Nigerians have reacted with outrage over President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to Kano to welcome former governor of the state, Ibrahim Shekarau, to the Peoples Democratic Party, a day after a car bomb killed dozens of Nigeria and injured several others in a suburb of Abuja.
The government said 75 people died while 124 others were injured although body count by witnesses and a PREMIUM TIMES reporter suggest over 200 Nigerians were killed.
Insensitive, irresponsible, terrible, and wicked are some of the words that have been used to describe the president’s political visit to Kano.
“Let’s face it, is it even proper, as a father, for the president to be dancing at a rally and clinking glasses at a chief’s party just the day after?” said Betty Abah, journalist and activist. “What really would happen if he sends representatives while he pretends he’s meeting security chiefs? Even if he doesn’t care, is this even good for his image? What message is he sending out? He did same during the Centenary celebrations. How do you explain this crass insensitivity?”
“It is plain insensitive, really. It an evident that the leadership of this country does not take our lives seriously at all,” said activist lawyer, Bamidele Aturu.
“Over 200 people were killed by Boko Haram insurgents. Less than 24 hours later, the president was in Kano on political mission. That tells you they don’t take us seriously and our lives don’t count for much. That is the height of insensitivity I have seen in recent times,” he continued.
“He wouldn’t have lost anything if he had postponed the campaign for another one or two months and let the people who are bereaved come to terms with the gruesome reality,” he added.
Mr. Aturu said the President’s action showed the huge disconnect between Nigerians and their political leaders.
“Our people need to understand that there is a big disconnect between them and the people that leads them who only require them to vote to be in power.”
He said the president’s action, if done in other countries, could have cost him his job.
“This kind of things would not happen elsewhere. In other countries the president can even be impeached for what he has done. It is terrible. For him to embark on that trip show clearly that for him politics is more important than the lives of Nigerians.”
“It is very insensitive and irresponsible,” said another lawyer, Festus Keyamo.
“That is a sign that the government does not value the lives of Nigerians. As a matter of fact it is confirmation that the present system actually enjoys the pogrom that is going on in that part of the country. It is very condemnable that the president could not even declare a day of national mourning after we have lost about 200 lives,” said Chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran.
“The president is not thoughtful; the president seems to be sadistic, enjoying the show of bloodletting. Our president doesn’t care. You know he said the other time that he doesn’t give a damn. He doesn’t give a damn whatever Nigerians say, he doesn’t give a damn about our feelings of agony, he doesn’t give a damn about those who are suffering the pains and pangs of the carnage going on in some parts of the country.”
The Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, also chided the president for being insensitive to the lives lost in he blast.
“At a time when several innocent lives have been lost, when many of the victims are in hospital seeking blood donations to survive, the president is gallivanting around the country in the name of PDP unity rally”, he said during the matriculation ceremony of the Northwest University.
PREMIUM TIMES columnist, Pius Adesanmi, was sarcastic in his condemnation of the president’s political rally in Kano.
Writing on his Facebook timeline, Mr Adesanmi, who is a professor of English at Carleton University in Canada, said:
“People can tell lies sha. They are saying that a day after terrorists struck his country’s capital in an attack that killed and maimed hundreds of his employers and on the same day that Boko Haram kidnapped two hundred school girls, all daughters of his employers, President Goodluck Jonathan was on the campaign trail in Kano.
“The people telling these horrendous lies against my President might as well go ahead and say that Dr Jonathan’s pals, Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela, would do likewise in similar circumstances, bringing out the fatted calf to make campaign merry just after losing hundreds of Americans or South Africans. Even my eyes, watching TV, are part of this conspiracy of lies against the President. Twitter is in on the conspiracy too, telling lies that Reuben Abati has twitted triumphant pictures of the President’s triumphal entry to Kano,” he wrote.
“I am sure that what Mr. President did today was embark on a sweeping working visit to military and other security formations all over the North to boost morale, listen to the needs and challenges of our men and women in uniform, and use the carnage in Abuja to sensitize them to the fierce urgency of the task at hand.
“I am sure that my President continued the task of mending the traumatized psyche of his people today. I am sure that my President and his handlers cannot be dumb enough to miss the symbolic significance of the nation seeing images of him hands-on on the security front – and definitely not on the political front of self perpetuation in office – a day after Abuja. So, my eyes, TV stations, Twitter, and all other conspirators, stop telling lies against my President. If you saw anybody campaigning in Kano today, wasn’t him. It was Shaggy!”
Mr Adeniran said the president was merely shedding “crocodile tears” at the scene of the carnage on Monday.
“It was crocodile tears he shed. He visited just because it happened in Abuja close to Asokoro. He wouldn’t have visited; he didn’t visit Maiduguri, he didn’t visit several other sites of pogrom. He only managed to make out time for that because he was in Abuja when that happened. It wasn’t that he was concerned about the lives and properties damaged.”
Similarly, Mr. Keyamo said the president was only pretending with the emotions he displayed after he visited the scene of the blast hours later.
“It is just pretence, nothing but pretence. We ought to declare clear seven days of mourning for those victims. No political activities should take place with those seven days,” He said.
On his part, Mr Aturu said the president was only playacting like a professional mourner would do.
“Politicians can playact. You know in Nigeria there are people that are paid to weep at funerals ceremonies. What he has done clearly shows that he didn’t believe what he was doing.
“If he was weeping just yesterday and now he’s in Kano doing politics when people are yet to come to terms with what happened. All they want is power that’s the impression they are giving unfortunately.”