In our Politics Roundup this week, we considered the vexation that followed President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of a review of 368 grazing reserves across 25 states, and the rancours expressed by Nigerians over the President’s signing of the Petroleum Industrial Act (PIA) into law.
We also examined three other events in the country’s political scene which kept Nigerians busy with different reactions.
We looked at the implications of these stories on the nation’s growth and why they call for concerns.
1. Grazing reserves
The Presidency on August 20, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a review of 368 grazing reserves across 25 states in the country.
In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the Presidency said the review would look into the levels of encroachment on the grazing reserves.
Shehu said that “The committee had recommended the collection of field data on 368 Grazing Reserves across 25 states to assess encroachment and encroachers, stakeholder engagements, and sensitization.”
By ignoring the concerns and opposition of different federating units against the grazing reserves, Buhari may have succeeded in giving his critics who perceive him as an ethnic bigot another thing to use to justify their claims.
The development also calls for a proper interpretation of the Land Use Act. It also explains why the constitution of the country needs urgent reconsideration.
2. Rancours over PIB’s assent
President Buhari on Monday, August 16 signed into law the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Buhari’s assent to the controversial bill was announced in a statement by his media aide, Femi Adesina.
Adesina in the statement said, “The President assented to the Bill Monday, August 16, in his determination to fulfil his constitutional duty. The ceremonial part of the new legislation will be done on Wednesday, after the days of mandatory isolation would have been fulfilled.”
By signing the PIB into law as Petroleum Industrial Act (PIA), Buhari’s administration achieved what Nigerians have been clamouring for since the past 20 years.
However, the bitterness being expressed against the Act over the allocation of 3% to the host communities, makes the historic feat achieved by the president gloomy.
The anger the Act has generated also draws attention to the urgent need for Nigeria to be restructured to a system that can foster unity and understanding.
3. Buhari’s vow
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, August 19 vowed that he would not exit office as a failure.
Buhari made the vow during a crucial closed-door meeting with service chiefs held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno, who made the vow by Buhari known to State House correspondent at the end of the meeting quotes the president to have made it very clear that “he’s not ready to exit the government as a failure; he is not going to tolerate that.”
It is good the president is hopeful he will finish as a success. Many Nigerians want him to succeed and will be happy he does. However, it is important the President understand with less than two years to the end of his tenure, it is no more time for vow making but time for actions.
The economy, security and corruption he promised Nigerians he will fix have not faired better since his coming, according to many. His inability to address these issues could only mean that the President may not escape being rated with the adjective he said he detests.
4. ACF counsel
On Tuesday, August 17, the Arewa Consultative Forum kicked against reintegrating repentant Boko Haram insurgents into the society, asking that they must face the law.
In a statement by its National Chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh, ACF noted that the repentant Boko Haram members should be prosecuted for the crimes committed against fellow Nigerians.
The statement with the title, “On repentant Boko Haram Terrorists and the Principle of Equity and Justice” read partly:
“We are currently witnessing a large-scale surrender of a large number of Boko Haram Insurgents, among whom are bomb makers, commanders, arsonists, rapists, and child snatchers.
“Do we have good reason to cheer and hope for an end to this decade-old insanity? Is ‘I am sorry’ enough to bring relief to Nigerians and the thousands of dead and maimed? What of those victims bombed in the churches, mosques, schools, and markets? What of all the men and women in uniform murdered by them?
“Who can count the thousands of widows and orphans they have created? And what is the difference between them and the Ighoho’s or ESN of Nigeria? None.
“So, what do we do with them? Should we just embrace them and trust them wholesale? Are their moves informed by altruistic repentance? We seriously doubt.
“We join the Governor of Borno, The Shehu of Borno, Senator Ndume and millions of Nigerians in pondering over this development and our simple advice is: Bring them to trial, or free all others presently in custody anywhere, while we Nigerians plead guilty of naivety and gullibility in the extreme, punishable by more insurrection and anarchy.”
The ACF simply stated the obvious. If the government is not ready to try the supposed repentant Boko Haram terrorists, there is no point keeping the Kanu’s and hunting the Igboho’s.
It is unfortunate that by simply saying ‘I am sorry’ members of a notorious terrorist group, that have destroyed many lives, property and brought diverse pains to many families and the country, are pardoned and allow to work as free citizens while those who cause less harm are being prosecuted and incarcerated in different prisons.
5. Atiku’s 2023 interest
On Friday, August 20, indications emerged that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is interested in vying once more for the Nigerian presidency in 2023.
Atiku expressed his interest in a leaked memo to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dated June 29, 2021,
In the memo, the former vice president said among other things:
“It is with the utmost respect that I convey to you, my deep appreciation and profound gratitude for the overwhelming support and massive electoral votes cast to support our party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and my candidature for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during the 2019 general elections.
“Now, we are better equipped, and all our compatriots must team up today towards a new political and economic order that should radically reinvent our beloved country.
“We are fully prepared to work in synergy to restore hope, pull Nigeria back from the brinks and relive the patriotic spirit of our founding fathers! I believe that together we would rebuild our broken fences, mend our cracked walls, restore hope, and return Nigeria to the path of greatness again. Surely, we can, and we must.”
Atiku has the right to run for the presidency in 2023 if he chooses as speculated. However, that may be implying:
One, that the Adamawa politician is greedy and selfish and not ready to give up his ambition for a power shift to the South. Since Atiku was part of those who clamoured for the return of power to the North in 2015, he should not be seen working against a power shit to the South after the North has kept it in the last eight years.
Two, should he get the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to run, it may mean that the opposition party has no regard for the anonymous resolve by the southern governors and the clamour by other stakeholders of the South for a power shift to the region. PDP may end up losing the support of the South in 2023 with an Atiku candidature.