President Muhammadu Buhari has visited Yobe state three weeks after the abduction of 110 school girls from a government school in Dapchi, Bursari Local Government Area.
Speaking to parents of the girls and some staff members of the school, the president rallied his audience to believe in his government’s ability to return the girls on the evidence of three things: the return of about 100 of the 274 girls kidnapped four years ago at Chibok, the negotiation and release of abducted Unimaid lecturers, and, most importantly, the “departure from the insensitivity of the past administration”.
According to the president, his government’s better sensitivity is shown in its better response to the Dapchi abduction when compared to the dancing antics of former president Goodluck Jonathan in 2014. This relies on the premise that Jonathan “looked the other way while the Chibok girls were taken away”.
Which begs the inquiry: if the Buhari government had not been looking another way, why would there have been a repeat of an abduction in Nigeria in the first place, hence necessitating a defence of better response?
Since 2015, there has continued to be regular attacks at different parts of the country by the terrorist group Boko Haram, leading to hundreds of deaths and displacement of communities. This is despite the multiple declarations of the government that the group has been defeated, including presentations by the Army to the president, of paraphernalia supposedly belonging to the leader and members the group. When these calamities are added to the spate of communal clashes across the country, some of which have occurred even with the president visiting the states, the picture is of one where the security score of the new administration fails to match the zero sum promises made on the campaign trail.
Before going to Yobe, the President was well received in Benue, despite repeated statements by the state governor Samuel Ortom that the federal government had all but looked the other way as far as considering intelligence on potential attacks to its residents earlier in the year was concerned. There, Mr Buhari, or the aides who write his comparative speeches, could not lay hold on any previous such mass killing perpetuated under the immediate past administration. The tone was more an appeal for people of the state to accommodate their neighbours, same neighbours who continue to defend their acts without any actions taken on them by law enforcement.
In entrusting him with the powers that make him responsible for the security of lives and properties through his powers as the Commander-in-chief, Dapchi parents and Nigerians in general hoped to score Buhari’s sensitivity fundamentally on his superior sense to sniff and avert danger before it happens, not in damage limitation or reputation management. His sensitivity was also expected to reflect in being aware of discrepancies in the obedience or disobedience of the orders he gives to security bodies. As he has confessed, the president appears not to have been very sensitive to the mindset of his Inspector General of Police on the directive to remain in Benue to prevent further deaths from occurring.
What was the president doing when the IG looked the other way?