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Buhari deserves to be replaced not praised

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It was with joyous exuberance and unbridled exhilaration that I received the news that the 350 schoolboys abducted from the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State, Nigeria have been released.

A spokesman for the Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari, in an interview aired on the Nigeria Television Network (NTA) 9:00 pm news, announced to the nation that the Nigerian military, late on Thursday, took custody of the 344 schoolboys and that they were being transported to the state capital. Since I heard the news, I have been dancing and singing, praising the Highest God for the boys’ deliverance.

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Across all the social media platforms, the trending topic was still the US Presidential elections. Nigerians, many of whom live in Nigeria, continue to be more preoccupied with what is going on in US politics. There wasn’t a mention of the hundreds of school pupils gone missing in Northern Nigeria.

Yet not in one of these platforms was anything said about the 400 or so young kids abducted in Katsina for two days following the incident. Another secondary school attacked by gunmen in the country, Nigerians let out a boring yawn. Four hundred school pupils were abducted, Nigerians on social media shrugged their shoulders in total abandon.

So, I began to ask myself, “Why is that so? How is it that an attack on a secondary school, and the abduction of 400 school pupils, in Nigeria seem to have gone unnoticed on social platforms of Nigerians?”

“Why did this kidnapping not provoke a furious outrage and evoke passionate debate among various Nigerian groups? How come there’s more expression of outrage over Trump’s loss at the polls than the loss of 400 Nigerian kids in Northern Nigeria?”

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“Why are my Nigerian friends going about their thing as though nothing has happened? Why does it appear as though indigenous Nigerians care more about the burning refuse dump in America than the forest fire burning in their own backyard?”

The answer, I was told, lies in the callousness of the hearts of many Nigerians. As a result of the frequency of these attacks and abductions, I came to understand that Nigerians have become immune to them. The people have become so insensitive to human tragedy and so numb to the misery of their fellow countrymen that the abduction of nearly 400 kids from their boarding school did not even register anymore; it didn’t move the needle in the meter of their soul. As long as they are not personally affected, Nigerians are wont to be aloof and nonchalant to the tragedy that befalls others. So I learned.

Perhaps, if Nigerians spend less time huffing and puffing over the politics in far-flung foreign lands, and spend more time brooding and praying over the affairs of their own homeland, Nigeria would not be in such a state of chaos and anarchy. If these Pirate Nigerians show more passion for their fatherland, they’ll probably be able to find solutions to the myriads of problems that plague their motherland. If they expend half the energy they spend analyzing and bloviating over American politicians, perhaps there’ll be more sanity in their own polity.

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Even before the abducted children arrived back home from their torment, and well before the dust settles on their agonizing ordeal, certain folks within the Nigerian society have already started singing the praise of President Muhammadu Buhari for getting the children back from their abductors, and Nigerian citizens are being summoned to join the bandwagon of sycophantic praise singers.

Their argument? The children were abducted with the sole purpose of creating a PR nightmare for the President, and the kidnapping was meant to cause a messy embarrassment for the “Dear Leader.” President Buhari, they argue, deserves all the credit for securing the release of the children from captivity so quickly, unlike the President Goodluck Jonathan under whose watch the Chibok girls were kidnapped but never returned.

My response to this twisted boondoggle and the warped argument is, “Bollocks!” To shower praise on President Buhari, and to give him credit, for getting the kidnapped schoolboys back will amount to lowering the bar of responsible leadership further than where it currently is – which is rock bottom. Buhari does not deserve even a tiny grain of salt in credit.

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The abduction of the schoolchildren should never ever have happened in the first place – especially not after the experience with the kidnappings of the Chibok girls – which is in close geographical proximity to Kankara where the boys were taken. It is unimaginable that anyone would give credit to Buhari for an abduction that coincided with his visit to the State where it happened and a few milestones from the place where he was staying. That the Nigerian government cannot keep the nation’s children safe at school should be an embarrassment to anyone connected with this government.

That a cohort of praise singers has emerged so soon after the release of the kids should come as no surprise to anyone. Nigeria is a country of masochistic sycophants. The people suffer from a severe and intractable form of Stockholm Syndrome. The fact these Buharists would have the gall to demand credit on behalf of their idol – who at most times appears lifeless and unfeeling – is indicative of their general lack of self-awareness. It is an indescribable absurdity that these professional praise singers will decry the abductors for wanting to embarrass President Buhari and his administration – or misadministration in this case. That they’ll even reach the low level of demanding praise for their man proves that their lack of self-awareness is worse than imagined.

Of course, the criminal elements deliberately carried out the evil deed in a State the President was visiting, and at a time he was in town; the goal was to taunt PMB. The abductors were sending a clear message to President Buhari that he is a hapless and incompetent leader. The abduction of such a large number of schoolboys was to remind Buhari that his Boko Haram impotence is real and remains incurable...to borrow from Jim Acosta of CNN.

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Childhood abduction wreaks lasting havoc on the psyche of the abducted child. A child that is violently snatched from his parent is left with a wounded soul that is permanently fragmented and a personhood forever shattered. Such a child is doomed to spend the rest of his life battling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Broken nations sacrifice their young to become prey for ravenous wolves. Only soulless people allow their youth to be so emotionally brutalized. Heartless leaders allow the leaders of tomorrow to grow up into damaged goods and a wasted generation.

It’s only in a society where human lives have no value and human beings have not much worth that 400 school children get abducted and both the government and the citizens shrug their shoulders and move on with their daily lives as though nothing has happened at all.

No good leader allows hundreds of schoolchildren to get abducted from their schools under his nose. No responsible leader should expect people to sing his praise for such a manifest display of incompetence and mind-boggling impotence. A leader that finds himself in a situation where his government had to pay hundreds of billions of Naira in ransom to buy back 350 schoolchildren from their abductors is a leader guilty of gross negligence and profound abdication of presidential leadership. Such a president is undeserving of praise. He should either resign in shame or be removed from office in disgrace for the sake of the nation.

If any leader does not provide adequate safety and security protections necessary for his citizens, and especially for his young and school-age children, to live their life totally, enjoy liberty maximally, and pursue happiness heartily, HE has failed in his constitutional responsibilities, violated his oath of office, and broke public trust. Such a leader is clueless, feckless, and hapless; he is unfit for office and ought to step aside voluntarily or be removed legislatively.

Ojumu, MD, MPH, wrote from the US National Institutes of Health.

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