Okwe Obi, Abuja The Aso Rock Presidential Villa is to gulp a whopping sum of N4.9 billion to ensure the effective maintenance of mechanical and electrical equipment for 2018, if it gets the nod of the National Assembly. According to the proposed budget for the year, the amount which is higher than N4 billion voted…
Nigeria is lucky, President Mohammadu Buhari is also lucky. The luck is that we have Professor Yemi Osinbajo as Nigeria’s number two man. An academic who has continued to deploy his intellect in the discharge of his duties and who is impressing a whole lot of Nigerians, almost on a daily basis. He has been able to hold the fort in the absence of the president. It is not as if I set out to deliberately sing the praise of the acting President, but if I have criticized the government he is a part of before when they are not getting some things right, then it behoves on me to equally commend any member of the administration if the person is doing well. Professor Osinbajo is impressing me, I am sure, he is impressing a whole lot of Nigerians too with the way he has set his hands on the plough since the president left the shores of the country for his medicals.
There has been a calmness, devoid of tension in the polity. Even when the pro-Biafra agitators, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) called a sit-at-home on May 30 to mark the 50 years of the breakaway of Biafra Republic, it was relatively peaceful and devoid of the tension that had been the hallmark of previous actions.
The acting President’s matured manner in handling the October 1 ultimatum threat issued by the northern youths is equally worthy of commendation. Realizing that the ultimatum was building up tension in the polity, he embarked on subtle appeal to the leadership of the zones where statements that have heated the polity came from,for dialogue. No saber-rattling. He met with opinion leaders and traditional leaders from the northern part of the country, he thereafter engaged leaders from the south east. He also had meetings with the governors from the 36 states.
In all these, his emphasis could be seen from two different areas. One of such is the role that these leaders of thought could play in dousing the tension. The other is telling the purveyors of hate speeches that the government would not hesitate to clamp down on them, knowing fully well that words precedes the start of violence.
“It is clear that wars sometimes start, not with bullets, but with words. Hateful, incendiary speech, open floodgates of blood. The tongue, like the pen, is often mightier than the sword – because it is what pushes the sword into action. When we throw words like stones in a marketplace we do not know who or what it will hit.
“Knowing this, under no condition whatsoever should we tolerate or excuse or justify hate speech or hateful conduct of any kind, especially where such is illegal”, he said in one of such meetings.
He acknowledged the right to agitate as ,“misunderstandings and frustrations are inevitable and because resources are limited there will always be a striving to get what is perceived as the best seat at the table”. He said this should be done within acceptable limits.
To me, the major highlight of his meetings with all these leaders of thought is his exhortation to them that they should speak out more forcefully against the incendiary speeches. It is a subtle indictment against the leaders who have given tacit support to the agitators. I recall that when the northern group came up with their ultimatum, many Nigerians condemned them, the Christian Association of Nigeria in the north, the 19 northern governors, among many other. At a stage, the Kaduna state governor, Nasir el-Rufai ordered their arrest, the police also claimed to be on the trail of the group. But from all indications, that was just to lull us into believing something was being done. No member of the group has been arrested? They even became more emboldened and started amending their initial statement. Thus, the statement from the northern governors, “when you see a toad dancing in the broad daylight, the drummer is not far off from the main road”, becomes more apt. Why has it been difficult to arrest any member of the group, if there is no one behind the scene beating the drums they are dancing to? This is why the current action of the acting president in calling all the leaders of the group-political zones for dialogue and his admonition to speak out on the issue is relevant.
The above is just an instance of the admirable manner the acting President is administering the country in the absence of his principal. There have also been many other commendable actions of Professor Osinbajo. I recall that, he had equally intervened in the southern Kaduna crisis by dialoguing with different stakeholders in the state on how to return peace to the troubled area, on two different occasions.
The acting president had visited the Niger Delta to calm the restive region too. The result of the trip is there for all to see. The youths have calmed down and the bombing of pipeline has petered out. The effect is felt in the increased quantity of barrels of oil per day which has gone up by nearly 50 percent. We all know the implication for the economy- more revenue to support the budget. Prior to Osinbajo’s visit, oil production went down to 1.6million barrels per day, but with return of peace to the region, this has increased to 2.2 million per day with the target at 2.5million barrels for 2017. The budget had pegged it at 2.2 billion barrels per day. Expectedly, government revenue from oil would increase to about N800billion.
Early this month, he also visited Maiduguri which had been the hot bed of Boko Haram. His trip was significant as it was a way of restoring confidence, that peace had actually returned to the area. It was also an opportunity to inform the people that their relief materials, which in most cases, end up in the open market through the action of some unscrupulous human beings, would soon end as the government was planning to introduce vouchers.
From the above, it is pretty sure that the acting President understands the power of dialogue and what it takes to sustain the country’s democratic balance. He should be commended.