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Buhari, sectional interests and national unity

By Matthew Agboma Ozah
21 October 2020   |   3:00 am
If there is anything that plays out these days in Nigerian politics, it is religion and ethnicism. They are so precious that they are always attended by a bodyguard of sectional interests


“In wartime truth is so precious
That she should always be attended
by a bodyguard of lies”—Winston Churchill

If there is anything that plays out these days in Nigerian politics, it is religion and ethnicism. They are so precious that they are always attended by a bodyguard of sectional interests over national interests and economic progress. As many political leaders have fallen in the past to the gambit of sectional interests. The waves of the threadbare continue to ravage the polity under the guise of federal character. It is a matter of regret that the collective exploits and popular solidarity that brought the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to power have in the past years been eclipsed by sectional interest. What was undoubtedly Nigeria’s biggest hope for positive change and good governance since the strong desire for independence and of course, June 12, 1993, presidential election exodus is now seen as a bane in almost every aspect of Nigerians’ livelihood.

The other day, President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) passing out parade of the Cadets of 67 regular course and short service course 46 in Kaduna, appealed to all Nigerians to uphold and project the unity of the country. That, despite our obvious differences we must strive to ensure that our actions and utterances are aimed towards strengthening our democratic framework. President Buhari further supported his thesis by saying that, “we must subsume our personal and sectional interests into the overall national aspirations of unity, economic prosperity and good governance.”

Good talk you may say. But, it is actually very surprising to hear Mr. President speak in such a manner. Ever since President Buhari assumed office, the majority of his actions and body language reflect the exact picture he tried to condemn or preach against. It is not sufficient for a leader of Nigeria to proclaim faith in the project to bring about unity in the country, whereas, his actions mirror the direct opposite. What gladdens many Nigerians’ heart and subsequently regarded as a piecemeal for taking away at his inauguration speech in 2015, was when he said: “…I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody…”  

Then, he laced his look with seriousness and posed as someone who is ready to hit the ground running. Of course, many Nigerians already scored him high before embarking on the test of governance. Even so, the majority among the masses held the impression that their deplorable condition of living would improve under his leadership. Regrettably, the people have been nursing pains of harsh government policies like the hike in utility services among others. Even as the economy continues unabated on its floating voyage to recovery from recession. 

However, with the current reality, the populace seems not only astonished but dumbfounded why such statements are made. Should Mr. President be reminded that, over the years, his actions and utterances seem to suggest that he is not only drumming but dancing to sectional interests in many of his activities and inaction?  
There is no denying the fact that the Buhari administration went to sleep while several communities across the country were consistently ravaged by herdsmen. At the moment, no one has been prosecuted for the destruction of farm produce and killings that occurred, still happening. It was indeed a sad measure when the president visited a scene of carnage and advised the traumatised victims to learn to live peacefully with their violators. Clearly, under this administration, certain fancy programmes like RUGA are seen by the populace as a selfish venture to cater to sectional interests. Some geopolitical zones do not count themselves lucky for much in the distribution of strategic national appointments. The lopsided nature of political appointments that favours a section of tribes in the country is evident. More so, there is little to suggest that politicians from a certain region can ever be elected to the highest office in the land. This is because power is seen as the birth-right of a particular race. Of course, all these shenanigans playing out and the continued refusal of the ruling government to recognise that it is drifting towards sectional interests is indeed disheartening. Therefore, the people have no option than to concede to ethnic agitations just to be relevant or recognised. It is unhelpful for the ruling government to speak like a saint on an issue that it has been gravely adjudged wrong in the court of public opinion.

Of course, sectional politics have always been part and parcel of politics everywhere around the world. But it has become an uncured rabbi under President Buhari government. Over the years, this administration has been marinated in sectional interests and the public is disillusioned as ethnic sentiments loom large in the shape of things in the polity. At a time the world is experiencing gloom because of COVID-19 and when all hands should be on deck to work together for the common good. The ruling government feels complacent as certain mineral resources from the northern part of the country are not only named after the state it is mined but allowed to own it. Whereas for decades the entire nation survived, still surviving on the wealth from Niger Delta region through crude oil. The legislature should stand in colossus nature in the way of such a reckless gambit. The Zamfara gold nemesis would no doubt smear the polity and cause some terrible confusion among mineral resources producing states in the country. Already, some states like Rivers and Bayelsa have started grumbling about their status to oil production and ownership. The President’s speech reveals that the administration is seriously concerned about sectional interests. Yet, it does not regard itself as a huge factor to the nemesis because it exists in a world of spin. Hence, it is seen to repeat the same mendacious talking-points even when it is obvious to be bogus. It is not enough for Mr. President to raise alarm for the existence of sectional interests in the polity. Rather, the President should promote selfless leadership style and unity in order to discourage the conditions that generate selfish ideas. Also, the Nigerian people want to see exemplary leadership. Mr. President should walk the talk and carry everybody along. That is what he was elected to do.

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