PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan headed off to Rio, Brazil, Tuesday to attend the World Earth Summit. It is not as if, important as the summit is, it could not go on without him. His choice of Rio over the security of his people was a poor decision.
Hundreds died last Sunday. More were injured. All the President could think of was hopping off to a summit, where he would at most have photo opportunities. Whatever benefit the summit has for Nigeria could be obtained in his absence. He should have devoted himself to resolving the crisis. Was his trip to Brazil a demonstration of indifference to the blood shed at home?
If he was already in Rio and these killings were going on, would he not have returned to manage the situation? Should we remind him of his oath of office, taken barely a year ago?
He swore to uphold the Constitution, which in Section 14 (2b) states, “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” Where is the welfare in this government’s policies? Where is the security for our people? Will the President find them in Rio?
A dangerous difference between Sunday’s killings in Kaduna State and ones that preceded them is that there were reports of reprisal attacks. Revenge attacks change the entire equation and can extend the Nigerian crisis to unanticipated frontiers. Have the people finally lost confidence in government protecting them?
Hardly a Sunday passed since the beginning of 2012 without a church being attacked. It could be in Abaji, Adamawa, Bauchi, Damaturu, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri, Potiskum, Taraba, Yobe. Where the killings are not in churches, gunmen repealed at robbery operations return to take out as many people as they like. Yobe and Zamfara are examples.
Sundays start or end with horrendous stories of worshippers losing their lives from bombs as they worship. The helplessness of attacked worshippers seemed to have been a strong factor in the attacks continuing.
Governments react mostly through condolences and toothless threats to the attackers who know that they are above the law. The level of impunity worries Nigerians, governments ask for patience. Should the President not have stayed home to oversee the brewing crisis?
While killings were on in Kaduna churches, later on the streets, militants undergoing rehabilitation clashed with Igbinedion University students in Okada, there were bombings in Yobe, and bombs planted in Ahmadu Bello University’s chapel.
It is important to preserve the earth, but Nigeria’s present is so tenuous that many do not bother about the future, which they know depends a lot on the present. The President knows these more than other Nigerians.