Musings on Operation Python Dance

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Ring True

By Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521 (text only)

In the last one week, the menacing pythons of the military have been dancing dangerously in the South-east and heating up the polity. The Abia State government had to quickly impose a curfew to avert a total breakdown of law and order in the state. Honestly, this military operation is absolutely unnecessary. The federal government should be courageous enough to call it off because this country can’t afford this deliberate escalation of tension. For me, the objectives of this operation can be achieved in a more decent way without creating tautness in the country. This motor park tout called Nnamdi Kanu and his clueless IPOB brethren can be tackled and disarmed intelligently.

It is a fact that most of those teaming up with IPOB see it as an opportunity to express their anger at the marginalisation of the South-east by the Buhari administration. Demands of this nature require a lot of tact and diplomacy; it is better handled by decent leaders. Unfortunately, miscreants are now exploiting the genuine demands of the South-east to cause mayhem in this beautiful region. These reprobates are incapable of reasoning that millions of Igbos live in other parts of Nigeria. I am pleased that other Nigerians are preaching against reprisal attacks. This is the only way to disgrace violent people. I am a firm believer in the corporate existence and indivisibility of this beautiful country.

We must all consistently remind the federal government that uprisings of this nature can be disarmed with wisdom, good governance, good leadership and dialogue. Instead of this brute force, President Muhammadu Buhari has to practically show that he is father to all and all the tension will go down. The truth that must be told is that Buhari has spent the last 28 months stoking our fault lines. The impact of his “why should I treat them equally” statement is still reverberating. There has been no speck of equity in all of Buhari’s appointments to date. This is a big shame because it stokes agitations.

According to the words of wisdom of former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, Buhari must stop being a sectional leader and take the moral high ground. Ezekwesili, who supported Buhari in 2015, urged the President to act as a true leader by showing love to all. She added: “It is tragic that you, our President, Buhari, has deliberately or inadvertently alienated a segment of the people you lead. It is tragic. The leader of a country cannot be friends only of those he/she likes. No. That is not leadership.

“The leader builds up groups. Not divide. You cannot lead only those that worship and swear by you. You are the leader. You must carry the burden even of those that detest you. It is the lowest form of churlishness that is unbecoming of a leader to send signals that you dislike anyone of the groups you lead. A leader is a winner. When a winner acts like a loser, things go wrong in their kingdom. Real leaders build a bond with all their people. Worst is when a leader makes enemies of most because he abhors the action of one or a few. That is not leadership! That is ethnic prejudice. A real leader does not suffer from the destructive disease of ethnic prejudice. It endangers his/her people and real leaders cannot bear such.”

It is not too late for Buhari to amend his ways and allow peace to reign in our dear nation. Genuine patriots must call Buhari to order, so as to pull our lovely country from the precipice. IPOB reprobates can be better managed. Buhari must show remorse and engage decent South-east leaders on building a united Nigeria. As a first step, our President has to ensure equity in the distribution of resources and must respect the constitution of this country, particularly with regard to Federal Character, in his appointments. Let’s start seeing eggheads from the South-east heading key federal departments and agencies. The South-east must get fair and decent treatment in the Nigerian nation.

Obaseki and Troubled Edo Retirees
The Edo State Government issued a statement this week on its traumatised retirees who have been perpetually on the streets of Benin protesting huge unpaid pensions, gratuity and other entitlements. The humdrum statement was not categorical about how the backlog of entitlements would be paid. It also failed to address issues raised by the pensioners. For example, the seniors want Obaseki to account for the Paris Club refunds meant to offset part of the liabilities of the pensioners and civil servants. On the distressed local government pensioners, Obaseki’s statement created the impression that he has very little to do with their unpaid claims. Perhaps, this governor needs to be reminded that he is still the sole signatory to the joint account of the local governments. These retirees are still being bashed as was the case under his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole. Obaseki has to rise and change the narrative of Edo retirees who are going through hell, by ensuring that they experience genuine “change”.
Today, I want Obaseki to reflect on the open letter by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, which states: “SERAP is concerned about the persistence of considerable levels of poverty to which Edo pensioners have been subjected. We note that your government has a legal obligation to promote and protect the rights and dignity of all pensioners in Edo State, consistent with your expressed commitment to social development, human rights, equality and non-discrimination.”

Buhari’s Retinue of Media Aides
One of the numerous things I find absurd about the Buhari administration is its retinue of media aides amid financial challenges facing it. The list keeps growing by the day, in spite of the President’s promise, on assumption of office, to cut the stifling cost of governance. As at the last count, there were seven of such aides, howling different tunes with all sorts of funny titles. The long list includes Femi Adesina, Special Adviser, Media; Garba Shehu, Special Assistant, Media; Tolu Ogunlesi, Special Assistant, Digital and New Media; Lauretta Onochie, Personal Assistant, Social media; Bashir Ahmad, Personal Assistant, New Media; Sha’aban Sharada, Personal Assistant, Broadcast Media and Naziru Mohammed, Personal Assistant, Television Documentary. No wonder there was so much confusion in the information flow concerning Buhari’s medicals abroad. Our President also has a large number of bloggers, journalists, and media analysts, all working for him at the Buhari Media Centre. This is the first time in the history of this country that a President would have such a large number of media aides. What is Buhari trying to achieve? Use these media aides to manipulate the public and change opinion about the government? The best way to attract positive public opinion is through people-oriented policies and programmes. I still can’t comprehend how limited public fund is being used to pay a retinue of media aides amid fiscal crisis. Buhari should be seen cutting the cost of governance as promised.

Still on Calamity Rochas Okorocha
Governor Rochas Okorocha has glaringly turned Imo State into a family business and personal property. His family members are occupying virtually all the key positions and getting juicy contracts in the state. This governor, who is inflicting so much pain on the people of the state, has his son-in-law, Uchej Nwosu (married to his first daughter) as his Chief of Staff. Okorocha is already scheming to impose Nwosu as the APC gubernatorial candidate come 2019. The governor’s youngest sister, Ogechi Ololo, is his Deputy Chief of Staff/Special Adviser Domestic Affairs. Okorocha’s wife, Nkechi, is in charge of “Amnesty” in Imo State with a huge war chest. His second daughter, Uju, is on the Governing Board of the Federal College of Education, Omoku. Okorocha’s eldest sister, Mrs. Geraldine Obina, is the owner of the firm that collects all market fees and fines in Imo State. The governor’s eldest brother, Gerald, collects dues from all motor parks in the state. His younger brother, Okey, is in charge at Imo Transport Company. His brother, Jude is in charge of revenue from sand dredging, and any laterite excavation pit in the state. When he was asked to nominate Imo’s representative in the federal cabinet, Okorocha picked his in-law, Professor Anthony Anwukah (married to his second daughter, Uju).  Anwukah is the Minister of State, Education. This is nepotism of the highest order. The people of Imo State have simply entered a “one-chance” bus.

Battle for 2019: Sour Epistles of Aisha Alhassan, El-rufai
I have spent the last 10 days reflecting on the acidic epistles of the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan and Governor Nasir el-rufai of Kaduna State on the battle for the 2019 presidential election, which, surprisingly, is already gathering momentum. This administration still has about 19 months left of its tenure. It is a disgrace that most of our political gladiators are only interested in who becomes president, governors and lawmakers in 2019, instead of strategising on how to pull the nation out of the political and economic crisis threatening its survival. The last 26 months have been horrendous for Nigerians, with unprecedented inflation, massive unemployment, hunger, raging insecurity, violent agitations and all the negatives. So, what has Hajia Alhassan done in the last 22 months since her appointment as Minister of Women Affairs to curb difficulties facing Nigerian women? I doubt if she can point to any tangible thing. What about the green snake called el-rufai? To what extent has he gone in his beloved Kaduna State to curb challenges facing his people? Your guess is as good as mine. The state has been in turmoil in the last 28 months of el-rufai, with numerous ethnic, religious and economic crises.
For me, these fiery characters are not in a position to pontificate to Nigerians on the man we should vote for as President in 2019 or who should stand for presidential election. I am not sorry to say that they have no iota of credibility or attainment which our dear nation is in dire need of. I have not stopped laughing ever since el-rufai said Buhari was fit to contest in 2019. He remarked: “As far as 2019 is concerned, my position is that the President is looking very well, he is recuperating very fast. My hope and prayer is he will contest in 2019.” This is sheer hypocrisy. He was obviously mocking Buhari. El-rufai wants to be seen working for Buhari, whereas the motive is sinister. I have never been a fan of this man because of his political antecedents. El-rufai changes allegiance at the drop of a hat. I can’t forget his nasty 30-page memo to Buhari and how he suddenly recanted when the President returned alive from his medicals. Many will also not forget in a hurry how he severally punched Buhari in 2003, saying, “I wish to remind General Buhari that he has remained perpetually unelectable because of his record as military head of State… His insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus are well known.”
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was apt about this Kaduna governor when he said: “Nasir’s penchant for reputation savaging is almost pathological… A leader must know the character and ability of his subordinates. Character wise, Nasir has not much going for him… My vivid recollection of him is penchant for lying, for unfair embellishment of stories and his inability to sustain loyalty for long…”
As for Hajia Alhassan, she should have decently resigned from Buhari’s cabinet before declaring support for the 2019 presidential ambition of her godfather and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. Passing a vote of no confidence in Buhari, while she is still a member of his cabinet is preposterous. I watched her on television posturing at the FEC meeting on Wednesday. The pomposity of this woman is legendary. It is obvious that her open support for Atiku is just a mere hero-worshipping. Alhassan needs a crash course in humility.