Letter to Femi Adesina


I’m sorry, Mr Adesina, but the president needs to speak on the southern Kaduna killings. He needs to pacify and reassure the oppressed people of that region of the government’s commitment to putting a halt to the dastardly activities of the Fulani herdsmen. He needs to intimate them on the urgent steps being taken towards apprehending the culprits and, lastly, he needs to sympathize with them. You left out that part. Even if Gov. el-Rufai is “on everything else” (to borrow your words), he can’t be on this. The need to show compassion at a most dire time hovers over your principal more as a matter of duty than anything else.

Presidents of more federal nations — even in those where the states have their own police forces to protect the people — have gone out of their way to not only commiserate with the families and victims of a tragedy but to also visit them. Did the president not know we were a federal state when he sympathized with the victims of the Kano and Kebbi market fires? Those were incidents where no souls were lost and yet he keeps mute when hundreds of innocent people including women and babies are slaughtered.

The president chose to have six media aides at a time when the nation is facing its worst recession ever, and it saddens to see you and your colleagues neglect to play your roles as you should. If you were doing your job well, you would enlighten the president on the sensitivity of this matter and the tendency of appearing sectarian.

He has already being accused of being partial with his appointments and many still doubt if there would be this much commitment towards shutting down the insurgency, if his fellow Muslims weren’t being killed by Boko Haram as well. The herdsmen have so far not been attacking Muslims.

If you meant well for the president, you wouldn’t hurt his image with those comments but would let him know how the poor handling of the herdsmen crisis allowed it escalate. As such, he owes it to the victims and the country at large to show compassion.

The Enugu massacre of over 50 people by Fulani herdsmen appears to have been incited by the unprofessional disclosure by the DSS that five bodies found buried at the Abia forest were those of Fulanis.

Even a lay man like myself knows that, in the secret police terrain, some information are best kept secret in the best interests of the nation. Buhari it was who recalled the present DSS boss from retirement.

The president’s belated reaction to the killing of over 500 people and razing of about 10 villages in Agatu, Benue State, came a week later, thus depicting him as a highly inconsiderate leader; and neither the panel he set up to investigate the crisis nor its findings have been made public.

I hope at this point you can understand just how ridiculous I found your attempt at rationalizing the president’s silence.

A seasoned media man like you expectedly understands he has just helped the general public form an irredeemably conclusive opinion on the president vis-à-vis the killings of the herdsmen. The president, for some reason, is lukewarm towards the horrendous activities of the Fulani herdsmen.

I really fear for my nation with people like you around the president, and I sincerely hope we would still have a nation by 2019. It was sad to watch you, in a previous interview on Channels TV, tell innocent Nigerians complaining over poor power supply to go and fight the militants. You did not bother to take into consideration the fact that your principal’s promise of treating those who voted en masse for him ahead of those who didn’t could very well be deemed an inciting factor in the Niger Delta militancy. Such comments regrettably justify the fights for “freedom” and no one who is true to himself would say those words were uttered in the best interest of Nigeria.

I still tell people that, in better places, the process of ridding us of him would be kick-started from that moment, as he had publicly violated the sacred right to freedom of association of some of his countrymen as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Nigerians expect their president to respond promptly when they are attacked by allaying their fears and sympathizing with them. This they expect at all times.

Positions like yours are quite sensitive as you have the power to mitigate or worsen any damage occasioned by the acts of your principal who, I must say, is a PR time-bomb and, so far, all you seem to be doing is widening the scope of that bomb. Please have the interests of Nigeria and its people at heart in the discharge of your duties.

Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.




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