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Outrage as Buhari mourns ex-Saudi minister but ignores victims of Maiduguri attack

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A CONDOLENCE message released by Muhammadu Buhari on the death of a former Saudi Arabian minister has elicited outrage from Nigerians who were angered that the president ignored victims of a Boko Haram attack in Maiduguri, Borno State capital.

No fewer than 10 persons died, while scores were injured when Islamic insurgents launched rocket-propelled grenades on Maiduguri on February 23.

On the same day Nigerians were killed by insurgents in Maiduguri, Ahmed Zaki Yamani, a former Saudi Arabian minister of petroleum resources, died in a London hospital at the age of 90.

Buhari did not issue any statement to mourn the Maiduguri victims. Rather, he released a condolence message to mourn the Saudi former minister’s passing, whom he described as a ‘world statesman and consummate oil minister.’

Going by the condolence message contents, Buhari and the late Yamani were associates in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) when Buhari served as Nigeria’s petroleum minister during the Murtala Muhammed regime.

The condolence message, posted on Twitter on February 24 by Garba Shehu, senior special assistant, media and publicity, was praised for the late Saudi politician, and sadness at his demise.

  • Buhari mourns former Saudi oil minister

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The condolence message read, “President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sadness over the death of Saudi Arabia’s longest-serving oil minister, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, who died at a London hospital at 90. Reacting to the passing of Yamani, President Buhari said, “Yamani was one of the greatest and most skilful negotiators I ever met when I was minister for Petroleum Resources during the Murtala/Obasanjo regime.”

“According to the President, “the late Yamani was a towering figure in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) because of his remarkable leadership skills and fierce commitment to protecting the interests of oil-producing countries.”

“President Buhari recalled that the 1973 oil embargo drew world attention to Yamani’s tremendous influence in the oil cartel.

“Whether you love him or loathe him, there is no denying the fact that Zaki Yamani was a powerful force in OPEC affairs who commanded respect and admiration of friends and foes alike,” Buhari said of the late Saudi oil minister.

“The president added that, “as one of the younger oil ministers representing their countries at OPEC, I was awed and inspired by Yamani’s leadership skills and diplomatic finesse.” He described Yamani as a lucky man who survived terrorist captivity after being taken by the notorious terrorist, Carlos the Jackal’ in 1973.

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“President Buhari extended his condolences to King Salman, the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques and the government of Saudi Arabia over what he called the “immense loss of a world statesman and consummate oil minister.”

  • Buhari ignored Nigerians killed in Maiduguri attack on the same day

Buhari is yet to comment on the February 23 rocket attack in Maiduguri, either to mourn the victims, or to condemn the incident.

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The presidency has been silent on the matter, as no statement has been issued concerning it.

According to report,  nine boys, who were playing football, were among the victims. Forty-seven people were also reported to have sustained injuries.

  • Buhari comes under attack for ignoring Nigerians that died in Maiduguri

Most Nigerians, who reacted to Buhari’s condolence message for Yamani, which Shehu tweeted on his official handle – @GarShehu – were furious that the president chose to mourn the late Saudi oil minister but ignored his subjects who were killed and maimed in the Maiduguri terror attack.

The first to comment on the condolence message, Tahir Aliyu, with the Twitter handle @Tahir30, asked, “Fear Allah, what about those that lost their lives in Maiduguri?”

Idara (Coolio) Akpan, also reacting to Buhari’s message, observed, “Nigerians died yesterday at the hands of Boko Haram, you people (presidency) don’t care, but you are concerned about Saudi Arabia that is very far.”

Another Twitter user, Idris Hamza Yana, also asked, “What about the Nigerians who lost their lives in Maiduguri due to Boko Haram attack last night?”

Others accused Buhari of insensitivity, claiming that he did not value Nigerians.

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Croesus Ameh noted that “Saudi Arabia is valued more than Nigerians killed almost on daily basis” while Amorous observed that “He (Buhari) hasn’t expressed shock over the attack in Maiduguri”. “Tell him we are waiting for that ‘shock’ part,” he added.

“Maybe he hasn’t heard about the attacks in Borno. When he wakes up, please inform him,” Collins Eze tweeted in reaction to the condolence message. In the same vein, Alhaji Ahmed observed, “He (Buhari) is quiet about what is going on here.”

Sampson Monday, also reacting to the condolence message, said, “He (Buhari) should be sad about all Borno deaths yesterday, not 90 years old Saudi man. Misplacement of priority.”

Viral video on social media shows stranded Nigerians in Saudi Arabia calling for help

Another Twitter user, Sholay Sholay, noted that failure to issue any statement on the Maiduguri victims shows that the Buhari administration is a ‘bad’ government.  “Garba Shehu and his friend Femi Adesina will regret this. Killings in Borno yesterday without any statement. What a bad government,” he said.

A Twitter user who goes by the name, @The Masses Voice, while accusing Buhari of insensitivity, asked, “Are you aware that Boko Haram has taken over one local government in Borno State?” In the same vein, Biola wondered, “What is his (Buhari’s) business with a Saudi minister when bandits are killing us day by day here?”

Buhari was equally accused of incompetence, ‘eye service’ and hypocrisy.

“Nigerians are dying per seconds. Stop wasting condolences. Eye service government,” Sam tweeted in reaction to Buhari’s condolence message for the late Saudi oil minister. On his part, Bernard noted, “He (Buhari) did not express sadness on the deaths of Nigerian youths at Lekki tollgate, Obigbo (Rivers State) and all over Nigeria (during the #EndSARS protests). Shame. Hypocrisy everywhere.”

A Nigerian with the tweeter handle, mumu president, noted that Buhari was interested in issues that were inconsequential to Nigerians but “does not pay any attention to the systematic killings of people in his country.”

“So Buhari did not express sadness over the death of many Nigerians that were killed by herdsmen, bandits and Boko Haram but went ahead to express sadness for a person that is not in Nigeria?” A Twitter user, @MozeyWilly, wondered.

Noting that Buhari’s sadness at the death of the former Saudi oil minister was the president’s personal affair and not a national issue, Jamie said, “What is our business with who dies or lives in Saudi Arabia? If you don’t have anything to say concerning the plight of many Nigerians, don’t say anything.”

  • Buhari’s reluctance to address ‘critical national issues’

Failure to issue any statement on the latest Boko Haram attack in Maiduguri is in keeping with Buhari’s apparent reluctance to address critical national issues. Nigerians have, over time, faulted the president for continuing to remain aloof over attacks by Fulani herdsmen on farming communities in several parts of the country, which has led to the loss of hundreds of lives.

During the #EndSARS protests, Buhari kept mute despite a national and international outcry that ensued after soldiers opened fire on unarmed protesters at Lekki toll plaza in Lagos on October 20, 2020.

Nigerians demanded that Buhari address the nation after no official statement was issued on the Lekki toll gate incident by presidential media aides.

However, despite the public outrage, Buhari refused to talk about the Lekki toll gate shooting when he delivered the highly anticipated national broadcast on October 22, 2020.

Rather, in the 12 minutes address, Buhari cautioned the international community against what he described as hasty comments and conclusions on happenings in Nigeria.

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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