Tuesday, November 28, 2016
On the 20th of November, 2016, the Nigerian dailies widely reported that as part of his political realignment ahead of the 2019 general elections, President Muhammadu Buhari’s strategists, especially those from the South-East Caucus of the All Progressives’ Congress, APC, are trying to woo the South-East political block with capital projects in order to garner their support.
It was also gathered in Abuja on Saturday that Buhari had directed that infrastructure gaps in the South-East should be bridged and that his loyalists are now doing everything within their power to revive political bridges built by Northern politicians with their Eastern counterparts over the years for the sake of 2019 general elections.
In addition to these political moves to woo South-East voters, Buhari was said to have ordered contractors handling various infrastructural projects in the zone to return to site to ensure the speedy completion of the rehabilitation of some federal roads in the region.
The report highlighted several projects to be considered include: Port Harcourt-Aba Road, Abriba-Arochukwu-Ohafia Road in Abia State, Oji-Achi-Obeagu-Mmaku-Awgu-Ndeaboh-Mpu-Okpanku Road in Enugu State, Second Niger Bridge and the Ikot-Ekpene Border-Aba-Owerri Road in Akwa Ibom, Abia and Imo States.
As deceptive as this could be, it should be highlighted that all these are coming against the backdrop of some political leaders and members of his party, the APC, especially those from the South-West to re-access their membership of the party.
So long as we are concerned, we very much know that since his ascendance to the Presidency, Buhari had so far sidelined the Eastern region in all facets of his government and never had any visible development agenda for the region.
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It was Buhari’s idea that since the region voted against him during the 2015 election, he would punish the zones with his awkward 5%–97% derivatives and the impact of this, we have seen so far.
Buhari would pamper his kinsmen; the Fulani militia janjaweed who had been terrorizing and slaughtering innocent souls in our region but won’t spare any seconds in ordering for the mass killings of pro-Biafra agitators including detaining them illegally to deny their self-determination rights.
We are not oblivious of the fact that the 2nd Niger Bridge project and other federal road projects in the South-East especially, is being used by successive governments to woo voters for the sake of achieving their selfish political ambition. Buhari is not an exception. He has learnt that tactics in order to sway voters on his side and not necessarily because he had a genuine desire to work for the Eastern region.
Worst still, his actions against the region since coming into power has depicted him as one who has come to carry out a vendetta against the people of the Eastern region, thereby further creating a huge gap between the South and the North. His coming into power has not brought anything good to the region, rather it has provided strife, anger, hardship, destruction, killings, economic sabotage and Nigeria divided more than it was.
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It is regrettable that Buhari who wears the shoes of the country’s presidency, would wait for the Southeast Caucus in the Senate to approach and plead for his administration to consider the region when other regions does not have to do the same, when it is his sole responsibility as a President to recognize the zone.
Nevertheless, several happenings and events has brought Buhari to realize the fact that he cannot achieve much without the support and backing of the Eastern region. He cannot do much even as a President without the valid endorsement of the region.
And so to be candid with him or simply put, to give him a word of advice, Buhari should have known better than most of us that it would take more than commissioning, funding and rebuilding the dilapidated roads or carry out any other federal project in the region to gain their support and blessings for his government.
He had neglected the region all these while that not even building a social infrastructure in each local government in the region will make him appealable as to gain the trust of Easterners.
They are many capable rich hands in the East who can construct roads for their people if given the chance, so Buhari doing that will seem like trying to cure the symptomatic characteristics of a disease rather than it’s causative agents and to that extent he tends to shy away from the sins and evil he has committed against the region during the 1967-70 Biafran War to begin with, the Biafran question, the IPOB unrest; including the extra-judicial killings, inhumane treatments, illegal detention, intimidation and humiliation, the gross marginalization of the region for years by the Northern oligarchy and all other injustices the region has received so far since the forceful amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates.
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Any day Buhari will sincerely and courageously bring himself to face these injustices outlined above, that day will be only a beginning to an end and a means to connecting to the taproot issues where justice must prevail before one can talk about peace and not the other way round.
Buhari must order the withdrawal of his overzealous footsoldiers from committing heinous crimes against humanity, he must let truth and the right rule of law to prevail over evil and lies. He must begin to respect the rule of law, rights of citizens to self-determination, international human rights laws and treaties and refrain from exhibiting his overbearing force and hardness on things that necessarily should be done in a democratically approved manner. He must follow and uphold the strict measures of the law and not only apply them when and where it suits him most.
Most especially, he should immediately remove and begin to burn into ashes, his military and dictatorial garb and then begin to put on a democratic garb worthy of emulation like the ones the world recently witnessed in the Brexit election in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the US.
Without doing all these, it will be a political miscalculation and an effort in futility for him to just build federal roads in the Eastern region with the blind hope of getting their support. This things if rightly and genuinely followed will surely turn him on to a better extent amongst the Eastern people.
By Chukwuemeka Chimerue
Publishe By Chijindu Benjamin Ukah
For Biafra Writers