The recent kidnapping of the Chibok girls is no longer news. The whole world has united together in a somewhat unprecedented manner to condemn the terrorists. It is salutary that this condemnation was brought about by the social media campaign mainly on Twitter and using the hash tag, #bringbackourgirls. However it is condemnable that our president and commander in chief failed to react to this news until the momentum began. Indeed it took 3 weeks to get a reaction from the president and commander in chief. As a Nigerian residing abroad, I have watched with despair as our president and his first lady have been made into a caricature and the butt of online jokes.
Leaving aside the online jokes, there is something very sinister and worrisome about the man charged with safe guarding all Nigerians, be it Muslim, Christian, Atheist, Animist and from whatever part of the country and whatever political affliction. The title, “President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria” is self-explanatory. We the people have given that power to one man to use in safe guarding us. It really does not matter whether the individual reposed with that power was lawfully voted into power by us or foisted upon us by the people holding this country hostage. What matters is that the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces is one person and in that person do we look up to as a leader and our protector.
The recent kidnapping of the Chibok girls have made me and I am sure, a large majority of Nigerians to begin to question whether the person charged with protecting us and generally acting as a leader is competent to do that job? Of course, it is true that most Nigerians are in charge of their security, water, road and other things that we take for granted that Governments in other countries will do. It is only in Nigeria that that a citizen will dig a borehole or a well in order to get water, buy generator in other to get electricity, build a prison for themselves by fixing metal guards on doors and windows in order to safeguard their family from armed robbers. For the more fortunate, employ security guards and dogs to provide security. In Nigeria, there are statutory bodies charged with providing these essential services. These statutory bodies like PHCN, Water Board and the Nigerian Police all charge you for services not provided or in the case of the Police, before they can deal with any criminal complaint. Now before one thinks I am digressing from the title of this piece, it is not my intention to do so.
Turning to the Chibok kidnapping, the whole world is appalled that elected officials including the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces waited 3 weeks before making any tangible statement regarding this heinous crime. In South Korea, a ferry disaster in which the Prime Minister of that country had no direct involvement lead to the PM and other top officials resigning. During the last presidential election, President Obama stopped his campaign to visit New Jersey after it was devastated by hurricane. In my country Nigeria, the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces have not, to date, visited Chibok or Borno State (if the security officials tell him that its too risky to visit Chibok). Last night I was watching BBC and saw John Simpson of the BBC in Borno State interviewing Governor Shettima. If the BBC can go to Borno State to interview the Governor, why can’t our President and Commander in Chief act Presidential and visit Borno State? We want a leader not a weakling.
Even if there are behind the scene activities that cannot be disclosed for security reasons, Nigerians yearn and clamour for a leader. A recent article in the Vanguard Newspaper suggests that the President and Commander in Chief has a lot of hanger ons and political jobbers who do not advise him of the true position. That may be true in the 1970s, but is no longer correct now. President Jonathan can read - he holds a doctorate degree. He can hopefully use the Internet too. If he read the New York Times recent editorial and the London Economist too, he will discover what the whole world thinks of his government. He can start checking Facebook and Twitter to ascertain the mood of the country. He need not rely on his political jobbers. He should act like the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and not the President of Abuja and the South South. That’s what the majority of Nigerians want. The whole world is watching.
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