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State of the nation: A conversation


President Muhammadu Buhari at Kano airport during a recent visit to the state. PHOTO: TOLANI ALI

John: The President finally visited the Benue, Taraba and Yobe States!
Journalist: Yes the President finally visited the Fulani-herdsmen-traumatized-States of Nigeria!

John: Hahahahaha! I like that expression. You journalists have a way with words!
Journalist: Sometimes our words land us in trouble!

John: Well, it’s one of the vestiges of military rule that we have to cope with!
Journalist; I’m not sure we have gotten out of the woods yet on that score! Thank God that he visited finally, lumping the bad and very bad together!

John: Poor strategy!
Journalist: Yes, poor strategy! Wish the visit had come earlier!

John: Yes; wish he had visited a day after the incident, like a real father. Security reports may have advised him otherwise!
Journalist: Let’s not hang the security men. If the President wishes to visit a war-zone, security men would make it possible. I believe the President’s judgment is faulty on this matter.

John: That’s a big one. Faulty judgment? Why do you say so?
Journalist: The President put the blame squarely on his own shoulders when he said that he does not rush to conflict zones.

John: Hmmmm! Yes, he said so.
Journalist: We are in the 21st Century; we need a 21st century sense of judgment, not an old patriarch who dispenses goodwill whenever it pleases him only without caring for the feelings of the citizens!

John: I guess every leader has his own approach; he sent his IG to the Benue to handle things.
Journalist: His IG or the nation’s Inspector General of police?

John: In a manner of speaking, his IG, but we know it’s the nation’s Number One Police Man!
Journalist: Better! Yes he did send the Inspector General to stay on ground for a reasonable time. But the President did not know that the IG was more interested in rushing back to the safety of Abuja to enjoy his birthday celebration.

John: How is that the President’s fault?
Journalist: The buck stops somewhere- the President’s desk. I suppose the other security arms knew about the President’s order; they should have reported back to him.

John: do you mean that they should have snitched on the IG?
Journalist: it’s no big deal. Call it what you like; all the security agencies snitch on one another. It’s national security. The security of the nation is above the interest of any individual.

John: That couldn’t happen; they are kith and kin.
Journalist: Isn’t that a problem? If for parochial reasons the DSS or other intelligence agencies cannot tell Mr. President that a senior security officer has disobeyed his order, is that not a problem?

John: Yes it is; but do you remember the role of the DSS on the no-confirmation matter of Mr. Magu?
Journalist: I don’t know about that. Magu is doing his job as competently as he can. Why should anyone send in negative reports?

John: The President has queried the IG; let’s see what will come out of it.
Journalist: Back to the main subject; we do not pray for any disaster. But I expect the President to respond promptly. His presence would show that he truly cares. It would show that a visit is not an after-thought, after the backlash of not visiting the crisis zone.

John: I will pass the message on.
Journalist: You? In what capacity?

John: Trust me! I may know somebody who knows somebody that is close to the First Lady!
Journalist: You are on your own. What did the President take to the grieving States?

John: words of comfort.
Journalist: I’m afraid it’s not enough to comfort the people with words. We need action!

John: What kind of action?
Journalist: Preventive actions. Why did the hoodlums attack again shortly after the President’s visit? They simply spited him. This is a handshake has gone to the elbow!

John: Perhaps as Professor Bolaji Akinyemi suggested, there are foreign elements trying to undermine the President.
Journalist: And the President is playing into their hands. You see, Chief Obasanjo has paid a visit to the gravesites of the fallen 73 victims in
Benue. That was symbolic, a subtle indictment on the President.

John: That’s politics my friend; what business has OBJ with visiting the site?
Journalist: Exactly; it’s politics. The President should play the right politics.

John: By playing to the gallery?
Journalist: All politicians, all leaders know that you must occasionally play to the gallery in politics.

John: Hmmm!
Journalist: To compound matters, the President jetted off to attend the wedding ceremonies of the children of some big Whigs in Kano!

John: What is wrong in that?
Journalist: Ordinarily, nothing is wrong with it; but the circumstances are different. He has not visited the families of the kidnapped girls in Dapchi.

John: But he needs to socialize; won’t the dame Nigerians turn around to condemn him if he stayed indoors while two prominent citizens who supported him in the elections gave out their daughters?
Journalist: He has to strike a balance; let him remember that he is as Chief Mourner as he is Chief Celebrant!

John: Let’s leave Abuja alone. I hope you are following the madness of the Lagos State Government!
Journalist: The land use charge matter?

John: Yes my brother!
Journalist: Even the deaf and blind ones among us know that that Ambode man is playing with fire!

John: He has since cut down the rate by 50%.
Journalist: Where do these leaders of ours live? In the moon!

John: Cloud Nine, perhaps. Power gives them the lift and they forget that the poor are more in number than the rich!
Journalist: Sometimes I wonder how people in Lagos manage. There’s hardly any civil servant whose salary can meet the demands of landlords without resorting to Cooperative Societies or borrowing or stealing! How many people can really afford a one-million naira residential accommodation in Lagos?

John; Just a few; but somehow they look for ways and means.
Journalist: Yet the Government wants to increase every tax rate! He claims that no review has been done in the last five years and they must make us sweat for their inefficiency.

John: it is well. We are waiting for them. Let them come campaign to use to vote for them.
Journalist: We shall tell them the truth by voting the other way!

John: Land-use ko; land-charge ni!
Journalist: Olori…
John: ….buruku!

In this article:
Muhammadu Buhari‎
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