Chris Steven, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says President Muhammadu Buhari planned visit to Taraba and subsequently proceed to Benue and other states is an afterthought and a move to further hoodwink Nigerians ahead of the 2019 general election.
Femi Adesina, spokesperson to the President on Monday said the president’s scheduled visit was driven by the recent terrorist attacks, criminal activities and communal clashes in some states of the federation, leading to the tragic loss of lives as well as the kidnap of 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State.
Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP National Publicity Secretary in a statement issued on Tuesday lamented the eleventh hour decision of the President to pay a condolence visit to the affected states months after tragedy struck.
It said: “Many Nigerians have dismissed the planned visits of President Buhari to these states as a cosmetic afterthought. Nigerians have already formed their opinion of him, and rightly so, as a president that has never shown them concern in their time of need.
“It is alarming that Mr. President will consider visiting some of these states months after marauders, insurgents and bandits committed their havoc.
“Mr. President has been in the country and never thought it necessary to pay a condolence visit to any of these states until Nigerians raised the alarm alleging a manifest indifference on his part.
“It is even more pathetic that in Benue State, President Buhari summoned the leaders of the bereaved people to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, rather than complying with the age-long tradition of Africans by visiting the bereaved.”
Reacting to the President’s planned visit, Ayodele Fayose, Governor of Ekiti State, also dismissed Buhari’s visit as an afterthought and an attempt to curry favour for sympathy votes in 2019.
“Obviously, the President is more concerned about his re-election in 2019, and his visit to those states that he abandoned during their time of trouble is to seek for votes, not to sympathise with the people of the states on their losses,” Fayose said.
The governor likened the president to a selfish king who went on making merry while his people were in agony, only to show up when the people had already buried their loved ones who were gruesomely murdered and had got over their anguish and moved on with their lives.
A statement issued Monday by Lere Olayinka, his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, quoted the governor as saying it was the height of cruelty that the same president, who promised to lead from the front in the fight against Boko Haram, could not visit Dapchi, Yobe State where 110 school girls were abducted by the insurgents, but elected to go on merry making in Kano.
He said: “On January 9 and 12, this year, 88 victims of herdsmen attacks were given a mass burial in Taraba State. Also on January 11, 2018, another 73 persons killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Benue State were buried in a mass grave in Makurdi, the state capital.
“Meaning that in Taraba and Benue States alone, 161 Nigerians were given mass burials within three days! This never caught the attention of our president. Rather, it was a visit to Nasarawa, a neighbouring state to Benue that was important to him.
“To further demonstrate his lack of compassion for Nigerians, while the entire nation, especially parents of the 110 abducted schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State, were still in anguish, President Buhari went to Kano last Saturday to attend a social function, thus sparking negative reactions from Nigerians.
“Apparently, it was the negative reactions of Nigerians, especially on the social media and the effects on the president’s re-election bid that necessitated his hurried visit to Taraba State today (yesterday), and planned visits to Benue, Zamfara, Yobe and Rivers States.
“I am sure the people of Taraba State won’t be hoodwinked by the president’s cosmetic sympathy, show of concern and crocodile tears, which he never bothered to shed when hundreds of indigenes of the state were being killed by suspected herdsmen.”
While declaring the visits as belated and an afterthought, Fayose added: “Nigerians can no longer be deceived by a president who never cared for them when they needed him most. Therefore, no amount of hurriedly organised campaign visits will sway the people, who never saw the president to protect them from being killed and console them when they lost their dear ones.”