North-east: President should show empathy



Mohammed Alhassan

It is the feeling of many Nigerians particularly those in the emergency rule states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, that they are being treated unfairly by the present administration under President Goodluck Jonathan. It’s like President Jonathan blames the helpless and suffering people of these three north eastern states for the violence and killings carried out by the Boko Haram terrorists and which has destabilised the region.

With such a disposition, the attitude becomes one of ‘you are on your own’, as the administration carries on its affairs without much bother about how it affects the region. The only gift the President has given the people of the region and their leaders is the state of emergency which is now in its ninth month with possible willingness on the part of the government of a renewal.
It is therefore no surprise and a timely intervention recently when elders and opinion leaders from the region called on President Jonathan not to renew the state of emergency in these states as it has done more harm than good to the area. The demand of the elders is even more important as doubts have been expressed about the role of security agencies in the insurgency.

The expectation is that if there is no hidden agenda in the entire fight against the insurgency, it would take so long for one of the leading Armies in Africa i.e the Nigerian Army to rout the terrorists. Rather, the news from the region is one of ding- dong fight where often times, the Boko Haram get the better of the security forces given rise to insinuations that the former is better equipped than the latter.
Unfortunately, the insurgency has also fallen victim to politics such that rather than see the problem as a national one, the President who is good at exploiting political opportunities for his own end has accepted the sufferings of the people of the region as a political price they have to pay for living amongst opponents of his administration.

The political colouration which the situation in the North east has assumed is not helped by the fact that the three states are safe political constituencies of the opposition mega party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) which is working hard to defeat the ruling PDP, if President Jonathan makes the inadvisable political move of declaring interest in the 2015 elections. From the feeling of the public, it seems the ruling party is comfortable with the security dilemma in the region, as this could be used as an excuse not to organise elections in the region.

The point is that President Jonathan is not fair to the states harassed by the Boko Haram. He fails to understand that as President and Commander- in- Chief, the entire country without exception is his constituency. The President has displayed much insensitivity to the plight and suffering of the people in addition to the pain and deprivation which the insurgency has caused them.

One area where President Jonathan has failed to show magnanimity and empathy as well as broad- mindedness befitting a Commander- in- chief of a multi- ethnic and plural society is the way he has carried on with his visit to states in the Federation.
President Jonathan has avoided visiting the three states under Boko Haram siege without telling anyone why.  Political watchers have been wondering the reason for the behaviour of the President. ’Is it that the President is afraid or shy or vindictive?  Fear need not come in because there are people paid to take care of the security of the President and no harm would normally come to him as people still live in those states despite the insurgency.

One of the most curious and inexplicable act of the President in relation to the policy of not visiting the violent- ridden pro- APC states, is his capacity to ignore the heinous killing of young students of a Federal Government College in Yobe state by the Boko Haram. The sect put to untimely death about 59 students of the college while the latter were asleep, and the President of the country did not deem it fit to visit the college! Such hard- heartedness is legendary and unheard of. And this is coming from a President who seizes every opportunity under the sun to declare his love for the youths of the nation. Such declaration of love and concern is insincere and inhuman. Nigerian youths should beware as 2015 beckons!

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