Mr President, Welcome, Barka Da Zuwa, Nno, and E Kabo, But… .. By Victoria Ngozi Ikeano

March 17th, 2017

I can say without equivocation that many, many Nigerians are glad that Mr. President, Alhaji, General (rtd) Muhammadu Buha­ri is back, alive! Many unpalata­ble stories were woven around Mr. President during his 50-day med­ical vacation abroad, the height of which was his rumoured death by agents of darkness. I purpose­ly use the latter word because it is only a dark mind with dark inten­tions that can gleefully wish an­other death, putting out the fake news happily and joyfully spread­ing and sharing it on social me­dia. It is true that things have not panned out the way the electorate expected in last two years of this regime as there is no improvement in the key indices by which the or­dinary man on the street assess­es any government, namely, prices of goods and services, availabili­ty of electricity in homes and un­employment rate. Manufacturing firms (which is about the best way to boost employment) have been experiencing reduced capacity utilization, leading to retrench­ment et al, NEPA’s (also known as PHCN) performance is at its low­est ebb – that is the case at least in Lafia where I currently reside; and retail prices of goods and services had skyrocketed at very short in­tervals. Indeed, the country’s offi­cial inflation rate stands at a little above 18 per cent while the na­tion is officially in recession, some economists would say depression.
But it is wishful thinking to ex­pect that all of above listed prob­lems would disappear if President Buhari leaves the stage. In fact the nation’s ills cannot be shoved aside overnight even with the best brain at helm of affairs because we are told the problems are deep root­ed, systemic. Fundamentally our problems stem from drastic fall in international price of oil and drop in our oil production, our major source of revenue and foreign ex­change. Abusing Mr. President, cursing him and blatantly wish­ing him evil or death smacks of not just ‘bad belle’ but an indica­tion that the person is unrefined, uncultured no matter how edu­cationally advanced the person is or the high position he/she holds in society. Indeed by such dispo­sition, the person or persons has/have shown themselves as not worthy to mingle with civilised peopled in a civilised society.
Yes, people are free to express their views for freedom of speech is a plank of democracy. But as the saying goes, comments are free but facts are sacred. Besides, employ­ing abusive, caustic words and even cursing in the name of airing one’s opinion as is now rampant in social, online media veers towards slander. It is time to rein in social media, not to curtail freedom of speech but to ensure that they op­erate within civilised norm, to curb misinformation, slander, etc. And online editors should begin to vet the comments section of their medium, to weed out foul, corro­sive and hate-filled language.
Moreover, as apparently reli­gious people should we not be­seech the good Lord to imbue our president with the wisdom to steer the country aright rather than sprouting out vituperations and wishing him ill. If the country is well managed by our leaders, it will rub off on us all and if mis­managed, we shall suffer it; so why not wish our leaders well as well as pray for them as religious people that we profess to be, except per­haps if we are insinuating that we are hypocrites, who do not real­ly practice our so-called religiosi­ty, While there were malcontents, many, many, many other good na­tured Nigerians from across the land, of all religious persuasions, those that still carry within them a tinge of humanity, illiterates and literates, rich and poor who sense that there is a reason for President Buhari assuming leadership of the country at this juncture in our country’s history, prayed fervently to God to spare his life. And these fervent heartfelt prayers of inter­cession, public and private, burnt out the dark wishes of the malevo­lents. Mr. President has every rea­son to be grateful to the Almighty. This is not to say that Buhari will not go at the appointed time by the Creator.
The furore over Mr. President’s health status also brought to fore how distrustful we are of one an­other. Until the very last second, there were still some doubting Thomases. Leader of the APC Ahmed Tinubu as well as Sen­ate president Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speak­er Yakubu Dogara, among others, visited Mr. President in London and showed us pictures of them chatting with him, still there were doubters, ‘ they are photo shops, super-imposed pictures’, they al­leged. He spoke to some politi­cians here by phone and some world leaders, including President Trump and their response was, ‘it is political gimmick, Trump has not told us he spoke to him”. One governor in the southwest even de­clared, ‘until Buhari speaks to me I will not believe he is alive’.
In times past all manners of per­sons and groups, descript and non descript would be trooping to Aso Villa unendingly to welcome, and send messages of solidarity to Mr. President. It is said to be in our culture to go greet someone when he/she is back from some medicals or been away from home for quite some time. In this digital era phys­ical travel is not necessary. People can still send in their greetings, messages, etc., to President Buha­ri through his twitter handle or on his facebook page.
Ikeano writes via vikeano@ya­

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