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Nigeria must change positively in 2019


FILE PHOTO: Nigerian soldiers hold up a Boko Haram flag that they had seized in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 18, 2015. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun/File Photo

Sir: The President, General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) is perpetuating carnage, genocide and economic destruction of Nigeria like his predecessors, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, yet some people are praising him. The reality of life for common Nigerians is rightly perceived as worse than for the poor people in India, which should lead right-thinking Nigerians to be weeping for the nation, because the population of India far outweighs that of Nigeria. Life was not that bad until now that Nigeria is embroiled in unjustified war against Boko Haram coupled with unbridled corruption. From 2009 to 2015, the crisis was limited to war against Boko Haram and political disorientation, consuming human lives and economic resources. Since the ascendancy of GMB in 2015, Fulani herdsmen have become anarchical.

Blinded by nepotism, GMB is seeking ranches for Fulani herdsmen to be built by government at Nigeria’s expense in every state of Nigeria, as a condition for stopping Fulani herdsmen terrorism. What type of restructuring is GMB ready for? The starting point for him, if he is serious, is to seek peace with Boko Haram, rather than negotiating freedom for only some girls. He should ask all herdsmen to create their own private individual ranches. GMB himself must renounce third term presidency for his zone, and allow resumption of rotational presidency that should go to the north-central in 2019. But positive change should not depend on GMB’s wish oh; well-meaning Nigerians must unite and ensure that 2019 will not lead to another empty promises and perpetuation of carnage, genocide and economic destruction of Nigeria. That is why the Third Force coalition muted by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) is apt beyond prejudice and emotionalism.

Nigerians ought to have rejected the idea of defeating Boko Haram, having seen how Jonathan promised and failed 2011-2015. He failed because he was fighting Boko Haram even as he was committing boko haram (embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds). How is GMB different from Jonathan? He is not different. Indeed his government is much more brutal, and financially almost everything is shrouded in secrecy, for lack of transparency and accountability, including in the petroleum sector where GMB doubles himself as the Petroleum minister, and in relation to recovered looted funds. There is absolute silence on the part of government about skyrocketing debts that we are hearing about, and mass abject poverty is getting worse daily.

Rotational presidency will lead to political order, discipline, peace and progress. Positive change is also impossible without depoliticizing Christianity and Islam. Never again must abuse of power to attack religious minorities be countenanced. Religious institutions must fend for themselves or fold up. Public funds must be spent only on public business. If poor people protest against religious freedom, they will become poorer and poorer, because you cannot eat your cake and still have it. Don’t politicians collude with who’s who in Christianity and Islam to enrich themselves?
Prof. Oyeniran Abioje, University of Ilorin.

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