Buhari, South East and ‘Political Reality’ -By Ike Abonyi

Filed under: Political Issues |

Buhari: To Whom Much Is Given -By Suraj Oyewale


President Muhammedu Buhari is not a man of many words. He is also not the type who pretends to be what he is not. He has never hidden himself regarding what he believes in or what he stands for on any subject. From the campaign period to date, his managers have tried to pigeon-hole him into what he is not and he always finds a way to wriggle out and show his real colour. In his inaugural speech, we recall his most quotable quote that is already in marble “I belong to nobody and am for nobody”.

He even went further to assure those afraid of him to relax their nerves, as the new Buhari is a converted democrat, who would not border looking into the past but only intend to focus in the future. Those who know him did not see it as vintage Buhari, rather they saw it as a professional branding work by some image painters. When Buhari went to South Africa, the speech writers prepared another of such branding statement for him to read to Nigerian community but he scrubbed it, telling them, “I want to talk from my heart”.

The difference was clear when he talked from his heart, ‘I have heard what you said but how I wish I got the mandate to rule Nigeria at a younger age’ he told his audience. Because of the controversy his age generated during the campaigns, not a few felt he should not have said that. Expectedly, the opposition quickly jumped at it saying he is now confessing he is too old for the task ahead and demanded that he should resign.

His media aide quickly covered the flank interpreting it to suit them and ended up saying that the President is like a good wine, which gets better with age. Another classic Buhari came glaring during his last two state visits to the United States of America and the Republic of Benin. Nigerians living in the two countries were falling on each other thinking that since Buhari was looking for “saints” that may be difficult to find among already enmeshed Nigerians at home, they would easily be considered for plum jobs, but the brusque General did not pretend as he openly told them that there are no jobs at home as the country he met is in a mess.

Perhaps, the most conspicuous expression that Buhari wants to be himself came clear when he struggled, during the question and answer secession in his recent US trip, to respond to some issues when he gave his now famous definition of “political reality”.

One such question came from Dr. Pauline Baker, the President Emeritus of The Fund for Peace, who asked about security in the Niger Delta area. Her words, “My question relates to another area of Nigeria that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention during this trip and that is the Niger Delta.

It’s a challenge that you are going to face. I wonder if you would tell us how you intend to approach it with particular reference to the amnesty, bunkering, and inclusive development.” President Buhari who appeared not prepared for the question ‘retorted ‘inclusive’ and they said yes including women and youth” Buhari then stressed, “I hope you have a copy of the election results.

The constituents, for example, that gave me 97 per cent [of the vote] cannot in all honesty be treated on some issues with constituencies that gave me 5 per cent. I think these are political reality,” But there is a ‘however’ in it from him, ‘as President we would try to accommodate everybody’.

Nevertheless, the point has been made, and loudly indeed. With that straight from the heart answer, the ongoing altercation between Okwadike Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Dr. Junaid Mohammed over the accommodation of Ndigbo by the Buhari government should not arise because what is happening is long foretold by the man holding both the yam and the knife.

Moreover, the nihilist antecedent of Dr. Junaid Mohammed is such that should not deserve any attention For instance, if the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) is yet to be appointed after three months, it is not unlikely that it is because the office is zoned to the 5 per cent area and can only come after necessary deployments would have been concluded at lower levels so that the SGF would not be given the rightful advantage of presiding over government postings.

If it has been zoned to 97 per cent area, possibly, it would long have been announced. Perhaps, it is convenient for the Head of Service to do the job of the SGF, since he comes from the 97 per cent area.

If all heads of security and para military agencies, defence, Airforce, Army, Navy, DSS, DIA, Police, Civil Defence, Road Safety Commission, ICPC and EFCC, Immigration, Customs and so on, have nobody from the South East, the reason should be understood from the point of political reality. If a seven-member team of eggheads can be raised to find answers to corruption in Nigeria, and nobody from the South East is found worthy to be among them, it is not for want of experts from that region but for the 5 per cent political reality.

If one Cajetan Obi, who was given acting position in NIMASA was quickly replaced by another from the safe region, it is still in connection with the political reality. If dozens of key appointments have so far been made by President Buhari within the Villa and none has come from South East, it cannot be due to lack of worthy or merited personnel, it must be a consequence of 5 per cent contesting for share with 97 per cent.

At least, five persons must emerge ministers whenever the cabinet is raised, thanks to the constitution which makes it mandatory that each state must produce a minister, otherwise, political reality would also have caught up with them on it.

The people to pity really are the Ndigbo in APC that make the paltry 5 per cent, and who would have to suffer psychological and political torture for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. By this, mention must be made of first class Igbo like Dr. Ogbonna Onu, and Dr. Chris Ngige, all former Governors and first grade politicians by all standards.

The best thing to do by the people of this zone, if I must advise, is not to stand with their eyes fixed on the giver, who is not looking their way but to return to the drawing board and strategize how to survive under the prevailing circumstance.

History bears witness that nobody gets anything in this country just by sitting and lamenting to people who are not listening. An Ijaw man did not become President of this country by lamenting, rather they raised the tempo of their agitation to a level where they could no longer be ignored. The Yoruba did not become President just for waiting for their turn, they used June 12 annulment as a launch pad and never stopped until they got something.

The Fulani and the North wanted political power returned to them and never got it until they intimidated the whole country into surrendering to them with so many innocent souls lost along the line. It is imperative to note that this piece is not by any means intended to support or advocate for violence or unlawful agitation.

The point it makes is that Ndigbo should return to the table, using their intellectual endowments to draw up agenda for the way forward in the circumstance they now find themselves. Let this political reality thing be the catalyst for rediscovery instead of bemoaning to the person who is not listening. An Iraqi woman activist, Zainab Saibi was absolutely right when she said that “no change can come if those who are impacted the most by discrimination are not willing to stand up for themselves”

That is another way of saying that the destiny of the people of the South East is in their own hands.

Even though the fact remains that any action whether by accident or design, be it in military, economy, politics or otherwise that excludes or fails to factor in the intellectual input of Ndigbo in Nigeria project cannot claim to be holistic and complete, but who cares if you fail to take the bull by the horn yourself. God bless Nigeria.