Politics and Policy

President Buhari is back: Did he declare Jollof Rice?

The address by President Muhammadu Buhari lasted less than five minutes. The texts of the President’s speech are already on the pages of national dailies and online media, suggesting it may have been released to the media beforehand.

In that light, it was a bit underwhelming that it was not a live speech. However, he is back, to resume.

It does feel like a second coming of sorts. Buhari was not in the country for the commemoration of last Democracy Day which is the second anniversary of his inauguration two years ago. This feels like a second chance to amend a false start when everything happened at very slow rates. Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo’s quicker response to issues has been well received. Will the President emulate him?

President Buhari, in the address, made the much needed comment that every Nigerian retains the right to live where ever he or she pleases. In his words, “our collective interest now is to eschew petty differences and come together to face common challenges of; economic security, political evolution and integration as well as lasting peace among all Nigerians”. He referenced a period when he hosted Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu in his home in Daura, and how they discussed Nigeria’s unity. Was that over a plate of jollof?

[Brief digression: Jollof Rice is a popular recipe in Nigeria, but it is not quite the staple food yet. It is tasty, strong in its inviting aroma, but it only brings people to the table when blended with the right ingredients and proportion by a cook with an eye for detail.]

Nigerians can only wish that the President’s eyes, ears and heart are poured into the project of change. Two years down the line and barely seven months before new campaign hostilities, there have not been clear fruits from the last planting season. Whether it will involve going shopping with a new list for better ingredients (Ministers), or changing the arrangement and types of utensils in the kitchen (teams in the Presidency), there is that feeling that the President would have to change something about the performance of his administration so far.

He would need to improve on his relations with his rice suppliers (the Senate and House), to ensure timely delivery and of the right bran quality. Dr Bukola Saraki no longer has a trial to answer at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, if that was ever a leverage the Executive had over him. Collaboration, not confrontation, and there will be less risk of spittle mixing with the curry.

The cheer from his supporters is “carry go”. The demand from Nigerians is, more than ever, positive change, now.

“My dear citizens,

I am very grateful to God and to all Nigerians for their prayers. I am pleased to be back on home soil among my brothers and sisters.

In the course of my stay in the United Kingdom, I have been kept in daily touch with events at home. Nigerians are robust and lively in discussing their affairs, but I was distressed to notice that some of the comments, especially on social media, have crossed our national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation. This is a step too far.

In 2003 after I joined partisan politics, the late Chief Emeka Ojukwu came and stayed as my guest in my hometown Daura.

Over two days we discussed in great depth till late into the night and analyzed the problems of Nigeria. We both came to the conclusion that the country must remain one and united.

Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable. We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble, and when things get bad they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood.

Every Nigerian has the right to live and pursue his business anywhere in Nigeria without let or hindrance.

I believe the very vast majority of Nigerians share this view.

This is not to deny that there are legitimate concerns. Every group has a grievance. But the beauty and attraction of a federation is that it allows different groups to air their grievances and work out a mode of co-existence.

The National Assembly and the National Council of State are the legitimate and appropriate bodies for national discourse.

The national consensus is that, it is better to live together than to live apart.

Furthermore, I am charging the Security Agencies not to let the successes achieved in the last 18 months be a sign to relax.

Terrorists and criminals must be fought and destroyed relentlessly so that the majority of us can live in peace and safety.

Therefore we are going to reinforce and reinvigorate the fight not only against; elements of Boko Haram which are attempting a new series of attacks on soft targets; kidnappings; farmers versus herdsmen clashes in addition to ethnic violence fuelled by political mischief makers. We shall tackle them all.

Finally, dear Nigerians, our collective interest now is to eschew petty differences and come together to face common challenges of economic security, political evolution and integration, as well as lasting peace among all Nigerians. I remain resolutely committed to ensuring that these goals are achieved and maintained. I am so glad to be home.

Thank you and may God bless our dear Nation.”

Feature Image source: NAN

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