ACF makes U-turn, now backs Buhari
There could be criticisms even from the north but when the chips are down the north will massively vote for Buhari Not long ago, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) had cause to pick holes in the state of affairs under Buhari’s watch. First, the forum through its Secretary General, Anthony Sani, cited what it termed he President’s culture of silence following criticisms that greeted the style adopted in the prosecution of the anti-graft war. It also condemned the alleged divisions in the Presidency, coming short of blaming the first citizen for his inability to put his house in order. All these appear to have taken the backseat as preliminary preparations intensify for the general elections. In an exclusive chat with Saturday Vanguard, Sani said on the scale of objectivity, President Buhari has done well and should be supported for yet a fresh mandate. He said that there could be dissent and criticisms being mouthed by some people even in the north but that “when the chips are down, the north will massively vote for Buhari.” He spoke confidently. Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari “The president has done creditably well in delivering on the promise of his electoral mandate which was hinged on three major issues namely- security, fight against corruption in order to pave the way for the economy to take root and prosper. So far, the regime has degraded the terrorist sect by limiting its attacks to the fringes of North East in contrast to what happened in the past when the attacks were ubiquitous and transcended the whole of the Northern states. As a result, fear almost overwhelmed the people, and Nigerians started losing hope. But today, confidence and hope are gradually coming back to the polity,” he noted. On the perennial herdsmen/farmers’ clashes which have left hundreds of Nigerians dead, the ACF scribe said in no distant future, the crisis would be wiped out, root and branch, saying”As to the security challenges posed by the clashes between the herders and farmers, I want to believe the regime would give them the same treatment given to the terrorists. The call by some Nigerians for government to put an end to the killings as quickly as possible, is understandable. At the end of last year (2017), most Nigerians never believed the fuel scarcity would ever disappear. Today, it is history. “Talking about corruption, I wish to submit that the government has succeeded in pushing corruption into popular consciousness as the bane of our socioeconomic development. Once most people know that it is corruption which constitutes sand bags to socio-economic development, they will join the fray and help the government in fighting the menace. That is why I credit the regime in the war against corruption. The arraigned persons for corruption charges who accused the government of selective fight against corruption should note that the fight is work in progress,” Sani added. He also passed a vote of confidence on the President with his handling of the economy.”The economy is being diversified and rated by Breton institutions to be among the first ten fastest growing economies in the ease of doing business. The foreign reserve has increased appreciably due to reduction of imports of what we can produce while the Gross Domestic Product, GDP is forecast to be positive this year.” That said, the ACF boss ruled out the chances of coalition movements in 2019, stressing that the elections are essentially between the ruling party and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). According to him, “the coalitions, movements and all the new political parties being bandied about can only succeed in weakening the opposition and render it incapable of providing the needed viable alternative platform. That is why I do not see the wisdom of those who posit that Nigerians should look beyond the ruling party and the main opposition party.” Buhari may struggle for votes-Akerele-Ogunsiji There is a perception in the public domain that Buhari’s approval ratings are slipping. Since he made public his decision to seek a fresh mandate a fortnight ago, scores of eminent Nigerians including former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Babangida (retd) have publicly voiced out their preference for a fresh face. But last week outing by the Commander-in-Chief in London wherein he described a large chunk of the nation’s youths as uneducated “who sit and do nothing,” expecting freebies from government is a remark capable of affecting his support base throughout the country, some analysts have stated. Recently while fielding questions at a Channels Television breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, Social entrepreneur, Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, advanced reasons the controversial profiling of the youths was not in the best interest of President Buhari’s aspiration. “The United Kingdom where President Buhari was speaking is a country where citizens enjoy several types of benefits. The generation of youths that enjoyed the best of education; that didn’t operate in a system where Boko Haram are in charge did not face the kind of challenge we have today. “If the youths were angry with the President before, the stakes are even higher now with this type of statement. Those close to him should be advising him, not cowering to him. They should tell him that he is the chief marketing officer of the country,” she had said, noting that the implication of the remark on the youths has an implication on the economic health of the nation in the years ahead. “The same meeting where President Buhari answered that question was the same meeting President Cyril (Ramaphosa) of South Africa got R850 million investments to his country from the United Kingdom. He (Buhari) should have used the opportunity to amplify our entrepreneurship, our human capital. “I think the problem here is the sweeping generalization in the description of our youths by our own President at an international forum. I would expect that the President would have used the opportunity to say that our young people are industrious, smart and that Nigeria is open for business. “I don’t know whether we paid attention to the possible implication of that statement and what it can do to investors’ confidence. Truth is that countries are not rich because of what they have; therefore Nigeria is not a rich country. Countries are rich because of their know-how. Human capital plays a very crucial role at the very epicenter of the country’s development. So, when I am thinking as an investor of coming to invest in Nigeria, I am not coming to invest in arable land or the bill boards. I will be paying attention to the kind of return on investment that I will get; the kind of quality of human capital and labour that would help me to take that business that I am bringing into the country to the next level. “I expected the President to say yes, the North East though volatile at the moment but this is the time for the international community to support us through foreign direct investment. I sit on the board of the victims support fund committee and I know much the board committee and the Presidential Support Initiative on the North-East have done in building schools, rebuilding hospitals, providing psycho-social support for victims. So, I expected that kind of response that would have assured investors and the international community, that would inspire hope and encourage young people,” Toyosi added. She also warned on the danger of negative profiling of the nation’s citizens by those who ordinarily ought to speak well of them. “We need to be careful on the kind of hasty and broad generalization that we place at the feet of the young people of this country. You cannot judge us. If you don’t give the young people education and you expect a miracle; it is a failure on the part of government and the elders of this country,” the founder of Rise Network further stressed. Buhari’s statement misinterpreted —Adesina …No, Buhari erred-Yesufu Meanwhile Special Adviser to the President, Femi Adesina believes the “misinterpretation” of his principal’s remarks was a deliberate move to paint a bad portrait of him before Nigerians ahead of the polls. “If you listened to Mr. President’s speech,” Adesina told Channels television, “in no place did he say that Nigerian youths were lazy. The word lazy did not feature at all. It is an attempt at de-marketing but that attempt will not succeed because Mr. President has a solid profile.” Adesina’s position however contrasts with that of Aisha Yesufu, foremost activist and pro-convener of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. According to Yesufu, “It’s very unfair for the President of this country to go out of this country to say that the youths of this country are lazy. The same youths he wanted to use when he wanted power. He used them, they were not lazy then. Even during his inaugural speech, he thanked the youths.” Our problem with INEC —Tanko Presidential aspirant on the platform of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Dr. Yunusa Tanko has joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the condemnation of the alleged plot by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to create additional polling units in the country ahead of the 2019 general elections. While he did not accuse any political party of working in sync with the electoral umpire, Tanko said “Creating new polling units creates the impression that a party is going to be favoured. Polling units should be created immediately after an election, not when another is about to take place.” Although PDP’s allegation that the commission was mooting the idea of creating new polling units was promptly dismissed by INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu; opposition figures have continued to warn on the danger it portend for the polity with Tanko saying that “The message INEC is sending is that it is planning to rig the elections. He called on Nigerians to “revolt with their votes” arguing that the present crop of leaders should be voted out having failed to deliver on their mandate.