well, the incident happened last night and we are just waking up”. It was the same Wednesday the President held his FEC meeting, did other things without a word on Lekki. If we thought Enang meant the President was sleeping on Lekki – thinking about it – we should have known differently.
People who have been haranguing the President to speak about the shooting (killing) at Lekki Toll Gate, including the Senate, were part of the problem. They took the President’s action on Wednesday for granted.
When the President finally spoke, he did not mention the Lekki incident in his 1071 words spread through 10 minutes. He did not sympathise with families who lost lives or property in the fires that have been raging through the country, especially since Tuesday 20 October 2020.
There was no Lekki. The precipice the peaceful protests were pushed off on Tuesday night. Lekki was a figment of the imagination. The President admitted the protests were hijacked. He was not put a timeline to when the peaceful protests turned to the mindless mayhem that has left many places ruined and cost more lives.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos is the only official to admit there was such incident. The army says it was not in Lekki and did not fire any shots. Is the President unaware of Lekki or he has taken a position without taking calls from Sanwo-Olu?
The President’s opening line sounded as if he was forced to make the broadcast. “It has become necessary for me to address you having heard from many concerned Nigerians and having concluded a meeting with all the Security Chiefs,” the President said. Was he otherwise not concerned?
The President was aware of important incidents like the condemnable violation of the palace of the Oba of Lagos. He called the Oba a peace maker. The palace incident took place a day after Lekki. The President did not utter a single word on what happened in Lekki which precipitated the chaos that elicited threats from the President.
Another important matter for the President was his presentation of the management of COVID-19. He scored himself high for pulling Nigeria through the pandemic.
President Buhari did not forget his social security policies which would see 100 million of Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, seven years after he must have left office. No administration has been as considerate in dealing with the plight of Nigerians.
Yet he would not discuss killings across the country. There was no mention of sanctions against security agents who have been accused by name and allegations massed against them made public.
The President rather announced planned review of emoluments for security agents, possibly his interpretation of reforms that would curb their brutality. Would one then conclude that the brutality of the security agencies including the one on Tuesday night was caused by their poor pay? Was it permitted for them to kill innocent civilians over their poor condition of service?
As far as the President was concerned, he addressed the demands of the protesters on Monday 12 October 2020. How many addresses did we expect him to make in one month, on one issue? Were we simply not being unreasonable?
He appeared to have regretted that 12 October 2020 broadcast. “Sadly, the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.
“The result of this is clear to all observers: human lives have been lost; acts of sexual violence have been reported; two major correctional facilities were attacked and convicts freed; public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalised; the sanctity of the Palace of a Peace Maker, the Oba of Lagos has been violated. So-called protesters have invaded an international airport and in the process disrupted the travel plans of fellow Nigerians and our visitors,” the President lamented.
What has his administration not done for ungrateful, selfish, unpatriotic Nigerians? He made a list of some of his measures at addressing poverty, for those who have forgotten – a. Paying three months salaries of the staff of 100,000 micro, small and medium enterprises; b. Paying for the registration of 250,000 businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission; c. Giving a grant of N30,000 to 100,000 artisans; and; d. Guaranteeing market for the products of traders.
Other Buhari achievements are – a. Farmermoni, b. Tradermoni, c. Marketmoni, d. N-Power, e. N-Tech and f. N-Agro. His interest in the future failed to deal with the pains of grieving families, lost businesses, and the pall that his manner of addressing the issues cast on the country.
Should we really blame Buhari? He warned us but too many were lost in the euphoria of change to listen. Barely a month after his inauguration, he told Nigerians that old age would hamper his performance.
The Punch and other media reported him telling Nigerians in South Africa on Monday 15 June 2015, “I wish I became Head of State (President) when I was a Governor, just a few years as a young man. Now at 72, there is a limit to what I can do.” He is 76, and two months shy of 77.
“Our government is determined to secure the country, manage the economy, create employment and fight corruption. Some articulate writers have said if we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. This APC administration intends to kill corruption in Nigeria. We will do our best, I assure you,” Buhari had told his audience in Johannesburg.
Who has forgotten “I belong to everybody, and I belong to nobody”? It was the most memorable line from his inauguration speech on 29 May 2015.
The President finally spoke on Thursday 22 October 2020, two clear days after the shooting in Lekki. He left us with more presentiments about our complications.
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