All Shades of Wrong: Buhari’s body language in the Southeast

by Alexander O. Onukwe

In the year 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari has hardly been in the country long enough to be said to have been president this year.

Between mid January and early March, and from the 8th of May to the 21st of August, Buhari spent at least 150 days away from the country. In terms of significant points of national action this year, he has not been the one doing much of the work. The Biafra at 50 commemorations, democracy day speech, signing the 2017 budget, the G20 meeting, the inauguration of Paul Kagame; these are some of the activities in the year which were handled by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.

Of importance also were the consultative meetings and visits carried out by Prof Osinbajo, from the South East to the Niger Delta, to dowse intentions and agitations and raise the feeling that the centre had no issues with them and wanted to do more for unity.

Unfortunately, President Buhari who has not done much by way of visitation to any of those parts of the country is doing little to earn the same warmth – even if we call it tolerance – that the Vice President managed to purchase for the administration. Python Dance II, which has come into force in the South East a year from the first one last year, is definitely not the way to make cold hearts feel the warmth of central Government.

It is as though the President who has roughly been away from January to August has chosen to rewind to the time of the last actions he took in the South East to show that he has recovered. After threatening that certain persons had crossed national red lines with their speech, it is almost unsurprising that the operation to the South East has been approved less than 4 weeks after his return.

President Buhari has not managed to shake off a perceived resentment of or disinclination to deal with the South East on the same level with which he has treated other parts of the country. Resuming Python Dance as a show of force simply reinforces that view.

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