IT TOOK the recent revelations of a letter written about six months ago by the governor of Kaduna State governor to President Muhammadu Buhari for Nigerians to realise that indeed the President tolerates opposing views. Ordinarily some cynics would have gone to town with the news that the President does not accede to dissenting voices. In fact, if we recall criticisms coming from some very close quarters of Mr. President and his inclination to listen, read and sometimes respond in the most responsible and objective manner, then it shows that his capacity to absorb opposing views is not only strong but elastic. Due to his military background, a lot of people tend to hold the view that his administration will clamp down on the media and other strident opposing voices, but nearly two years into his administration, Nigerians are freer than ever in expressing their freedom of speech. Some people can argue that freedom of expression is a basic tenet of democracies across the globe, and I am quick to concur except that in the case of President Buhari there were reservations and scepticisms. However, with benefit of hindsight it is easy to conclude that his love for democracy knows no bounds. As a matter of fact, the media have come to realise that President Buhari, rather than loathe the media, loves them and sees them as partners in the task of nation building. Lest we forget, President Buhari had told an expectant nation in 2003 that after the collapse of the Berlin wall he became a converted democrat, hence he contested for Nigeria’s presidency for a record four times before winning the election. It follows therefore that by embracing democracy without any inhibitions, he was also obliged to abide by its sacred tenets and obligations, one of which is freedom of expression. It is therefore not far-fetched to read such letters, articles, interviews, and comments by some close acquaintances like Nasir el-Rufai, his own wife Aisha or other vitriolic columnists. While in the case of the former, they always tend to proffer constructive criticisms to help in moving the nation forward, there is a view in some quarters that what impels the latter in their vitriolic media attacks is anything but altruistic. In questioning the motive for some criticisms, perhaps it is necessary to state here that constructive criticisms are usually helpful in bringing development to any community or nation. Constructive criticisms also help to hold governments accountable to the people, and in the case of Nigeria, it is instructive to note that President Buhari devotes time to read and listen to the views and opinions of the people he governs. In most cases, he had taken some very harsh and unfriendly criticisms in his stride, and even went ahead to act decisively on them. By this, it can be deduced that in his bid to serve Nigerians faithfully, President Buhari has continued to act in ways that tend to promote national peace, love and tolerance. Presently, his administration has commenced reconstruction of major road infrastructures in the South East region, whereas the PDP administrations which the zone clung to for sixteen years had no significant project to show for the support they received from the zone. Therefore to contextualize Governor el-Rufai’s letter to President Buhari in which he tried to dissect the problems inherent in the Nigerian polity under him, one is constrained to draw the conclusion that the governor appears to be putting unnecessary pressure on a performing president. .Enekwechi, journalist and politician, writes from Abuja via [email protected] com

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