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Nigeria, a kaleidoscope of contradictions

It could be the best of times for the Buhari Administration, revving up on the grounds of its election 2019 victory to take Nigeria to the NextLevel as the slogan says. It is albeit the worst of times for Nigerians, no longer secure anywhere nationwide. As I pored over my notes on events of the week from which a topic might be chosen for today’s column, it began to look to me like a page from my scrap book of tragic humour.

Through the past week particularly, you could as you observed unfolding events, have wondered aloud that Nigerians must have taken something. How could there be such bizarre confusion without let up each day across the nation all within one week?

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President Muhammadu Buhari returned from his holiday in the U.K. after some newspapers had reported that he was extending his stay for medication. His return was therefore unexpected. Just before he got back, abductors chose his home town Daura, to kidnap, of all people, the District Head, Alhaji Musa Uba, from his Palace and we are yet to rescue him. Indeed with the security situation the way it was, many had imagined that only critical health issues would warrant his absence.

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Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media Malam Garba Shehu suddenly noted that the abduction incident in Daura served to prove that Buhari was not partial in his abandonment of our insecure places.

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You could laugh till you cry when sanity dawns on you.

Femi Adesina the special adviser on media and publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari was to celebrate the return of the President with unmeasured vituperation on naysayers credited with reports that President Buhari had extended his UK stay on health grounds. This, more than the anomie in the land invited Femi’s pentecostal pontification.

”Now that the President has returned, can these apostles of evil imaginings swallow their words? Can they retract their tendentious stories as well as press statements…” Adesina – whew! The activities of bandits, the abductions, the killings the looting, and the burning of homes of poor people – this evil that is a real visitation on people reeling with lack, want, and pain, did not attract these curses from Adesina. Are they tendentious by any imagining?

President Buhari was asked of the worsening insecurity on alighting from his plane, at the airport, and he said the IG must be working hard on it since he is losing weight! In countries where things work, the President is briefed that waiting Pressmen might ask some questions, and a mock list is given with the President, briefed and in fact manoeuvred to speak passionately to comfort and assure a wounded and bleeding nation. Clearly we do not afford this decency.

“I just saw the IG, I think he is losing weight. So I think he is working very hard”, President Buhari declared to us as we watched in bewilderment.

NNPC announced that the nation had profiteered by refining our petrol abroad, and before that wonder economics could be chewed and swallowed, Minister of State Petroleum Ibe Kachikwu said the nightmare that causes him, believe it or not, to lose weight, is when he considers removal of subsidy on petroleum products – subsidy which we have been told did not exist until the IMF pointedly asked for its removal! He reportedly lost six kilos!

Then Emir of Kano Sanusi Lamido Sanusi suddenly got in bad with his State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje – who in just 3 days demolished and diminished the legacy of over a thousand years, demystifying Sheikh Othman Dan Fodio. It was dramatic. A court ruling it was announced had stopped Ganduje, but he went ahead arguing that he had not been served and rushed the appointments. The new Emir of Gaya was crowned at night. Fait accompli. What came between the governor and the Emir to warrant such a draconian decision to dismember a whole emirate of Kano’s proportion? And to think no one in all of Nigeria could mediate between the two in the interest of the people given the grave implications of such drastic act?

The basis for the feud is something both Ganduje and Sanusi consider passionately – money! Both of them could earn the adjective of profligate by their lifestyle. While one is intellectually eloquent, Sanusi, the other is politically verbose and shrewd. The twain met, and an over a thousand year old Emirate was dismembered in three days. Literally, two elephants clashed, and the Emirate suffered.

Meanwhile, killings continue in Nigeria, now adjudged as the most insecure country in the world. Kaduna – Abuja road is avoided in wisdom despite assurances in announcements that it is now safe to travel. The train service is to the rescue with long queues of the high and mighty, reduced to rubbing shoulders with the low and small commoners. Tickets are sold out on every shuttle. The week saw Senate Presidential hopeful Senator Ali Ndume affording only a seatless ticket and therefore stood the two hours of the train ride from Kaduna to Abuja. I hear that a military helicopter now escorts the train in bizarre Nigeria!

I could include Agriculture Minister Audu Ogbe’s choice of trying to party at a funeral parlour, with goodies for grieving Emir of Katsina who noted ruefully – “Please tell your President, we need security first.” Ouch! How could Audu Ogbe not see and know this?

But there was a glimmer of light. The NFID gave Local Governments their autonomy announcing that effective June 1st, 2019, the third tier of Government the Local Governments would receive their statutory allocations directly. They just killed the governors’ cash cows in one fell swoop! And Ekiti State Governor Fayemi in anger speaks the minds of many governors – “This is unconstitutional,” he warned. Surely next week will see more revealing drama on this as his colleagues – the incoming and the continuing, find their voices.

And the dream that became reality is the arrival of goods by train into Kaduna’s dry port that was commissioned, signalling the ability to now import and export goods from Kaduna.  The feat’s biggest celebrant is the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasiru el Rufa’i who even disclosed plans to send a delegation to the Republic of Niger to sensitise the government of that country about the benefits of receiving their goods in Kaduna instead of Lagos. This NextLevel is a kaleidoscope of contradictions?

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