Why Jonathan attended political rally while Nigerians mourned Abuja bomb victims- Maku

Picture by Sani Danja
Picture by Sani Danja

“I think going to Kano was a statement, a loud statement that terrorism will not stop the administration of this country”.

The Federal Government has come out in staunch defence of President Goodluck Jonathan for attending and indeed dancing at a politically rally while Nigerians mourned victims of the Monday morning Abuja bomb explosion.

At least 75 people died and over 100 injured when a bomb exploded in a crowded park in Nyanya, Abuja on Monday, with witnesses saying the casualty was much more than the official figures.

A day after the Nyanya bomb blast, Mr. Jonathan went to Kano State for a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, politically rally. The president danced as he and hundreds of the party’s supporters welcomed Ibrahim Shekarau, a former governor of the state, to the PDP. This led to criticisms from several Nigerians and the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, who accused him of insensitivity to the plight of the blast victims.

However, at the end of the weekly Executive Council of the Federation, FEC, meeting on Wednesday, the federal government defended Mr. Jonathan’s actions.

The Information Minister, Labaran Maku, who briefed journalists after the FEC meeting, said the President had to attend the rally to prove to the terrorists that they cannot cripple the activities of government which, he said, was their fundamental aim.

“This president has suffered psychologically as a result of this criminality,” Mr. Maku said. “I think going to Kano was a statement, a loud statement that terrorism will not stop the administration of this country”.

“For someone to go round and say that the President is not sensitive is not correct.

“You will remember that the President called off his trip to Ibadan for the centenary church celebration of the Olubadan of Ibadan who was exactly 100 years old that time.

“He personally visited the scene and called on all the security operatives to provide support. There also he called on the nation to be more united even as he reassured the nation that government will not surrender to the antics of the terrorists,” he added.

The Information Minister said the criticisms of the president’s actions were coming from politicians “trying to exploit the issue to score cheap political points.”

“I think that this is very bad… We should not be exploiting the emotion of citizens for a cheap political point,” he said.

Mr. Maku also said the government had also ensured that the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, was strengthened enough to respond promptly to such attacks.

He added that government was doing everything possible to ensure that anywhere Nigerians are attacked, relief items are provided promptly.
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“We must be united in condemning terrorism and make sure that Nigerians are committed to kicking out terrorism from our country.

The minister also criticised media reportage of the blast. He said members of the FEC were disturbed about the way the gory pictures of the blast were published and called for restrains in reporting such incidents.

“Yes, we must report, but in reporting, we must be sensitive to the psychological state of our people.

“We noticed that throughout the 911 incidence, we notice that hardly was pictures of any of those who died shown,” he said.

Mr. Maku urged Nigerians not to allow the current spate of terrorism dampen their spirit, saying Nigeria is not a nation of terrorists.

“Terrorism is not our way of life; it is not part of the mentality of any ordinary Nigerian that is why Nigerians are united against the issue of terror”.

He also assured that Nigeria will continue to work against terrorism with its neighbours including Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.

Mr. Maku said the President has directed the FCT Minister to begin surveillance and provision of security
around the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

In his statement, the Abuja Minister, Bala Mohammed, said 75 victims of the blast died while 171 others were currently receiving treatments in various hospitals.

He also announced that the FCT will foot the bills of those under treatments in the various hospitals, adding that the Abuja administration is fully prepared to close the gaps in the security system

“We will make it very difficult for people with bad intensions to penetrate our parks. Certainly, we are going to bring bomb detectors and we are going to work with our security to guide us on how to make our schools, parks, markets and other public places safe for our people,” he said.

He disclosed that the FCT will bring in about 100 high capacity new buses so that the Nyanya incident does not affect the movements of people and goods, adding that government cannot source all the buses from the country.

He also disclosed that the Abuja administration will install metal detection devices inside the new buses being purchased.

“We have noticed that these people have changed their strategies and we also have to change our strategies to protect our people,” Mr. Mohammed said.

He said 47 motorcycles and 27 mass transit buses were destroyed during the Monday bomb blast.

In his statement, the Minister of State for Health said the major challenge is getting blood for the injured victims. He also said permission has been given to relatives of victims to collect the corpses of their loved ones, adding that government is doing everything to ensure that the information given out about the dead victims was accurate.