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MOTION SANS MOVEMENT

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari’s one month in office can best be described as motion without movement, although one cannot categorically say that he has not hit the ground running. His first major action in office was to commit western nations, particularly the US and Britain, to the search for solutions to the Boko Haram menace. The US government has donated $5 million to the Buhari government to help fight the insurgents. The Boko Haram attacks have continued unabated since Buhari took office on May 29 2015.

President Buhari has also dissolved the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The dissolution is probably the biggest and most commendable action the President has taken since taking office. NNPC over the years is known to be replete with massive corruption and wastages of the country’s oil revenue.  Many therefore see the dissolution of its board as being on the right track in repositioning the Corporation for efficiency in maximizing the resources of the country.  Meanwhile, there is talk of a probe into the activities of the Corporation in the past couple of years to determine the extent of sleaze in the oil behemoth.

Though he was absent at the main summit where he was billed to deliver the keynote address, President Buhari also chaired the AU Security committee meeting of the AU Summit hosted by South Africa in June 2015. During the meeting, President Buhari, among other things, canvassed regional partnership in the fight against terrorism on the continent. Many however frowned at Buhari’s nomination of a virtually unknown foreign ministry official to deliver his keynote address at the main summit. Some even alluded that he was tactically avoiding a repeat of his gaffe when he addressed the media recently and referred to Germany as West Germany on the one hand and Chancellor Merkele as Angela Mitchell on the other.

President Buhari’s military streak was demonstrated when he ordered the bombing of the hideout of crude oil thieves in the Niger-Delta. This action sparked off wide criticism on account of the collateral damage visited on innocent victims including women and children.

Buhari’s harshest criticism so far has understandably come from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which has continued to lambast him for his inability, to date, to appoint ministers, special assistants and other political appointees one month after taking over. The Presidency’s response has been that intelligence checks are being carried out on would-be appointees as the President does not want to appoint today and fire tomorrow. The essence of the intelligence due diligence, according to Presidency sources, is to ascertain the integrity of those pencilled down for appointment as the task ahead demands utmost discipline and patriotism. The Presidency also explained that the delay is also caused partly by the late submission of handover notes by the Transition Committee. So far President Buhari has appointed retired Col Hamidu Ali as his Chief of Staff, Garuba Shehu as Head of Presidential Media team and Femi Adesina as Special Adviser on Media and Publicity. The appointments so far have been described as credible, although some query what they term the duplication of roles played by Shehu and Adesina.

By far the most challenging task for President Buhari however has been the crisis currently rocking his own party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). The immediate cause of the crisis was the recent National Assembly leadership elections in which Senator Bukola Saraki and Honourable Yakubu Dogara emerged as Senate President and House of Reps Speaker respectively, against the preference of the leadership of the APC. The phalanx of forces arrayed on both side of the battle line is led by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on the one hand and Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the other. While Atiku is backing Saraki and Dogara against the party leadership, Tinubu and the APC leadership insist that party preference is superior to any selfish individual aspiration and that the party supremacy must prevail.

Although Buhari has repeatedly said that he does mind working with whoever emerge as National Assembly leaders, the crisis currently rocking his part is seen as an unnecessary distraction that might mar his administration if he does not step in in time to quench the fire. This is because whatever happens within his party will definitely have a large influence on his performance. If his party members are not at peace with one another, they might sabotage one another`s efforts including his own efforts to bring that desired change that the people expect from him. Hence, he must as a matter of urgency put his party in order.

…AND THE OUTRAGE CONTINUES

Meanwhile, Ottawa’s controversial Conservative Senator Don Meredith has been dismissed from his party’s caucus after it was revealed by an online media, Toronto Star that he had improper sexual relationship with an 18 year old girl whose name is being withheld. The Toronto Star claims that the alleged girl told them that her sexual relationship with Meredith began shortly after she turned 16 and that they had several sexually explicit online chats; and later, their relationship progressed to kissing and touching. Their first sexual intercourse however occurred shortly after she attained the age of 18 before Meredith eventually broke off the relationship earlier this year.  The age of consent for sexual relations in Canada is 16, except “in cases of a relationship of authority, trust or dependency, when it increases to 18”, the online media said.

Meanwhile, the controversial Senator has not responded directly to the allegation but it is believed that he has hired the Ottawa law firm of Conway Baxter Wilson to represent him in investigations into the affair.

In the United States of America, the outrage continues over a church shooting in South Carolina. Just before he allegedly opened fire on members of a Bible study group at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in which nine African-Americans, including the state senator and senior pastor Clementina Pinckey were killed, Dylann Storm Roof allegedly sat and prayed with them. A tenth victim of the mass shooting was lucky to survive. According to the CNN “a snap chat video…. at the historic African-American church shows Roof at a table with the small group. Nothing in the footage suggests the carnage to come”.

Roof escaped immediately after the shooting. He was however captured the morning after the attack in a traffic stop in Shelby, North Carolina, approximately 245 miles from the scene of the incident.  A .45-caliber pistol was found in the car he was riding in during the arrest,   Many have expressed shock not only at the killings but also that the violence occurred in a church.

Dylann Roof, born April 3, 1994 in Columbia, South Carolina, to Franklin Bennett Roof, a carpenter, and Amelia “Amy” Cowles, a bartender, has been charged with nine counts of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. It is not clear what motivated the attack but reports say Roof went on a rant about the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the 2015 Baltimore protests that were sparked by the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. Reports also say Roof often claimed that “blacks were taking over the world” and reportedly told friends of his plans to kill people, including a plot to attack the College of Charleston.  His threats however were not taken seriously. One account quotes FBI as saying that Roof was in online communication with other white supremacist contacts who however did not appear to support his attack on the church.

Further reports of this unfortunate incident, as well as other developments, shall be made as events unfold. Meanwhile, our heart-felt condolences go to the families of the victims of the mindless attack.