Timeline: How not to defend President Buhari

by Dolapo Adelana

As humans, we are prone to make mistakes and errors as we embark on life’s journey.

Most times it’s not because we intend to, but we can’t just help it, after all, we are human.

But when the President of a country is in the habit of goofing, one expects his aides to come to his rescue.

This is not the case in Nigeria, as media aides to President Muhammadu Buhari instead of helping an already bad situation, make it worse when they release a statement or appear in interviews.

From his absence at the Ogoni cleanup due to threats from Niger Delta Avengers to his silence on the killings in Southern Kaduna, and to yet another absence at the South-East Economic and Security Summit, President Buhari’s men have been of no help in salvaging an already bad situation.

Here is a timeline of how his media aides have not defended their principal properly.

June 1, 2016: Following his assumption of office, President Buhari ordered the cleanup of Ogoni land. As a show of his love for the people, he decided to personally flag-off the cleanup exercise, but he chickened out.

The morning of his scheduled visit, personal assistant to the President on New Media, Bashir Ahmad released a very lame and vague statement that Buhari would not be attending the cleanup.

The statement gave no reason for Buhari’s decision to boycott the event, but that Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo will be representing him.

It will be recalled that just days before, militant group, Niger Delta Avengers had threatened to assassinate Buhari if he stepped on Ogoniland. Could that be why he refused to turn up? We can’t say. But since neither he nor his aides told us why one can infer that Mr. President boycotted what would have been one of the legacies of his administration because of a threat.

December 18, 2016: It was announced that President Muhammadu Buhari will declare open the South-East Economic and Security Summit (SEESS), a new initiative aimed at maintaining peace and fostering economic growth and development in the South-East and other regions.

December 19, 2016: The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) released a statement objecting his visit to the South-East and threatening mayhem.

The statement said, “We object totally to this visit. We warn that any governor or Igbo politician that receives Buhari in Enugu will have himself or herself to blame.

“We make it public that should there be a breakdown of law and order in Enugu on the 22nd of December, greedy Igbo politicians will have themselves to blame.”

December 22, 2016: Buhari failed to attend the summit.

December 23, 2016: While speaking on the President’s absence, Garba Shehu came up with the lamest excuse in the world, “the summit was too close to Christmas”.

Shehu said, “The visit to Enugu was scheduled for Thursday 22nd as can be found on the weekly programme.

“After this was done, some other stakeholders from the South East came and advised him to not go in view of the closeness of the date to Christmas; that given the sensitivity of the period to the people, a presidential visit may come with overexertion and possibly, be disruptive of Christmas.

“In view of this, President Buhari requested that the event be pushed forward to January, 2017. Given his nature, he did not insist. He said if the change of date is not possible, then the event can go on without him. That is what the organizers chose to do.”

December 26, 2016: At a time when many families were in pain, mourning the gruesome murder of their friends, colleagues and loved ones by mindless herdsmen, President Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, in a bid to defend the silence of his principal, poured fuel on an already burning building.

He said, “You don’t have to hear from the president on that matter. You see, when it pays us, we talk about federalism and true federalism, yet you want the president and presidency to talk about everything.

“When things like this happen in a state, there is a chief security officer, he is supposed to be on top of the matter. Governor El-Rufai was at the villa on Thursday to brief the president, so why should the president then be talking about it?”

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