By Eric Elezuo
One year into the presidency of Nigeria’s 4th Republic President, Mohammadu Buhari, many were surprised to discover that the man who was massively voted to replace a sitting president, had only visited four days in the entire country. This is against the fact that he had travelled over 30 times visiting foreign countries, a situation that sparked angry reactions from citizens considering the current economic situation in the country.
The Nigeria states he visited as at then were his home state, Katsina for a four-day visit, and especially to declare open and participate in the Katsina State Economic and Investment Summit, aimed at diversifying the state’s ailing economy. This was in May 2016.
Earlier in October 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari performed the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the 260km dual carriage road to link Calabar to Northern Nigeria.
Shortly after, in November 2015, the President visited Makhio IDP camp in Yola, Adamawa State.
His much publicized visit to Lagos for a two-day working tour in May 2016, was shelved due to ill-health according to reports. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo came in his stead. In February 2016 however, he was at Abeokuta, Ogun State to commission some projects as part of Ogun at 40 celebrations.
Many believed that the president made a stop over in the Southern states of Ogun and Cross River as he had not visited any state in the south ever since, 890 days after.
A cross section of the Nigerian public has accused the president of sectionalism and ethnic bigotry, considering the direction of his appointments, visitations and complete attention. This has cropped up protests and attempted secession from Nigeria by some tribal groups.
However, there are indications that the President may not visit the Southern parts of the country following utterances he made against the regions as well as most policies taken that have proved to be anti-Igbo in particular. This is even as the president has recently promised to tour the eastern states.
Buhari’s attempts to do so in the since assuming office have failed to yield positive results other than Edo State where he went to campaign for the eventual winner, Godwin Obaseki.
In June 2016, the President attempted visiting Ogoni land to flag off the cleaning of the devastated communities, the threat form members of the Niger Delta Avengers allegedly made him to make a reversal at the eleventh hour. The fear of the militants actualizing their threat, many had alleged, kept him off the area.
The cleanup was thereafter flagged off by the Vice President Yemi Osibanjo. And since then, Buhari has not made any attempt to visit any other state for whatever reason in the volatile Niger Delta. All visits to the zone, irrespective of its national importance have been carried out by the vice president.
Also, he was billed to attend the South East Economic Summit in Enugu on December 22, 2016 but members of the Indigenous People of Biafra and Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra protested against his visit to the zone, matching round the city and threatening hail and fire should the president make his way to Enugu for the summit. He was billed to declare the summit open, though he persisted on attending but few hours to the event, the protest raged and he had no option but to call off the visit to the zone.
But with the routing of the IPOB in the South East, by the Federal Government sponsored Operation Python Dance and unknown whereabouts of the leader of the group, Nnamdi Kanu, the coast may be clear for the President to tour the Southern states.
Consequently, President Muhammadu Buhari has declared his intention to embark on tour of South East states beginning with Ebonyi to improve the relationship between the region and the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government.
President Muhammadu Buhari is to embark on tour of South East states beginning with Ebonyi to improve the relationship between the region and the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government.
“The South East before now was not measuring in APC. But we have worked out strategies and modalities on how to improve relationship between the people of South East and APC government.
“That was top on the agenda and the need for Mr. President to come to South East as quickly as possible, to begin to show his presence.
“Luckily, the President will be coming to Ebonyi state very soon and he will pass through Imo state to Anambra state. So, covering three states within this short time will be right step in the right direction.
“We have come to realise in the south east that we are better off in APC than any other party in the federal republic of Nigeria.” He said that membership of the APC in the south east would continue to increase as many politicians had been joining the party in recent times.
It is not yet known if the young people whose future is at stake in the Nigerian project have been pacified to pave the way for the Nigerian leader to jettison his fear to move South.
Politically stakeholders have stated categorically that the President will not keep his words, if actually he made the promise before the expiration of his tenure. They cited his plumenting image among the Igbo tribe and Niger Delta dwellers as one of the reasons, saying that the possibility that the image will improve is very remote.
It will be recalled that the President has pronounced at the advent of his tenure that his loyalty will be to those who gave him 97 per cent vote, and not those who gave him 5 per cent.