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Nigeria, Buhari and national healing

President Muhammadu Buhari during his national broadcast on Independence Day, rightly stated that there was the need to begin a national healing process. The president also identified correctly that Nigeria has so many faultlines, which have been magnified over the years to issues that have held the nation down. Also, the president identified that beyond the faultlines, which he classified as artificial, the country is battling with other multifarious challenges that ranged from insecurity, distrust to economic.

He said: “An underlying cause of most of the problems we have faced as a nation is our consistent harping on artificially contrived faultlines that we have harboured and allowed unnecessarily to fester.

“We need to begin a sincere process of national healing and this anniversary presents a genuine opportunity to eliminate old and outworn perceptions that are always put to test in the lie they always are.”

There is no doubt that the president truly knows that the country is bleeding in so many ways. We are gratified that the president did not believe that all was perfect with the country. What we are not sure of is if he has practical solutions to the problems listed. We agree though that there is actually a need for Nigeria to begin the healing process as the president has said.

We also note that he is not the first person to have identified the need for the country to close the faultlines and move on as one indivisible entity that can move from potentials to actual fulfilment of its position in Africa and the world.

In the one month leading to the 60th Independence anniversary, several voices of reason have stood up and told the president that the country under him was headed in the wrong direction. Such voices included the familiar ones such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Gen. Alani Akinrinade and the usual voices of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) and even the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF).

That the ACF spoke out that the North had not had it so bad even during the civil war, spoke volumes of the problems that Buhari needs to urgently tackle. Just before the Independence Day celebrations, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, at an independence service, had alerted that the crises bedevilling Nigeria was capable of breaking it. Osinbajo’s comment through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, attracted caution from some quarters.

Mustapha had to state later that both him and Osinbajo believed in Nigeria’s unity. There are no doubts that the country has deep lying problems that are threatening its existence. There is also no doubt that since the end of the civil war in 1970, the country’s successive leaders have not really made serious efforts at closing the ever widening faultlines.

Rather, Nigerian leaders have taken delight in papering over the obvious cracks, while the problems keep deepening. We believe that Buhari does not need to wait for the next administration to begin the healing process. He is currently in a prime position to actually address the problems and bring back the country from the brink of collapse. How he does that is entirely in his hands. But we know that one of the ways open to him is to address the obvious imbalance and lopsidedness in his actions and inactions as the president of the country. For we are certain that we don’t begin the healing process by inflicting more injuries on the populace.

There is no doubt that his appointments in key areas of government have tilted more towards the North, where he comes from. Same could be said for his allocation of national resources to all parts of the country. Except for some constitutionally guaranteed slots, some parts of the country are as good as not represented in the scheme of things under Buhari. His handlers and ministers can argue to infinity, but the recent action of his government to extend rail lines to Maradi in Niger Republic with a loan, when many parts of the country are without rail lines is, at best, an injury to the country’s soul.

How does one justify such? We are not talking of the clannishness in siting some major projects in his hometown and those of his close aides. We wonder how the healing process would begin, when the country keeps receiving sores daily from the action of the government.

We do not subscribe to the break-up of Nigeria by any means. But there is no doubt that the heightened agitations by splinter groups in the country and the discordant tunes from key groups across the country are direct products of the imbalance enthroned by the government, which Buhari leads. We therefore belief that Buhari is in a position to begin the healing process now by doing a soul-searching of his administration and its actions and inactions.

In doing so, he would use his remaining three years in office to lay a solid foundation for a total healing of the country, after him. The process starts with him. It is beyond mere words.

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