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All we are saying…give us our President!

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All we are saying…give us our President!
By Debo Adesina | 06 June 2016 |

One of the most enduring images of the 2015 presidential campaigns was General Muhammadu Buhari dancing to the fuji music of Wasiu Ayinde Marshal on the soap-box in Ibadan.

It was only a few seconds of swinging to the rhythm, but it sent the mammoth crowd into a wild roar! Surprised by his own feat, the man who would be President publicly marveled at himself: “I can’t remember the last time I danced.” That’s if he ever did!

But so powerful was that gesture that though it would be a stretch to say it won him the election, it certainly won him more than a few more hearts that day. It was Buhari, so human!

It is still not clear why President Buhari has made a habit of cancelling all his engagements in recent days. But whatever the reasons, doing so and without good explanations too, is costing him dear, robbing him of his humanity and severing his much desired connection to the people.

He first failed to show up in Lagos even when all preparations had been made. And, insultingly, no serious explanation was given by the Presidency on why the trip was cancelled. Indications were that the Lagos visit was long in planning. Dashing the hopes of the people at the last minute therefore was difficult to live down.

If there ever could be any advertisement of shoddiness in government in recent times, that botched visit was it.Then came the visit to the Niger Delta and another one to Senegal which the President did not make last week without any coherent explanation, leading to all kinds of speculations.

For sure, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has cut enough tapes, delivered enough speeches and attended enough banquets on President Muhammadu Buhari’s behalf to be considered for a place in a book of records. While it is within the President’s right and power to delegate duties to anyone, putting up appearances of tardiness in managing his schedule by setting him up for a trip only to cancel it at the last minute does not do his image any good. And it certainly shames his handlers!

There is no reason for the presidential itinerary to be so badly or inefficiently managed. Not even security! If anything, such disruptions as we have seen in the last two weeks would seem to undermine national security by creating the ambience for unfounded speculations and theories. They also portray the President as insensitive to the feelings of the people.

For a President who was elected in the circumstance Buhari was, who rode to power on the crest of immense goodwill and enjoys the trust of the people as has hardly ever been seen, the cancelled visits only succeeded in fouling up the atmosphere for him.

The symbolisms of power can sometimes be more powerful than its substance. The subtle messages sent to the people in words and appearances can sometimes portray the leader as being in tune or out of touch with his people.

I have often challenged the President to make the symbolic gesture of visiting the Niger Delta, even staying there for a few days, a priority. My argument is that he will be sending a message of care to the people of that devastated region in more ways than one and such visit would help his plans for them.

Therefore, I can imagine the disappointment of the people of the Niger Delta over his failure to show up last week. For a leader in a democracy, aloofness and incoherence are bad enough. To add an appearance of insolence is almost politically suicidal.

Eloquence has never been Buhari’s strong suit. But he can make up for that by showing up in places where his presence is needed. Or, at least, give the nation explanations when he is unavoidably unable to show up, lest his absence becomes another evidence of a perceived contempt for the people.

If he is not convinced of that, he should ponder the damage being done even to his person with all sorts of speculations and rumours, and save himself and his government unnecessary embarrassment.

Even if the president was a bit below the weather, a speculation which official silence has given room to, but which has been vigorously denied, what is the crime in that? At 73, Buhari looks and acts young enough for his age. And I challenge those who would want to make mockery of old age to produce any 40 year-old who would run the kind of grueling schedule of work and travel the president has run in the last one year and not break down!

So, why would the presidential handlers not come out with that or any reason for that matter, for his inability to make it to his official engagements?

This reminds me of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and how a very decent and humble man, a honest leader and a genuinely patriotic Nigerian was almost robbed of his humanity by incompetent aides, selfish acolytes and an over-zealous state apparatus.

Even before he was installed president and commander-in-chief, Yar’adua’s no frills nature was well known. When he paid a courtesy call on the offices of this newspaper shortly before his election in 2007, his modest looks were striking. His appearance was not what you would expect of an aspiring president, or, at least, a sitting governor as he then was. Aversed to over-zealous courtiers, he made no secret of being himself or being just human.

Even with a voice so gentle, he could not be dissuaded from speaking about just anything, including his health, which was the subject of so much concern and speculation then. That impression was reinforced when I later met him at the State House, in the company of three of my colleagues, for the only long interview he ever granted in office as President.

The speculations about his deteriorating health and talks of his impending death had taken on the air of a wicked soap opera to which the whole world was treated in the most macabre manner. But the man himself was his own best public relations manager on the matter, as he was always the first to tell anybody who had a chance to meet him that he was ill! He would even discuss with you some details of the condition and the improvement he was making.

So it was that at the interview, he took questions for hours, to our surprise, and to the surprise of many public commentators, who would later insinuate that the interview was contrived. The man, according to them, “could not have endured that level of grilling.”

But Yar’adua not only had a strong grasp of the issues, he had clear details about how to proceed on solving Nigeria’s problems then. And he was almost unstoppable as he reeled out those details.

Of course, the temptation to ask about his health was irresistible. And when I did, he expressed his incredulity at how aides mystified issues about his health, leaving room for unnecessary speculations. He spoke of the mortality of every human being and wondered why people obsessed themselves with his life when he could go on living while those presumed to be healthy could even go before him. He illustrated this with the story of his sister, hale and hearty, who suddenly died around that period.

When I drew attention to how well he had spoken for hours with so much clarity of thought and voice, and remarked how well he looked in spite of his health, he interjected with a do-not-deceive-me: “I know I look frail!”

How truthful! How human!
Although, as it turned out, he was terminally ill, not only did he come across as a man comfortable in his lean frame and condition, he was true to himself!

This experience compelled me to say after many other events unfolded, before his eventual passing, that he must have been horrified by the secrecy built around him in the final days, a secrecy so bad that even governors, including his son-in-law, Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, who traveled to Saudi Arabia where he went for treatment, were not allowed to see him, until he died.

I have narrated this to explain the damage often done to a leader’s reputation by over-zealous aides, family members or acolytes who strip him of his humanity and create a monster that does not exist.Democracy is not helped by needless surprises. Such can only lead to distrust and undermine a leader’s integrity.

Buhari is not the kind of leader for whom distance should be created from the people. He carries an aura of trust and respect which are needed to inspire a people presently enduring hard times, with the most terrible economic conditions in recent recollection, and living with memories of cold-blooded betrayal by a pillaging elite. He is the only hope they have in these times of despair, and seeing him, symbolic as that may seem, counts for something.No matter what, all we are saying is: Give us our President. Or tell us how he is doing, if it comes to that!

http://m.guardian.ng/opinion/all-we-are-sayinggive-us-our-president/

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22,000 girls die annaully in Nigeria due to pregnancy related complications, early marriages -SCI

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From:Ahmed Rufai, Dutse

The Save the Children International has raised concerns that Nigeria is ranking highest in pregnancy and childbirth related mortality with a whacking death figure of 22,000 girls annually.
The communication officer of the organization, Mr. Kunle Olawomi gave the indication in a press statement he issued in Dutse the Jigawa state capital on Tuesday.

The disclosure was coming as part of the organization’s way of celebrating the International Day of the Girlchild.

He said the cases worsen as a result of early marriage in the country

According to the statement “Nigeria has the highest rate of child marriages and teenage maternal mortality rate which is higher than anywhere in the world”.

Olawomi stated futher that “Although nearly 80 million child marriages globally have been prevented in the last 25 years, progress had been stalled even before the COVID-19 pandemic which has only worsened inequalities that drive child marriage”.
With school closures, health services under strain or closed, and more families being pushed into poverty, women and girls face an increased risk of violence during lengthy lockdowns. A further 10 million girls are now expected to marry by 2030, leaving more girls at risk of dying”.

“Childbirth is the number one killer of teenage girls because their young bodies aren’t ready to bear children. The health risks of children having children cannot, and must not, be ignored, the statement emphasized

The Save the Children therefore called on the Governments as a matter of urgency to prioritise on the girlchild and ensure they’re protected from child marriage and premature childbirth-related deaths”.

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Insecurity: Over 330, 000 Nigerian refugees are languishing in neighboring countries – Humanitarian minister

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At least 330,000 Nigerian refugees are presently residing in neighboring countries on account of the protracted insurgency and armed banditry in the north east and north west, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq has disclosed.

She made the disclosure when she was hosted in a Chatham House Webinar to discuss Nigeria’s humanitarian challenges and worsening food crises in Nigeria, yesterday.

The Minister indicated that communal, farmers/herdsmen clashes in the Middle Belt and in the Southern region, riverine floods, drought, as well as fires and industrial accidents, among other things, have led to the high number.

The breakdown of the 330,000 Nigerian refugees in neighbouring countries, according to the Minister,  include 16,634 in Chad, 118,409 in Cameroon, while  Niger Republic has 186,957.

Farouq recalled that the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that 3.4 million people are currently facing acute hunger in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, and that another 4.3 million are entirely dependent on food assistance from the government or multilateral organisations across the country.

She, however, disclosed that her ministry has launched two key frameworks aimed at boosting humanitarian actions and making them more practicable and impactful.

According to her: “The first is the Humanitarian Development Peace Nexus Framework, which is derived from the UN Triple Nexus principles that believes development causes peace and that humanitarian actions can bring about development.

“Second is the Localization Framework, an initiative adopted after the commitment of stakeholders at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit to reenergize the concept of localization of aid.

“The concept seeks to make the humanitarian system more effective and relevant by ensuring that humanitarian preparedness and response capacity is domiciled with those nearest to the crisis-affected populations as they are best placed to respond quickly and appropriately”.

Commenting on the approaches adopted by her  Ministry to mitigate sufferings caused by humanitarian situations leading to food crises in the country, the Minister said: “The food security challenges in the Northeast are peculiar due to the fluid and volatile situation in the region.

“Nevertheless, the Ministry has been working effectively with both humanitarian stakeholders and the Military to facilitate humanitarian access and promote accountability in the humanitarian space within the Civil-Security Framework and coordination platform.

“The recently approved National IDP Policy also provides leadership and guidance framework towards food security for the North-East region, as well as promotes minimum standards and thresholds to tackle ongoing displacement until a durable solution is established for the IDPs”.

Responding to a question on the Q&A segment of the meeting, Farouq disclosed that her ministry has put together some programs with the aim of addressing food crises and other humanitarian issues faced by People of Concern in Nigeria.

“The Federal Government, through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) provides rationed food items to IDPs in the Northeast, especially in Borno State.

“In addition, State governments and other MDAs also channel food through the Ministry or directly to IDPs.

“For example, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is currently distributing seedlings, farming inputs and insurance packages to farmers who were affected by the 2020 floods.

“The objective is not to replace lost goods and farm produce, but to enhance better quality yields and build resilience among vulnerable farmers and adopt a more sustainable approach to ending food scarcity,” the Minister said.

While commending what she described as the robust support and partnership her Ministry received from donor agencies and development partners, the Minister, however, appealed for increased partnership in key programs, policies, and structures to address the prevailing humanitarian challenges of Nigeria through collective planning and agenda shaping in a coordinated and sustained manner for better impact.

The Minister further called for increased cooperation in the Nigerian humanitarian space.

According to Sadiya Farouq: “It is my fervent hope that an effective technical, operational and financial cooperation and support from the UN will significantly contribute towards the effective realization of the Ministry’s twin objectives of achieving effective coordination and implementation of its programmes in a sustainable manner.”

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Bokoharam: MBF challenges FG to prove its not culpable by naming sponsors

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The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has challenged the Federal Government to yield to the demand by the Nigerian public to unveil identities of the sponsors of Boko Haram, especially the 400 Bureau de change operators as identified by the UAE authorities and come clean of allegations of culpability

This was contained in communique released at the end of a 2-day Middle Belt Forum National Executive Committer (NEC) meeting held on Thursday and Friday, September 9th and 10th, 2021 in Qkwanga Nasarawa state which was signed by National President of the forum Dr Pogu Bitrus.

The forum in the communique expressed grave concern especially given the report by the UN that the Federal government is secretly engaged in negotiations tagged ‘Sulhu’ with Boko Haram terrorists through which it is allegedly offering monetary rewards to insurgents and other criminals.

The forum said it is opposed to the project and to any form of amnesty for insurgents and other terror groups who have their hands dripping with blood. “NEC is also vehemently opposed to any planned recruitment of these so called repentant terrorists into the national security architecture.”

They also demanded for 100 percent implementation of electronic transmission of electoral results in order to ensure credibility and transparency in the electoral process.

“Since democracy is about the wishes and aspirations of the people, we call on both the National Assembly and the Presidency to reconsider their position on electronic transmission of election results and yield to the wishes of the Nigerian people who are demanding for 100 percent implementation of electronic transmission of electoral results in order to ensure credibility and transparency in the electoral process.

They observed that the country has been plunged into a critical situation of insecurity occasioned by the activities of Boko Haram terrorists, armed Fulani militia, kidnappers/bandits and other related criminal elements. 

“This spate of insecurity has pushed the nation to the precipice. NEC calls on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to arrest the situation and save the nation from another civil war.

“That, the incessant invasions by Fulani militia on several communities across the Middle Belt Region in particular, and other parts of the country in general, have assumed genocidal/ethnic cleansing scale. “These attacks have left in their wake mind-boggling massacres and devastations in our communities and displacement of indigenous Peoples to various Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps. 

“That many schools and places of worship in the Middle Belt Region have remained closed due to the criminal activities of these Fulani kidnappers and bandits. 

“NEC regrets that many school children and other hapless citizens are still languishing in the dens of kidnappers. NEC further appeals to the government to take urgent steps to rescue those in captivity.”

“NEC calls on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to return displaced communities to their ancestral lands, given the fact that territory can no longer be acquired in the 21st century by the use of force.  The Forum also called on the government to identify all IDPs in the Middle Belt Region and provide relief materials for them.

The MBF also called on the Federal Government to identify, apprehend and bring the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against humanity to justice so as to serve as a deterrent to others. “Consequently, NEC calls on the government to set up an agency to be called the Middle Belt Development Commission (MBDC) to serve as an intervention agency in addressing the challenges caused by the activities of these terrorists”

On the zoning arrangement in terms of power rotation between the North and the South they group described it as an unfair treatment as it has failed to recognize the Middle Belt geopolitical block.

The forum therefore, called on the political actors in Nigeria particularly political parties to henceforth reflect the zoning arrangements for power to rotate between North, South and the Middle Belt.

 they acknowledged and commended Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state for his resilient stance in the defence of the rights of the Benue people and for his courage and foresight in making the anti-open grazing law even in the face of threats by Miyetti Allah and those other forces that seek to Fulanise and enslave the Benue people and the rest of the Middle Belt.

“It is for his foresight that today, the entire Southern Nigeria has adopted his position based on the validity of his position.

“By the same token, NEC commends Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State for his consistent struggle for the Rule of Law and true Federalism, particularly the recent judgment of the Federal High Court on the Value Added Tax (VAT) which has opened the door for the commencement of the struggle for Restructuring of Nigeria.

 “Against the backdrop of ethnic cleansing being waged by Fulani terrorists in our Communities, including the supplanting of our people, NEC resolves that people of the Middle Belt people should rise up and defend themselves in the face of governments abandoning their Constitutional responsibility of defending them or seeming complicity. ‘Furthermore, NEC resolves that an attack on any of our communities is henceforth, considered as an attack on all Communities in the Middle Belt Region with the attendant responses and consequences.”

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