Other than occasional terse statements of grieve, President Muhammadu Buhari has the habit of not visiting scenes of national disasters.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, secretary to the government Boss Mustapha, and other top officials appear not to be any different going by their recent actions.
The three men and other top government functionaries were present Saturday for the fanfare of the president’s son getting a chieftaincy title at the president’s hometown of Daura, Katsina State.
The Emir of Daura, Farouk Umar, on Saturday turbaned Yusuf Buhari as Talban Daura and district head of Kwasarawa community.
The star-studded attendance at the coronation came amid grieving over the deaths of hundreds of people in the North-west and North-central regions.
While they were present for the jamboree, neither of the officials deemed it fit to visit families of the hundreds of people killed by marauding bandits in Katsina and other states in the North-west.
A PREMIUM TIMES analysis showed that in the last two weeks, at least 101 people were reported killed by non-state actors — 90 per cent of them occurred in the region where the Yusuf Buhari ceremony took place.
In one of the gruesome tragedies, 37 travellers were set ablaze, while commuting on a bus, by suspected bandits in Sabon Birni Local Government Area of Sokoto State.
Also, in the Northwest region, three persons were reportedly killed and many others injured in a violent clash between farmers and herders in Kirikasamma Local Government Area of Jigawa State.
Likewise this week, nine worshippers were reportedly killed in an attack by suspected armed bandits in Ba’are in Mashegu Local Government Area of Niger State.
In Kaduna, 13 people were reportedly killed in separate attacks across the state.
In Katsina State, where the Yusuf Buhari event took place, bandits attacks on communities have continued with reported killings of at least 25 people across the state last month. Thousands of people have been displaced from their communities and are taking refuge in the state capital, Katsina.
In a recent incident in the state, the commissioner for science, technology and innovation, Rabe Nasir, was assassinated.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the recent Katsina attacks by non-state actors occurred in Matazu, Batsari, Faskari and Batagarawa local government areas.
Devoid of empathy
Despite being close to the homes of some of these disasters, the top officials did not visit any of the bereaved families.
This appears to typify a straight textbook trait of the Buhari presidency whom they represented at the event.
Mr Buhari has always been heavily criticised for his reticent leadership style devoid of empathy towards Nigerians in periods of disaster.
Apart from being absent from the frontline after the disasters, the president has been consistently taciturn to the people he leads for the better part of his six years in power.
When school kidnappings hit Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna, Katsina and Kebbi States earlier this year, the president refused to visit any of the schools or families of the kidnapped students.
Much to the consternation of many, the kidnap of 344 students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, was particularly striking because it happened when the president was in the state for a “private visit.” Yet, he did not visit the school or the parents of the students. None of the officials who visited Katsina for the Yusuf Buhari event deemed it fit to visit the school or any of the students still recovering from the shock of the government’s failure to protect them.
Since he came into office six years ago, there have been at least six cases of the mass kidnapping of students and pupils from their schools. Not once has the president visited any of the schools nor visited families of the victims.
Showing cold shoulder when the people are looking for hope appears to have rubbed off on other top officials in Mr Buhari’s cabinet.
On the heels of the surge in killings in the country, a coalition of civil groups which included Muryar Talaka, Matasan Katsina ta Tsakiya, Arewa Media Writers, Northern Alliance Movement and Activists staged a protest tagged #NoMoreBloodShed.
One of the leaders of the coalition in Katsina, Bishir Dauda, told PREMIUM TIMES the Yusuf Buhari chieftaincy ceremony was held despite calls by the civil society groups to halt the event in honour of those being killed in the state.
“We staged a protest in Katsina on Tuesday to call on the government to be more proactive in addressing the degenerated insecurity challenge in the North and Nigeria.
“One of our demands was that the Daura Emirate should respect the victims of insecurity in Katsina State by shelving its planned festive ‘turbaning’ ceremony of the son of the president.
“We feel that it is the highest form of insensitivity to organise a turbaning ceremony in the midst of bloodshed. The turbaning of the son of the president came when hardly a day will pass without recording one form of violence or the other in the state,” Mr Dauda said.
“It amounts to spitting on the graves of those innocent citizens killed by bandits. However, we are not surprised when the emir ignored all reasons and logic and went ahead with the ceremony. This is because, in Nigeria, leaders treat citizens as their own subjects or even slaves.”
At the ceremony, Mr Dauda said, “we were less flabbergasted because respect begets respect. These dignitaries were invited to Katsina for the ceremony, not mourning. As a leader when your followers are being murdered, abducted and raped but you organise a turbaning ceremony, do you think anyone will respect you?
“You can’t fight criminality without fighting. Our leaders are not ready for this war, instead, they are begging and appealing to the criminals to surrender. They have yet to make up their minds to fight.
“The bandits are not different from drug barons of the Philippines, Columbia and Mexico. Going to the Philippines to understand how their president is fighting drug barons is different from the way Buhari is fighting bandits and kidnappers,” Mr Dauda added.
The spokesperson of Daura Emirate Council, Usman Ibrahim, could not be reached for comment Sunday afternoon on the concerns raised by the civil society organisations.
The spokesperson of the SGF, Willie Bassey, told PREMIUM TIMES he cannot comment on the issue because he has not been briefed about the event in Katsina.
The spokesperson for the Vice President, Laolu Akande, did not respond to phone calls and text messages sent Sunday evening. Likewise, Ola Awoniyi, the spokesperson of the Senate President.
WATCH: Governor Yahaya Bello's Roadmap to Hope 2023