The furore over President Muhammadu Buhari‘s absence at the funeral ceremony of the late Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, on Saturday, is yet to settle.
Although loyalists of the President have attempted to put up several explanations for his absence at the event, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, fuelled another round of criticism when he told Arise News on Tuesday a different story.
According to the Presidential aide, although he was sent on official assignment out of the country, the President’s discomfort with road closures anytime he has to attend an event in the Federal Capital Territory is likely to be the reason.
“I was in Europe myself on assignment and I have not spoken to the President on this but let me give you just one example: The President is somebody who is so concerned about the safety and wellbeing of ordinary Nigerians on the streets.
“Do you know why he now prays his Jumaat in the state house and doesn’t go to the national mosque? Because he doesn’t like this idea of closing roads, security men molesting people on the road for the President to have the right of way,” Shehu said.
“These are small things for many people but they are important for President Muhammadu Buhari. So, it is a mourning situation and the President didn’t want to take away attention from that,” he added.
By inference, his principal would definitely have preferred to watch the proceedings on TV than inconvenience road users. But what worries any thinking mind is what could prevented the President from using alternative means if he truly was cautious about inconveniencing Nigerians?
The level of nonchalance and sheer lack of empathy the President continues to display to countless deaths around the country as well as breakdown of law and order, continues to erode the goodwill that his government enjoys. There’s hardly anywhere in the world where high ranking military officers (as much as ten) as well as the Chief of Army Staff of a country tackling terrorists would die and their sacrifice would be treated that way.
Not only was the President’s absence unjustifiable, that he presided over an Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of Lake Chad Basin Commission in Abuja barely four days after the burial is most disheartening to the troops which he superintends as Commander-in-chief.
Of all the top attributes expected of a 21st century leader, compassion definitely ranks side-by-side competence, character and courage. If the leader of a people as diverse as ours lacks two-third of this; especially in a time as this, it has become inevitable for him to resign or for the legislature to do the needful.
Government in a democracy must not be reduced to the private estate or regional heritage of anyone.
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Journalist, Political Analyst and Satirist with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.