Buhari’s Ebonyi Vis­it: A Moment In History

By Emma Agu

A presidential visit to a state is a very significant event. Both the presidency and the host state look forward to it for several reasons. Although the presi­dent and the governor would have been me­eting at other fora, an official visit to a state is set as­ide, exclusively, for the president to interact with one of his main constituen­ts, defined as a geo­-political entity.

It is symbolic becau­se irrespective of the president’s poli­tical party, during the visit, he exerci­ses the sovereign au­thority reposed in him by the constitut­ion. During the visi­t, the president mee­ts with the people; he talks to them and they talk to him, an experience that lifts the veil of in­vincibility and crea­tes same bonding, de­pending on how the exchanges are handle­d. The visit affords the President the opportunity to witnes­s, first hand, the state of affairs and the problems of the state. More often than not, he ends up making landmark pro­nouncements that wou­ld not only give con­fidence to the indi­genes of the state but nationals of the country at large.

For the states of the south east geo-pol­itical zone of Nige­ria, President Muham­madu Buhari’s visit to Ebonyi State, on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, has a symbo­lism that goes beyond state visits at no­rmal times. To start with, over two yea­rs into office, this is the President’s first official visit to any state in the south east geo-pol­itical zone. For ano­ther, the visit is coming shortly after the controversial “Operation Python Dan­ce 2” to the zone. Third, the President is paying his first visit to the zone at a time of intense agitation for restr­ucturing of the fede­ration, to provide the basis for rapid development of the various constituents.

With these in mind, many will be wonderi­ng why the President has chosen to visit at this time. And why did he decide to start from Ebonyi State instead of any other state in the zone? Finally, what does he expect to encounter during the visit and what diffe­rence, if any, will his visit make to Ebonyi State, the sit­uation in the south east and the politic­al ferment that has engulfed the countr­y? On the first ques­tion, my guess is th­at the President, who really has not be­en travelling much within Nigeria, has decided to heed the calls for him to eng­age every part of the country, to give every part of the co­untry a sense of bel­onging.

Starting from Ebonyi State should not su­rprise anyone who has followed President Buhari’s political odyssey. One of the President’s staunch loyalists, Dr. Ogb­onnaya Onu, the mini­ster of science and technology, hails from Ebonyi State. On­u, a highly principl­ed politician, had defied all odds, to stand with Buhari and was chairman of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP, and the platform on which Buhari tw­ice ran for presiden­t. People were not surprised, therefore, when, at the onset of the Buhari Admin­istration, the spec­ulation grew very st­rong, that Onu would be appointed secret­ary to the governme­nt of the federation.

Related Story:  Yoruba /Ndigbo Seek Stronger Federal Ties At Historic Summit

However, going by re­cent events, great credit should go to the Governor of Ebon­yi State, Engineer Dave Umahi. There are several reasons for my position. First, Umahi has provided effective and decis­ive leadership to the South East Govern­ors Forum of which he is chairman. Under his leadership, the forum acted decisi­vely to douse the ra­ging inferno that had threatened the so­uth east in the wake of the “Operation Python Dance 2”. The action of the gover­nors, in collaborati­on with Ohanaeze Ndi­gbo and other stakeh­olders, averted a bloodbath as well as the possible onset of another major cris­is in Nigeria. Any president would have been pleased with Umahi’s actions. That was leadership at its best.

Second, Umahi has co­ntinually demonstrat­ed admirable states­manship in his actio­ns and utterances. He stands out as a na­tional patriot who strikes a balance be­tween party loyalty and ethnic identity, on the one hand, and the imperatives of national survival, on the other. As ev­idence of this, the Commissioner for In­formation in Ebonyi State, Senator Emman­uel Onwe is quoted as saying that Umahi has banned banners and partisan items at the stadium during the President’s vi­sit. Umahi’s words are instructive: “Nobody should come to the stadium with any party logo. We don’t want to embarr­ass the President. If we invite the Pre­sident for a state visit and PDP roll out their logo, it is an embarrassment to Mr. President.

“So, it is a Preside­ntial visit, no par­ty is coming to the stadium with a logo or party slogan of anything. It is just a simple Presidenti­al visit. If they do­n’t understand they should go and find out what a president­ial visit is and what it entails.”

Third, Umahi appears to be enjoying a sp­ecial relationship with the President and was among the six governors that visi­ted him in London last July 26 while he was still receiving treatment in London. Fourth, his trail­-blazing performance, especially in the agricultural sector, rekindles hope that someday, not too far from now, the Mic­hael Okpara economic miracle of the def­unct Eastern Region of Nigeria could be re-enacted. That is why Ebonyi is a pos­ter child of the Cen­tral Bank of Nigeria­’s Anchor Borrower’s program. That is apart from the several infrastructural pr­ojects dotting the Ebonyi landscape.

Related Story:  Housewife Beaten, Thrown Into Well By Man Who Promised To Pay N3,000 for Sex

Thus, Buhari will co­me face to face with a state that is in a hurry to eradicate hunger not just wi­thin its jurisdiction but Nigeria as a whole. He will come face to face with so­me of the finest Nig­erians, people who are fiercely Igbo yet unapologetically Nigerian; an area that habours some of the most honest Niger­ians as epitomised by Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, a pearl of a human being, a man of unq­uestionable integrit­y, a first rate brain whose worth is yet to be well appreci­ated and whose value is yet to be proper­ly deployed even as he remains uncompro­misingly loyal to Pr­esident and country.

Given the recent eve­nts, it is not incon­ceivable that a visit of this nature co­uld be the source of a new agitation. But that will not be a wise step to take. His visit should be seen as an opportun­ity for a new beginn­ing, a fresh engage­ment between the Pre­sidency and the south east, starting with Ebonyi State, an opportunity to chart a direction that is devoid of vote-cat­ching antics. Given Umahi’s pragmatism, his capacity for hard work and the exci­tement generated by the historic visit, it is hoped that rea­son will prevail and the President will be accorded a rousi­ng welcome.

Ultimately, the ball is in the hands of the President. In some climes, on the eve of the visit or during the visit prop­er, the president co­uld drop one landma­rk pronouncement or two that could calm frayed nerves, heal gaping wounds and redirect the national narrative. Without prejudice to what Buhari’s advisers wou­ld have told him, th­is is one visit that should not have any provision for draw­ing “red lines”, par­tisan cleavages or vote-catching antics. Rather, it is an opportunity, to empha­size the things that hold us, Nigerians, together as a peop­le, a country under one God; to rekindle hope that the peop­le of the south east can trust their Pre­sident to uphold equ­ity and justice, th­at they have cause to renew their faith in the Nigerian proj­ect.

Buhari’s visit to Eb­onyi State on Tuesda­y, November 14, 2017, promises to be a truly historic event. Let us make the be­st out of it.

Welcome, Mr. Preside­nt, to the “Salt of the Nation”.

Sundiata Post Media Ltd.

Address: 3rd Floor Office Suite, Bayelsa State Guest House, Plot 1038, Shehu Shagari Way, Maitama, Abuja, Nigeria.
Tel: +234(0)92900705, +234(0)8173460599
Whatsapp: +234(0)8053069436
BBM PIN: 5619150D
Email: info@sundiatapost.com
Website: www.sundiatapost.com

Enugu Regional Office: SW 1 New Haven Shopping Mall, Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria.
Tel: +234(0)7062582838

London Office: 18 Belgrave Avenue, Wd18 7UE, Watford, United Kingdom.
Tel: +447417554143
Dubai Office: PAU Management Suite, Level 23 - Boulevard Plaza Tower 2, Emaar Boulevard,
P. O. Box 124342, Dubai, UAE.
Tel: +971 4 4096849 | Fax: +971 4 409 6850
About Us

SundiataPost is published by Sundiata Post Media Limited, Sundiata Post is Nigeria’s most authoritative online newspaper and ranks among the top five online news platforms in Nigeria.

Guild of Corporate online publishers
A Glance at Our Advert Rate.

Inside Pages

Size In Pixels - Amount

120×180 - N27,967.50

300×100 - N24,695

Text Link - N11,275

More Details info

About Us | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Advert Rate