NIGERIA: Why We Must Talk! – A no-holds-barred compendium by Henry Omoregie

Nigeria: Why We Must Talk

The average Nigerian is endowed with dogged, never-say-die, ”it-won’t-happen-to-me”, ”I-will-make-it” attributes.
Lord Frederick Lugard should be shocked (in his grave) to see us still together after 99 straight years of one year, one trouble.He advised the British authorities then, about the near futility of an amalgam he described as mixing oil and water.  In Lugard’s own words: ”the north and south are like oil and water – they cannot mix”.
Now this is going to be a long chronicle of anecdotal records that I will leave to the readers for critical analyses.

The first 50 years (1914-1964):

1. Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN), a member of the Tafawa Balewa and Shagari governments – and as such, privy to intelligence reports and sensitive records – had this to say:

“In 1898, Lugard formed the West African Frontier Force initially with 2,000 soldiers, about 90 percent of them were from the North mainly from…

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IYC Faults Buhari Over Delay in Payment of Tuition and Allowances of Niger Delta Amnesty Beneficiaries… Accuses Him of Sectionalism

IJAW YOUTH COUNCIL (IYC)
WORLDWIDE
July 28, 2015

PRESS STATEMENT

IYC FAULT FEDERAL GOVERNMENT REASON FOR DELAY IN PAYMENT OF TUITION FEES AND ALLOWANCES OF AMNESTY BENEFICIARIES, SAYS THAT PRESIDENT BUHARI IS PROSECUTING A SECTIONAL AGENDA AGAINST NIGER DELTANS
The attention of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Worldwide has been drawn to a statement made by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina to the effect that the delay in the payment of the tuition fees and allowances of beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty programme for ex-Niger Delta agitators is because the programme was ridden with corruption and that President Buhari is taking time to take briefing on the programme so as to decide the next line of action with respect to the programme. Mr. Adesina further stated that to continue with the programme would amount to condoning with the alleged corruption in the programme.

The IYC states that the justification put forward by the Presidency is most ridiculous and unjustifiable. In the first place, a good number of the beneficiaries presently facing hardship are those studying in different parts of the world. If the Buhari’s government is in any doubt, it can easily confirm the existence of these students from their respective schools, whose records are before the amnesty office, especially those in foreign universities.

A serious minded government committed to the welfare of its citizens does not need several months to make ordinary confirmation of the authenticity of students studying abroad.
We regard the issue of alleged corruption as reason for the delayed payment as completely unjustifiable. The issues of corruption in the amnesty programme are mere allegations until proved otherwise before a competent court of law with hard and cool hard facts. In any case, all sectors of government in Nigeria have issues of corruption, but the federal government has not stopped operations in those areas.

The IYC finds it strange that programmes such as the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) and other federal government scholarship programmes are going on without any hitches, but the amnesty programme is singled out for different treatment. As a result of this punitive treatment, in the United Kingdom, landlords of some of the amnesty students have started legal processes to evict them out of their houses. Similar situation is playing out in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and some other countries.
The IYC is tempted to believe that President Buhari is prosecuting a sectional agenda to punish the Niger Delta region for not supporting him during the March 28, 2015 presidential elections. He confirmed this fact in his own interview in the United States. Buhari has always equated the ex-Niger Delta agitators with Boko Haram terrorists hence he once said that whereas Niger Delta ex-agitators are been pampered, Boko Haram members are treated like criminals.

The refusal to pay the tuition fees and allowances of the amnesty beneficiaries is a deliberate action by the Buhari led federal government to kill the dreams of the beneficiaries of the amnesty programme and frustrate the amnesty programme as President Buhari and his kinsmen have always wanted. But the world and history is watching!

Signed for the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Worldwide:
Eric Omare
Spokesman

RUMBLINGS FROM THE CREEK…and gentle whispers of true leaders By Ena Ofugara

Only a fool will ask a man to drop his gun and not guarantee he gets his meals regularly. Except you plan on killing that man, or you have built a cell to keep all like him, including children born that will be like him, then you must ensure he…or majority like him have food. Anything short of this is to ask him….force him to pick up a gun again.

Those who follow this page will never see me criticize amnesty for Boko Haram. Much as I detest those bloodsuckers, I am realistic enough to know that a lion that has tasted human flesh is never allowed to be a circus lion. I know the power the Boko Haram leaders and youths have, being able to plunder and rape and blackmail and rule. Expecting them to put down their arms and go back to being shoemakers and cattle rearers without some sort of supplementary moneys, is wishful thinking. It is in this regard I watch closely Buharis moves to offer amnesty to Boko Haram.

Yes Buhari in his that campaign of APC where they promised to chop the sun up and give each Nigerian its energy on a plate, had criticized GEJ for attempting to negotiate with Boko Haram. In his now famous tough talks, he said “Boko Haram do not want peace, else they wil not kill 13000 (thirteen thousand) people”. That statement however is the closest to the truth from my standpoint. Goodluck Jonathan would have handed them whatever if only they would stop killing. However, when people claim to kill for God, what can man offer them in exchange? Therein lies the major difference with the Niger Delta militants.

The Niger Delta militants do not do what they do claiming a call from God. It is purely a fight for fairness. Yes people have become tone deaf to their plight. I hear the thoughts of many Nigerians not from ther, totally believing that they are the aggressors. That is sad sad sad. Comparing a people who cannot till their soil because the soil is dead for one thousand years, who cannot fish because the waters are forever polluted, who cannot breathe clean air as asthma and OCPD and wheezing breath is their lot as the air is filled with all kinds of chemicals…and still they cannot find jobs even in these companies,…companies dominated by Yorubas and Hausas and some Igbos, wealth spirited away to build ABuja, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna and the rest of Nigeria…yet people would call actions by these people “militancy, terrorism, treason, etc etc” . I even called it “militancy”.

NIGER DELTA DEVASTATION COLLAGE

I have asked people what Boko Haram wants. I Ena Ofugara as a Niger Deltan can answer for my brother Mujahid Dokubo-Asari and say FOOD. They want FOOD. They want their homeland repaired. They want hospitals. They want Oloibiri where oil was found and which till date has no good hospital or road or water to drink, they want what you have in Lagos and Kano. However they can never get Oloibiri back because there is no more oil in that dead city in Bayelsa. It is dead forever.A thousand years must pass before the spilled oil can decay and form soil once again.

So I have answered what my people want. What does Boko Haram want?
While what my people want removes nothing that is yours from you, Boko Haram asks that I accept Allah? And that the Allah I accept must be a particular teaching? Is that what a people should desire and fight and murder over in this century?

I STAND PROUDLY TO DEFEND THE NIGER DELTA STRUGGLE, CAN YOU PLEASE DEFEND BOKO HARAM’S? What gargantuan idiocy leads men to equate both?

God bless Yar”Adua. Maybe like you, he had become tone-deaf and apathetic to the cries of the Niger Delta, cries first made by Adaka Boro which made Adekunle the scorpion to murder him; cries echoed by Saro Wiwa and the murdered Ogoni nine…murdered by Abacha, Yet the intellect of this consummate academic and pride to Fulani, He was smart enough to know these words rang true
“If you think peace is expensive, try war”

It takes some kind of a lack of true intelligence not to realize that whatever Tompolo and co are getting is inconsequential when juxtaposed with the destruction of all tank farms and oil facilities and human life….Hausa Igbo Yoruba, Oyibo, Niger Delta. He knows that amnesty represented the singular most brilliant move by any Nigerian leader. He knows that these militants are actually not the people stealing Nigerian crude. He knows Asari and Ayiri and all these Niger Delta warlords are Muslims because 99 percent of oil thieves are Hausa-Fulani and the army boys who took coups…Northerners and some allies in Yorubaland and Middlebelt/North Central. He from his grave would have seen that AL Mustapha went to visit Asari Dokuboh even before he went home or maybe soon after. WHY????

The Niger Delta militants are but boyboy to some true billionaires who have the contact to speak with countries to buy stolen crude. What president has Boyloaf spoken to? Is it not recently if ever he has come to the US? Who will teach him the French to sell to French refineries?

However, Buhari in his usual lack of intellect and strategy, same lack of strategy that cost him his Presidency in 1983, has again decided to absolve his Northern people of complicity in oil theft. It is the boyboy ship followers and miners that he has decided to show military might with. He has sent the planes up and killed once. WHAT STRUGGLE HAS BEEN ENDED BY KILLING ALL ADVERSARIES? Even the great Roman Empire negotiates and allows for Barbarians to have a few lands to themselves.

The little moneys given Kuku to train ex militants…NIGERIANS is what is the PAIN of very evil people now.
SO THEY ADVISE BUHARI TO GO KILLING. Now let us assume that our army is so equipped and trained and invincible. Let us assume the creeks are mapped and easy to navigate. IS IT THE RIGHT THING TO KILL THESE PEOPLE WHO DO NOT KILL YOU? Is it not better to readdress the AMnesty Program, remove thieving hands and ensure it gets to the youths and women and children of that area? Is it to throw away the child and the bathwater?
“KILL KILL KILL” they tell Buhari. But they forget that our army is not exactly that of GENERAL PATON. They forget that this time it will not be warning shots but actual total destruction of the oil facilities and killing of expatriates. They forget that the army cannot guard the facilities from five people with the type of rocket launchers we saw being returned during amnesty. They do not calculate the costs. The army that could not protect Nigerians where trees are low and land dessert, is expected to protect amidst thick vegetation and rivulets and streams where navy boats can run into sand from not knowing the water.

Growing up in Sapele, I have stood and watched teachers like @Leleji of Okotie Eboh allow to students to fight till one dies. One thing I have noticed in all of these fights, even when you punch a mans teeth in, the teeth injures your knuckles. Very silly…usually Yoruba boys online come and make such pseudo-intellectual comments calling for the fight against militants. These people are the type that do not think things through.

Again I ask, why is Buhari’s approach to militant payment and the Niger Delta not one of vetting the program and payments and making it better? HOW CAN HE BE OFFERING BOKO HARAM AMNESTY AND TAKING AWAY THE ONE OF THE NIGER DELTA WHOSE LANDS HAVE THE OIL? Is it because Niger Delta is part of the 5 percenters and Boko Haram 97 percenters?

Quote me on this NIGERIA WILL REGRET ANY ACTION THAT MAKES VIOLENCE AND WAR THE LEADING WAY TO DEAL WITH THE NIGER DELTA.
I say this again “Aside that it is evil and unfair, aside that the Nigerian army cannot protect the oil facilities and the damage will ruin the economy FINALLY, aside that Chevron Schlumberger and all will go home easily this time, as they will be blamed for every death and their corporate image cannot stand it in this age of social media, (SHell has already sold of all it owns on land) AMERICA AND RUSSIA WILL GLADLY BAN NIGERIAN OIL AS NOW NIGERIA IS COMPETITION TO THEM SINCE THEY HAVE BECOME OIL SELLERS TOO.
Those who follow this page and who disagree with me often like Chuks Dickson Uwagboi will remember when I said the price of oil will plunge and America will become sellers. That was four years ago and he Dickson asked for the article at the beginning of the oil price crash. Buhari in contras says the fall of oil price was “UNEXPECTED”. Truth is that at this point, a lot of us younger men stand to know a lot more than these old men who lead. We follow events more closely and the books we read now is different from the books they read. So when we settle down to write, despite our bias, people should pause and say “there is sense even in nonsense”. Here I repeat NIGERIA WILL REGRET AN ARMED CONFRONTATION WITH A UNITED NIGER DELTA.
Here is another plausible scenario. Boko Haram continues battling the Nigerian army from the North. Niger Delta Militants begin serious bombing from the south south. Biafra and their very ready youths see a weakened Nigerian army and take full advantage. WHAT HAPPENS? Is this possibility too far fetched? Boko Haram is already fighting. Tompolo is already calling for meetings of ex warlords, 70 percent of Igbos are tired of this contraption called Nigeria. SO IS THE ABOVE SCENARIO SO FAR-FETCHED?

But there exists calm voices of reasons, ALL COMING FROM PDP who have successfully held the country together for 16 years. Many people tink the Federal Government blocking a venue is the same thing as stopping a meeting. The stupidity astounds. Generals who own boats and can meet in the high seas or in the middle of Bayelsa unanounced, some people think barricading a building is problem solved. These calm voices have come from Goodluck Jonathan. It has come from Okowa, I am sure having made a call to Ibori intimating him of the needless eggshell situation brought on by a leader unaware of present-day reality. A leader still caught up in the idiosyncrasy of the 80’s and early 90’s. The Seriake Dickson and Alamieseighas and all Niger Deltans including Udom Emmanuel and Godswill Akapabio have all come to these boys to take it easy. They have said they will update the old man president and show him the folly of his actions and plans.

YES Unlike the Northern leaders who encouraged Boko Haram with words like “boko haram will never end until Jonathan leaves” and “Boko Haram are freedom fighters”, these excellent statesmen from the Niger Delta, men well schooled academically and who can see clearand present danger to all concerned, these men have said they will talk to Buhari.

If you think peace is expensive, try war.

May God save us all.

EX-NIGER DELTA AGITATORS MEETING: IYC CONDEMN MILITARY INVASION OF IJAW HOUSE, YENAGOA, BAYELSA STATE, SAYS THAT NIGERIA BACK TO THE DARK DAYS OF DICTATORSHIP

IJAW YOUTH COUNCIL (IYC)
WORLDWIDE
July 25, 2015
PRESS STATEMENT
EX-NIGER DELTA AGITATORS MEETING: IYC CONDEMN MILITARY INVASION OF IJAW HOUSE, YENAGOA, BAYELSA STATE, SAYS THAT NIGERIA BACK TO THE DARK DAYS OF DICTATORSHIP
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Worldwide condemn in the strongest terms the military invasion of Ijaw House, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State; the administrative headquarters of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and housing the Bayelsa State Ministry of Ijaw National Affairs and Culture. A combined team of military and police officers in the early hours of Friday, the 24th of July, 2015 invaded and took over Ijaw House, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State to prevent ex-Niger Delta agitators from having their proposed meeting on Saturday, the 25th of July, 2015. This is illegal, unconstitutional and a draw back to the dark days of military dictatorship where Nigerians were deprived of their fundamental rights.
The IYC wishes to remind the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari that we are in a constitutional democracy where things are done according to law. The 1999 Constitution which is the foundation upon which our democracy is built recognizes the right to freedom of assembly and movement. The Niger-Delta people whether as ex-agitators or youth groups have the right to assembly in a meeting and free movement. Since yesterday, the 24th of July, 2015, all officers and administrative staff of the INC and IYC including Bayelsa State civil servants under the Bayelsa State Ministry of Ijaw Nationl Affairs and Culture have been denied access to the premises. This is a threat to our nascent democracy. Democracy is not only about having rice and beans to eat but the enjoyment of basic and fundamental rights which are enshrined and guaranteed in the constitution. The fears of many Nigerians that General Buhari would take Nigeria back to the dark days of dictatorship where there is no regard for human rights are coming to reality.
The IYC has it in good authority that President Buhari has an agenda to bomb and destroy the Niger-Delta region especially the Ijaw areas. The military movement into the Niger Delta region we have been reliably informed would commence this week. The IYC, the Ijaw Nation and the Niger Delta people wishes to alert Nigerians and the International community of this impending humanitarian disaster. President Buhari did not go to a war with the Niger Delta people in the March 28, 2015 Presidential election with Niger-Delta born Goodluck Jonathan but only contested an election for which he came out victorious. We are therefore at a lost as to why President Buhari has decided to treat the Niger Delta region like an enemy zone and a conquered territory. Only two days in faraway United States, President Buhari confirmed that he would not treat the Niger Delta region like other regions.
President Buhari has demonstrated so far in office that he is not interested in the welfare of the people of the Niger Delta but only in the oil resources found in the Niger Delta region. The IYC call on President Buhari to order the military and police officers presently forcefully occupying Ijaw House, Yenagoa to immediately vacate the premises and stop forthwith the violation of the rights of people who have business to carry out at Ijaw House, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. Political, opinion and religious leaders and the international community should prevail on General Buhari to have regard for constitutionalism in the Niger Delta region and stop the violation of the rights of Niger Deltans. The IYC would also take immediate legal and related actions to address these violations. Whether President Buhari likes it or not, the Niger Delta people would meet to determine their destiny in Nigeria.
Signed for the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Worldwide:
Eric Omare
Spokesman

Sylva’s N332 bn debt: Ijaw youths hold 1000-man march for Dickson

…to prevail upon him to seek re-election

…hails Bayelsa Assembly over vote of confidence

A socio-cultural organization, Ijaw Youth Vanguard on Saturday said it would hold a 1000-man march in honour and support of Bayelsa State governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, when he returns from his break overseas.

The organization also commended the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, for the vote of confidence passed on the state governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, stressing that, it was a tonic for the governor to do more.

Dickson was recently eulogized, through a vote of confidence by the State House of Assembly for his regular payment of salaries and settlement of about N242 billion out of the N332 billion debts said to have been incurred by his predecessor, Chief Timipre Sylva.

A statement issued in Yenagoa by the Secretary-General of IYV, Abel Igoni, said pressure would be mounted on the governor to seek re-election in 2016 and warn other contenders to keep off the governorship race.

“Whenever he returns from his break overseas, the IYV will hold a 1000-man march in honour and support of him. The 1000-man march will be used to prevail on the governor to officially declare his second term bid. Apart from being a mark of appreciation for the governor’s leadership and commitment to duty, it will serve as a warning to all those nursing governorship ambitions to steer clear of the race”, he stated.

The group said that, although critics of the government were free to do so, his performance in office was all that mattered.

According to IYV, the people of Bayelsa State could see the strides of success by Dickson’s administration, which he also attributed to vision and prudent management of the meagre resources.

Igoni said, “We are of the view that the decision by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly to pass that vote of confidence on Governor Seriake Dickson over the stated reasons, was a responsible decision. Truly, it is deserving, which can only give him the tonic to do more for our people. It is easy to shout out there, but the critics of the governor should be honourable enough to realise that being able to pay salaries regularly in the present situation in the country is a remarkable feat.

“It is also important to also remind the opposition groups that, this same restoration government has so far paid N242 billion out of the N332 billion debt left behind by the former governor, Chief Timipre Sylva. This can only be possible because of prudent management and commitment to the ethos of good governance. So, we duly support the action of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly for being also responsible to duty.

“Yet in spite of this, the restoration government has been able to deliver on so many developmental projects across the state and more will be done in fulfillment of his promises.”

IYC flays threat by military to attack N-Delta

Yenagoa—Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, yesterday, said that the threat by the military to attack the Niger Delta region over alleged rise in criminal activities such as oil theft, sea piracy and kidnapping, was a subterfuge to attack and kill innocent people of the Niger Delta region.

IYC was reacting to a statement credited to the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Bardeh, to the effect that the military would turn its arsenal on the Niger Delta because of the rise in criminal activities in the Delta.

Air Chief Marshall Bardeh had, weekend in Yenagoa, at the commissioning of the permanent headquarters of the Joint Task Force, JTF, expressed concern over the rising cases of oil theft in the Niger Delta region, warning the perpetrators to desist from the act or be ready to face deadly gun battle.

But the IYC, through its spokesman, Eric Omare, yesterday, described the Chief of Defence Staff’s comment as part of the plot by a section of the country now in power to silence the people of the Niger Delta.

He said: “IYC regards the threat by the military to attack the Niger Delta region because of alleged rise in criminal activities such as oil theft, sea piracy and kidnapping, as a subterfuge to attack and kill innocent people of the Niger Delta region. This is a prelude to the execution of a hidden agenda by a section of the country now in power to silence the people of the Niger Delta.

“It is an open secret that those involved in oil theft in the Niger Delta are well placed persons in the society, including top ranking serving and retired military officers. Some persons in the Niger Delta are only used as artisans and errand boys. Air Marshall Alex Badeh cannot claim ignorance of this fact.”

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2015/06/iyc-flays-threat-by-military-to-attack-n-delta/

Is President Buhari Born Again?,

By Femi Aribisala

Buhari has been running for president for the last 14 years. Nevertheless, listening to his inaugural speech, it is clear he does not have a clue what exactly to do when in office.

President Buhari tried to make us understand during the presidential election campaign that he is not the Buhari we once knew. He even went as far as wear an ill-fitting western suit and bow-tie to make us appreciate fully his transformation. He went to Chatham House in far away London to assure the world that, although 30 years ago he was a brutal military dictator, he is now a turncoat democrat.

Once elected president, he dropped the title of General and said we should now refer to him as Mr. President and not as General President. Now he has delivered an inaugural speech in which he has again denied his old self by contradicting his earlier postures, while proclaiming new persuasion to democratic tenets.

Should those of us who remain Doubting Thomases finally believe him? Has there indeed been a transmogrification of the old Buhari to a new Buhari? With Yemi Osinbajo, a Redeemed pastor beside him as vice-president, are we now to conclude that Buhari is a new creature in whom old things have passed away, and behold, all things have become new? As far as I am concerned, the jury is still out on this.

New wine in old bottle

Nevertheless, it is increasingly clear that there is an old Buhari and a new Buhari. The old Buhari was an apostle of George Orwell’s “1984.” But the new Buhari is a stickler for democratic niceties. While he doctored judicial processes in 1984, the new Buhari now insists on executive non-interference with the judiciary. While the old Buhari was the chief executive and chief legislative officer combined, the new Buhari proclaims the sanctity of the separation of powers.

While the old Buhari was guilty of the extra-judicial killing through capricious retroactive decrees, the new Buhari laments the extra-judicial killing of Mohammed Yusuf, the original Boko Haram leader. While the old Buhari banned the Ooni of Ife and the Sultan of Sokoto from traveling abroad for a season, the new Buhari immediately proclaimed on assuming office that nobody should be barred from traveling abroad.

While Buhari declared ominously in his first interview in 1984 that: “I will tamper with the press;” the new Buhari is a promoter of press freedom. Instead of issuing threats, he cajoles: “My appeal to the media today – and this includes the social media – is to exercise its considerable powers with responsibility and patriotism.”

At least on the rhetorical level, the inaugural proclaimed this new Buhari, one now somewhat unrecognisable even to his closest associates. This might be responsible for the recent debacle where his overzealous spokesman, assuming business as usual, barred African Independent Television (AIT) from covering his activities, only to be reversed by Buhari himself who denied prior knowledge of the move.

Disappointment and disgruntlement

One thing is certain, the new Buhari will soon be a disappointment to his teeming supporters. Many voted for him on the basis of mythical tales of his past. What they want is the old Buhari who was a raging bull. But what he revealed at his May 29th inaugural is a defanged Buhari, 30 years older and longer in the tooth. He is now as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove. Barring any sudden chameleon-like change in the near future, the “Sai Buhari brigade” will conclude it had been deceived.

The new Buhari is charitable. Opening his speech, he poured encomiums on Jonathan, thanking him for: “his display of statesmanship in setting a precedent for us that has now made our people proud to be Nigerians wherever they are.” Indeed, Jonathan did what the old Buhari failed to do on three different occasions; concede defeat at the polls.

The new Buhari will not go after his enemies, as the old Buhari did to Umaru Dikko and Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Instead, he will let bygones be bygones. He said: “A few people have privately voiced fears that on coming back to office I shall go after them. These fears are groundless. There will be no paying off old scores. The past is prologue.”

However, Buhari’s supporters are not charitable. They have no liking for Jonathan and don’t want any good word to be said about him. They are baying for blood, determined that PDP stalwarts must end up in jail on corruption charges; even if trumped up. They are already circling the wagons of Deziani Alison-Madueke and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Through clarion calls on social media, they are telling those who did not vote for Buhari either go into exile or hug the nearest electricity transformer to them.

Signs of betrayal

But Buhari says he will be as mindful of those who did not vote for him as those who did. He declared grandiloquently: “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.” This assertion is likely to infuriate his South-West ACN supporters in particular. It is not far-fetched to insist the statement is pointedly directed at Bola Tinubu. Yes, the born-to-rule Northern cabal is also already claiming Buhari. But everyone knows they did not play a prominent role in his campaign and election.

While Buhari might not be said to belong to Tinubu, there can be no question that he owes his presidency to him. Without Tinubu, Buhari would not have even secured the APC presidential nomination. Northern APC members preferred Kwankwaso and Atiku to him. Therefore, this is a cynical time to declare his graduation and independence.

Even Buhari’s wife, Aisha, admitted during the campaign that her husband is indebted to Tinubu. She said: “My husband, General Muhammadu Buhari, has been contesting presidential elections for over a decade now, but this particular election is unique because our leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, jettisoned his personal interest for the sake of Nigeria.”

If Buhari were to distance himself from Tinubu, now that the election is done and dusted, this will be viewed as a great betrayal. It will lead to the fulfillment of our prophecy that the two of them are strange bed-fellows engaged in a marriage of convenience that is bound to end in divorce sooner than later.

End of “change”

But the greatest disappointment of all for Buhari’s supporters must be the inaugural speech itself. Those who praised it were not being candid. The truth of the matter is that the speech was sub-standard. It did not even achieve the pass mark of the average inaugural speech; not to talk of the speech that should be expected of a candidate who went round the country proclaiming “Change, Change.”

The speech failed to identify any innovation to Nigerian’s problems. The only discernible change in it is the strategic movement of the military command centre against the Boko Haram insurgency from Abuja to Maiduguri. In this, Buhari shows he is an astute general indeed. In effect, those charged with directing the war can no longer be physically abstracted from it.

Otherwise, it would appear that the much-touted change is already over. What Buhari and the APC intended all along was just a change of government. No more, no less. Now that this has been accomplished, we are back to the humdrum and the mundane. Buhari has been running for president for the last 14 years. Nevertheless, listening to his inaugural speech, it is clear that he does not have a clue what exactly to do when in office. Either the APC never really believed it would win the election, or it was too preoccupied with winning to pay sufficient attention to what it would do in the unlikely event that it won.

Buhari’s inaugural speech cannot raise the dead, which abound, in Nigeria. Neither can it inspire the living. There is just nothing in it but the same old, same old. Habakkuk says: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” There is nothing to run with in Buhari’s speech. Apart from “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody,” it was even lacking in sound-bites.

Not inspiring

Buhari himself is an uninspiring public-speaker. He is an imposing personality, head and shoulders taller than everybody else. But at his inaugural, he seemed tired and confused. The whole process seemed a distraction to him. It looked like he would rather be somewhere else. Throughout, his mien was sour and dour. Our new president needs to lighten the national mood by learning to smile, even if occasionally.

Buhari blundered royally on protocol. He had to be prompted to go round and greet the foreign dignitaries who came for his inauguration, showing he had not been coached about this beforehand. He started his speech by recognising himself, a very strange practice. He then recognised his wife before the vice-president. But a president is not expected to recognise his own wife. He then seemed to forget the name of the vice-president’s wife, referring to her as his spouse. Such faux pas should not recur. The president needs to be conversant with the protocol list.

We must soon come to terms with the fact that Buhari is not a Maitama Sule or a Jerry Gana. He is not an orator. But on Friday, he even seemed to be unfamiliar with his speech. Buhari might not have written his speech, but it was imperative for him to own it. At the very least, he should read his speeches and practice their delivery beforehand. It is embarrassing that Buhari could not pronounce some of the words in his speech. That is unacceptable for the president of Nigeria.

Delayed responses

I entirely agree with Lagos lawyer, Ebun-Olu-Adegboruwa, who condemned the president’s speech, saying it was illusory and vague. He said: “It would seem that the President is still on the soap box, whereby promises and promises and intentions are the order. My expectation was that since March 28, 2015, when he won the election, General Buhari would have outlined his main policy direction. But alas, that has not happened today”.

On the burning issue of petroleum shortage, Buhari offered no definite solace. Part of the reason behind the fuel scarcity was the uncertainty of marketers and banks about the incoming government’s position on the question of petroleum subsidy. Should the new government be inclined to jettison the scheme, the marketers wanted to get their outstanding money beforehand or have assurances that they would be paid by the incoming government in full.

Clearly, one of the things required here was some words from the president about his position on this issue. But Buhari gave no indication. Even in his inaugural, not a word was spoken that could calm the frayed nerves of oil-marketers and the anxieties of “battle-weary” petrol-seeking Nigerians.

Lost opportunity

All-in-all, the inaugural was a lost opportunity. The president lost the opportunity to ignite an agenda. There are difficult decisions he needs to make that should have been broached in his speech. That would give them momentum since he still has the wind behind his sails and this is the dawn of his honeymoon period. However, he squandered this opportunity by presenting a bland and vacuous speech.

He could have announced the removal of the petroleum subsidy and gotten away with it. He could have announced a “Marshall Plan” for the North-East and he would get the support of the new legislature. He could have announced a call-to-arms for a return to agriculture, and that would become a beacon of his presidency. He did nothing like this. He failed to understand that a new president is only guaranteed a honeymoon of just 100 days.

President Buhari acknowledges that: “Nigeria has a window of opportunity to fulfill our long-standing potential of pulling ourselves together and realising our mission as a great nation.” However, instead of getting down to work in order to capitalise on this “window of opportunity,” the president declared a plan to go back to the drawing-boards.

On the NEPA situation, he declared: “Careful studies are under way during this transition to identify the quickest, safest and most cost-effective way to bring light and relief to Nigerians.” Careful studies? Are we still at the stage of careful studies? During the campaign, Buhari promised 20,000 megawatts of electricity by 2019. On what basis did he make this promise if he is still at the stage of careful studies?

He says: “We shall quickly examine the best way to revive major industries and accelerate the revival and development of our railways, roads and general infrastructure.” This is disappointing. Buhari is still lost at sea. Now that he has been elected president, he is going back to the classroom. It seems he will use his first-term to study the problems of Nigeria and then perhaps offer solutions for a possible second-term.

No foreign policy

Listening to Buhari’s inaugural speech, Nigeria has no foreign policy. Scores of foreign dignitaries were in attendance; far more than we have seen recently. Nevertheless, Buhari’s speech provides no cogent foreign policy blueprint. You cannot get more pretentious than his assertion that: “Our neighbours in the sub-region and our African brethren should rest assured that Nigeria under our administration will be ready to play any leadership role that Africa expects of it.”

This is nonsensical on several levels. It means Nigeria has no foreign policy; therefore, its foreign policy apparatus can be readily lent out to support ANY leadership role. It is also unrealistic to expect African countries that have watched us in the past few days grind to a halt over petroleum shortage be waiting to ascribe any leadership role to Nigeria. Who made Nigeria a leader in Africa? How can we lead without direction? Buhari supplied no answers.

The president further blundered by saying: “I would like to thank the governments and people of Cameroon, Chad and Niger for committing their armed forces to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria.” This is a slur on the integrity of the Nigerian armed forces. Our sub-regional partners have not committed their armed forces to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria. They have committed their armed forces to fight Boko Haram in their own countries.

These countries delayed fighting Boko Haram until the insurgency spilled over into their own countries as well. This has helped Nigeria by foreclosing Boko Haram escape routes. But we have not been dependent on them to fight Boko Haram on our behalf. Buhari’s statement is not going to motivate the Nigerian army, which has recently been achieving great success against the insurgency.

Talking to CNN after his election, Buhari said of the Boko Haram: “We will deal effectively with them in two months when we get to office.” He has since tried to back-pedal from this unrealistic deadline. But at his inauguration, he made another promise likely to haunt him in the future. He said: “We cannot claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents.”

He might come to regret saying this. Compare it with what he said during the one-year anniversary of the Chibok kidnapping: “We do not know if the Chibok girls can be rescued. Their whereabouts remain unknown. As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them.” If the girls may not be found, then according to his new position, Boko Haram will not be defeated.

New-style colonialism

Rather than thank the Nigerian army for its recent victories against the Boko Haram, Buhari thanked Britain and the United States, countries that refused to sell arms to Nigeria against the insurgents. He made our foreign policy the appendage of the interests of these two Western countries. Listen to him again: “I also wish to assure the wider international community of our readiness to cooperate and help to combat threats of cross-border terrorism, sea piracy, refugees and boat people, financial crime, cyber crime, climate change, the spread of communicable diseases and other challenges of the 21st century.”

The issues listed here are those Buhari knows are of primary interest to the West. Is Nigeria’s foreign policy now to be mortgaged to Buhari’s new European and American friends?

Britain and the United States blatantly interfered in Nigeria’s domestic affairs on behalf of Buhari and the APC during the elections. Not minding their business, they complained about the postponement of the election, in spite of the fact that it was done lawfully and was necessary because INEC was not ready. They interfered by making insulting statements while the votes were still being tallied, insisting that the election must not be rigged. The United States then added insult to injury by decorating Attahiru Jega with some ridiculous award immediately the election was declared in favour of Buhari.

National integration

The president told CNN in April, 2015: “The actual division (in Nigeria) that I think is worth bothering about is social instability, that is, insecurity, in the North East and the Delta area.” He is highly mistaken. The major problem of Nigeria is lack of national integration which goes beyond the North-East and the Niger-Delta. Nigeria is divided between North and South. We are divided between East and West. The Niger Delta used to be in alliance with the North. However, the way the campaign against Jonathan was conducted and the manner by which APC secured its victory against the PDP has driven a wedge between the South-South and the North.

Nigeria is divided up North between Christians and Moslems. The APC campaigned on Nigeria’s secularity in the South. But up North, the message was loud and clear: Jonathan must go because he is not a Muslim and a Northerner. It is all well and good for Buhari to say Boko Haram is not true Islam. But there can be no question that Boko Haram set out to destroy Christians and Christianity in the North. The evidence is in the overwhelming number of churches it has destroyed.

Even Buhari’s early approach to the Boko Haram insurgency itself was divisive. He saw the conflict through regional goggles, claiming that it was an insidious attempt by the South to undermine the North. Some of his Northern cheer-leaders still hold this position. Recently, Junaid Mohammed said Goodluck Jonathan was behind Boko Haram. He said: “Some of them were sponsored by the government while others were sponsored by Niger-Delta militants to destabilise the North.”

Problem with APC

Buhari needs to be a quick learner because he still does not get it. As presently constituted, APC itself is a big problem for Nigeria. The election it won constitutes a major threat to Nigerian democracy. APC is a sectarian party that effectively divided Nigeria along regional lines. A situation where PDP could not campaign in the North without threats, blackmail and even violence, while APC campaigned without hindrance everywhere in the South does not augur well for Nigerian democracy. There must be a level playing field for all candidates everywhere if true democracy is to flourish.

In the North, PDP billboards were destroyed. PDP buses were fire-bombed. PDP chieftains were threatened. President Jonathan’s campaign train was stoned. The intimidation has not stopped. Even after the elections, PDP chieftains, like Babangida Aliyu, were stoned during their handover of power to successor APC governors. APC supporters even disrupted the swearing-in ceremony of their own governor-elect in Kaduna. Buhari cannot keep mum while his “people” and supporters continue to be trouble-makers. The case of the murderous Fulani herdsmen is yet another case in point.

He cannot talk about change without confronting the national question. That is the centrepoint of the call for a national conference. Nigeria cannot move forward until we come to a definite agreement as to the terms of membership in Nigeria, of its constituent federations and nationalities. A situation where states gather every month in Abuja to receive handouts from the proceeds of an enclave oil sector is a recipe for national unproductivity. It also provides the fodder for endemic corruption because the oil proceeds are deemed to belong to everybody and to nobody.

Epilogue

Buhari ended his inaugural with a big blunder. He decided to quote Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar: “There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life, is bound in shallows and miseries.” When I heard this, I was flabbergasted. We might as well have started off the inauguration with the British national anthem as well.

At the inauguration of a new Nigerian Head of State, watched the world over, Buhari could not find a Nigerian to quote. He could not quote a Wole Soyinka, a Chinua Achebe, or even a Maitama Sule. Instead, he sought refuge in William Shakespeare. It seems to me the British are back at the helm in Nigeria.

Buhari pleaded with Nigerians for patience to fulfil his vague mandate. Indeed, it can be argued that, for Buhari and the APC, the mantra is no longer “Change” but “Patience.” But in the cynical words of an intrepid blogger: “We are not going to be patient with the president. That would be adulterous. Patience is married to Jonathan and has left Abuja for Otuoke. The president should be satisfied with Aisha.”