By Buki Ponle
It is obvious that some Nigerians, although in their microcosmic minority, were dazed that in spite of their permutations and calculations, President Muhammadu Buhari returned to his motherland alive and into a spontaneous, tumultuous ovation.
The detractors played God; they used the inflammable weapon of religion, ethnicity and politics to divide and set the country ablaze, but their calculations failed.
They must have forgotten that he who God blesses, no one curses.
Sure, they haven’t given up, for they are back to their hatchet until they are consumed in their hurricane.
But come to think of it: the rumour that the President had died, just like the late President Umaru Yar’ Adua few years ago, created many doubting Thomases, and resorted to heightened fervent prayers across the country.
When the President arrived on Friday, some people still believed that it must have been his apparition that walked out of the presidential jet that landed in Kaduna, and out of the chopper at Aso Villa, and
not until the man was clutched by eager recipients that they came out of their trance.
Now, Nigerians are having the last laugh.
Across the land, Nigerians did not only jubilate, they danced in ecstasy and in demonstration of what seems to be genuine love and passion for their President, from Maiduguri to Calabar, from Yenagoa
to Lagos, and from Enugu to Katsina, welcoming home the man they care for, because he cares for them.
So instructive was the celebration in Maiduguri that it needs to be relived:
The residents described Buhari as their hero, saying they missed him so much during his 51-day medical vacation in the United Kingdom.
They had cause to be happy because Maiduguri, once a hotbed of Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, is now gaining its groove back thanks to the efforts of the rejuvenated military under President Buhari. Little wonder then that they went wild in ecstasy when they heard news of their hero’s arrival.
”I am very happy to hear the good news about the President’s return. We have missed him for quite some time now,” Malam Jubrin Gunda, a legal practitioner said.
” Buhari is the hero of our time because he gave us peace in Borno and in the North East in general. You can imagine what would have happened to us here if Buhari had not assumed leadership of the
country in 2015.”
A Professor of International relations, Lambert Archibong, summarises events while the President was away: ”While the President was away, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, effectively steered the ship of the state, unlike when (Olusegun) Obasanjo and (Abubakar) Atiku were in charge. They were a cat and a mouse which never saw eye to eye, an action which the country dearly paid for.
”The theatre command in the North East zone, code-named Operation Lafiya Dole, continued pounding the remaining obstinate Boko Haram insurgents, and on many occasions, to submission. The Niger Delta region has observed relative calm.
The Naira is gaining strength, thanks to the intervention of the Central Bank which has released more than 1 billion dollars to the market.”
While expressing relief on the President’s return, Rev. Fr. John Patrick, the Director, Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) of the Ijebu-Ode Catholic Diocese, said: “Now that he is back, we would like him to address the state of the economy and abuse of Nigerians in the diaspora, most especially the xenophobic attacks in southern Africa.
”He has done well with winning the war against insurgency, but now, we hope he can help put to rest the sporadic religious and cultural intolerance around the country like in Kaduna and Ile Ife. The mission to rebuild Nigeria continues and we are happy for his safe arrival.”
The President himself has responded to all the concerns. While thanking Nigerians upon his return, he said: ”This is a testimony that in spite of the hardship being experienced, Nigerians support the government in its effort to tackle our country’s challenges.
”The best way for me to repay you is to rededicate myself to serving you, protecting your interest and keeping your trust.”
Welcome back home Mr. President. Right-thinking citizens of Nigeria agree with you.