By Mideno Bayagbon
Email: [email protected]
If there are two governors the All Progressives Congress, APC, would gladly silence or if legal, eliminate, Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, will be in the top ranks. They have been a constant irritant, a very sore thumb, to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. There is hardly any week that either, or both, of them will not find something to lambast the government about. It is as if their main purpose of being, as Governors of their states, is to give Buhari the stick, weekly. For years , they were the only voice of opposition, the ones whose main pleasure was to make every day a sad one for this government.
If you were to ask any chieftain of the APC about the conduct of these governors, they will not waste time in telling you that they are rabble rousers, loud mouths, attention seekers, who have taken opposition politics to a ridiculous extent. But to their seemingly huge audience, Wike and Ortom have become the voice of the voiceless, two leaders who are not afraid to speak truth to power. But to unbiased watchers of Nigerian politics, the truth is tucked somewhere between the two positions.
Lets take the latest salvo by Governor Ortom directed at President Muhammadu Buhari, who is not only the President of Nigeria but is also the Life Patron of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), some of whose members have been involved in arsons, killings, maiming, raping and sundry other criminal activities.
In a statement, signed by his chief press secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, the Benue Governor insists, and indeed calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately declare as a terrorist organisation, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN.
In his words, Ortom said: “Though the federal government’s measure on bandits now seems strong, the security challenges will only be adequately addressed if similar hard position is taken on Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, MACBAN, and the Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM) who have vowed and continued to cause mayhem in Benue State and other parts of the country because of the anti-grazing laws.
“For us in Benue, the law has come to stay. It is irrevocable. In fact we have maintained our position that Benue State has no grazing routes, reserves or areas whatever. It was enacted in good faith for peace and order in the state. It was done among other things to end the incessant farmers/herdsmen clashes in the state. Nigerians have absorbed enough hunger and misery in the hands of the All Progressives Congress (APC) misrule. Or is it possible that Mr President is not aware that Nigerians are dying from his misrule.”
If you recall, the federal government recently gazetted a law which named Boko Haram, ISWAP and all such organisations as terrorists organisations. Coming after years of reluctance on the part of the Buhari Government to so designate these organisations whose main fare has been the wanton killings of innocent Nigerians, the razing of villages, abduction of school children and women, who they turn into sex slaves. They have annexed a large number of villages and some local government areas too, if the Sultan of Sokoto and a plethora of other northern leaders are to be believed. They impose taxes on and collect tributes from them, enthroning their marauding government on the hapless people.
The applause following the declaration of ISWAP and Boko Haram as terrorist organisations had hardly died down when the Benue governor, whose state has been a major battle ground, a minefield of death, a centre point in the euphemistically named farmers, Fulani herdsmen clashes, decided to roughen the feathers of the Buhari government. Thousands of deaths have been recorded in these clashes between the itinerant Fulani herdsmen, most of whom, we are now told, cross the porous Nigerian borders from neighbouring countries, carry out their nefarious activities and disappear, leaving behind gory streams of innocent blood, burnt out villages, and a deafening silence from the federal authorities. None of these marauders, who left their bloody signatures across Plateau, Benue, Zamfara, and a large chunk of the South West, South East, and South South, has ever been successfully caught and brought to justice. This has fuelled speculations that they are seemingly untouchable because the President is their Life Patron.
Governor Ortom, who rose to power on the wings of the All Progressives Congress but was, in his own words, forced to quilt the party and join the opposition when the farmers and Fulani herders clashes and the deaths, maiming, raping of innocent villagers hit a crescendo, now wants the President to declare the Miyetti Allah cattle breeding groups as terrorist organisations. Meaning the President should declare himself a terrorist! We all know this will never happen. Governor Ortom too, l suspect, knows this too.
DID YOU WATCH THAT PRESIDENT BUHARI INTERVIEW?
Last week, a large chunk of what this government has over time described as the Wailers were up to no good and bombarded the social media with disparaging comments and views satirising portion of the interviews which President Muhammadu Buhari granted some television station. And it seems there is just no satisfying these Nigerians. First they claimed that the man in Aso Rock masquerading as President Buhari is one Jubril from Sudan. When that couldn’t hold water, the grouse became that the President is suffering from a debilitating mental health issue which has affected his cognitive abilities. They claim he is now senile and he is just a puppet in the hands of some power manipulators in Aso Rock.
To give it a veneer of believability, they then started complaining that the president does not speak to the nation, lacks empathy and is seemingly aloof to the myriad of problems, especially the insecurity which bedevils the nation. Now they have decided to shift the goalpost: they insist now that the president is incoherent, and is unable to understand questions posed to him and is wont to to veer off, go on a tangent totally unrelated to the questions posed to him. They readily have made a clip from the interview the president granted to Channels television go laughably viral just because all the statistics quoted by the interviewers show that life of the average Nigerian is worst off today compared to 2015 when the president came into office.
To this the president, not wanting to dwell on the dreadful statistics, asked all Nigerians, like he is often known to say, to go back to the land, to farm. Yes, his answers showed an acute lack of knowledge of the times we are in: that technology, which is matching all over the world in such a frenetic pace, is the future and not agriculture. Yes, the President seems unaware that because of the activities of Miyetti Allah and the terrorists terrorising a large swath of the nation, there is hardly any reasonable farming going on in the country, that the nation is on tenterhooks, on the verge of food insecurity.
While I am waiting for the next complaints by the wailers, suffice it to say, President Buhari is alive, is well, and can answer questions to the best of his abilities. Like he reminded Nigerians, he is old, and fagged out from selflessly serving them in the over sixty years of his service to the nation as a war General, Governor, Minister, Head of State, President. We owe him a debt of gratitude, especially now that the nation has sunk deep into economic morass.
STARS OF THE WEEK:
BOLA AHMED TINUBU
The Jagaban, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, self acclaimed leader of the All Progressives Congress, lived up to his promise on Monday when he formally declared his intention to vie for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. First, he formally went to Aso Rock to intimate the Lord of the Manor, President Muhammadu Buhari, of his intentions and thereafter the rest of us. I m glad that finally, hIis day in the sun has come. After decades of being in the political trenches of Nigeria, the man also fondly addressed as Asiwaju, has thrown his hat into the All Progressives Congress, APC, ring and is battle ready to fight it out in the crab-like cesspit of the primaries and emerge the party’s flag bearer.
His chances are bright given his seeming hold on the Southwest politics; his known wealth and the loyalties he can call on. His main problems, however, are mainly three persons: Rotimi Amaechi, VP Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Kayode Fayemi. Others too might soon emerge.
ANYIM FOR PRESIDENT
The Igbo nation did something spectacular last week to very little press attention. Most of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, political leaders in the South East gathered, under one roof, to signify their seriousness in asking that the rest of the country should truly consider allowing a Nigerian of South East origin to contest for and indeed emerge the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And they overwhelmingly threw their weight behind Pius Anyim, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation who was also a former Senate President. He is the only one, so far, to have publicly signified his intentions to vie for the position. This is unprecedented, a sign that maybe the South Eastern leaders, just this once, are ready to play national politics right. Hoping that the usual spoilers will not also soon come out to muddy the waters.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is one of the lucky stars of the outgone week. Suddenly, his presidential posters have flooded Abuja, the federal capital and some of the states of the federation giving fillip to the speculations making the rounds that he is going to man it out and go for the presidential ticket of the APC. The Vice President who was also in Bauchi during the week, for a wedding ceremony to which his mentor and now, soon to be political rival, Ahmed Tinubu, was also an invitee, upped the ante, positioning himself with a widely accepted, and reported presidential-like speech. There is no doubting it anymore. The VP has his heart fully in the presidential ring contest.
I have my ring side seat and I am salivating with all joyous anticipation the looming heavy weight fight between the Jagaban and the VP.
…AND THE COWARD OF THE WEEK?
Hope Uzodinma, the Governor of Imo State is my Coward of the Week. After much hype and talk of him naming the sponsors of terrorism in Imo State, and after inviting leaders and his supporters in the state to a meeting in Umuahia, the Supreme Court enthroned governor simply chickened out, disappointing all and sundry.
Coming less than two weeks after the poorly handled and massively condemned arrest of Uche Nwosu, son inlaw of the former governor of the state, the one Imolites used to call Okorohausa, (Rochas Okorocha), the expectations were at mountain top. Governor Uzodinma, on D-Day, turned lily livered and could only whimper that Okorocha, who is a member of his party and was at a time his staunch supporter, was his major headache.
The man just make people vex sha!