10 Jun

The week ahead – Buhari’s health will be a talking point

President Muhammad Buhari on Monday travelled to the United Kingdom to spend a 10 day vacation and also attend to his health. According to his spokesman, the President, is nursing an ear infection and would need to be checked, and treated by his physicians in the UK, on the recommendation of his Nigerian doctors who had treated him and advised him to seek further treatment abroad.

Two thousand Chadian troops have arrived in Niger following the Boko Haram attack on the town of Bosso last week. The attack which occurred shortly before the Nigerian military announced that it had trapped Boko Haram in their Sambisa Forest enclave, and completely surrounded it, serves as a reminder that Boko Haram still maintains offensive capability.

Following last week’s murder of Bridget Agbaheme in Kano, and the riot over an alleged blasphemy in Minna, this week, a non-Muslim, Francis Emmanuel, was attacked in Kaduna, and maimed by a mob. His offence: eating during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

At the end of a security council meeting presided over by the Vice president, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, the military was ordered to cease offensive action in the Niger Delta for at least two weeks. This came on the heels of announcement by a new group of militants in the region laying down conditions for peace in the Delta, which include allocation of 60% oil wells to the natives of the region, pipeline surveillance contracts, among others.

Less than three months after the massacre at Ukpabi-Nimbo in Enugu State, by armed Fulani herdsmen, the herdsmen have returned to the community and resumed grazing. The herdsmen returned with their cattle through Kogi state and farmers in the region have complained of crops being eaten by cattle. Meanwhile a herdsman allegedly stabbed a farmer to death in his farm in Nasarawa state following an argument over crops.

Suggestions

It is our considered opinion that President Buhari’s media team is incompetent. No one expects the President to be in good health at all times, however, the manner in which they have handled this incident, and other, unrelated incidents, leaves more than a lot to be desired. Given what happened concerning President Umaru Yar’Adua only six short years ago, we expect no less than a considered and truthful approach from the President’s media team. The President on his part, must be applauded for keeping history in mind, and quickly sending a letter to the National Assembly letting them know that the Vice President is to act in his stead. This action has saved a lot of confusion.

While commending the military for their continued, and sustained successes against Boko Haram, we must warn that the war is in no way over, as evidenced by the group’s attack just across the border in Bosso, Niger. While keeping in mind the American announcement that there is no significant link between Boko Haram and the Islamic State, we call on Nigerian authorities to impartially investigate Boko Haram’s financing as that is a surer way to end the insurgency in the long term, than on the battlefield.

We commend Kaduna’s governor, Nasir El-Rufai for immediately paying a visit to the injured Citizen Francis at the hospital. However, it is El-Rufai’s duty to make sure that justice is served. The madness of killing under the cover of religion must be condemned by all of humanity and appropriate justice meted those who run foul of the law. Pressure must be put on Kano state to ensure the killers of Bridget Agbaheme are found, and punished. While we are not unaware of Kano’s conscious and unconscious support of so called blasphemy laws associated with the Sharia law, we are duty bound to remind Governor Ganduje that Nigeria’s current Constitution separates the State from Religion, and he came into office under that Constitution.

We continue to reiterate that the current Niger Delta escalation will not be solved by fiat, or by half attempts at peace. Unfortunately, and following the emergence of a video on news website Sahara Reporters of the aftermath of military atrocities in the delta, we are increasingly losing hope that the current government has what it takes to remedy the situation. We however urge them to consider Nigeria’s dwindling revenues, the fact that erstwhile customers are beginning to look elsewhere for their oil needs, and be sincere and comprehensive in their approach. We also urge the government to investigate and prosecute military personnel who may have been complicit in the alleged atrocities committed in Oporoza.

There is no doubt that the recent clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers have resulted in the destruction of lives and farmlands, and so far serve as major threat to food production, dealing a huge blow to economic activities in the regions affected. It is also not an ideal development that the herdsmen are returning to communities barely weeks after the conflicts with the host communities, and with the issues unresolved. However, as they return, government at all levels should as a matter of urgency put measures in place to prevent more attacks, especially reprisals from the host communities.

A few weeks after CBN governor Emefiele announced plans for the liberalisation of the forex market, nothing has happened, and in the uncertainty, the naira has declined even further. This is very bad, both for investors, and the general macroeconomic environment. The CBN has to, as a matter of urgency, facilitate the process of a liberalised forex market by announcing its plans immediately. It is important to point out that the longer it takes to make decisive policy changes on the forex situation, the more drastic the actions the investors will desire before the Nigerian economy regains their confidence.