A contest of evils




After so much public outcry, President Muhammadu , last week, succumbed to the demand that he should visit parts of the nation bedevilled by mindless violence perpetuated by citizens upon citizens. Those who insisted that the President made the visit had hoped that it would accord him great opportunity to empathise with the victims, make great statements that uphold the sanctity of every single life, denounce the agents of violence, and provide a national roadmap for quenching the fire of violence speedily spreading across the nation. Instead of doing these, the President did something else in the course of his visits.

While he addressed the stakeholders of Taraba State at the Government House, Jalingo, President made some infamous statistical comparisons. The President’s audience comprised top government functionaries at federal and state levels, leading intellectuals from Taraba and beyond, traditional and religious rulers, as well as top security chiefs. It was this powerful audience that the president informed that more people were killed in Taraba than and put together. I have no single fact to counter Presdent ’s statistics. And since he receives daily security report on events across the nation, there is no doubting that the president could have access to more information than the rest of us.

President Buhari had intended his statement to be a chastisement to the governors and peoples of and States. Governor Sam Ortom had mobilised the whole of State to protest the federal government’s seeming insensitivity and silence in the face of sustained murderous attack by herdsmen. There is no doubting the fact that Ortom’s strategy caused so much headaches to the big men in the topmost circle of power and security in Nigeria. They were so uncomfortable that the spokesman of the Nigerian Police Force dished large plate of insults to the Governor on a national television. Ortom had caused them so much pain. The big men in Abuja had expected him and his people to apply fragrant balm on their wounds, nurse them in silence, as they await hopelessly for the next attack.

Like Benue like . Governor Yari stirred Abuja to anger when he apologised publicly to his people for urging them to vote the APC during the 2015 election with the promise that APC’s presidency would bring an end to incessant attack by gunmen whose activities the press seemed so shy to report. Like Benue people, people were expected to lick their wounds in silence. Thus, for acting against expectation, Ortom and Yari must be made to pay. It was that payment that the president dished out when he downplayed the magnitude of the human blood that washed into the Benue River and soaked the sands of . The President was calling them to what he considered exemplary action by Taraba. He seemed to be telling them that though had more casualties the response from the people and government of that state was hushed. They did not embark on any public blame of the government and so should be commended. It was that commendation that the President passed on in Jalingo that day.

But the President missed a point. He did not reckon that Zamfara and Benue differed from Taraba. The two states are controlled by the APC and they voted for the president during the last general election. Taraba was different. Despite the popularity of its APC gubernatorial candidate in that election, the state stuck to PDP. This political difference also entails difference in expectations. While Benue and Zamfara would expect much from the government of their party, Taraba has moderate expectation from a government it spurned at the poll. This explains why both Benue and Zamfara exhibited great feelings of disappointment where Taraba accepted its fate.

Again in Yobe, the President had underttook another round of comparison making when he visited Dapchi Secondary School, the ground where over 100 girls were kidnapped by the rampaging Boko Haram sect. He told his audience that his administration has A Contest of Evils
Eric Omazu
After so much public outcry, President Muhammadu Buhari, last week, succumbed to the demand that he should visit parts of the nation bedevilled by mindless violence perpetuated by citizens upon citizens. Those who insisted that the President made the visit had hoped that it would accord him great opportunity to empathise with the victims, make great statements that uphold the sanctity of every single life, denounce the agents of violence, and provide a national roadmap for quenching the fire of violence speedily spreading across the nation. Instead of doing these, the President did something else in the course of his visits.

While he addressed the stakeholders of Taraba State at the Government House, Jalingo, President Buhari made some infamous statistical comparisons. The President’s audience comprised top government functionaries at federal and state levels, leading intellectuals from Taraba and beyond, traditional and religious rulers, as well as top security chiefs. It was this powerful audience that the president informed that more people were killed in Taraba than Benue and Zamfara put together. I have no single fact to counter Presdent Buhari’s statistics. And since he receives daily security report on events across the nation, there is no doubting that the president could have access to more information than the rest of us.

President Buhari had intended his statement to be a chastisement to the governors and peoples of Benue and Zamfara States. Governor Sam Ortom had mobilised the whole of Benue State to protest the federal government’s seeming insensitivity and silence in the face of sustained murderous attack by herdsmen. There is no doubting the fact that Ortom’s strategy caused so much headaches to the big men in the topmost circle of power and security in Nigeria. They were so uncomfortable that the spokesman of the Nigerian Police Force dished large plate of insults to the Benue Governor on a national television. Ortom had caused them so much pain. The big men in Abuja had expected him and his people to apply fragrant balm on their wounds, nurse them in silence, as they await hopelessly for the next attack.

Like Benue like Zamfara. Governor Yari stirred Abuja to anger when he apologised publicly to his people for urging them to vote the APC during the 2015 election with the promise that APC’s presidency would bring an end to incessant attack by gunmen whose activities the press seemed so shy to report. Like Benue people, Zamfara people were expected to lick their wounds in silence. Thus, for acting against expectation, Ortom and Yari must be made to pay. It was that payment that the president dished out when he downplayed the magnitude of the human blood that washed into the Benue River and soaked the sands of Zamfara. The President was calling them to what he considered exemplary action by Taraba. He seemed to be telling them that though Zamfara had more casualties the response from the people and government of that state was hushed. They did not embark on any public blame of the government and so should be commended. It was that commendation that the President passed on in Jalingo that day.

But the President missed a point. He did not reckon that Zamfara and Benue differed from Taraba. The two states are controlled by the APC and they voted for the president during the last general election. Taraba was different. Despite the popularity of its APC gubernatorial candidate in that election, the state stuck to PDP. This political difference also entails difference in expectations. While Benue and Zamfara would expect much from the government of their party, Taraba has moderate expectation from a government it spurned at the poll. This explains why both Benue and Zamfara exhibited great feelings of disappointment where Taraba accepted its fate.

Again in Yobe, the President had underttook another round of comparison making when he visited Dapchi Secondary School, the ground where over 100 girls were kidnapped by the rampaging Boko Haram sect. He told his audience that his administration has handled the Dapchi girls’ abduction better than his predecessor handled that of the Chibok girls in 2014.

It is not my intention to go into details about what the government of Buhari did or did not do regarding the Dapchi abduction in order to ascertain whether it fared better than its predecessor. What I intend to do is to point out the absurdity of the types of comparisons which the president has embarked on. Indeed, the comparison between Benue and Zamfara massacre on one side and Taraba on the other side is like comparing two evils. When faced with two evils, man has the right to refrain from making a choice.

handled the Dapchi girls’ abduction better than his predecessor handled that of the Chibok girls in 2014.

It is not my intention to go into details about what the government of Buhari did or did not do regarding the Dapchi abduction in order to ascertain whether it fared better than its predecessor. What I intend to do is to point out the absurdity of the types of comparisons which the president has embarked on. Indeed, the comparison between Benue and Zamfara massacre on one side and Taraba on the other side is like comparing two evils. When faced with two evils, man has the right to refrain from making a choice.

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