As it had been evident in the last three weeks, a new Nigeria is evolving. Like no time in the Nigerian history, we witnessed a president giving a national broadcast to assuage the feelings of protesting Youths, instead of letting the dogs out and deploying police and army to crackdown on them. In his broadcast, President Buhari assured the youths that their voices had been heard loud and clear.
The presidential engagement of the youths vial live broadcast worked like magic, as it brought the protests to immediate end, to the disappointment of detractors of the Buhari government, who had hoped to cash-in on the protest to make political gains. This is certainly a clear departure from the culture of arrogant approach to governance we are used to!
Another recent development was the breeze that blew across the states of Nigeria which, as it is said in local parlance, exposed “fowl nyash.” Some actions and inactions which subjected most Nigerians to extreme hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown have been exposed. With the volume of items looted from government warehouses around the country, it became apparent that indeed the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Hajia Sa’adiya Farouq, acting on President Buhari’s order, did an excellent job of providing enough items for palliatives.
It is important to stress the fact that lies cannot stand for too long no matter how well concocted. Mischief makers, renegade and frustrated opposition members instigated their fronts to lie against the president during the COVID-19 lockdown that he was less concern about their plight. They even went to the extent of alluding that the president was only brandishing figures and that no real items were supplied to cushion the People’s sufferings. Today, the truth is in the open. Hence, the honourable thing to do is for the detractors to apologize to President Buhari for misleading the people.
I cannot agree any less with Zahra, the president’s daughter, who said the discovery of locked up palliative items in warehouses across the states of the federation had vindicated her father. It is needless to emphasise the fact that during the economic meltdown when most state governors could not pay salaries, the president arranged a special bailout funds for the states. This gesture was handed out, not because of the governors themselves, but for the ordinary civil servants whose families depend on their monthly take-home to survive.
How else should a leader and a father demonstrate his milk of human compassion? President Buhari is always on hand to demonstrate his kindness. A good example is the swift attention the flood victims in many parts of Nigeria received from the president during the heat of the rainy season. Farmers were not left out in the president’s large-heartedness. He immediately ordered the federal government-funded micro credit schemes to reach out to farmers whose crops have been washed away as a result of flooding.
In Nigeria of today, three things stand true: that President Buhari loves Nigeria and Nigerians; he possesses the character, competence and capability to clear the mess he inherited and Nigeria has made giant leap economically, politically and socially since Buhari assumed office in 2015.
As a president with a compassionate heart, President Buhari hit the ground running immediately coronavirus was reported in Nigeria. He immediately deployed palliatives to cushion the effects apart from steps government is taking to curtail spread of COVID-19, especially the lockdown. Billions were spent by President Buhari to make life easy for the people. The action of most of the states, whether deliberately or unintentional, may have caused untold hardship for most Nigerians in the states where the relief materials were not fully distributed.
President Buhari was held responsible and demonized by most Nigerians. But with the recent invasion of state government warehouses around the country, it is clear that Nigerians who blamed President Buhari for the hardship the people faced during lockdown had done that unjustly. In other words, they did not judge before conviction.
The last three weeks had been remarkable for Nigeria. On one hand, it has demonstrated that the country is maturing democratically. For the first time in modern Nigerian history, we witnessed Nigerian Youths expressing their inalienable right to protest without police or army crackdown. The Nigeria Police under President Buhari is maturing and keeping to the global policing standards. The EndSARS protest and how it was handled is a departure from the past when we witnessed the deployment of the military like in the Odi debacle in Bayelsa state and the Zaki Biam massacre in Benue state where former President Olusegun Obasanjo had ordered the army to kill and maim both the guilty and innocent.
In line with President Buhari’s avowed commitment to the sanctity of human lives and democratic right to protest, he had ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to ensure peaceful protesters are safe. This is a feat not seen in recent times. The police were so civil in their approach to the extent of paying the supreme sacrifice because they were not ready to brutalise the protesters, some of whom were not all together peaceful.
President Buhari is leading us in the direction of a new Nigeria. It is only fair that we give him the maximum support he requires to lay a very solid foundation for the country.
Ibrahim is director of communication and strategic planning of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC).