By Bayo Adeyinka
There are certain statements that should never be uttered by any leader, especially one in a crisis situation. Words should inspire hope in a people desperately searching for anything to clutch at and not despair. Since words are a window to the soul, one can safely assume that the road is truly long-especially when you consider some of the President’s remarks during the Media Chat on Sunday.
‘Sometimes, you people know more than me’.
Did he actually say that? Oh, I wish that could have been edited before being broadcast to a live audience! Now, we know that in spite of the state of emergency, billions spent as security votes, hundreds of thousands of armed personnel and intelligence operatives at the beck and call of Mr. President and innumerable promises to guarantee security, the ordinary Nigerian knows more than the Commander-in-Chief. Since the ‘you people’ include the Principal of the Chibok Girls’ School and the National Head of the West African Economic Council among others, is it any wonder that our dear First Lady has been summoning hapless and helpless citizens over an issue in which they are supposed to be more informed than Mr President? Labaran Maku, please take note – we know more than the President, so teacher don’t teach me nonsense. The day a student knows more than the teacher, then the teacher is no longer relevant.
‘The Niger Delta militants were not terrorists. And I’m not trying to defend them’. Okay, so what were they? Freedom fighters? Is there anything Boko Haram has done that the Niger Delta militants did not do-except for bombing mosques and churches? MEND by its own admission bombed the Eagle Square, Boko Haram bombed the United Nations building- both are monuments in their own rights. Boko Haram abducted the Chibok girls, MEND and associates also kidnapped expatriates for ransom. Boko Haram killed many Nigerian soldiers and MEND waged a warfare over the marshy terrains of the Niger Delta and killed many security operatives. In April 2013, MEND claimed responsibility for killing 15 cops in Azzuzuama, Bayelsa State. Boko Haram targets religious symbols and monuments, MEND targets oil pipelines for economic sabotage.
What is even surprising is the refusal of the President to see the similarity between the leadership of Boko Haram and the militants. Abubakar Shekau is widely shown as having a thick beard around his neck while Asari Dokubo, one of the core leaders of the Niger Delta insurrection also wears a thick beard. What more proof does the C-in-C need to know that both are fingers on the same leprous hand?
‘We are receiving an unfair share of the global terror’. Pray, who else should bear the brunt of the seeds of terror sown over the years with the Almajiris of the north?
‘Nigeria will not be the first country, people in other countries do that. It does not affect our economy.’ This was the President’s response to the question on whether it was right to shut down the Federal Capital Territory for about a week because of the World Economic Forum. Where else do you shut down your own home just because you are hosting guests? And if he doesn’t understand that a shutdown of a few days will impact the productivity of a nation, then what does he understand?
‘If anybody steals billion, I am telling you, we will know, how can someone steal twenty billion? Do you know what twenty billion is? How and where did they transfer it?’. I lost it at this point. If after the return of $700m Abacha loot to Nigeria by the Swiss Government, another $458m was discovered by the United States and Mohammed Abacha is being tried for receiving stolen property worth N100.38b, you wonder how it became a wonder for anyone to wonder how it was impossible to steal twenty billion of anything- whether naira or dollars.
‘The issue of security, we are handling it. Let the parents [of missing Chibok schoolgirls] come forward and help us, and I promise we shall find the girls.]’ This statement shows that the fate of the Chibok girls lie solely in the use of private initiatives to organize their rescue. I could just imagine the South Korean President asking the grieving parents to help his government over the ferry disaster.
‘70% is stealing and not corruption. We catch a thief, we call it corruption. Corruption is over-used’. By the time he said this, I had shut down and go to bed. What is the point of the Media Chat anyway when there are more questions than answers.