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Buhari’s Igbo political grooves

by News Echo

There is a striking point of animosity between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Igbo in South East Nigeria. To substantially appreciate the depth of this indifference, take a closer look at this picture: Buhari was the pioneer minister of petroleum. Under his watch, the idea of Nigerian refineries was conceptualized. In the organ, Buhari recommended for four refineries to be established as follows: two in Port Harcourt, one in Warri and the fourth in Kaduna.

At the time of that arrangement during the General Olusegun Obasanjo regime, South East was littered with the black gold otherwise known as crude oil. It was shocking and disheartening that Buhari never recommended a refinery in the South East. He did not even care to locate any in the South West.

Even before Obasanjo’s emergence, Buhari, according to history books, was an influential member of the late General Murtala Muhammed military junta that created the 19 states. Buhari attended all the meetings where it was discussed and agreed that the entire South East would be lumped into two states of Anambra and Imo. He never raised any objection to it. Alas, the 19 states were created. The South West, perhaps, Obasanjo made case for the zone, got four states to wit: Ogun, Ondo, Oyo and Lagos. What was known as Eastern Minorities or now South –South, had Rivers and Cross Rivers – meaning, the region was made equal with South East. And now, South –South has six states while South East boasts of just five.

When circumstances placed him as the head of state in 1984, his Supreme Military Council, SMC, had a composition of 18 members and only Ebutu Ukiwe was the only Igbo. Even after the attorney general, Chike Offordile, was called to SMC, it was just one Igbo out of 19. It is also on record that Buhari as head of state voted against Dr. Peter Onu in an election in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the position of secretary of OAU (AU). He rather voted for a fellow Fulani from Niger Republic. Of course, Buhari never executed any project in South East during his tenure as the chairman of PTDF of the General Sani Abacha.

So far in his five years outing as the president, Buhari has only merely given Ndigbo what can be called bronze medals – that is, not up to 10 percent representation of appointments, project locations and establishments. For instance, according a Daily Trust publication of June 22, 2020, Buhari made 141 appointments in 81 days, that is within the covid-19 lockdown, and just about 10 were Igbo!

In the same vein, the Punch newspapers of September 15, 2019, noted that Buhari had approved 15 road projects worth over N182bn. As the paper reported it, “President Buhari at the maiden Federal Executive Council meeting of his renewed mandate, approved contracts for roads across Nigeria, worth over N182bn, Presidency has said. The   information on the Instagram handle of a presidential aide, Buhari Sallau, the following are the approvedroad projects:1. Lagos-Badagry express road to Benin Republic, at the cost of N15,297,762,234.22, construction of two bridges at Kontagora-Rijau road at the cost of N1.12bn, construction of additional lane on Kano-Katsina road, at the cost of N9.4bn, construction of Kontagora-Bangi road in Niger State, at the cost of N20.3bn, rehabilitation of outer Marina-Bonny Camp road and Eko Bridge, at the sum of N9.2bn, rehabilitation of Ibori-Idomi western road in Edo State at the cost of N4.5bn, construction of Ilogu-Ireni road in Kwara and Osun states, at the sum of N18.41bn, construction of Wudil bridge along Kano-Maiduguri road, at the cost of N2.5bn, rehabilitation of Wukari-Ibi road in Taraba State, at the sum of N12.3bn , construction of Baro Port road in Niger state at the sum of N10.6 billion, rehabilitation of Ajingi-Kafin Hausa road in Jigawa State at the cost of N25bn, rehabilitation of Aba-Owerri road at the cost of N6.98bn, rehabilitation of Kaliyari-Damaturu road in Yobe State at a cost of N16.9bn, construction of Yaba-Yangoji road in the Federal Capital Territory, N17.3bn and rehabilitation of two outstanding sections of Nnewi-Okigwe road in Imo and Anambra states at the sum of N12.7bn.

Consider the distances of the roads across the zones, considering the amount of money involved and confirm that ranking of the contracts allotted to South East. It was also reported On December 4, 2019, Buhari was constructing about 524 roads across the country but few were awarded in the South East.

The construction and reconstruction of railway lines should go down well as Buhari’s biggest project so far in his five years administration. At the last count, Buhari had spent over $150bn on railways but not a single line crisscrossed the South East! Under Buhari, four military universities have been established all in the north, without any in the South, of course, none in the South East. They are Nigerian Army University, Biu, Borno State. Two, Nigerian Air Force University, Bauchi. Three, Air Force Operations Command, Bauchi. And University of Transport, Daura. You see now! This is still a country that professes One Nigeria.

Probably, the construction of the $2.8b 614km of Ajaokuta –Kaduna – Kano (AKK) natural gas pipeline which Buhari flagged off on Tuesday June 30, 2020 in Ajaokuta, Kogi State, is the truest manifestation that the president is really in a groove of politics with the South East.

The 614kms – long natural gas line, as a publication reported it, is phase one of the Trans – Nigeria Gas Pipeline Project (TNGP) to be done on a build – and – transfer Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis. It will transport 3,500 million metric standard cubic feet per day of dehydrated gas from several gas projects located in Southern Nigeria. The three phases are: One is 200kms long and it is between Ajaokuta and Abuja and it will cost $855m. The second is 193kms between Abuja and Kaduna at the cost of $835m. The third phase is 221kms long between Kaduna and Kano at the cost of $1.2bn. As usual, the South is not represented, and the South East is not considered. Yet the gas is generated from the South East and South – South zones.

In case you do not know, Buhari had once made about 209 federal board appointments and there were about 10 or 15 South East wards in the list. You can see why it was very easy to impeach successive Igbo president of the senate during Obasanjo presidency. There are 109 senators and only 15 are from South East. There are 360 federal house of representatives and the least are from the South East. Nigeria is a federation of six zones and 36 states. Other zones have six states with the North West having seven, but South East can only boast of five. There are 774 local government councils in Nigeria and the South East has the least, about 95 when Kano has 44 and Oyo 38. Add 44 and 38 = 82, almost the number in the South East. There are 52 army bases in the country but only five are in the South East. Since General Aguiyi Ironsi was assassinated on July 29, 1966, no Igbo had ever led Nigeria.

These are the facts that make Biafra agitation very attractive to Igbo youths.

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