By Ismaila Chafe
Barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge to consider request by Igbo leaders for unconditional release of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), currently standing trial, IPOB had vowed to wage war against gunmen killing and maiming people in the South East zone of the country.
Buhari had in the week under review, made the pledge when he received a group under the aegis of Highly Respected Igbo Greats, led by First Republic parliamentarian and Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, at State House, Abuja, on Friday.
The president, who believed that the request runs contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers between the Executive and Judiciary, however, told the 93-year-old statesman:
“You’ve made an extremely difficult demand on me as leader of this country. The implication of your request is very serious. In the last six years, since I became President, nobody would say I have confronted or interfered in the work of the Judiciary.
”God has spared you, and given you a clear head at this age, with very sharp memory. A lot of people half your age are confused already. But the demand you made is heavy. I will consider it.”
While stressing his policy of non-interference with the Judiciary, Buhari said when Kanu jumped bail, got arrested and brought back to the country, “I said the best thing was to subject him to the system.
”Let him make his case in court, instead of giving very negative impressions of the country from outside. I feel it’s even a favour to give him that opportunity.”
Others in the visiting delegation were; Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former Governor of Anambra, Bishop Sunday Onuoha of the Methodist Church, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, former President of Igbo socio-cultural group, Aka Ikenga, and Mr Tagbo Amaechi.
However, barely 24 hours after the president’s pronouncement on Kanu, IPOB, in a statement issued by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful on Nov. 20, completely disassociated the group from the activities of Eastern Security Network (ESN), saying that most of the killings in the Southeast were perpetrated by gunmen masquerading as members of its security outfit
Powerful, who warned the armed men to desist from killing innocent citizens, also cautioned the police to stop parading them as members of ESN.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) observed that it was a busy week loaded with numerous official engagements for the president, who returned from an official visits to Glasgow, Scotland, France and Durban in South Africa where he attended the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2021.
The president presided over the virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), on Wednesday, where the Council approved establishment of a Federal University of Sciences in Oturkpo, Benue as well as N27.4billion for execution of various projects by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and the Ministry of Works and Housing.
Buhari had on Nov. 18, hosted the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, at the presidential villa, Abuja, where he described the recent removal of Nigeria from watchlist of countries violating religious freedom, by the United States of America, as a welcome development.
The Nigerian leader noted that there was freedom of worship in Nigeria, and “no one is discriminated against on the basis of his or her faith.’’
On the EndSARS Probe Panel Report, Buhari said the Federal Government would allow the system to exhaust itself, and therefore, await pronouncements from state governments which set up panels to probe police brutality in the country.
On development of democratic ethos, Buhari said Nigeria had adopted the American model, “hook, line, and sinker, with its term limits. Those who have attempted to breach it were disappointed, if not disgraced.
“You are even lucky if you have two terms. Others try hard, and don’t get it. The American model has been accepted by Nigerians as the best.”
He noted that Nigeria and her neighbours had been living with the impact of climate change for a while, “which has seen the Lake Chad shrink drastically from its original size, and affected the livelihood of about 30 million people in the Lake Chad Basin countries.
“That is why the youths defy the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean to attempt emigrating to Europe.
Buhari also on Thursday met behind closed doors with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Speaking to State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, the speaker expressed optimism that the Electoral Bill recently passed by the National Assembly would soon be signed into law by the president.
According to him, the president has always supported direct primaries, adding that he has been a proponent from the very start.
Gbajabiamila said he was in the presidential villa to update the president on the happenings in the country as it affected the National Assembly in recent times.
The Nigerian leader also signed into law two important bills passed by the National Assembly, including the climate change bill.
The new Climate Change Act owes its origin to a bill sponsored by a member of the House of Representatives, Sam Onuigbo.
It provides for, among other things, the mainstreaming of climate change actions and the establishment of a National Council on Climate Change.
The Act also paves the way for environmental and economic accounting, as well as pushing for a net zero emission deadline plan for the country, according to a statement by Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s media aide.
The statement, issued on Thursday, in Abuja, also identified the second bill assented to by the President as the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (Amendment) Act, which amended the AMCON Act No. 4, 2010.
Buhari also received the Report of the Senior Executive Course 43 (2021) of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) , Kuru, Plateau State.
The report entitled, “Getting Things Done: Strategies for Policy and Programme Implementation in Nigeria,” was presented to the president on Thursday where he directed Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to study it on how best to ensure effective policy design and implementation with a view to implementing some of its recommendations.
The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, had attended as the Special Guest of Honour, the Graduation Ceremony of the Senior Executive Course 43, 2021 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, on Saturday.
Osinbajo had earlier on Nov. 18, presided over the meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) where Buhari’s approval of a fresh N656 billion Bridge Financing Facility to the 36 States was announced.
Dr Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, made the disclosure, saying the support was to help state governments to meet their financial obligations, especially the previous budget support facility due for repayment.
According to Ahmed, each state will receive N18.2 billion.
Ahmed said that the bridge facility was being processed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The president had earlier on Nov. 16, felicitated former President Goodluck Jonathan on his 64 birthday anniversary, which was held on Nov. 17.
He congratulated Jonathan for serving the country, and working for the peace and advancement of democracy on the African continent.
According to the president, Jonathan has continued to expand the boundaries of leadership, teaching many in the country the power of focus, consistency and diligence.
Also on Nov. 16, the Nigerian leader condemned the massacre of 15 people in Goronyo and Illela Local Government Areas of Sokoto State, saying that bandits are living in a fool’s paradise.
The president reassured Nigerians that his administration would not abandon them to their fate in the face of the existential challenge caused by banditry. (NAN)