On Monday, the president, Muhammadu Buhari met with APC governors under the aegis of Progressives Governors’ Forum at Aso Villa. The meeting according to newsmen who covered the event had 20 state governors in attendance. There were also senior cabinet members of the Buhari administration and some members of the APC party executives present according to reports. The same Monday, the President also held a meeting with the speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and reporters who monitored the proceedings from afar estimated that the meeting lasted for about an hour.
Another meeting also took place between the President and the Lagos state governor- Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Sanwo-Olu had flown from Lagos with A2 images of the previous Sunday’s pipeline fire explosion to give the President a “firsthand account” of events at Abule Ado where more than 20 lives were lost.
While it is good for the President to interface with his party men, stabilize things in a moment of dispute and keep the wheels of the party machinery oiled, many commentators are however disappointed that the President placed the survival of his party above the nation’s economic and social interests. Isn’t it strange that while the presidents of France and USA, prime ministers of Italy and UK are doing their all to keep the population safe and prevent the spread of coronavirus, even if it means taking the most drastic actions with dire consequences on their countries’ economic health, President Buhari and his party leaders are more interested on the chairmanship of the All Progressives Congress?
Many may argue that the coronavirus infection is not yet prevalent in Nigeria and that the president is at liberty to be mindful of the health of his party while he allows the health minister and officials at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to keep things under surveillance. Well, that is not completely true. Ghana yesterday barred all travellers- except Ghanaians- from coming into the country. Kenya, South Africa, Egypt and several other countries in Africa are also taking steps to keep their citizens protected and as we saw on television, the heads of government in the countries directly addressed the populace, assured them and announced the many measures government is taking to avoid a total economic meltdown.
Sadly, President Muhammadu Buhari has not deemed it fit to address Nigerians since the first incidence of the virus was first reported in the country at the end of February. He has remained silent and seemingly unconcerned with a public health emergency that has literally transformed business and social interactions in all parts of the world. I understand that the Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies are doing what they can to keep the citizens safe and avoid an uncontrollable outbreak. I also understand that there are serious checks at the airports before travellers are allowed into the country. As good as these measures are, they are not enough. Nigerians are scared, people are worried. They need to be assured by their President; they need to know that they are safe, that should the unexpected happen, that their Government would be there for them. They do not want terse statements filled with half-truths and misrepresentations from Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina. They want to know what their President thinks of the situation, what his government would do should 100, 000 Nigerians contact the virus. Is that too much to expect?
It is about time Buhari is told some home truth and this is from a standpoint of patriotism. Nigerians are disappointed; they are angry and sad at how this President treats them. How can a democratic President refuse to address the citizens? Is it normal for the President of a democratic nation not to have granted even one single interview to the local press in a whole year? Does Buhari not consider it appropriate to address the country amidst the chaos and uncertainty all over the place? In my opinion and I am sure many would agree with me, Buhari’s Presidency is a clear tutorial on how not to be a President. Sadly, the coronavirus outbreak has once again exposed how insensitive the man who begged for our votes has become to our plight. Tell me a President who prefers to attend to internal party affairs while his peers address a global pandemic and I would show you a fellow who is not worthy to lead even a small medieval community.
It is not just the Coronavirus calamity that has exposed the crass inattentiveness to national issues by the Buhari administration. On Sunday, more than 20 persons according to several media outlets and eyewitnesses lost their lives in a pipeline fire explosion at Abule Ado, Lagos. According to credible accounts, more than 50 houses and a hundred vehicles were burnt. It was a national tragedy and a responsible President ought to have been at the site of the accident hours after it happened to assess the situation and offer comfort to the grieving families.
Not Buhari. The man who moved the entire machinery of the Presidency to Argungu in Kebbi State last week for a fishing festival does not consider it important to personally offer his condolences to those who lost their lives in an accident that was totally preventable if the institutions of state like Fire Service and other emergency mechanisms were fully operational. Those individuals woke up on Sunday like every normal person and met their waterloo hours later through no fault of theirs.
Do you know why they died? They were unlucky to have been born into a country where human lives mean nothing to those who took an oath to make the security and welfare of the people their primary concern. Of what use is a Presidential statement to those young students at Bethlehem High School? What is the value of a tweet from the President’s official Twitter handle to a woman who lost all four children in an inferno that could have been prevented if the fire service officials had all the materials needed to function effectively? Sadly, the man who promised to make things work has abandoned the people, he only cares about party politics and nothing happening outside Aso Rock holds any meaning for him; except it is some jamboree in “his constituency.”
Weep for Nigeria.