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That President Buhari’s Arise Television interview

When I heard that President Muhammadu Buhari was going to talk to us through an interview with the Arise Television, I was full of expectations, and prayed that the Enugu Electricity Disappointment Company (EEDC) would not disappoint us so as to enable us listen to the Presidential interview in full. My prayer, notwithstanding, the EEDC still disappointed me, but I managed to listen to the greater part of the interview with the aid of my Genset, close by. At the end of the interview, I began to wonder if it wouldn’t have been better that the President kept to his normal self, taciturn, and remained silence, rather than intimidating us with his military might, display of arrogance and aloofness, incoherence and out-of-point responses to questions posed to him. We have become accustomed to what the President’s attack dogs and propagandists, Garba Shehu, Lai Mohammed, Femi Adesina, and Co., had been telling us that President Buhari said, whether the man actually said them or not. Already, we have observed that each time our President speaks off the cuff, he would draw one controversy or the other. These were some occasions when he revealed to us his administration’s inner reward policy of 97% – 5% in relation to those who voted for him in 2015 election; about Nigerian youths “being lazy”; etc. All through the Arise Television interview, our President forgot that he is a democratically elected President, and no longer in the military. He continued to use the language of force, for instance, he promised to deal “ruthlessly” with bandits in the North West, and described the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as “a dot in a circle. If they want to exit they wouldn’t have access to anywhere.”He thundered: “We have given the Police and the military power to be ruthless, and watch it, in a few weeks’ time, there will be difference.”This shows the military man in Muhammadu Buhari – no dialogue, no peace overtures. It is simply, use force to restore order. He is not interested in seeking reason for the escalation of violence in the country, or why some people were agitating to opt out of the country. The President then berated state governors and said they were not doing enough to stop armed Fulani herdsmen’s invaders in their states, and told us how recently two South West governors visited him to complain about herdsmen encroaching on farmers’ lands in their regions. He told them: “You know these people more than I do, and you are democratically elected to protect your people. Don’t sit idly expecting me to do everything. Take action. Go back and fix it, give your people sense of belonging.

“I don’t like it when people campaign to become governors and people trusted them with their votes and after winning, they can’t perform, they’re trying to push responsibilities to others.”

Very interesting! A most performing President punching hard on non-performing governors. Our governors, where una dey? The President has played ball into your courts. Wake up.

President Buhari further accused the governors of destroying the local government system in the country, explaining that there are three tiers of government in Nigeria, namely, the federal, state and local government. He emphatically said: “We have killed the local government totally. We will send N300 million as allocation to a local government, one governor will ask the Local Government Chairman to sign that he collected N300 million, but he will give him N100 million, and the Chairman will keep quiet…is that how we will continue?” Really?

This is a big revelation. We never knew this before. Hope they are putting necessary papers together for onward transmission to the EFCC.

The youths were also not spared by our President in his blame game. He blamed the youth for not being able to get employment.

“If the youths want jobs, they should behave,” the President pointedly told them, and said the youth wanted to chase him out of Aso Rock. Very, sorry Mr. President, for the embarrassment! But please, remember that these youths are your children. Take it easy. Forgive and forget. We call them, leaders of tomorrow, but how are they going to lead us if we do not give them accommodation, if we abandon them, if we fail to give them a stand? When the President was asked to comment on the general insecurity in the North, especially schools in the area that are constantly subjected to attacks by bandits, and his stated plans to lift 100 million people out of poverty. His answer was as follows: “Try and appreciate what the Federal Government has done. One, we have removed all the Service Chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police and we bring in new ones. We allowed them to go round and see the problem; they have been part of it all the time, but now they are in charge.

“We will make sure that their priorities are to ensure that they brought normalcy, people to accept responsibility of their offices and perform. They are working very hard on this; you cannot give it enough, because we do not want to give serious warning to the real criminals. The ones on North East we know, the ones in South-South we know. The problem is with North West. The same people, same culture, killing themselves…” Incoherent! Does not make sense!

On the suspension of Twitter by the Federal Government and when the ban would be lifted, the President said he was keeping that to himself. Haba! Mr. President. Wetin happen? Why keep it to yourself? Nigerians have been expecting when the government will lift the ban, and you decided to keep it to yourself, thereby denying Nigerians the outlet to air their views in a democracy. This is not fair.

Again, when asked about how to placate or resolve the crisis in the South East, the President went off the bar, out-of-point: “Well, South East, ehm, I was encouraged by what I hear. Nobody told me. Two statements from the South-South; one by elderly people. They said this time around there will be no… I’m sure you understand what they mean”. We don’t understand Sir. Be more explicit.

President Buhari justified the $1.9 billion Nigeria’s rail project to Niger Republic, with the fact that his cousins were living in that country. This is at a time when the Nigerian Eastern Corridor railway project is lying comatose.

On reason for the appointment of the new Chief of Army Staff, over and above his superiors, and which would necessitate the retirement of over 20 Generals, again President went off the track: “You look at the NNPC and look at the military. People who have been there for eighteen years or people who have been their tenure for ten years, they trained in Zaria, or in Abeokuta, they came through the ranks, and because they served under circumstances and gradually rise to the status and you think we’ll take somebody to balance up?

“These positions have to be earned. There are people who have been there for ten-fifteen years. If you don’t join, you are not forced to be joined but when you join you go through the rigmarole, you go through the programme throughout and you learn by the system.”

So, those Generals who were senior in rank to the new Chief of Army Staff did not spend up to ten-fifteen years in the military? If that be the case, why were they promoted?

I hereby suggest that all those who had any hand in promoting these Army Generals ahead of our new Army Chief, should with immediate effect, be court-martialed for committing such blunder, and subsequently publicly hanged.

Dr. Eze writes from Enugu

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