Coming as an afterthought and several months after violence claimed hundreds of lives and property worth millions of naira in some parts of the country, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday finally visited Jalingo, the capital of Taraba State. We understand the visit is the first leg of his scheduled visits to the troubled states of Benue, Yobe, Zamfara and Rivers states.
The beleaguered president has come under heavy criticism for failing to visit the troubled states, with Nigerians accusing him of insensitivity to the suffering of the people of the affected areas. The worst was the January killings in Benue and mass-burial, which the President and his men totally ignored as if the lives of those innocent citizens do no matter. But with elections fast approaching, the same Buhari has embarked on the trips as if those from those areas are complete fools.
However, his visit to Taraba State on Monday and the scheduled visits to others appeared not to have swayed his critics. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, who dismissed it as a belated gambit to shore up the president’s declining popularity. They believe that Buhari would not have gone to those areas if not because he wants to again warm himself to the people of the affected states just to win a reelection come next year. But they believe the damage has been done already.
Meanwhile the Presidential Adviser for Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, had in a statement in Abuja said the president had, after receiving briefings from the delegations that he sent to the affected states, decided to visit them to obtain an on the spot assessment of the situation and commiserate with the victims and their families, a statement critics believe was a bare-faced lies from the pit of hell.
Monday’s visit to Jalingo however still fell short of expectations as the president only met with the governor, Mr. Darius Ishaku, and stakeholders, including traditional rulers, senators and members of the House of Representatives, and commiserated with them over their enormous losses during the internecine violence that enveloped some parts of the state earlier in the year and as recently as in the last few days.
To show that he was probably being forced to embark on the trip, Buhari neither visited the theatre of the crisis in the Mambilla Plateau, nor any of the internally displaced persons’ (IDPs) camps in Jalingo, where the victims were kept. This move again drew further swipes from the indigenous people of the state, who accused him of showing more concern for the violence in the Mambilla Plateau, where the Fulani were more affected, than other areas of the state that the Fulani were perceived as the aggressors.
The president is scheduled to visit the other troubled states after his return from a state visit to Ghana.