by Azuka Onwuka
Even when it is not publicly disclosed, the issue that bothers even the most loyalist of President Muhammadu Buhari is his capacity to show insensitivity, especially when human life is involved. Unfortunately, no matter the length and breadth and depth of the complaints, he just carries on as he has decided.
The worry is whether Buhari does not care about the lives of those he leads. Is it that he is not bothered or is it that there is something he knows that those he leads do not know and may never understand?
This past weekend, President Buhari displayed such insensitivity again with his visit to Kano for the wedding of the son of the Governor of Ogun State and the daughter of the Governor of Kano State. Twenty two governors were present at the wedding.
In different states, there have been killings perpetrated by groups like Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram, and others, as well as other natural disasters like flooding. Two weeks ago, some 110 girls were kidnapped in their school in Dapchi, Yobe State. Buhari has not visited Yobe State or any of the states where people were killed. He has ignored all of them and carried on as if it is normal for these deaths or disasters to occur. It is either that he is busy receiving his classmates in his hometown or he is receiving governors who have come to tell him that he is the only person that can govern Nigeria from 2019.
Interestingly, while he ignores all the states where these tragedies have occurred, he has found time to attend to political or social functions in different states, including neighbouring states where these disasters have occurred. His weekend visit to Kano for a wedding ceremony at a time he had not visited Benue or Taraba or Kaduna or Zamfara or Yobe or Borno, after the recent series of tragedies and deaths that had hit these states, was in tune with that strange attitude he displays.
Surprisingly, these states all voted for him in the 2015 presidential election. Therefore, one cannot say that he is angry at them for not voting for him.
On issues like rebuilding the economy, creating employment, defeating insurgency, revamping dilapidated infrastructure, and the like, a President will need time and money to achieve results. These are external factors that a leader does not have absolute control over.
However, when it comes to visiting a people who have witnessed a disaster, or consoling such people, or taking actions that will assuage their sorrow and pain, it does not require time and money. The factors are internal and personal. One can wake up and take such an action. And such an action helps to calm frayed nerves and communicate to the people that their President is humane. The Presidency does not need to spend money on producing and airing a commercial entitled, “The Human Side of Buhari,” a title which ironically implies that the President is not human.
Pastor Tunde Bakare, Senior Pastor of Latter Rain Assembly and former running mate to Buhari, expressed his misgivings about the wedding visit thus:
“Forgive my ill-mannerism, but I could not comprehend why a governor will celebrate the wedding of his daughter, and another governor’s son, on the front pages of newspapers, flashing it before our eyes, when other people’s daughters are in captivity.
“If any of them had lost a daughter in that captivity, would they celebrate that way? I know the Bible says rejoice with them that rejoice, but I do not know what the President of Nigeria was doing there.
“And somebody came to say, let me explain to you, it is Islamic tradition, before this time, about January, they had agreed, that he (Buhari) would be the one to give the bride away and (Bola) Tinubu would be the one to pay the bride price, and present the son, and they agreed long before now.
“I looked at him and said the President of Nigeria wanted to come to my daughter’s wedding, and I said to him, Sir, don’t come. That is beneath your office. Face the work of the state and keep serving.
“And 22 governors showed up to mark register, when 110 daughters of citizens of your nation were captured by Boko Haram that you said you have already technically defeated?
“It just shows how insensitive our leaders are. We have got to a stage that our President has become a king and a monarch. That his son who rode his pleasurable bike that almost claimed his life will be returning from an overseas trip, where he had received special healthcare that Nigerians cannot afford, that it took a whole minister of state to go and welcome him, because he has no job.”
Sadly, before Buhari became the President in 2015, he consistently condemned acts like this. He condemned the way the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls was handled by his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan. He condemned Jonathan and the PDP for holding a party event shortly after the kidnap of the girls. He condemned the inability of that administration to stop the killings by Boko Haram and promised to eliminate Boko Haram and their killings.
One could understand if Boko Haram is proving difficult to eradicate, but how does one explain that the President does not show that he truly cares about those who are killed on a weekly basis or their relatives as well as those who have been kidnapped and their relatives who are in distress over the fate of their daughters or siblings? What does it cost to show concern? What does it cost to visit the scene of a tragedy? What does it cost to cancel a social or political event that had been scheduled many months before but coincides with a major tragic event? Why is it easier for President Buhari to attend social or political events but ignores areas where his compatriots are in mourning?
It is only President Buhari who can answer these questions. But it beats reason that such a man who gave everybody the impression that he was deeply concerned about the plight of Nigerians, a man who shed tears while talking about his desire to lead the nation, a man who packaged himself as a friend of the commoners, a man who promised to lead from the front, a man who condemned the insensitivity, frivolity and waste of his predecessors, would find it difficult to visit his compatriots at the hour of their sorrow but find time to go partying while those compatriots mourn.
The metamorphosis — or unravelling – of Buhari is inexplicable. Even his worst critics could not have predicted that he would be this insensitive about the plight of the same people he so passionately sought to lead for over 10 years.