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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!

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Insecurity: HURIWA asks FG to account for $1bn drawn from ECA for weapons




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Insecurity: HURIWA asks FG to account for $1bn drawn from ECA for weapons

A pro-democracy and non-governmental organisation, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari account for what his administration did with the $1 billion that it took from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) in the name of purchasing and procurement of combat weapons.

This is coming agaisnt the background that the minister for information, Lai Mohammed had accused the international weapon sellers of refusing to sell arms to Nigeria.

Besides, the Rights group, however, canvassed for the aggressive training of the operatives and officers of the Nigeria Police Force to embrace the skills of intelligence gathering and proactive policing rather than the dominant reactive methodology they are using to enforce the law.

HURIWA, therefore, urged Nigerians never to get tired of providing support and solidarity for the members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria as they increasingly get involved in the intensive campaigns and war against terrorists and the diverse segments of armed non-state actors that are unleashing bloody violence against civilians all over the country.

“We appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to do all he can to sufficiently equip the men and officers of the Armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We are by this statement demanding that President Muhammadu Buhari provide the fuller accounts of what this administration did with the $1 Billion that it took from the nation’s escrow account in the name of purchasing and procurement of combat weapons.

“Nigerians want to know what was bought with that humongous amount if the government has admitted publicly that it is finding it difficult to procure arms to battle the armed Islamists of Boko haram terrorists?”

In a statement signed on Thursday in Abuja by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said one of the causes of the increasing crimes rate is the dearth and lack of intelligence gathering capacity on the part of most police operatives and officers who ought to lead the process of crime-fighting and law enforcement.

The Rights group argued that the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu has in the last four years failed to build up the intelligence generating capacity of the police.

“It is unbelievable that armed and violent criminals are allowed to roam freely all around the Country and to continuously unleash devastating and bloody violence on the citizenry but the operatives of the Nigerian Police seems to be gravely ill-equipped with the 21st-century compliant policing skills which must of necessity include the effective deployment of capacity to generate intelligence and to build a formidable data bank of useful tips and information so as to be able to fall back on such abundant actionable materials to tackle crime.

“The Nigerian Police still operate as if we are in the 18th Century era because the police lack the technology to fight crime, the Nigerian Police lacks the scientific facilities like fingerprints devices to stop criminal on their track before they strike but every year humongous budgetary releases are made but it seems that the Country is grossly under policed and unsecured, ” HURIWA said in the statement.

HURIWA wondered what kind of police will wait for a citizen to first be killed before they will shamelessly announce to us that the suspected killers have been apprehended.

HURIWA added that in Nasarawa and Ondo States, the APC Party Chairman was killed and a first-class traditional ruler was murdered by armed non-state actors, but the Police which could not prevent these violent crimes from happening will only rush to the media to announce to us that the killers have been arrested.

“This reactive form of policing like people groping in the dark is not sustainable and has no capacity to check the high crime rates. The Nigerian Police Force and its hierarchy should update their knowledge of making the police effective through proactive strikes of criminals before they attack, ” it added.

HURIWA, therefore, tasked the authorities to fine-tune and rejig the policing strategies in the country because as, the police has proven incapable of combating violent crimes, and this lacuna and incapacity to play the routine policing duties has overburdened the Nigerian Army to partly go into internal security operations rather than concentrate and wage a relentless war against terrorists threatening to tear Nigeria apart.

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Yueltide: FMWH reopens closed section of Murtala Muhammed Bridge in Kogi




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Yueltide: FMWH reopens closed section of Murtala Muhammed Bridge in Kogi

By Friday Idachaba

The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing has reopened the closed section of the Murtala Muhammad Bridge, Jamata on Abuja-Lokoja highway to ease movement of traffic movement during the Christmas and New Year festivities.

Engr. Kajogbola Jimoh, Federal Controller of Works in Kogi State disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lokoja.

Kajogbola said that though the rehabilitation work on the dual carriage bridge was yet to be completed, a substantial part of it on Lokoja-bound portion had been done and could be reopened to traffic to address heavy vehicular movement during the festivities.

According to him, what remains for the Lokoja bound bridge to be completed is to change the damaged expansion joints which have to be ordered from abroad adding that the contractor has some constraints in this area.

“Presently, all other works are completed and we have asked him to cover the edges of the old expansion joints so that when the new ones arrive, he will simply remove the old ones and replace them with new ones.

“If the closed section is not opened, Nigerians will suffer during this festive period and that is why we are insisting that they should open it for now till when the contractor is able to get the new expansion joints”, he said.

Kajogbola said he collaborated with Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Corridors Commander, Sector Commander and other officials to remove the barricades and redirect the traffic all in the presence of the contractor’s representative.

He pointed out that the reopening was an interim arrangement saying, “This is just temporary reopening, the work is for two years and the contractor has not spent up to a year.

“So, it’s just to let Nigerians know that the Federal Government cares for them and that we are working and to tell them what stage we are on the project.

NAN reports that the bridge which is currently under rehabilitatinon/ maintenance work, being handled by Hallekem Ltd., had only one functional 2-lane carriageway in use before this reopening.

The Controller appealed to motorists to be patient, resist temptation to drive against traffic and to keep their vehicles in good condition to avoid break down. (NAN)


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Senator Opeyemi lampoons Buhari over refusal to sack service chiefs




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Senator Opeyemi lampoons Buhari over refusal to sack service chief

The senator representing Ekiti Central Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele has asked President Muhamadu Buhari to respect the resolution of the National Assembly that he should sack the service chiefs without further delay.
The senator while contributing to the motion on the beheading of 67 farmers in Borno, by Bokoharam insurgents: Need for Urgent, Decisive action pleaded with the service chiefs to voluntarily resign based on national interest.
He said they can then wait to be appointed as Presidential Advisory Panel on security.
“For me the number one resolution that I will like to reemphasize on this floor of the senate is for the President to allow the service chiefs to go, they have done their best, they have worked so hard, the best anybody can give is his best.
“You cannot give what you do not have and if the President believes so much in these service chiefs he should remove them as service chiefs and constitute them as Presidential advisory committee on security matters and they will still be there to be advising him and let the younger ones take over as service chiefs to move the country forward.
He said, “It is yet another moment when we run the risk of Nigerians looking at us as a group of elected representatives who sit in the red chamber to shed crocodile tears but we know that is not what we do.
“We are victims of certain circumstances that make it look like that. There is probably nothing any of us could say here today that has not been said, the only thing that is new is that more people have been killed in most barbaric manner. Yet we have to say something as representatives of the people.
“We are unhappy about what happened in Borno, Katsina and Niger States and some Northern parts of the country. Even in the South South, south East and south west where people are being kidnapped, there are some forms of insurgency.
“In Ondo State just last week a paramount ruler was killed. My own contribution is this, let us stand on existing resolution, in addition of course to the prayers that the mover of this motion made clear to us.
“Fighting Bokoharam cannot be something we do by habit, it cannot become part of our national life, it cannot become what we budget for year in year out as a routine.”
He lamented that the war was becoming a routine adding that there is a need to bring it to an end as lives are being lost on a daily bases.
He also made refrence to a constitutional provision in section 14(1)b which defines the primary purpose of Government to be the welfare and security of the people.
“We all agree that this is not being fulfilled and where a Government is deemed to be in breach of section 14(1)b the Government is also automatically seen to have breached section 32 and 34 of our constitution which provides for the right to life, right for personal liberty, and life against torture.
“These are things that goes together once you fail to fulfill the provision of section 14(1)b so what are we talking about let these service chiefs go.
“If the President would not remove them we call on these service chiefs in the interests of the public to resign and look forward to being appointed as members of Presidential committee on security. So this is one contribution that I really want to make.”
He also made reference to the budget of over N800b set aside for all of the armed forces, whereby more than 60% of it is specifically tailored towards prosecuting the war against insurgency.
“I believe before this budget is passed it is either the president come to address this parliament on the way forward on how to address the security matter or we hold a joint session and do a public hearing and allow Nigerians an opportunity to also speak to this issue.
“I dont think it should be a question of us sitting down to pass this budget it should not be business unusual.”

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