© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Mr Buhari, a citizen poses a question!
By Damilare Olowofela
Good morning Mr President. Sir, did you notice my panglossian optimism? I nurse an incredible hope that one of your aides will probably read this and pass it over to you. I chuckled at my own extreme faith. Well, that optimism apes the extreme belief we had in you in the days leading up to the election of 2015.
I am a medical doctor resident in Ibadan. Apart from occasional scribbling I do at leisure, writing is none of my business; I am not a journalist. But I resolved to undertake this wild goose chase, inspired by the incredible faith of Samantha Smith, although unlike her own scenario, there is no looming nuclear confrontation between Nigeria and any country.
But much like the tension of the Cold War era, the Nigerian state is in an internal, internecine and equally cataclysmic hot war: Hardmen/Herdsmen who ride on the irenic hump of cattle, with cavalier hubris, to prosecute a slaughtering offensive.
Sir, why it may be unfair to put down the current spate of Fulani herdsmen killing to their tribal identity with you, it is impossible not to notice that the seriality of butchery of men (human beings with equal right to life) by these murderous beings has increased under your watch. I agree, it did not start with you; but their confidence to kill has acquired a rare valency of impunity in recent time.
One reality hits everyone plumb in the face: your silence is an audible indication of silent/loud endorsement. The questions are many and the possibilities of answers too worrisome.
How come the president has not declared this sanguinary institution a terrorist group? How come the president has not made any nationally-televised speech or interview to denounce them and promise safety for all Nigerians? How come these murderers exist under a known umbrella body and that body has not been proscribed, even if only momentarily?
Okay, what if for tokenism, the president abdicated his grand patronship of the group? How do I believe that the recent order of relocation given to the IGP is not an impotent afterthought necessary to save the ashen face of the president?
One more question, and that concern is the provenance of the rage that inspired this writing. Mr. President, I woke up this morning (Thursday) and I saw in the dailies the charnel picture of concatenation of coffins for mass burial of the victims of latest delivery (I think that trophy actually belongs to Taraba) of terror in Benue yesterday. My heart sunk and my conscience was torn. Even in a state of declared war, the sky does not get more sable than this.
Then the question arose in me: where was Mr. President? Not even the Vice-president? At a burial that is already changing the tenor, the tone and the thrust of national discourse?
Sir, I don’t believe all the allegations against you; that you are heartless and so inhumane, so much so that your aides have to put together a documentary to portray your human sides; that you are so invested in ethnicism, so much so that you proscribed IPOB because it belongs to a tribe different from yours and you could not do the same with Miyetti Allah as blood is thicker than water; that it is all part of the ‘Islamisation agenda’ by your blood-thirsty foot-soldiers.
Mr. President, I don’t believe. I can’t think of believing. Enduring a considerable shower, a long queue and bluff harassment from political imps of the opposition to vote for you in the last election, I can’t believe all these allegations against you are true.
Mr. President, I don’t want to make a verdict. In fact, my opinion may not count, after all. But Mr. President, for the sake of sanctity of human life, and some respect for the dead as well as some sympathy for the bereaved, let us not even mention the harvest of political hay from such presence, why were you not in Benue on Thurday? Not even to make the ritual, impotent, lip-deep (but assuring) commiserations leaders usually do in crisis situation?
People said the moral bulwarks of your administration had long fallen and that we (who believe you blindly, singing Buhari can do no wrong) are just hearing the reports now. Yet, I don’t believe them.
Sir, it will be my joy if you address the moral issues of this personal epistle to you. At least, that way, I can reclaim my sanity that I have not helped put a Frankenstein monster in power.
Mr. President, are you falling or you have fallen?
Olowofela Damilare writes from Ibadan, Oyo State