Last week saw the Presidency blowing hot on the perceived political romance between two secessionist groups, the Yoruba Nation and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
This was sequel to last Wednesday’s protest at the United Nations headquarters in New York where Yoruba Nation agitators, fighting for self-determination in the South-West region, and the proscribed IPOB, who are agitating for an independent State of Biafra in the South-East region, among other groups, carried out a joint protest.
The conversations around this issue are on even as many wonder if the President is paying attention to the demonstrations or moved to listen.
Two other stories interested us as well. Read on.
Is Mr President listening?
On September 15, the Presidency faulted Yoruba Nation agitators’ alliance with IPOB.
Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, said: “IPOB is a designated terrorist organisation. Without doubt, Nigerians and the entire world will judge Yoruba Nation by the company it keeps.
“No one can take seriously this organisation, if it continues its IPOB association. The cooperation is a worrying development, once parsed with Yoruba Nation’s increasingly violent rallies in Nigeria.”
Shehu’s statement gives the Presidency away in no small measure. The Buhari administration is, indeed, paying attention after all, against the generally held notion that it does not care.
The interesting development, though, is that the care this time springs from its discomfort with the perceived romance between opposition voices in the South-West and South-East of Nigeria, and the urgent need to break their ranks.
So, is Buhari listening? Perhaps, yes, only in the direction that best serves his personal and or group interest. It might interest the President to note that the voices of dissent will only get louder unless issues of perceived injustice and inequity are fairly addressed.
Two other talking points
Aisha’s message to Pantami
The First Lady, Aisha Buhari, on September 12, in a veiled attack targeted at the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isah Pantami, challenged him to do the “right things” and live what he preaches.
Aisha, using her verified Instagram page, shared Pantami’s old video which showed the Minister shedding tears during one of his sermons at a Mosque, and posted a cryptic message in Hausa which reads: “A chire tsoro ayi abinda ya dace,” which translates to “Be courageous and do the right thing,” in English language.
The intention of the First lady’s post remains unclear. For whatever it is worth, it is clear that the First Lady is eager to break loose from her forced retreat which had gone on for some months now.
It would be interesting to see how she sustains this activism, especially now that she is reaching out to gather African women for a football tournament in Lagos, Nigeria.
Loans, and more loans
On September 14, President Muhammadu Buhari sent a letter to the Senate, asking its approval for additional external loans of N4.89 trillion to finance the 2022 budget deficit of N5.62 trillion.
The letter read: “I write to the above subject to submit an attached addendum to the proposed 2018 to 2021 Federal Government external borrowing rolling plan for the consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate.”
Buhari’s borrowings continue to raise eyebrows even as the administration maintains that it is borrowing for production and not consumption.
While there may be nothing intrinsically wrong with borrowing for development, the concerns of many experts cannot be totally swept aside.
The unanswered questions bother on how sustainable these loans are, especially as the country’s Revenue to GDP flounders and debt servicing reaches an astronomical height.
Indeed, despite the usual reasons of using the money for meaningful socio-economic developments capable of pulling the myriad of poor Nigerians from the brinks, the sad tales of hardship remain unchanged.
The tough task, therefore, for Mr President is to convince Nigerians that the mounting loans are the magic wand the country needs to survive.