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Will history be kind to Buhari as he wished?

I never thought President Buhari cared about posterity or how he would be evaluated when he leaves office because his actions now betray any reflection on the future. I also never thought he was a ‘’philosopher president’’ who ponders and asks ‘’why’’; again, because his actions have been that of a sciolist.

Nigeria, US and the Question of Religious Freedom

ON December 20, the United States government issued a statement, speaking through the US Department of State and US Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo, designating Nigeria “a country of particular concern” with regard to religious freedom and the freedom of thought and conscience. The statement opens with the patronizing declaration that “the protection of religious freedom is a top Trump Administration foreign policy priority.” It adds that: “The United States continues to work diligently to promote religious freedom and combat abuses. These recent designations continue that important work.” We are further told: “…The Department renewed the placement of Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan on a Special Watch List (SWL) for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom” and added Cuba, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Sudan to this list. Sudan was moved to the SWL due to significant steps taken by the civilian-led transitional government to address the previous “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom…” 

Wobbly Start for Governor Ihedioha

There must be something about political power that makes otherwise good men to act contrary to expectations once in power. And it can be very dispiriting.  Let me mention immediately that I do not know Governor Emeka Ihedioha from Adam. But  by reputation, he was one of the politicians  (alongside the likes of Dr Kayode Fayemi,  Dr Datti  Baba Ahmed and Prof Kingsley Moghalu) often embraced by public intellectuals as urbane, who, if given the chance, would help to sanitize the political stage. As Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ihedioha managed to avoid any ruinous scandal –despite emerging as the Deputy Speaker against his party’s zoning arrangements. When he contested the governorship election in 2015 under the PDP against Okorocha who ran under the APC ticket - and lost – he quietly went home after exhausting the judicial processes, licked his wounds, re-strategized and came back again. In that crowded field of ‘hard men’  for the 2019 Governorship  election in Imo State, he stood out as suave and polished, leading to some people questioning  whether he had enough rough edges to withstand the predicted anarchic character of the election. Ihedioha eventually emerged victorious – or rather he was announced the winner - since the outcome of the election is still contested – as most elections in the country are wont to be.
Given the expectations around Ihedioha, I feel that he started on a rather disappointing note: the first was the argument over the demolition of the Akachi tower, a controversial monument erected by the immediate past governor of the State, Rochas Okorocha.  Most of the media headlines on Imo State on May 30 2019 – just a day after Ihedioha and other elected governors were inaugurated into office - did him no PR favours. Some of the newspaper headlines that day read: ‘Ihedioha Demolishes Akachi Monument Built by Okorocha’ [Punch]; ‘Governor Ihedioha Moves Against Okorocha, destroys legacy towers’, [The PM News]; ‘Ihedioha performs first assignment, demolishes Akachi Towers’ [The Sun]; and ‘Governor Ihedioha Destroys Akachi Towers, Okorocha’s Legacy’ [Leadership].
The sub-text in these screaming headlines was that Governor Ihedioha’s  first assignment as a state governor was to go on a vindictive mission against his predecessor, something that traditional Nigerian politicians are notorious for, but which those regarded as the poster boys of the country’s public intellectuals and civil society groups are expected to eschew. Though Ihedioha later denied any knowledge of the demolition of the tower, for many, the PR damage had already been done. For some of his critics on the Akachi tower demolition, even if he did not give the orders for the demolition,  there was no way it could have taken place without those responsible for that reading such from his body language. Others opined that to deny any knowledge of the demolition amounted to admitting to not being effectively in charge.  I feel that Governor Ihedioha is yet to fully recover from that initial PR disaster when again he handed another round of ammunition to his critics:

Remembering the Street Child

April 12, the day set aside since 2012 as the International Day for Street Children, has come and gone. In our dear country, with its hustles and hassles, the day went largely unnoticed, barely reported and scarcely celebrated. The International Day for Street Children is meant to call attention to the plight of  children without home – variously called ‘homeless children’, ‘beggars’, ‘juvenile delinquents’  ‘street urchins’ or ‘bad kids’. They are the children, who, while their mates are being pampered elsewhere; rough it out daily with the inclement elements. During the day you can find some  going through trash, begging  for alms, working in motor park as touts, hawking items on streets, hustling as bus conductors or doing sundry other menial jobs. At nights, most sleep in uncompleted buildings, under bridges and flyovers or in street corners. Quite a number are on cheap drugs such as sniffing glue or paint thinner to get high – initially as a way of numbing pangs of hunger, keeping out the cold or as a mental escape from the sorrows and travails of life - before eventually becoming addicted to the substances. Not only are street children among the most vulnerable people on earth – deprived of basic needs like food and shelter and disproportionately targeted by purveyors of violence –  they are also penalised for the things they have to do to survive.

The wrong way to defend the Naira 

A report on Page 33 of the Punch Newspaper edition of June 21st 2019 has indicated that “between April 2018 and March 2019, the Central Bank of Nigeria injected over $42.3bn into the foreign exchange market to ensure liquidity in that segment of the economy.”

Buhari: Why and how he won -Garba Shehu

President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to office in a seismic political shift that swept out of office 16 years of continuous rule by the People’s Democratic Party, PDP recorded yet another resounding victory to win a second term in office, leading his closest rival by a record-setting four million votes.
His party, the All Progressives Congress, APC gained the highest parliamentary majority in the Fourth Republic in the Senate and the House of Representatives, giving the President an ample room to carry out reforms he wished to carry out, but was outmaneuvered and frustrated by the Eighth National Assembly.
Different groups from major regional blocs in the country have come together under the auspices of Joint Progressive Action Group (JPAG) to demand that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate, include a former minister of aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode in his campaign arranegments, “as we hope Atiku assembles a formidable campaign team that includes such individuals who are not only fearless but that also have a history of having stood with the people in their darkest hours and spoken for them even at the risk of their own personal safety, that of their families and their comfort when many were quiet and hid in fear in the face of tyranny”.