President Muhammadu Buhari this week was on a two-day working visit to Kano state. The visit was the first since he garnered about 2 million votes from the state in 2015 Presidential election to defeat the then incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan.
Prior to the visit, there have been insinuations that the people of the state were unhappy with Buhari for not finding it expedient to pay them a ‘thank you’ visit since he emerged the President in 2015.
Some of the politicians in the opposition in the state have begun to inebriate the gullible that the Buhari’s administration was contemptuous of them by not initiating and executing federal projects in the state. The public perception was that Buhari’s popularity in the ancient city had ebbed due to his alleged neglect of the people who have always braved the odds to support his ambition since he began to run for the presidency in 2003.
But the mammoth crowd which welcome the President on Wednesday showed that the people of Kano are not done with the Buhari’s brand yet. If the multiple heads shown on the tube were anything to go by, there are indications that the opposition elements needed to do more than sloganeering ahead of 2019 Presidential election.
Before the visit, analysts have argued that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the ancient city was divided and lacked unanimity. The perceived division between Governor Abdullai Ganduje and his predecessor, Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso, they argue, was bound to reflect in the reception to be accorded the President whenever he chooses to visit.
Scaremongers also warned about possible clash between supporters of the governor and those of his predecessor who has never hidden his ambition to run for the Presidency in 2019. But the visit came with no report of violence.
The Kano visit, of course, has become a barometer for the measurement of the President’s popularity among the ‘talakawas’ who have continued to keep faith with his leadership. The President, who cut a cult followership among the masses owing to his simplicity and aversion to corruption, may have further endeared himself to the people with his style of governance.
With the crowd consisting mostly of eligible youths, Buhari’s support base remains unshakable in Kano. But dissent argue that crowd sometimes don’t translate into votes considering the shenanigans of some politicians who, in a bid to impress their guest, spend humongous amount of money to hire people from neighbouring states. It is sincerely hoped that this is not the case in Kano.
The implication of the reception accorded Buhari in Kano was well captured in his words while speaking at the state dinner held in his honour as he said ‘‘I am overwhelmed with the massive reception I have received and definitely since this is partisan politics, I think it has sent a clear message to the opposition.
Even going by the details of the election results in 2003, 2007 and 2011, it was very clear that nobody could even dare to rig my scores from the elections in Kano. It has been so consistent and I don’t think I have the vocabulary to express my thanks to the people of Kano. I am very grateful to God and the people of Kano for the complete trust you have in me.”
It has indeed sent a signal to the camp of the opposition. But those who are not convinced that the crowd amounted to support urged us to be on the lookout to see whether same crowd will not welcome opposition elements during campaigns ahead of 2019. We are watching.
Fuel scarcity? Not again
Like a thief in the night, queues crept back into the filling stations this week. No one was prepared for the sudden shortage in the supply of petroleum products to the marketers.
The queues came with its attendant consequences bringing with it untold hardship on the beleaguered people. Considering the harsh economic reality in the country, the poor masses must be spared the brunt of fuel scarcity. At least, for now. The masses, already cracking under the weight of non payment of salaries by various states and organisations, are obviously not prepared for any added burden occasioned by fuel scarcity.
Although the government has debunked claims that the situation was contrived to prepare the ground for further increase in the pump price of petroleum products, especially the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), critics still maintain that arguments coming from independent marketers, who had since stopped fuel importation on the ground that the landing cost of the product was far costlier than the N145/liter regulated price, indicate that a jerk in the pump price was inevitable to guarantee supply.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said that it had enough fuel in stock for supply for the Yuletide. But the scary news from independent marketers that the landing cost of fuel exceeds the capped price and their call for full deregulation has got discerning minds thinking that another pump price increase may just be around the corner except the government reconsiders its stand to stop subsidy on petroleum products.
Considering the delicate state of the nation’s economy, another pump price increase would be totally unsavory. The government must find a way to ensure that the products are available at the prevailing price. Contemplating another increase, especially at this critical time, when majority of Nigerians are despondent, may attract resistance from the people who are already pushed to the wall.
Therefore, Mr. President should signify more than passing interest in the resolution of the crisis around importation of fuel by clearing every bureaucratic obstacle placed before independent marketers pending the time the much expected Dangote Refinery would come on stream to liberate Nigerians from the shackles of Shylock oil dealers.
The President should also do the needful to make the nation’s refineries work because over dependent on fuel importation would only expose the people to the uncontrollable vagaries of the price of crude at the international market.
Okorocha never ceases to amuse
Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha, is in the news again! The maverick politician has created the Ministry of Happiness and Purpose Fulfillment, the first of its kind in Nigeria. He also found in his sister, Ogechi Ololo, sterling qualities required to direct the affairs of the newly created ministry and made her the commissioner in charge.
The Imo state governor seems to have unending capacity to amuse people. His creation of an alien ministry when the fire of criticisms trailing his statute erection of the South Africa President, Jacob Zuma and his Liberian counterpart, Helen Sirleaf, has yet to be doused, indicated only that Okorocha revels in controversy.
Same Okorocha it was who once suggested that his workers should work for only three days and go to farm for the remaining two days weekly. His reason: so that the workers would be productive and make food available! His queer innovations and ideas are quite interesting!
Who will save Okorocha from himself? This man whose state has yet to pay workers’ salaries is creating a happiness ministry. How else can one make the people happy than to empower them and make them productive. A citizen denied his wages cannot be happy; an unemployed man obviously cannot be happy.
Come to think of it, Imo is home to so many intellectuals and captains of industry in this country. They should get interested in the politics of their state and offer Okorocha quality governance ideas so as to save them public opprobrium.