Buhari’s whirl­wind vis­its

Sunday Trust - - PAGE 3 COMMENT -

The whirl­wind tour of sev­eral in­ter­nal se­cu­rity-chal­lenged states that Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari started last Mon­day and is ex­pected to con­tinue this week should not be de­scribed as too lit­tle, too late. How­ever, it was a lit­tle bit late and many peo­ple will say that the Pres­i­dency hastily or­gan­ised the vis­its only af­ter an out­cry from the pub­lic.

Soon af­ter Buhari re­turned from Kano where he at­tended the so­ci­ety wed­ding of the chil­dren of Gover­nors Ab­dul­lahi Gan­duje and Abi­ola Aji­mobi, Spe­cial Ad­viser to the Pres­i­dent on Me­dia and Pub­lic­ity Femi Adesina an­nounced last Mon­day that the pres­i­dent would visit Taraba, Benue, Yobe, Zam­fara and Rivers states. All these states have suf­fered var­i­ous forms of trau­matic in­se­cu­rity in­ci­dents since late last year. In Taraba, Mam­billa mili­ti­a­men killed hun­dreds of Fu­lani cat­tle ranch­ers. In Benue, herds­men killed seventy peo­ple in a ru­ral com­mu­nity. In Zam­fara, ban­dits am­bushed and killed forty peo­ple in Bi­rane vil­lage. In Rivers, cultists at­tacked and killed a dozen peo­ple re­turn­ing home from New Year cel­e­bra­tions while in Yobe, Boko Haram gun­men kid­napped 110 school­girls.

Adesina’s state­ment said, “In view of re­cent ter­ror­ist at­tacks, crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties and com­mu­nal clashes in some states lead­ing to tragic loss of lives and kid­nap­ping of 110 school­girls, Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari im­me­di­ately tasked the Armed Forces and other se­cu­rity agen­cies to com­pile com­pre­hen­sive re­ports on the var­i­ous in­ci­dents. Hav­ing re­ceived and stud­ied the re­ports, the Pres­i­dent has de­cided to un­der­take an on-the-spot as­sess­ment of the var­i­ous oc­cur­rences and to meet and con­sole the com­mu­ni­ties af­fected.” Not a very con­vinc­ing ex­pla­na­tion.

Within hours of Adesina’s an­nounce­ment, Buhari ar­rived in Taraba State and met with po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and tra­di­tional rulers. He then went to Ghana for that sis­ter coun­try’s 61st in­de­pen­dence an­niver­sary and as soon as he re­turned, he went to Plateau State last Thurs­day for a two day visit. Though the state was not one of the states ear­lier listed, it too has had a long his­tory of in­ter-com­mu­nal vi­o­lence. Dur­ing his stay in Jos, Buhari launched the state’s Road Map to Peace, a five-year strate­gic peace plan.

Buhari is ex­pected to con­tinue his whirl­wind vis­its with a trip to Benue State to­mor­row. Un­like in Jos, where he re­ceived a warm wel­come, the at­mos­phere in Benue will be frosty though Gov­er­nor Sa­muel Or­tom tried to lessen the ten­sion by can­celling the planned mass burial of 23 vic­tims of a re­cent herds­men’s at­tack in Okpokwu. The fate of the re­main­ing vis­its is not clear be­cause Rivers State Gov­er­nor Nye­som Wike said he was not in­formed that Buhari will be vis­it­ing Rivers. The high­light of the vis­its is ex­pected to be Dapchi in Yobe State where 110 school­girls were re­cently kid­napped.

We ad­vise the Buhari Pres­i­dency to learn use­ful lessons from this episode. A pres­i­dent is the coun­try’s mourner-in-chief and the ul­ti­mate na­tional sym­bol. He should promptly visit ma­jor dis­as­ter scenes to com­fort and re­as­sure the vic­tims. Such vis­its should only be briefly de­layed for se­cu­rity rea­sons or in or­der not to in­ter­fere with emer­gency se­cu­rity or res­cue op­er­a­tions. Where the pres­i­dent is un­able to go, he should send the Vice Pres­i­dent or some other very se­nior of­fi­cial. He should never again stay away from scenes of ma­jor calamity only to turn up at so­ci­ety wed­dings.

A pres­i­dent is the coun­try’s mourner-inchief and the ul­ti­mate na­tional sym­bol. He should promptly visit ma­jor dis­as­ter scenes to com­fort and re­as­sure the vic­tims.

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