Buhari and the Birth of the Far Right In Nigeria, By Majeed Dahiru

Buhari-3

Far right leaders often leave their nations divided. Their style of leadership often leads to the hardening of extreme positions by all conflicting groups, with those feeling marginalised and unprotected resorting to self-help… Buhari’s inaction have emboldened killer herdsmen to continue their murderous activities throughout Central and Southern Nigeria.

We are very quick to denounce Marine Le Pen when she says, “Multi cultural societies are multi conflict societies” and her National Front political party is commonly criticised as being far right. Her open opposition to the unbridled diversity of the French republic often depicts her as intolerant, if not discriminatory of Africans, other peoples of colour and Muslims. Similarly, President Donald Trump of the United States often comes under fire for failing to outrightly condemn White supremacists, neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan for their hate filled racially divisive speeches, as exemplified in the recent Charlottesville demonstrations against the planned removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the commander of the anti-slavery emancipation army in the American civil war. In a civil protest that turned bloody, when a member of the far right coalition drove a vehicle into a large crowd of protesters in support of the removal of the now controversial statue, killing a woman identified as Heather Heyer in the process. In all of these unfortunate incidences, President Trump placed the blame for the violence on “both sides”, claiming “there are good guys on the sides, as well as bad”.

In Myanmar is Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, another fast rising star of the far right. The leader of Myanmar has been criticised throughout the globe for her long silence and failure to condemn the violent ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims by her fellow Burmese Buddhists nationalists. Like, Trump, when Suu Kyi finally spoke, she attempted to place the blame on both sides, saying, “There have been allegations and counter-allegations… We have to make sure those allegations are based on solid evidence before we take action.” She also urged members of all communities in the Rakhine state of Myanmar to live in peace.

Far right politics is characterised by racial or ethnic supremacy, leading to prejudice, hate, discrimination and in extreme cases, genocide. Its leading figures are often divisive and they polarise their nation states by turning diversity into a faultline. Whenever far right figures are propelled to power, they often make more efforts to strengthen sectional interests, which inevitably leads to the marginalisation of groups and individuals other than their own. They deploy the resources of the state to satisfy their narrow bases of political support to the detriment of the unity and stability of their nations. Therefore, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari deserves a well-earned seat besides Marine Le Pen of France, Donald Trump of America and Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar on the high table of the far right.

Whereas France has the fortune of not having Marine Le Pen resident in the Elisee Palace and America’s strong democratic institutions serve as effective checks on the excesses of Donald Trump, Myanmar and Nigeria are unfortunate to be saddled with far right leaders whose excesses cannot be curtailed as a consequence of very weak institutions of state, leaving both nations with the terrible consequences of underdevelopment, instability and insecurity. Muhammadu Buhari has never hidden his sectional agenda in favour of northern Nigeria, since he assumed the mantle of leadership. From his appointments to his close cycle of associates and developmental agenda, his Arewa interests come before the interests of the Nigerian state. Typical of all far right figures, his body language, public statements and state policies often betray this sectional tendencies. Whatever doubt existed about Buhari’s northern agenda should have been put to rest with the recent revelation by the World Bank Chief about the president’s appeal for a special “focus” on northern Nigeria for developmental support.

In Aung San Su Kyi, Muhammadu Buhari has a soul mate. Her long silence on the plight of the ethnic Rohingya Muslims, whose condition have degenerated from being persecuted to being mass murdered in a state supervised ethnic cleansing agenda, by members of her own Burmese community, is similar to Buhari’s long silence on the murderous activities of killer herdsmen among his own ethnic Fulani.

If Marie Le Pen is against a racially diverse France, Muhammadu Buhari does not pretend to be a good manager of Nigeria’s ethnic diversity. His insensitivity to the feelings of marginalisation by other groups in Nigeria clearly illustrates this. The recent revelation by Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for petroleum about his redundancy in the affairs of oil resources management in the country clearly shows that Buhari’s cabinet is in negation of the spirit of the 1999 Constitution, which provides for at least a minister from each of the thirty six federating units of the country. By appointing a fellow Northerner, Maikanti Baru as the GMD of Nigeria’s state owned oil company, NNPC, who reports directly to him in his capacity as petroleum minister, Buhari has not only rendered Ibe Kackikwu redundant and irrelevant in the affairs of the petroleum ministry, he has also left the Southern oil producing state of Delta without a minister in the proper sense. In this instance, the president fails to appreciate the necessity of carrying along every section of the country in his government, in line with the wisdom behind the spirit of the constitution.

Muhammadu Buhari also has something in common with Donald Trump. For the first time since the administration of George Bush (snr.), when General Collin Powell was appointed as the first African American to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Armed Forces, the White House is truly “White”, as there is no African American – from who Donald Trump got the least support – occupying any of the top jobs in the Trump administration. From the kitchen cabinet to the State Department and Pentagon, all the top positions are occupied by White Americans, from among who Donald Trump got the most votes to become president. Similarly, relying on his “97 percent and 5 percent” of support as a basis for his appointments, President Buhari has appointed a disproportionate number of Northerners into his government, to the dismay of most Nigerians.

In Aung San Su Kyi, Muhammadu Buhari has a soul mate. Her long silence on the plight of the ethnic Rohingya Muslims, whose condition have degenerated from being persecuted to being mass murdered in a state supervised ethnic cleansing agenda, by members of her own Burmese community, is similar to Buhari’s long silence on the murderous activities of killer herdsmen among his own ethnic Fulani. These are migratory bands pillaging farmlands and killing members of farming communities in central and southern Nigeria. When eventually pressured to speak, like Aung San Suu Kyi, Muhammadu Buhari blamed both sides.

Whereas the full might of the state was deployed to crush the separatist agitations of Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB before they were even declared a terror group, no decisive military operation has been launched against the marauding killer herdsmen… The feeling of apartness from the Nigerian state by ethnic Fulani herdsmen, in solidarity with their armed kith and kin from all over the Sahel, is no less treasonable.

The same way Aung San Suu Kyi refuses to acknowledge the murderous activities of her fellow Burmese Buddhist nationalists as genocide, Muhammadu Buhari also fails to address the murderous activities of killer herdsmen as terrorism against the Nigerian state. On each unfortunate occasion of mass killings by killer herdsmen, such as happened recently on the Plateau, the government’s reaction, such as this, “Buhari is devoted to the sanctity of Nigeria’s unity, and he encourages Nigerians of all groups to learn to live together in peace and harmony”, reduces a clear case of terrorism by one group against another to a matter of farmer-herdsmen clashes. And while the security forces in Myanmar appears powerless, if not complicit by failing to prevent the murderous mob of Burmese Buddhist from unleashing terror against ethnic Rohingya Muslims, Nigeria’s northern dominated internal and defence security apparatus appears similarly powerless in the face of the killer herdsmen terror. Whereas the full might of the state was deployed to crush the separatist agitations of Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB before they were even declared a terror group, no decisive military operation has been launched against the marauding killer herdsmen. The murderous activities of the marauding herdsmen, is a form of secession by elimination. The feeling of apartness from the Nigerian state by ethnic Fulani herdsmen, in solidarity with their armed kith and kin from all over the Sahel, is no less treasonable.

Far right leaders often leave their nations divided. Their style of leadership often leads to the hardening of extreme positions by all conflicting groups, with those feeling marginalised and unprotected resorting to self-help. Just as Trump’s silence has emboldened far right groups in the United States, Buhari’s inaction have emboldened killer herdsmen to continue their murderous activities throughout Central and Southern Nigeria.

Majeed Dahiru, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja and can be reached through dahirumajeed@gmail.com

Courtesy: Premium Times

Nigeria’s Buhari speaks out on Biafra

Following tensions gripping the country between Biafra agitators and security forces, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated that his adminstration will not bow down to demands of separatism.

Nigeria Abuja - Muhammadu Buhari nach Rückkehr aus England (Reuters/Nigeria Presidency Handout)

In a stark warning, Buhari said that the country will remain united despite incessant demands from some parts of Nigeria that want independence. “Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable. We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble and when things get bad they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood. Every Nigerian has the right to live and pursue his business anywhere in Nigeria without let or hindrance,” Buhari said.

Buhari also did not mince words about the videos that have been circulating on different social media platforms. “I was distressed to notice that some of the comments, especially in the social media have crossed our national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation. This is a step too far.”

In the meantime, the whereabouts of Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu remain unknown amid renewed protests and a military operation in southeast Nigeria. State governors have urged calm.

Nigerian governors on Friday called for calm after renewed protests by pro-Biafra supporters calling for independence. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group led by Nnamdi Kanu wants to break away from Nigeria and create a separate state for the predominantly Igbo people in southeastern Nigeria.

Windscreens of police vehicles have been smashed, petrol bombs thrown, bonfires lit on streets to restrict movement and warning shots fired, in the latest violence. Simon Lalong, governor of Plateau State in central Nigeria, convened a meeting of leaders from the Hausa and Igbo communities following violence at two markets. Two people were reportedly killed and calm was only restored after police fired warning shots in the air.

Watch video05:12

Biafran people still long for independence

The violence has also claimed the lives of two police officers. More than 30 Biafra supporters have been arrested, the Daily Post, a local online daily reported. Shops belonging to ethnic Hausas have been attacked by pro-Biafra agitators in Aba and Port Harcourt, according to local media.

Read more: Is Nigeria’s one nation policy at stake?

Read more: Biafra: Dreaming of a new state

“There are very conflicting reports of violence on both sides,” Isa Sanusi, spokesperson for Amnesty International in Nigeria, told DW in an interview. “There are reports of violence on the side of the military and there are reports of violence on the side of supporters of the Biafra movement.”

Where is Nnamdi Kanu?

Nnamdi Kanu’s whereabouts are unknown following an invasion of his home by the military, two local newspapers, the Premium Times and Naija News reported. Ifeanyi Ijeafor, a lawyer representing Nnamdi Kanu told DW, the army had gone to his client’s home with the intention of assassinating him.

Nigeria's Biafra leader | Nnamdi Kanu (DW/K. Gänsler)Nnamdi Kanu’s call for Biafra’s independence has become a hot political issue in Nigeria

“I got a distress call from my client that his house was invaded by the military, the soldiers,” Ijeafor said. “I believe they went there for reasons best known to them – that reason is nothing more than to go and assassinate him.” He accused the security officers of plotting to suppress Kanu and consequently arresting him.

Nigeria’s military referred to the allegations that they had invaded Kanu’s homestead as “baseless and mischievous.” Kanu, a British and Nigerian citizen, is presently on bail on treasonable felony charges. His trial is set to resume next month in Abuja.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (picture alliance/AP Photo/S. Aghaeze)President Muhammadu Buhari: ‘Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable’

Calls for an independent Biafra have grown ever since Nnamdi Kanu was released on bail. During an exclusive one on one with DW’s Adrian Kriesch, Kanu reiterated his demand for a referendum on the independence of Biafra. President Muhammadu Buhari has strongly rejected any attempts to divide Nigeria saying the unity of the country was “not negotiable.”

Read more: After long absence due to ill health, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari slams divisions, terror

Read more: Nigeria and the Biafran War: Ending the silence

More than one million Igbos died following the unilateral declaration of an independent republic of Biafra in 1967.

Nigeria’s military urged to be cautious

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State attributed the rising tension to the presence of soldiers. The Nigerian army is carrying out a military operation codenamed “Python Dance II” to tackle what it says is rising crime in the region.

However, video footage and pictures showing some military officers allegedly torturing pro-Biafra supporters have triggered anger, particularly on social media. The Nigerian army has promised to investigate the matter and punish those found guilty.

Nigeria Soldaten (AFP/Getty Images)Nigeria’s army has previously denied accusations of human rights violations

“As always we call on Nigeria’s military, while carrying out their constitutional obligations, to respect the human rights of all Nigerians,” Amnesty International spokesperson in Nigeria, Isa Sanusi said.

“They have their own rules of engagement and their own code of conduct; we are always calling on them to respect this code of conduct while they are out in the field.” For Sanusi, no one should end up as a victim of human rights violations as a result of their [military] activities.

Read more:  Amnesty accuses Nigerian army of killing 150 Biafran protestors

In 2016, at least 150 Biafra supporters were killed at peaceful protests according to Amnesty International.  Those figures were however dismissed by the military and police.

cm (AFP/Reuters)

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BIAFRA: NIGERIA’S VICE-PRESIDENT SAYS SECESSIONISTS AND ETHNIC INCITERS WILL ‘FACE FULL FORCE OF LAW’

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Terrorist Attack On Mali Resort Leaves 2 Civilians Dead

Nigerians agitating for the secession of Biafra or trying to whip up ethnic tensions in the country will be met with the “full force of the law,” according to the country’s vice-president.

The West African country has witnessed a rise in pro-Biafra sentiment in recent years. Biafra was an independent republic that existed between 1967 and 1970 in southeast Nigeria; it was reintegrated into the country after a brutal civil war, in which at least a million people were killed.

In response, a coalition of groups from northern Nigeria—calling itself the Northern Youth Groups— issued an ultimatum earlier in June, calling for Igbos—an ethnic group that made up the majority of Biafra’s population—to leave the north, where the biggest ethnic group is the Hausa-Fulani, or face forced eviction.

Biafra protesters Ivory CoastPro-Biafra supports demonstrate with placards in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, during commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Nigerian civil war on May 30. Nigeria’s vice-president has said that calls for secession violate the country’s constitution.SIA KAMBOU/AFP/GETTY

The call, which came weeks after commemorations were held for the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Biafra’s independence, was condemned by Nigerian politicians. The governor of Kaduna State, where the ultimatum was issued, ordered the arrest of the group’s leadership.

Read more: Ahead of the Biafran War anniversary, ethnic tensions are flaring up in Nigeria again

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo—currently the acting president as President Muhammadu Buhari recovers from an unknown illness in the U.K.—met with traditional Igbo rulers from southeast Nigeria at the state house in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Sunday.

Osinbajo stated that both “the agitations for secession and the ultimatum to leave the Northern states are wrong and a violation of our constitution,” according to a statementfrom the Nigerian government.

“Let us not be in any doubt about the fact that the federal government [of Nigeria] is committed to ensuring that our country remains united. And that anyone who violates the law in the manner such as we are seeing all over the place will be met with the full force of the law,” said Osinbajo.

Calls for Biafran independence have been on the increase particularly since Nnamdi Kanu, a British-Nigerian and the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), rose to prominence. Kanu was arrested in the Nigerian city of Lagos in October 2015 and charged with treasonable felony. He was held for almost two years without trial before being released on bail in April.

Kanu’s detention led to widespread IPOB protests, some of which ended in violence. Amnesty International said that Nigerian security forces had killed at least 150 pro-Biafra activists between August 2015 and November 2016; some were reportedly killed in extrajudicial executions. The Nigerian military denied it had used unnecessary force and said that the protesters were violent.

The Biafran war began in July 1967 after an ex-Nigerian military officer, Odumegwu Ojukwu, declared Biafra’s independence on May 30, 1967. Nigerian military forces—with overseas support from countries including Britain—blockaded Biafra’s borders, forcing many in the territory to starve to death.

The war was preceded by the flight of many Igbos from other parts of Nigeria to their traditional homelands in the east. Igbos had faced persecution following a 1966 military coup carried out by mainly Igbo officers.

“Nigeria’s unity is one for which enough blood has been spilled and many hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost. Many have paid for the unity of this country with their lives and it will be wrong of us as men and women of goodwill in this generation to toy with those sacrifices that have been made,” said Osinbajo.

The vice-president has been leading Nigeria for much of 2017 as President Buhari—who fought on the Nigerian side in the civil war—has remained conspicuously absent from office.

Buhari spent almost two months in the U.K. earlier in the year to receive treatment for a mystery ailment. He returned to Nigeria in March, only to depart again on May 7. The Nigerian government has provided little information on his health and has not set a date for his return.

Courtesy Newsweek

Abducted Chibok schoolgirl escapes Boko Haram

A group of 82 girls, abducted in 2014 by Boko Haram insurgents from their Chibok, Nigeria, school, were returned to the capital, Abuja, on May 7. One more girl escaped and is traveling to Abuja, the Nigerian government announced Thursday. Photo courtesy the Nigerian government/EPA

May 18 (UPI) — A girl abducted in 2014 by the Boko Haram insurgent group has escaped, a Nigerian government official confirmed.

Femi Adesina, spokesman for acting President Yemi Osinbajo, said Wednesday that Osinbajo made the announcement during a Federal Executive Council meeting, adding that the unidentified girl is traveling to the capital, Abuja. She will be reunited with 82 others, of a group of about 276 kidnapped from a Chibok school on April 14, 2014, who were freed 12 days ago, he said.

President Muhammadu Buhari, 74, returned to Nigeria from a medical stay in London to meet the girls on May 5, before returning to London.

Adesina also said Nigerian military forces were capable of defeating Boko Haram, a terrorist group involved in an eight-year campaign for an Islamist caliphate in Nigeria that has cost thousands of lives and displaced millions. Addressing concerns that the depleted Boko Haram is regrouping in Nigeria’s Sambisa forest, Adesina commented, “One thing you can be sure of is that this government has the capacity to confront any security challenge that arises. So, if they are regrouping they will be flushed out again. I believe that we have seen the worst of that insurgency. We are in a mopping-up process and I believe the mop-up would be completed.”

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Nigeria’s Buhari tells parliament he has resumed duties: spokesman

By Felix Onuah
ReutersMarch 13, 2017
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, returning from a medical trip from London, is welcomed by governors in Abuja
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, returning from a medical trip from London, is welcomed by governors in Abuja, Nigeria March 10, 2017. Presidential Office/Handout

By Felix Onuah

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has told parliament that he has resumed his duties following seven weeks of medical leave in Britain, his spokesman said on Monday.

Shortly after returning from London on Friday, the 74-year-old former general said he was feeling “much better” but wanted to rest over the weekend, raising questions about his ability to run Africa’s biggest economy and most populous nation.

Nigeria’s economy shrank 1.5 percent in 2016, its first full-year contraction for 25 years, largely due to low oil prices and attacks on energy facilities in the OPEC member’s Niger Delta oil hub last year.

Buhari had made his deputy Yemi Osinbajo acting president during his absence. The vice president, a lawyer who is seen as more business-friendly than Buhari, played an active role in driving policy changes during the president’s absence.

Both men were seen by a Reuters reporter walking together at the presidency offices on Monday.

A statement from the president’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, quoted from Buhari’s formal letter to the Senate and the House of Representatives, saying: “I have resumed my functions as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Buhari first led the country from 1983 to 1985 after taking power in a military coup, and was elected two years ago. Since then he has travelled to Britain several times to consult doctors. Details of his condition have not been disclosed.

(Additional reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Nigeria’s Buhari officially back to work: presidency

Ola Awoniyi,AFP 8 hours ago

Nigerian vice president says he has Buhari’s approval for everything

By Felix Onuah
ReutersMarch 13, 2017
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari speaks after returning from a medical trip from London to Abuja
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari speaks after returning from a medical trip from London to Abuja, Nigeria March 10, 2017. Presidential Office/Handout via REUTERS
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By Felix Onuah

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday he had the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for “practically everything”, after taking the reins as acting president during Buhari’s absence for medical treatment in Britain.

During the almost two-month absence, acting president Osinbajo drove policy changes, concluding an economic reform plan required for a World bank loan. The central bank devalued the naira for retail customers after a state body chaired by him called for an urgent review.

Top political posts in Nigeria are traditionally shared out to reflect the country’s geographic and religious divisions. Buhari is a northern Muslim, while Osinbajo is a pastor from the mainly Christian south.

Buhari, who returned to Nigeria on Friday, has written to parliament notifying lawmakers that he has resumed his presidential duties, his spokesman said on Monday.

“We just had a very long meeting … basically trying to bring the president up to speed as to some of the things we have done while he was away‎,” Osinbajo told reporters later in the day.

“By and large, practically everything I discuss fully with him and have his endorsement before we are able to go on and do anything at all.”

Buhari did not address the media after the meeting in his office. The president said on Friday he was feeling “much better” but wanted to rest over the weekend.

“His readiness for work is not in doubt at all,” Osinbajo said. “He is very well.”

During Buhari’s absence the acting president traveled several times to the commercial capital Lagos and the Niger Delta oil hub in an effort to calm tensions with militants attacking oil facilities. Buhari had been accused of neglecting the two regions.

Buhari, who first led the country from 1983 to 1985 aftertaking power in a military coup, was elected to power two years ago. Since then he has traveled to Britain several times to consult doctors. His illness has not been disclosed.

(Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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