President Jonathan and the Baga Gaffe – CPC
On 16th April, 2013, there was armed confrontation between insurgents and the Military in Baga, a small fishing community in Nigeria’s border with Chad, which resulted in horrific destruction of lives and property. The humongous carnage, quite understandably, attracted the outrage of Nigerians from across the Land and the International community. The Nigerian Federal authority has so far shown more interest in controlling the information on the casualty figures, as different statistics continue to be bandied around, than in ensuring rehabilitation of the Victims of the Baga disaster.
What is more galling is the refusal of President Goodluck Jonathan in visiting the area to get first-hand information after more than two weeks of this unfortunate incident. It would be recalled that on 1st March, 2013, the Progressive governors of the yet-to-be-registered All Progressives Congress (APC) walked on the streets Maiduguri in a manner that befuddled the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). In a clear obfuscation of the issues, the motley of spin-doctors in the Nation’s presidency responded that the long-overdue visit of the President was pre-empted by these governors. It is our belief that the refusal of the President in visiting Baga does not only show insensitivity but is a conduct that is not statesman-like for those that bear presidential authority over a jurisdiction!
On 7th September, 1980, President Shehu Shagari visited Ibadan, Oyo state within days of the Ogunpa flood disaster. On touring the areas affected by the devastation which left 240 people dead and thousands rendered homeless, he quipped: “I have seen real disaster!”
On 28th January, 2002, President Olusegun Obasanjo visited Ikeja Military Barracks barely 24 hours after bomb explosions had destroyed lives and property. In a rare show of empathy for the distraught victims – including women and children- who had lost loved ones and rendered homeless, the President preferred to tread bare-footed!
Shortly after the Boston Marathon Bombing, President Barack Obama was on hand to offer words of comfort to the bereaved and assuage the pains of the wounded. Thereafter, he made pronouncements that sent clear message of his strength of character as the Nation’s commander-in-chief.
The wider implication of President Jonathan’s demeanour is seen in his refusal to embark on duty tours to the Servicemen that are daily hazarding their lives for the Nation’s security. As a Party, we belief that the gravitas of the authority of the Commander-in- chief is not just in adornment of ceremonial Military wears on special occasion but in providing the right leadership that galvanizes a followership geared for greater service and commitment to the National cause.
We hereby remind the President that part of his oath of office is to preserve the fundamental objectives and directive principles of State policy in chapter two of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Firmly entrenched in this section is the declaration that the purpose of government shall be the security and welfare of the people. The aloofness evinced by the President to the plight of the Baga people, is in our opinion, an infraction of this relevant provision of the Nigerian Constitution. We consider this conduct as very unacceptable.
God bless Nigeria.
Rotimi Fashakin (Engr.)
National Publicity Secretary, CPC.
(Sunday, 5th May, 2013).
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