By Vincent Kalu
The midweek television interview in which President Muhammadu Buhari spoke extensively on some contentious national issues, while fielding questions from his interviewers, have continued to attract reactions from across the country.
National President of PANDEF, Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, wondered why the president and his ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), would jettison what was a campaign promise on which they rode into power.
“If after six years, going to seven, he came out to bluntly tell Nigerians that there is nothing like restructuring, it means they have to look for a saviour that would restructure Nigeria in some other party. Nobody can say, ‘no’ to restructuring because Nigeria can never have peace until it is restructured.”
National President of Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr. Bitrus Pogu, agreed with Essien when he mentioned the case of Katsina State taken out of then Kaduna State, which in terms of population is about one third of the state. Yet it was given 34 local governments areas while Kaduna has less than 30, he pointed out. “This thing happened all over the North and today, we base everything on local governments, whether it is primary elections, revenue allocations, etc. We are all watching; everything he does is being watched and assessed. In the South-West, why would Osun have about 30 or more local government areas? What is its population? There are some local governments that were made federal constituencies just to favour a section of this country.”
He warned: “That is what created all these distortions, which has made Nigeria what it is. If we don’t correct these things so that people will no more continue to use them to destabilise this country and to override the rest, we would continue to have problems.”
Essien who expressed his disappointment with the President’s decision to veto the idea of state police, said: “State police is one of the things that will restore peace to Nigeria. Nigerians should appeal to Mr. President to reconsider his stance on the issue.”
Reacting, on the issue, Jonathan Asake, the National President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) said: “Look at the banditry and terrorism going on in the North. If our hunters and vigilantes are supported and empowered, they will be able to flush them out. But the government of the day has not got the will to do that. Whether state police or not, the political will of the leadership is not there.”
On the continuous call for the release of agitators, Essien and Pogu noted that if the President could allow political solution to be applied in resolving the issue of Boko Haram members who allegedly repented, by reintegrating some of them into the society and security forces, then what is good for the goose is good for the gander, in the case of Nnamdi Kanu.
“Otherwise it might be construed that the President has special hatred for the South-East and the South as a whole. If the Boko Haram members are given amnesty and political solution, they are also murderers; so, it should apply also the Kanu,” Pogu added.
Asake lamented that whereas the Minister of Justice and Attorney General was quick to gazette the declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization, he is only doing that of the bandits one month after, and tagged it a clear case of nepotism.