By Rose Moses
This week, I had wanted to write on some ‘good news’ topic about Nigeria. But the search for such was tedious and eventually didn’t pan out.
Notwithstanding it was coming months after the massacre in Taraba and Benue states in particular by marauding Fulani herdsmen, I had thought the visits by President Muhammadu Buhari, who by virtue of his office is father of all, and who once said he belongs to everybody but belongs to nobody, was going to present such topic.
The visits were to take the president to Benue, Yobe, Zamfara and Rivers States, where scores of people were killed in various violent attacks recently.
In other words, I had thought the condolence visits by the president to those affected by herders/farmers clashes in the country, even if belated, could offer a breath of fresh air, away from all the sad tales that have dominated the public space.
The idea that the president, who had been accused of being aloof and insensitive to the killings, was finally visiting the troubled communities to sympathize with the victims, actually did. That, though, was before he started talking and acting at those venues.
In Taraba, for instance, the president said the number of persons killed in violent clashes in the Mambilla Plateau was more than “those killed in Zamfara and Benue states combined.”
Now, that statement would hit the nerves of many critics, who wonder if Nigeria is in some kind of killing competition, and why the president did not put figures to the tally, since by his statement, it would seem what was of interest to him was how many Nigerians were killed from state to state.
The statement has since been described as ‘not only morbid but ill-thought’ by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a position shared by many and which explained that the president’s planned visits to states affected by bloodletting and violence was not altruistic but a “cosmetic and a political after-thought that did not come from the heart.”
As if that wasn’t enough damage, the president, who last Monday finally made the long anticipated visit to Benue, would again release another shocker when he said he was not aware that the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris he directed to relocate to the state in the heat of the attacks moved, instead, to neighbouring Nasarawa state.
“I am not aware that the IGP did not spend 24 hours in the state as directed by me, I am getting to know this in this meeting,” the president said in Makurdi, while speaking to stakeholders during the condolence visit to the state.
Immediately the statement was made, social and also traditional media, expectedly, was abuzz with varied reactions, most of which were not complimentary to the president.
The development, in no small measure, subjected the president to lots of ridicule. And not a few wondered how a presidential directive to move to Benue with a view to check the reported cases of attacks on innocent citizens at the time could easily be flouted by the IGP.
Though the presidency, Tuesday, summoned the IGP to, perhaps, explain why he breached the presidential order, Nigerians are still livid. This is not necessarily because the IGP left the duty post in Benue for Nasarawa, since that had been in the public domain right from day one when the Benue governor, Samuel Ortom, kept hammering on the fact, but mostly because the IGP kept that away from the president.
And so, there have been calls all over the place for his sack. But whether that will happen remains to be seen.
Nonetheless, the President was also in Plateau state, earlier, and events trailing that visit are equally not pleasant. Indeed, they lay bare the battle between the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, and the governor, Simon Lalong.
The war of words between the two took another dimension after the visit when the minister accused the state governor of ‘misinformation’ over a bridge commissioned by the President during the visit in Jos.
Dalung, who also hails from the state, claims the bridge had been commissioned by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014.
And while we are still at it, and even when you would think the Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is the next best thing happening in the present dispensation, he springs up some ‘draconian’ ideas that you begin to have problem placing him where you hitherto thought he belonged.
Lagosians, couple of weeks back, woke up to the news of a hyper-inflated increase in Land Use Charge (LUC), which was escalated upwards 400 per cent by the Lagos state government.
Expectedly, residents are demanding a reversal, saying if the tax increase is allowed, Lagos state would be turned into a ‘toxic environment and a living hell,’ a development that will further impoverish over 17,000,000 Lagosians.
And of course, not forgetting the planned imposition of Yoruba language as means of communication and teaching in all Lagos state-owned institutions, her cosmopolitan nature notwithstanding, among others.
Now, you can see why my initial search for a different kind of topic was thwarted. So sad!