EMMANUEL UCHENNA UGWU
What does President Barack Obama do when a hate-drunk man enters a school building and shoots American kids dead?
The busiest and most burdened leader in the world suspends his routine and moves quickly to own the carnage as the ultimate guardian of the United States. He goes on air soon after the news breaks. He comforts the bereaved families and calms a shaken nation. He swears that America would visit the runaway killer with a condign punishment. He changes his itinerary and visits the devastated neighborhood as soon as possible.
What did our own Obama do after Fulani herdsmen destroyed farmlands, butchered forty eight human beings, and burnt down a church in Nimbo, Uzo-Uwani, in a three-in-one violation of the people’s livelihoods, lives and religion?
President Muhammadu Buhari, the sentinel of our homeland, did something that illustrates the age-old inhumanity and irresponsibility of Nigerian rulership: He observed the umpteenth terrorist attack on a peaceable Nigerian community and did nothing!
He waited for the governor of the depopulated state of Enugu to contact Aso Rock and request for an audience.
When Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi reported for the appointment, the Nigerian media styled his visit as an occasion for the governor to ‘’brief’’ the president.
The spin emanated from reflex factory of the Nigerian press. It was their salute to tradition.
A tradition in which order works in reverse. A setting where, in the aftermath of a humanitarian disaster, a healthy commander-in-chief rests easy in his office and waits for the governor to fly to Abuja to confirm the fairy tale.
The ‘briefing’ is a reverse condolence visit; the quest of a traumatized citizenry for the sympathy of the aloof leadership of their own country. It is an aberration. But it had to happen because Nigerian rulers are strangers to empathy. They are incapable of breaking out of the bubble they live in to acquaint themselves with the distress of the street.
Buhari received Ugwanyi with imperial condescension. The President hoped to earn praise for deigning to see the governor. Of course, a photo-op with his lowly caller would telegraph that he was magnanimous enough to pay precious presidential attention to the incident.
But Buhari failed to exude passable seriousness. The honesty inherent in his constitution foiled the attempt of his politician persona to enact a convincing make-believe reality. The pictures of his encounter with Ugwuanyi showed Buhari jesting with his awkward-smiling visitor. They looked as jubilant as if they had met… to celebrate the success of the massacre!
The pictures of an exultant Buhari and Ugwuanyi, people who were supposedly meeting for a ‘briefing’ on the bloody mayhem, were most incongruous. The pictures strongly suggest that State House photographers did not find Buhari possessed of the sobriety appropriate for the situation. So the media team was constrained to select from all the shots taken the ones in which the two men appeared to be least euphoric!
As a token meant to represent a presidential reaction to the nth mass murder executed by a roaming franchise of equal opportunity killers, the pictures were as provocative as the massacre itself.
For a president who, on day one made clear that in relating with the Nigerian people, he would be frugal with spoken words and extravagant with body language, the pictures speak volumes. They portray ghoulish humor, uncouth unconcern, and levity in the hour of national bleeding.
The images sick up the spectacle of his predecessor, Goodluck ‘I-Don’t-Give-A-Damn’ Jonathan, dancing ‘azonto’ at a political rally in Kano, less than 24 hours after a terrorist bombing killed scores of Nigerians and injured many others in Abuja.
Buhari, an otherwise business-minded man, looked so exhilarated in the pictures that it’s fair to guess that he may have proved a better dancer than Jonathan if a DJ was in that room playing ‘Godwin’!
For his part, Ugwuanyi looked like a fool laughing in spite of himself. As the face of Enugu people, the governor misrepresented the prevailing sepulchral mood of the home front. He sold the impression that Nimbo was a joke!
His coarse laughter was clearly a tribute of flattery… as his togging out in Babariga, the trademark dress of his host, for the ‘briefing’.
His response to Nimbo has been dictated by fastidious care for political correctness.
Before he rushed to Abuja, Ugwuanyi had dashed to the scene. His arrival coincided with the recovery of the mauled body of Ugwu Ogbu, an NYSC teacher serving in the village. The governor bore witness that the predation bordered on cannibalism. He shed tears.
But when it came time to speak, Ugwuanyi walked on eggshells. He kept his remarks anodyne. He neither condemned the attack in strong terms nor denounced the perpetrators. He played a milquetoast to escape the political consequences of being profiled and blacklisted as an adversary of the President’s tribesmen.
To compensate for his moral cowardice, Ugwuanyi victimized the victims: He directed them and the broader Enugu populace… to fast and pray for two days for God to rid us of the evil phenomenon!
In Aso Rock, his eyes were clean of tears. He was all smiles.
For Buhari, the pictures effectively branded him ‘comedian-in-chief’. They support the baked-in notion that he is unconcerned because he is a Fulani native and cattle farmer. He shares ethnic and vocational affinity with the bloodthirsty pastoralists. His sympathy lies with the vampires, not the victims.
And truly, Buhari has comported himself as if the rampant, routine, and ritualistic slaughters mean nothing. He has largely treated this recurring carnage as a non-issue. He has not expended a gesture of outrage on the conquistadors like he did for Sambo Dasuki, Nnamdi Kanu, the budget riggers, and pipeline vandals.
He has been unable to muster anger as he did in response to the sporadic assassinations that seized Nyesom Wike and Rotimi Amechi’s Rivers state in the buildup to the last elections.
Any triage of Nigeria’s current condition will easily confirm that the spread of the brutality of the herdsmen all over the map is the most serious threat to security of lives and property of Nigerians. But Buhari has declined to address it boldly.
The same Buhari, who as candidate, just a year ago, toured all parts of Nigeria, soliciting for votes, has refused to visit one of the many scenes of carnage. He has only made himself available to be ‘briefed’… in his place of comfort!
Incidentally, Nigeria’s seat of power is called Aso Rock. That accursed name validates the Nigerian presidency as an immobile, impervious, and insensitive edifice. And ‘Aso Rock’ seems to make human rocks out of its tenants, leaving them hard, impenetrable, unfeeling.
The killings have not moved Buhari, in body or spirit.
The killings of Udeni Ruwa, Nasarawa State on Januray 4, 2016 (between 12 and 38 people died). The killings of Demsare, Wunamokoh, Dikajam and Taboungo, all in Adamawa state on January 23, (between 30 and 60 people died). The killings of Agatu, Benue State onJanuary 10 (45 people died).
The repeat killings of Agatu on February 2 (7 people died). The killings of Tom Anyiin, Benue State on February 7 (10 people died). The killings of Abbi, Enugu State on February 11 (19 people disappeared). The third slaughter of Agatu on February 24 (between 300 and 500 people died). The fourth slaughter of Agatu on February 28 (9 people died).
The killings of Logo on March 7 (8 people died). The killings of Mbaya-Tombo on March 8 (12 people died). The repeat slaughter of Mbaya-Tombo on March 13 (2 people died). The third slaughter of Mabaya-Tombo on March 17 (15 people died). The killing of Ohali-Elu, Rivers State on March 29 (between 7 and 16 people died).
The killings of Angai, Dashole, Dori and Mesuma, Taraba State, on April 10 (between 15 and 44 people died). The killings of Moor, Benue State on April 18 (18 people died).
Here’s a scandalous irony, though: Between the start of this orgy of bloodletting and now, Buhari has visited eleven countries. Benin Republic, UAE, Kenya, and Ethiopia (January 2016); Britain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar (February 2016), Equatorial Guinea, United States, and China (March 2016). But the compulsive junketer –with ten usable planes at his disposal and penchant for week-long state visits–has yet to visit ONE of the assaulted villages in his country to see things for himself!
Even as the terrorism tourism continues, with more people being slaughtered in more places, and sorrow mixing with panic and race-baiting, Buhari has not so much as publicly acknowledged that Nigeria is facing an existential threat. He has yet to deem the national emergency worthy of his utterance. He is content to have Lai Mohammed say that the government was working ”silently” to end the insurgence!
Buhari cannot afford to recuse himself from combating the killer cowboys. His nativity, soldierly experience, and reputation as the conqueror of the Maitasine violent sect, make him most qualified to stop this egregious subordination of human lives under the hooves of cows.
After he announced that he has achieved the technical defeat of Boko Haram, President Buhari should not relax and watch its itinerant twin waste human beings like a legitimate blood sport.
It’s not a laughing matter that Nigeria has devolved into a vast abattoir!