Many supporters of Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday expressed frustration with the president’s sudden cancellation of his scheduled trip to Rivers State for the launch of the clean-up of Ogoniland and other Niger Delta communities ravaged by decades of oil exploration activities.
Mr. Buhari was represented at the event by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The presidency has not given any reason yet for Mr. Buhari’s last minute change of mind.
Rotimi Adetunji, tweeting with the twitter account @dele4JC, said, “The goodwill PMB has enjoyed from some of us could start to burn out. He should have been there, no matter what.
“PMB would have missed an opportunity to warm himself to the Niger Delta folks and shut (the) mouth of naysayers.
“If indeed PMB didn’t show up at Ogoniland, then he’s beginning to tow similar lane his predecessor did. Shame!”
Another twitter user, Pa Johnson (@Mr.PaJohnson), wrote in Pidgin English “@MBuhari haf finished me today!” adding that has scored “an unnecessary own goal”.
Japheth Omojuwa (@Omojuwa), a social media influencer known for tweeting in support of the president, said on twitter that the president’s absence was a major victory not only for the new militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers, but also for their sponsors and “social media fanatics”.
Mr. Omojuwa tweeted, “This constant and seemingly intentional commitment towards burning public goodwill is one I will never ever understand.
“Nobody told him to announce he was coming. Now the big news is about his absence and not the historic #NDCleanUp.”
Inibehe Effiong, a lawyer and a human rights activist, said he was concerned that President Buhari of late has been cancelling most of his scheduled visits to different parts of the country.
Shortly after it became clear that Mr. Buhari won’t be visiting Rivers as earlier announced, Mr. Effiong, who has been known for his support for the president, wrote on Facebook that, “President Buhari was scheduled to travel to Lagos State – he cancelled it. President Buhari was scheduled to travel to Cross River State – he cancelled it. President Buhari was scheduled to travel to Ogoni, Rivers State – he cancelled it. What exactly is going on? Are these mere coincidences or is something amiss?”
He later told PREMIUM TIMES that the cancellation “sends a wrong message to the citizens”.
“It is reported that the cancellation is due the tensed security climate in the region. If that is true, it is disappointing because nobody is safe. If the security agencies cannot guarantee the safety of the president, then we are all endangered,” Mr. Effiong said.
Mr. Effiong, who is the Convener, Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, said, “Nigerians criticized former president Jonathan for not visiting the troubled North East region and Borno in particular. Buhari should represent courage, sensitivity and change and not follow the footsteps of Jonathan.”
He added that the president’s visit to Ogoniland would have afforded him the opportunity to have “direct and factual connection with the situation in Ogoni and the Niger Delta”.
One twitter user, @Rayberry_NIG, said, “He (President Buhari) has never cancelled his foreign trips but has cancelled all his local trips. Maybe those abroad voted for him!”
Mr. Omojuwa has one advice for President Buhari and his aides in the Presidential Villa: “Until the president’s handlers are certain he can make a commitment, don’t publish a commitment or have him make any. Not rocket science.”