We should thank the God of all comfort whose grace enabled the recent interviews our president granted two television stations shortly before the Democracy Day’s speech, yesterday. I would like to join the people who should be bold enough to say, ‘It is the Lord’s doing and so it is marvellous in our eyes’. There is indeed a time for everything. It’s another time to rejoice that the taciturn President who has shunned even presidential chats and most organic presidential debates, has spoken so clearly this time. The content of the interviews is still being reviewed across platforms and in so many people’s parliaments and joints. At press time, where two or more were gathered in the name of Nigeria the unexpected, pre-recorded interviews were still dominant.
But beyond the content analysis, the interviews have done us a lot of good. And that should be seen as an extension of the testimony to the grace that brought him to power miraculously. I mean the grace that has enabled us to assess the power of our leader’s much talked about integrity index. I noted that testimony when I wrote: ‘Thank God Buhari won 2015 election’ in 2018.
(https://guardian.ng/opinion/thank-god-buhari-won-2015-election/February 18, 2018/
This is a corollary to that as the current interviews have removed some uncertainties that have been with us for some years. First, it is now clear that our President is hale and hearty enough to handle state matters. When he returned from the United Kingdom on March 10, 2017, he said: ‘I have never been this sick’. Since that time, there have been speculations in hushed tones about the true identity and the state of health of our leader. Even during and after some United Nations assemblies in New York City, there were reported crises of coherence in some interviews granted. There were dark hints of how hard of hearing our leader could have been. Since the return from the United Kingdom, from long medical check-up in 2017, there have been secret debates about the true identity of the President. Specifically, some published certain dubious profile of an unknown Sudanese as our leader. There have been publications, though ignored about whether our leader has been operating from his office – since 2017. There have been so many rumours including why the First lady could even spend up to six months in the UAE without consequences. So many conspiracy theories have since emerged. So, thank God we heard our elected President very loud and clear a few days ago on two different channels. No more crisis of coherence. No more speculation about any cabal releasing documents he didn’t sign. No more pepper-soup joint discussions about the unlimited powers of his Chief of Staff. It is now clear to all of us doubting Thomases, the scoffers that our President is now as fit as fiddle to face the development of critical infrastructure – and to rejig the battered economy. It is now clear that all the medical trips and restful moments in the United Kingdom have been fruitful, after all. We should be grateful to our former colonial masters for their faithfulness and commitment to strong and healthy leadership in Africa’s most populous nation.
That is the first and most important deliverable from the timely interviews. And the other tangible benefit of the interviews is that the president should now be ready to face public scrutiny and hard questions about what I have called promises not yet kept since 2015. Henceforth, no one will blame any cabal for any executive decisions or actions. The president, as we are happy to note has been in charge. He should accept responsibility. There has been a strong point that the president’s comment on the reason for the table-shaking #EndSARS crisis in 2020, which he attributed to state enemies’ failed coup to remove him from office was an indicator of what some of the president’s men and women have been feeding him with. That is a valid point. But the president has spoken clearly about that. That also should be a pointer to the fact that in the presidency, there are so many versions of various events, according to the whims and caprices of various in-house reporters.
And so, there could be crisis entrepreneurs in the presidency too who have been benefiting from festering crises they create or misrepresent.
So, our President was made to believe that the #EndSARs protest wasn’t about police brutality? Behold, our leader was told to ignore the young Nigerians who specifically demanded good policing and excellent conditions of service for officers in their documents to the president? So, the President believed the young protesters wanted to overthrow his government through peaceful protests?
Let the credible elders of the land now tell our leader who has decided to engage Nigerians through regular interviews that he might have been misled by his own people about the origin, effects and significance of the #EndSARS protest last year. That is a serious misinformation I would like to asterisk here for our leader’s attention. And those crisis merchants in the presidency who might have misled our leader about what triggered #EndSARS crisis should not be ashamed to seek forgiveness from the God of man, not (from) any man of God. It is a big deal that should not be ignored.
‘President’s curious commitment to open grazing’
The other curiosity from the interviews is our leader’s strange commitment to open grazing despite realisation by even elders in the north including the Governor of Katsina state that open grazing is anachronistic in 21st century. This revelation speaks volumes not just to the age of our President but to the age of his ideas in running the country.
How would our leader be talking about a First Republic’s Gazette on Open Grazing for northern Nigeria to be applicable to the whole country in 2021 when Ranching is the new deal? What happened to the National Livestock Transformation Plan, (NLTP) which the Vice President launched in Adamawa State on September 10, 2019?
The Origin: On September 10, 2019, barely three months after inauguration for a second term, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, inaugurated the National Livestock Transformation Plan at the Gongoshi Grazing Reserve in Mayo-Belwa Local Government Area of Adamawa.
While inaugurating the project on that Tuesday, Osinbajo said the plan was designed to run from 2019-2028 as part of Federal Government’s initiative in collaboration with states under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC). He said the plan, targeted at supporting the development of Nigeria’s livestock sector, is to be implemented in seven pilot states of Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara.
According to the Vice President, the plan would be implemented as a collaboration project between the federal and state governments, farmers, pastoralists and private investors. His words: “In this plan, the state government or private investors provide the land, the federal government does not and will not take any land from a state or local government…Any participating state will provide the land and its own contribution to the project. The federal government merely supports…It is a plan that hopes to birth tailor-made ranches where cattle are bred, and meat and dairy products are produced using modern livestock breeding and dairy methods”.
Our Vice President stated the benefits this way: “This solves the problem of cattle grazing into and destroying farmlands. It ensures a practical response to the pressures on water and pasture by forces of climate change”. He noted that the plan was designed to provide modern meat and dairy industry and in some cases integrated crop farming.
According to Osinbajo, the unique feature of the plan is that any participating state will determine its own model: “I wish to emphasise that this is not RUGA. Because the idea of RUGA settlements launched by the Ministry of Agriculture created a problem when it was perceived as a plan to seize lands to create settlements for herders…RUGA was not the plan designed and approved by the governors and the President rightly suspended the implementation,” Osinbajo said.
So, why would the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of Nigeria, Abubakar Malami (SAN) be deceiving the President with a First Republic’s Gazette on Open Grazing for the North to destroy the National Livestock Transformation Plan reported as a federal government’s agenda? Of what use is an ancient Gazette for the North, in this connection? What could be triggering this policy somersault? Mischief of the AGF or some hidden agenda? Where is the AGF who seems to be desperate for something coming from on the livestock transformation agenda?
Has the President forgotten or dropped the NLTP the Governors established with the Vice President who chairs the National Economic Council? The next interview should clarify this policy chaos in the presidency. The last thing any next encounter with our president should also clarify is the place of federal character provision in the constitution. Most viewers wondered why the President was not confronted with this federal character provision in the constitution when he explained his appointments policy, which most people believe, has favoured his own section of the country.
The President told his interviewers that he would favour experience of people even in the armed forces and the NNPC, for instance, when considering appointments and promotions. Anyway, the interviews have been illuminating. I hope that those who would like to be part of #Project-2023 elections would deconstruct the powerful revelations of the president who also noted that he would like his governing APC to rule for as long as necessary. It is well with our country, which no force on earth can destroy as a source of pride and confidence for the black race.
‘SLEEP WELL, NOJEEM’
We lost this rare gem, our veteran photojournalist in the Lagos-Ibadan axis for three decades – NOJEEM JIMOH. He wasn’t named an editor. But all editors always respected his skill, commitment and professionalism. He was never title-crazy. He never waited for approved vouchers before travelling for major assignments outside. He would always call the editors and marketing managers about even arrival time of our newspaper to Ibadan and southwest states. He was a remarkable monitor of marketing strategies. Indeed, he might not have been prominent but he was significant to the corporate governance policies that have shaped the growth of the flagship of the Nigerian press, ‘The Guardian’, Nigeria. We will all miss you Nojeem because of the power of your attitude to work. Sleep well!
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