President Muhammadu Buhari had been accused in recent times of being fond of revealing key policy statements about the country to foreign media. His accusers argue that Nigerians deserve to know issues about key policies of government in the country first before they are revealed to the foreign media. So, when the news filtered in that Buhari was holding his first presidential media chat, many Nigerians grinned with eagerness to see a ‘repentant’ president take them on governance issues frontally, unlike when they had to depend on foreign media.
The presidential media chat is not new to Nigerians. Since the return of democracy in 1999, it became a fixture all Nigerians looked forward to. They see it as an opportunity to get their president answer questions on national issues. It is also an opportunity to test the intellectual capacity of the commander-in-chief. Critics and opposition alike have also made it a point of duty to always note and pick their next round of criticism from the chat.
So, it did not come as a surprise that last week Wednesday’s media cat which was the very first for the Buhari’s presidency turned out to be controversial. Mixed reactions have continued to trail the the two hours chat. Some Nigerians have praised President Buhari for not disappointing. They applauded his performance, saying it has reignited their confidence and belief that the president has what it takes to bring the much needed change to the country.
But there are others who have been criticising what they describe as the president’s dictatorial tendencies identified in the manner which he answered some questions. For this set of Nigerians, the president’s view about issues like the continuous detention of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki and the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu is vindictive and personalized.
Any hope of Dasuki and Kanu being released soon was dashed by President Buhari during his media chat. He told the four-member panel of journalists who engaged him on a wide range of national issues that the bid by both men to secure their bail may not see the light of the day anytime soon due to the enormity of the offense they were alleged to have committed.
Dasuki is facing trial for allegedly diverting and sharing over $2.2 billion dollars meant for arms procurement for the anti-Boko Haram war and sharing same to politicians and cronies of the immediate past administration, while Kanu is facing trial for spearheading the quest for an independent nation of Biafra. They had earlier been granted bail by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja. But as soon as their bail condition is met, they are said to have been rearrested by the State Security Services.