Mr. President, during your medical vacation in London, so much happened in the polity in the 51 days of your absence, but 15 are remarkably noteworthy events. Following your return to the country on Friday and as you prepare to resume work on Monday, the Editors of THISDAY on Sunday, Tokunbo Adedoja, Vincent Obia, Olawale Olaleye, Kunle Aderinokun and Abimbola Akosile believe it is only proper to apprise you of these developments
ECONOMY: On The Way Back
- Economic Recovery and Growth Plan was unveiled while you were away, waiting for you to launch. It now requires your ownership and leadership as all the signs are now looking favourable. While you were away, Nigeria became a toast of the world with 780 per cent oversubscription of the $1billion Eurobond issued by the federal government, showing that the nation’s economy is still very attractive, despite the recession.
The bond, which has been listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange as the first FX- denominated to be so floated on the bourse, has deepened the market that has rebounded and is maintaining the upward streak. The fact that the Nigerian stock market gained momentum on your return last Friday is a sign that Nigerians are happy to have you back.
- Naira gained over N75 on the dollar in the parallel market as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) begins to fund school fees and PTAs, following increasing external reserves, resulting from your savings. Please continue to back the Central Bank as it moves towards convergence between the parallel market and the official market.
- The Abuja airport was closed for civil works, bringing businesses in the federal capital to a near halt, such that you had to land in Kaduna and choppered to the Villa. Not many have that privilege as the Abuja airspace has been shutdown to helicopter flight as many have to travel often in poor road condition between Kaduna and Abuja and Minna and Abuja for up to 3 hours.
Meanwhile, the troubled aviation industry will get worse with up to three thousand flights in the lucrative industry canceled, while AMCON took over Arik, the nation’s dominant airline, and shut down over 70 per cent of its flights. How far AMCON will go with the takeover of Arik or the lasting impact of the decision to shut Abuja airport will be a subject for another memo.
GOVERNANCE: Osinbajo Proved a Pair of Safe Hands
- Acting President Yemi Osinbajo proved he was a pair of safe hands while you were away and continued to tour the Niger Delta states (which he began when you were still around). With relative peace returning and crude oil production growing, these have also resulted in an increase in power generation from what it was many weeks back.
5 Following your letter of February 5, 2017, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo sent Justice Walter Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation as CJN. The Senate confirmed him and he had been sworn in. Acting President Yemi Osinbajo signed 7 bills, rejected 4, showing that there is no power vacuum: your transmission of power to Osinbajo actually worked, bringing down tension and ensuring continuity.
- Your corruption war continues to bite with ex-governor James Ngilari of Adamawa State taken down and cool air-conditioned cash discovered in the home of a former NNPC GMD, Andrew Yakubu, who says it is the accumulated gift he received over the years. The jury is still out.
POLITICS: Shine Your Eyes!
- Your death was grossly exaggerated, causing considerable tension and unease, especially in the North, where many feared they could lose power again, resulting in all manner of political meetings, alliances and counter-alliances, with several northern governors and ministers suddenly becoming Osinbajo’s best friends in the hope of the unexpected. Some were stopped as they tried to make trips to London to verify your state of health…
Your sudden return and reappearance in the corridors of power have turned many dreams to nightmares as politicians from Lagos to Kano, Adamawa to Sokoto and from Port Harcourt to Kaduna have returned to the drawing board, with many of them retracing their steps and telling you how much they love you.
- Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the timetable and set the dates for 2019 elections, which means primaries will be held in third quarter of 2018, just over a year away. Mr. President, the race is on. Shine your eyes!
- Your opponents continued to tear themselves apart. Your in-law, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, continues to hold the PDP to ransom, while nursing his own presidential ambition in 2019. Last week, his supporters started attacking Governor Ibrahim Shettima for opening Borno State to Senator Bola Tinubu over IDPs camps and doctors’ court, inaugurated by the APC chieftain. This, they saw as green shoots of a presidential run. But, don’t worry, Mr. President, Tinubu has said as long as you are in the race, he will not run against you.
Meanwhile, another North-east veteran, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, feels if you are fourth time lucky, he too can, and he is consulting. However, as in the Biblical Tower of Babel, the political arena is confused and in disarray with more chiefs than followers across all the parties, including your darling APC.
- Young Igbo Turks, Chukwuma Soludo, Udenta Udenta and Pat Utomi, visited Nnamdi Kanu in prison, signaling that the Igbo mainstream will not play the ostrich as new Ohaneze leader, John Nwodo, said the Igbos have been sidelined by marginalisation and are losing control of their children as the Igbo prepare for a presidential run in 2019.
- In South-west state of Ondo, a smooth transition of power took place with the inauguration of ‘a Buhari boy’, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, as governor – a development that brought the number of states under the control of your party to 24.
SECURITY: The Challenge Rages On
- Southern Kaduna continues to be a challenge and now deserving of your urgent attention. Meanwhile, the battle against Boko Haram continues while hunger and poverty continue to ravage the North-east, again, requiring your urgent attention. Meanwhile, three days before you returned, a violent ethnic clash occurred in Ile-Ife, Osun State between Yorubas and Hausas which led to loss of lives and destruction of properties. The violence was brought under control following deployment of security personnel and curfew imposed on the town.
INTERNATIONAL: Trouble in Your Backyard
- South Africans’ attacks against Nigerians and others continued in South Africa, while in Nigeria, protests were held against South African investment interests, including MTN and Shoprite.
- In a breath of fresh air, your former Minister of Environment and a proud Nigerian, Amina Mohammed, was appointed United Nations Deputy Secretary-General and recently sworn in, making Nigeria stand tall again around the world. It is also worthy of note that while you were away, a host of African leaders, consisting of some incumbent heads of governments and former leaders converged on Abeokuta in Ogun state in honour of former President Olusegun Obasanjo who marked his 80th birthday.
- On the eve of the 50th anniversary of state creation, which changed Nigeria from regionalism, laying the foundation for the current structure of the federation, one of the governors of the then 12 states, Gen. Adeyinka Robert Adebayo, died on the eve of his 89th birthday, just as another governor of that era, Gen. Samuel Ogbemudia, of the Mid-west State, passed on.
Indeed, an era of Nigerian politics passeth without a clear replacement, as many continue to clamour for devolution of power back to the states and regions. To be continued…