By Ignatius Arinze
Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari went on a visit to many of the troubled spots in the country and from all intents and purposes, the visits were well- timed and had the required impact. The states concerned namely Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa and Yobe etc. have for some time disturbed the peace of the nation because of the activities of killers, unknown gunmen, herdsmen and other criminal elements, in those States.
Before the trip, the otherwise amiable and easy- going President had come under intense criticism by some section of Nigerians notably those who have made it their duty to criticize anything the President does, for political reasons.
The common refrain was that the President is insensitive, aloof, arrogant and uncaring. When the President went to Kano State for a wedding, all hell was let loose. Then, the refrain was that the President attended a wedding ceremony in far- away Kano from Abuja, while ignoring Yobe State where 110 School girls from the town of Dapchi were abducted by terrorists.
The point which critics of Buhari’s Presidential visits miss is that, a leader is expected to be there with his people whether in good or bad times and to rejoice and merriment with them as well as mourn or wail with them in case of mishap. As a seasoned person, President Buhari is acutely aware of these burdens and the fine line that a leader has to work, in order to satisfy them.
It can be clearly seen that in less than two weeks, all the noise about visiting one group of people or not has been satisfied by a focused leader who is used to taking things in his stride and who depends on careful planning and actions rather than emotions. Both the people of Kano that had a wedding and those who were wailing in Yobe State has been able to avail themselves of the esteemed presence of their President and life goes on. This means that again, critics of PMB are enjoined to tarry awhile and not rush to Facebook and other platforms to criticize. This is because as events has unfolded before our eyes, they are forced to swallow their words and look less than realistic by the time PMB comes out with his strategy.
The President is a careful person who honestly weighs what he says or does. Some Nigerians however, have decided because of partisan reasons not to study the ways of the Leader and make sense of his moves and understand than the shouting of blue- murder which is now the order of the day.
Recently, in fairness to him, President Buhari said that when something happens, like a natural disaster or killings by criminals and terrorists, he does not just rush to visit the place or issue comments but that he takes his time to collate and study information and intelligence from a variety of sources on the issue to ensure that he makes the right moves. This is the style of a meticulous person who has been taught by experience. That is PMB for you.
This writer understands very well the reason some Nigerians are at odds with PMB on account of presidential visits and the way Buhari has carried on. In the past, it was fashionable for the country’s leaders, civilian or military, on coming to power to have a timetable for visits on a meet the people tour of the States that make up the Federation. These visits were used to feel the purse of the people and exchange notes with the local and State governments on the problems, needs and strides made by the various States. These has not been the Buhari style because essentially, the situation in the country when he took over was not the type that made such trips a necessity as the country was in problem from the head to toe. So the compelling issue was to address the problems bedeviling the nation from the center.
However, on a balance, President Buhari has without the usual fanfare been visiting State after State in the country to deal with specific matters like his recent trip to troubled States to rub minds with the Governors and commiserate with the people. In other instances, the President has visited States to commission projects, both infrastructural and economic and in other cases, like when he was on medical vacation, the Vice President has done so in the Niger Delta. It could be said that the administration is a business- like one. This is not surprising considering that the agenda on which he came to office was to fight corruption, revive the economy and fight unemployment and deal with the recurring decimal of insecurity in the North east region of the country. It is unfortunate that insecurity has spread beyond the North east region requiring much more hard work on the part of the government and its functionaries.
There is no other place to situate and appreciate the President’s practical and realistic disposition to governance, than in the way PMB approached the issue of foreign trips. Many Nigerians would remember that immediately he took office and mindful of the international ramifications of the solution to the myriad of problems facing the country, the President embarked on an extensive official and working visits to several countries in Africa, Asia (China and India), Europe and the Middle East.
During these trips where he was accompanied by many of his aides, economic issues affecting the country including loan negotiations and financing of joint ventures were in focus. Another was that the trips were used to forge an international coalition against terrorism and create greater international awareness on the evil of insurgency. Yet another achievement of the foreign trips was to build international cooperation for foreign direct investment and capital to assist the country in the creation of jobs and combating unemployment.
Thus the foregoing has shown in more ways than one that for President Muhammadu Buhari, presidential visits are not mere visits for sight- seeing purposes but trips undertaken and devoted to solving problems afflicting the country.
Ignatius Arinze is a Public Affairs Analyst based in Abuja.