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Backlash: A preview of May 29, 2017

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Ogbodo

Ogbodo

It is one year today since Buhari and the All Progressives Congress came to power at the centre. As it is traditional, all the people that will talk today and the days ahead are likely going to do a review of the Buhari presidency in the last 365 days. But instead of a review, I am going to do the direct opposite; a preview and actually make it look as if the Buhari presidency is only about to begin today. I am not saying that Buhari has lost one year doing nothing. I am saying there are ways he can spend the next 365 days doing 365 things and reach a super performance rate of one project, one day by May 29, 2017.

And I can tell you on my honour that Buhari is ready to work. I have just returned from Aso Rock Villa on his invitation and I saw the passion to work for the good of Nigeria written all over him. But there is a little problem. The man loves, almost like an obsession, to spend his best time and energy reworking the bad work of the past. However, if Nigerians can fast and pray, say for 40 days to redirect his passion back to the work at hand, the review could be sweeter this time next year.

For now, the reviews that will be going on today shall add little value. They could even encourage the President to continue in the past. I am therefore saying that instead of these reviews that will make us to perpetually look back with so much anger and even risk being turned to pillars of tasteless salt in the process, Buhari and the entire APC team should be encouraged to look ahead with hope. It is the best way to move forward. For instance, if he and the APC had started looking forward right from day one on May 29, 2015, perhaps, the direction as to where we are headed today would have been much clearer for even the blind to see.

Now, as I speak and with all that I profess, I cannot tell exactly the description that fits the Nigerian economy. Some say it is in recession, others say, it is only slowing down; and yet others say it is showing signs of stress and stagnation. Whichever that applies, what I can tell convincingly is that I have not had public electricity for two months in the part of the country that I live. In fact, public electricity is lacking everywhere. It is neither in homes nor offices. It is only Governor Akinwunmi Ambode (God bless him) that is trying to put some in the streets of Lagos.

When I did the math last week after the naira was cruelly floated by the CBN, I discovered that the contributory pension I am doing towards my retirement had been obliterated by more than 50 per cent. The monthly salary is under severe attack too. I had planned to retire in a couple of years and I do not know what experts would advise in the wake of this ferocious attack on both income and savings. Very likely, they shall recommend more tightening of belt until I am cut into two at the waist. At the corporate level, the tightening has eaten beyond the flesh into bones as companies take turns to close shops, while the few still standing on one leg are dissolving gradually under the economic heat like copper in Nitric Acid.

If the lamentation since May 29, 2015 continues into 2017, I swear, it shall degenerate into wailing and absolute helplessness. I don’t want that. Yet we cannot hope for a better tomorrow without working at it. As I said, I was in the den to see the lion. He is still roaring. His language has not changed much, in spite of the new dawn. He is still talking of ‘crushing’ some opposition with tanks and bombers 17 years after the beginning of this democratic journey.

The President sees order from a solely martial perspective. He is not convinced about the interplay of thesis and antithesis (counter tendencies) to reach synthesis, which is far more enduring in the resolution of existentialist contentions than a graveyard peace achieved through conquest. He exhibits a readiness to forgo civil engagement for a military option; something close to a Nazist Final Solution, in all situations of difficulties. For the umpteenth time, President Buhari, last week, dropped warning to the Biafran agitators that there would be no engagement but a clash of forces in which one side must go under for the other to stay on top.

A similar message has been transmitted to the new crop of agitators in the oil-rich Niger Delta called Niger Delta Avengers. There is a feverish search for these avengers who have launched an offensive to cut off Nigeria’s main economic life wire – crude oil export. The country’s daily crude production has plummeted to 1.4 million barrels from 2.4 million as the avengers continue attacks on oil facilities in the region. As I write, Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri Southwest local government area of Delta State and homestead of fugitive ex-militant, Tompolo, has been occupied by soldiers who reportedly seized the area at about 4am yesterday in search of the avengers.

If truth were told, the national mood today and, in fact, at other times, does not support any form of armed agitation no matter the arguments in support of it. We are agitating and killing one another because we do not understand ourselves. We do not understand, for instance, that when there is jaw-jaw, war-war is kept at bay. The battleground is hardly a place for permanent resolution of human conflicts, but whatever solution that is hammered out by parties sitting at the negotiating table will prove the ultimate panacea.

Either as MASSOB, MEND, Boko Haram, Niger Delta Avengers or IPOB, every agitator has got something useful to say. But he will resort to machine guns when the microphone is forcefully snatched from him to make his point. This, at once, puts the responsibility for peace on larger society, especially the political leadership, which must climb down from its Olympian height to listen. World over, even as agitations for self determination gain traction, the advantages of a mega state remain an attraction. It is the reason the EU, for instance, and in spite of British recalcitrance may move from just an economic to a political bloc in the decades ahead.

While the balkanization of Nigeria into fiefdoms to be controlled by warlords does not appear a good option, I want to state categorically that the desired greatness of Nigeria must be erected on a foundation of justice. No trader moves to a new market if the existing one guarantees optimum sales. The Scottish only recently defeated a referendum to exit the United Kingdom because the sales are still robust in the British market. And in spite of media projections to the contrary, the Catalonians in Spain and Bavarians in Germany still find gains in their respective central markets. But today in Nigeria, referendum to divide Nigeria along ethno-religious boundaries may succeed overwhelmingly among groups that consider the central market most unprofitable.

This is the reality on ground and President Buhari is duty bound to show good understanding in his disposition, deeds and speech. To keep sounding as if Nigeria has been surrendered to him to do as he wishes will be complicating the issues. Going forward, I personally think the President needs more language experts than he needs economic advisers to engage the great issues of the day.

He needs people vast in the nuances of language to tell him that in a democracy, especially on a global stage where demand for personal liberties is on the ascendancy, certain words and expressions are anathema. He should stop saying ‘crush’ ‘ban’ ‘deal ruthlessly’ ‘not negotiable’ ‘no going back ’and so on and so forth. For a start, Buhari should summon the courage and humility to ‘go back on’ his decision to commit the report of the political reform conference to the dustbin and glean from it whatever that can be used to guarantee a better tomorrow for Nigeria.


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