By Kenneth Jude
There is little doubt that this year has a lot stuffed in its belly. It is a year with a bulging tummy that will birth several issues that will make and equally upset the apple cart.
Already, some clerics have given us a glimpse into the year with earthshaking prophecies, most of which border on doom and gloom.
For politicians, it’s a busy year. It’s a pre-election year. There’ll be horse trading, defections, character assassination, friends will turn foes, there’ll be accusations and counter accusations, blackmail will find a good space, there’ll be newspaper rejoinders, open letters, unsolicited advise, and, of course, many will morph into emergency philanthropists.
At the federal level, President Buhari and his party appear to have lost it. By appointing dead people into boards give a clearer picture yet that the Daura born ascetic general has lost touch with the times. When he said he belongs to everybody and belongs to nobody, was the dead included?
In the outgone year, he spent more time in the hospital than Aso Rock. One holds nothing against him in this regard because anyone can fall sick irrespective of age or gender, but at 75 even when he said he thought he was 74, he is prone to giving in to one health challenge or another. It is an age concomitant with health issues. Add this to the rigours of presiding over the affairs of a large multi-lingual, multi-ethnic and multi-religious country like Nigeria; it’s a knotty nut to crack entirely.
Even when many Nigerians have queried the change mantra upon which they rode to power, plans are already afoot for the re-election of Buhari as president in 2019. Whether he has the mental wit and age supported by sound health and mind for another shot at power matters little to his acolytes so long as he can breathe.
Under Buhari’s watch, herdsmen have turned parts of the country into killing fields. They maim and slaughter human beings with beastly impunity. All we get is condemnation of their actions, their dastardly acts and all that crap. But when IPOB ‘sneezed’ in the South Eastern part of the country, all hell was let loose. All manner of dance found a home in that region. While we were only used to Azonto, Etighi, Skelewu, ‘one corner nonsense’ and the rest, the military launched a new dance code-named Operation Python Dance
Naturally, pythons don’t dance. Do they? So, when the military left their base and decided to stage a dance in the South Eastern part of the country, not a few people were startled. “What kind of dance is that?” many had asked. While Nigerians were caught in the web of wonderment, the Python dancers, displaying not the dancing skills like those we see in the casino and owambe parties, danced in a manner that sent IPOB agitators and their lieutenants into oblivion. It was not a dance of peace but war. It was a special dance from the stable of the military. Nnamdi Kanu, the ethnic entrepreneur, who described Nigeria as a zoo, bolted. To date, no one knows where he is.
At the end of that dancing expedition, the military had succeeded in sending IPOB members away with their cutting edge dancing steps and war-ridden drumbeats. Since then, IPOB and all what they stand for has gone underground. Will they crawl back to life? The passage of time will tell.
As Commander-in-Chief of the armed Forces, it is not impossible that President Buhari had given the milliary marching orders to hit the Southeast with that peculier dance. That was commendable – even though some persons frowned at it. Pronto, IPOB was branded a Terrorist Organisation. Whether that was apt in the circumstance or not is not the focus of this piece.
Today, Herdsmen have held the nation by the jugular – killing, maiming and slaughtering innocent Nigerians with murderous glee. And it is startling if not unsettling that Buhari has yet to deem it fit to declare these ratag gang of murderers, TERRORISTS nor ask the military to, again, take up their dancing gears, head to these troubled parts of the country for a dance.
Any dance, it must be stated, will do. Crocodile had Smiled in the South South and South West regions – there was a semblance of order in those parts. Mr. President, send the troops to go and dance in these troubled areas. If the president or the Army have run out of ideas on what to tag the next kind of dance. As a patriotic Nigerian, I suggest the following dance styles for the North.
Operation Snake Dance; Operation Lion Dance, Tiger Dance, Hippopotamus dance, Monkey dance – and every other dance. This, to me, is a task that must be done with military dispatch. Those in support say aye!
Ex Governor Godswill Akpabio recently stirred the hornet’s nest recently when he aimed a new year dig at his ‘student’ and governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel.
Akpabio, Nigeria’s Senate Minority Leader and ‘great teacher’, hit out at the banking mogul turned politician for marginalising Ikot Ekpene senatorial district and abandoning some of his cherished projects, prominent among them being the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene.
Said he: “2018 is less than one year to election, all is not well o; don’t allow anybody to deceive you that all is well. If the hotel in Ikot Ekpene (Four Points by Sheraton) rots after so much money had been expended, would that be a good thing?
That road from Uyo to Ikot Ekpene, is still the way it was (when I left office). In the 2018 budget, what is the percentage for Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District? My job is to say the truth because if at this level I cannot say the truth, then I am not doing well. So please I want us to start the hotel because when the Commissioner for Works addressed the youths in August, he assured them that the hotel would be opened in December, it will soon decay if urgent intervention is not given to the facility.
Please, let us check the budget to know what has been earmarked for that place. I am not interested in what I did and what I did not do, I am only interested in what I am going to do.
“The truth is that Godswill Akpabio expects us to set our path straight so that we can take one route. Even when you are going for communion, you must be in a state of grace, so let us have something from the Senatorial District to use in talking about election; to use in convincing the people to stand by us. We are in opposition, we don’t have government, we don’t have Police, we don’t have INEC.”
Understandably, Akpabio’s comments has set off a firestorm of reactions from across the state with many holding the opinion that both men are no longer having the best of relationships.
Some observers have questioned Akpabio’s moral standing in saying that his area is being marginalised, pointing out that he, the great teacher, set a grand record in this respect hence had better kept mute. Others insist that Senator Akpabio would have devised a better way of passing the message to Gov. Udom since they are mentors and mentees without bringing it to public consciousness.
All said, for the politically conscious, it is not overly surprising that such issues are beginning to arise. It’s expected that as the next election gatheres steam, diverse issues will certainly crop up – some of which shall border on interest and all that. It is now left for the governor to, if he is truly in charge of his government, take the bull by the horns and see to it that as much as he can, some interests, especially those that concerns his mentor (Akpabio) and his people aren’t treated with levity.
Of course, the governor need not be told of the influence the Senate Minority Leader wields in Akwa Ibom politics. Having lumped him to the number one seat singlehanded despite the groundswell opposition at the time, Udom, having benefitted immensely from the Ukana political czar is condemned to remaining beholden to his benefactor if he must keep his seat in peace.
But people should not be carried away by Akpabio’s submissions. That he has said his mind does not mean that both men are at loggerheads. Though, it would have been wise to have done that in the closet with the governor. Akpabio certainly had reasons for his actions hence one should not get overly agitated. If their once rosy relationship has hit hard times, as many have suggested, let’s keep our gazes on both men and see how events will pan out in the coming days, months.
Kenneth Jude is a public Affairs Analyst and 2016/2017 AKS NUJ Best Columnist of the Year