By Emeka Obasi
President Muhammadu Buhari impresses me as a good learner and follower. Those who were shouting change were more interested in their pockets than our common good. I am sure they never sat down with the general to discuss anything.
Honestly, many of those who sold candidate Buhari had no plans. They forced so many absurdities into his campaign. I want to see the video where Buhari said he would bring down the exchange rate to one naira per dollar, finish Boko Haram and reduce fuel pump price to almost zero.
My Hausa is not good. I can only speak enough to buy suya. I guess Tazarche means continuity. There is nothing the President is doing that is new. All this noise about building a refinery in Niger Republic and extending rail lines to Maradi, from Kano through Dutse, Katsina, and Jibia make no sense, to me.
We were all there when Bakassi, a part of Nigeria was signed away during the Civil War in the Yaounde and Marouna Accord. The International Court of Justice ruled in favour of Cameroon on October 10, 2002. On August 14, 2008, Nigeria formally lost our land.
Buhari was neither at Dodan Barracks nor Aso Villa when Nigeria dashed out oil-rich Bakassi. During the war, he was in the bush trying to keep Nigeria one. In 2002, the general was trying to make a comeback to power. By 2008, he was still in court, fighting for electoral justice.
In 1975, while East Central State was still suffering the devastation of war, Nigeria chose to pay the salaries of workers in Grenada and Guyana. Between 1972 and 1975, the Federal government was dashing out huge sums of money to Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Papua New Guinea.
Even almighty Britain enjoyed Nigeria’s generosity. Our government supported the Brits with 20 million pounds to sort out a few things in Jamaica. At that time, the road from Aba to Owerri was like going to hell from Hades.
I was in Senegal, 28 years ago. The biggest mosque in Dakar was built by a Nigerian leader. I frequented Ghana between 2000 and 2002, one of the grandiose hotels in Accra, La Palm Royal Beach Hotels, stinks of Nigerian magnanimity. There are allegations that another Nigerian leader said thank you to his Ghanaian colleague.
Why would anyone pillory Buhari if the government decides to import fuel from a refinery in the Niger Republic? This sounds better than going across the Atlantic to ship from Venezuela. If a president from Izon land could not fix refineries in five years, it makes no sense to blame the general for our oil woes.
Please, no sentiments here. Dee Sam Mbakwe cried Imo River over Abandoned Property in Port Harcourt. Nigerians called him Weeping Governor. Many of us did not feel there was an injustice. Do not expect some of us to cry if President Buhari decides to give out Daura to the Niger Republic.
My friend, Nze Modestus Umenzekwe, an APC strongman says Buhari is a man of his words.” I met the President for the first time in 2004. It was in Chukwuma Azikiwe’s house after the burial of former Attorney General, Chike Offodile.
“ Buhari said, ‘ my friend Chuma, if by the grace of God, I become president, I will make Ndigbo proud by completing Zik’s mausoleum, build a second Niger Bridge and other infrastructure,” Umenzekwe, Onwa of Achina told me.
Dr. Goodluck Azikiwe Jonathan promised to build a second Niger Bridge, we are still waiting. Buhari is facilitating the project, he completed Zik’s mausoleum. People like Umenzekwe have every reason to believe in Buhari based on a promise kept regardless of the five percent deficit.
Buhari did not start the bazaar. The first Father Christmas came in 1966 when the President was still a subaltern. And just like Ahmadu Ahidjo of Cameroon was appeased, Hamani Diori of Niger was also well taken care of. We should not attack PMB for being a good big brother and neighbour.
Nigeria and Niger share so much in common. Premier of the Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, was advised by his Western Region counterpart, Chief Samuel Akintola to flee to Diori’s house, a few hours to the January 1966 coup. The Sardauna refused. Both premiers died in the coup.
Niger has had three Hausa Presidents: Ibrahim Mainasara, Dauda Malam Wanke, and Mahamadou Issoufou, who is the current leader. There has been one Fulani president, Mamadou Tanja. He was Ambassador to Nigeria in 1988. Like Buhari, Tanja’s mother died while he was in detention.
In 1993, President Mahamane Ousmane succeeded Ali Saibou. It was the first time an incumbent would hand over to the opposition in Niger. That was what happened between Jonathan and Buhari in 2015. Saibou was made Chief of Staff by President Seyni Kountche on Jonathan’s 17th birthday, November 20, 1974.
Kountche toppled Diori in 1974 and palliatives were found in ministers’ houses. A strike by the youth followed and schools were shut for four months. That reminds me of #End SARS. The country relied majorly on groundnut but the economy was so bad that Niger had to import groundnuts in 1974. That sounds like Nigeria and oil.
This same Buhari closed the border with Niger in 1984. Now he is looking across the border. President Yaya Boni, a Yoruba, was president of the Benin Republic. He frequented in Nigeria. I wonder why Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo did not build a rail line from Lagos to Badagry through Ajase to Porto Novo.
Buhari should continue from where others stopped. Nigeria is a cake, turn by turn. My prayer is that he should build one big Research Centre in my Imo State. We sabi book no be small and we can perform wonders with the brain. Nigeria has not been fair to Ndigbo.