By Owei Lakemfa.
Michael Nnadi, eighteen, is no longer with us. He has become one more figure in the statistics of innocent Nigerians murdered by rampaging terrorists, bandits and kidnappers. When I look at his youthful face, I do not see a Seminarian, I see a blossoming young man who deserved to live; I see not a Christian, but a human being whose life, we as a people, failed to protect.
He was kidnapped at the Good Shephard Major Seminary, Kaduna with five of his colleagues and murdered even as negotiations went on for ransom. Involved in the attempts to free him was his grandmother, Mrs. Eunice Nwokocha who seemed the first person the kidnappers called to announce that her grandson needed a grave as he had been killed.
Imagine the impact it would have had if President Muhammadu Buhari had visited grandma Nwokocha and her surviving grandsons, Francis, Augustine and Raphael, commiserated with them and the Catholic community, vow to bring the murders to book and declared zero tolerance for killings whether of Christians, Muslims, indigenous religion adherents or atheists.
This would have been a million times more helpful than the President declaring uncritically and without verifiable facts that 90 percent of those killed in terrorist and banditry attacks are Muslims. He is Commander-in-Chief of the entire armed forces and security architecture; should Nigerians be subjected to massacres in the first place? Is it sensible that the President of a country talks of victims of senseless killings in terms of their alleged religious orientation? Is the Presidency incapable of thinking about these victims as human beings rather than as mere statistics? If this reaction is due to accusations that Christians are being persecuted by his government shouldn’t a Presidency with its head on its shoulders not elevate such discourse and lead it towards the perception that all human lives matter and not necessarily their religion? Is the Buhari government impervious to the fact that its actions, appointment of security chiefs, utterances and body language give the impression that it is promoting one religion above all others? If this is a perception, should it not move to dispel this perception rather than reinforce it?
We have had elected governments since the Tafawa-Balewa administration at independence, these include those of Yar’Adua and Jonathan, none was accused of religious parochialism; can’t this government see there are things it is not doing right? Things like jettisoning the constitutional Federal Character principle in appointments into federal agencies especially the security agencies.
In five years, Buhari and his crowd have set the country in reverse, in the process, knocking down institutions of national integration, economic, social and cultural inclusion and giving the impression that governance is about insults and being untruthful.
Just last week, the President visited Maiduguri in the face of another horrendous massacre of innocent people, and crowds booed him. Rather than go into reflection why people who just some months ago, allegedly awarded him millions of votes are now booing him, his minders as usual, were involved in diversions. Our people say when a dog that was always wagging its tail whenever he sees you, is now barking at you, you should know something has gone wrong and you need to do some correction.
Tragically, the Buhari government sees enemy action in every reaction of the Nigerian populace; it is becoming blind, deaf and unfeeling. I have always thought this government will rethink its policies and actions; begin to rebuild the country and mobilize the populace to collectively overcome our socio-economic and security challenges especially when we are at war with terrorists. But this government listens only to its own voice. While the Presidency wallows in the illusion that it is on top of the security situation, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) does not agree. It raised the alarm that: “These days, hardly does a day pass without some heart-rending news about kidnapping, armed robbery, violent attacks on and savage/ritual killings of innocent Nigerians.” Its conclusion is that: “ The level of insecurity in the country has reached an unacceptable crescendo that declaring a state of emergency on it appears not only necessary but also pressing.” But the falcon cannot hear the falconer.
When the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) reacted angrily to the beheading of Reverend Lawan Andimi, its Chairman in Michika Local Government in Adamawa state, rather than be understanding, the Presidency was insulting and unfeeling. It accused the central Christian body of not being Christ-like, mockingly saying: ‘Oh, CAN, this is not the mind of our Master.” The Buhari government added: “CAN says kidnappings and killings are shameful to a government that boasts that it has conquered insurgency. Boasts. So that is all that matters to CAN, as if it was an opposition political party? …the organization has been sounding too long like a political party.”
Then, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) led by Professor Ango Abdullhi dared to criticize President Buhari over insecurity and poverty in the country and the Presidency blew its top: “Hearing that title, you would think the body was a conglomeration of true elders. But the truth is that NEF is just Ango Abdullahi, and Ango Abdullahi is NEF…It is a quasi-organization that boasts of no credible membership, and its leader is akin to a General without troops.” Ironically, the general with troops has been utterly incapable of meeting the most basic security needs of Nigerians. Is Professor Abdullahi’s alleged “one man army” not far better?
In rounding off its base attacks on the NEF, the Presidency off loaded its usual tons of lies: “President Buhari steadily and steadfastly focuses on the task of retooling Nigeria, and discerning Nigerians know the true state of the nation. They don’t need a paper tiger to tell them anything.”
Previously, when youths demanded opportunities, the Presidency dismissed them as parasitic “lazy youths” When the populace demanded good governance and dividends of democracy, President Buhari had responded that he was not in government to serve the “5 percent” that did not vote for him, but the claimed “97 percent” that voted for him.
The country is in a bind; in the grip of a government that arrogates to itself all knowledge and wisdom. It is becoming the case of a dog that wants to go missing, it will become deaf to the whistles of its owner; the Buhari government is not listening to the people.
Since Nigeria is stuck with the Buhari government for the next three years yet we have to survive, I suggest the National Orientation Agency carries out an orientation for the Presidency on how not to endanger the country. For the religious-minded, let us pray that the Buhari government does not survive the country.