It was one of the states hit recently by killings. Many believed President Muhammadu Buhari would seize the opportunity offered by the visit to voice government’s concern and allay people’s fears. They were disappointed.
Buhari yesterday commissioned 10 coaches and two locomotives and the Kaduna Inland Dry Port.
Parts of the country witnessed bloodshed over the past week. While 21 people were killed in Rivers State, about 50 others died in attacks by herdsmen in Benue. In Kaduna, a traditional ruler, Dr. Gambo Makama, and his wife were murdered in Sanga Local Government Area. The President, however, left the state without saying a word on any of the incidents.
On Tuesday, a group, Centrum Initiative for Development and Fundamental Rights Advocacy (CEDRA), had issued a statement envisaging the outcome of the visit.
“It has come to our knowledge that Buhari will be in Kaduna on Thursday January 4, 2018 to commission a dry port and a few railway coaches. Aside from the niceties of tape-cutting at designated sites and a few remarks, President Buhari’s itinerary is quiet on his other activities while in Kaduna.
“A similar scenario unfolded on September 12, 2017 when he visited the state for the commissioning of a feeds milling plant called OLAM, along Kaduna-Abuja Road. The President left after fulfilling the righteousness of tape-cutting. We guess his Thursday January 4, 2018 visit will ply the same lane. This is not the first time President Buhari is showcasing a lackadaisical and I-don’t-care attitude to the barbaric annihilations of the people of Southern Kaduna,” said CEDRA chairman, Dr. John Danfulani.
Disappointed, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) yesterday passed a vote of no confidence in the president, and the state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, over their handling of attacks.
The group said the prolonged insecurity in the southern part of Kaduna State and the failure to arrest the perpetrators prove that government’s intelligence gathering mechanism has failed.
In a statement by its National Public Relations Officer, Mr. Yakubu Kuzamani, SOKAPU said: “With so much sadness and concern, the Southern Kaduna Peoples’ Union is constrained again to point out to the general public that the ominous signs coming out from the renewed attacks on our people, which has shattered the relative peace we have been enjoying, calls for serious concern.”
The group said it was wondering “why the government continues to adopt the same strategy to security in Southern Kaduna when such has not translated into stopping these attacks and killings.”
It noted that the failure of the authorities to arrest the perpetrators “has emboldened these terrorists to keep attacking and killing at will, while the government is left to issue flowery press statements after each attack and deploy security to already destroyed communities.
“In view of all these killings of our people, SOKAPU is urging the government to show more determination, willingness and sincerity and be more proactive in curbing these killings.
“We urge government to increase the space for more meaningful engagement in searching for more viable deterrents to these killings. We also urge the security personnel to increase their intelligence gathering and go after these terrorists, rather than wait for them to attack.”
Ahead of the arrival of Buhari and his entourage to the port commissioning in the Kakuri area, security operatives assaulted Taye Elebiyo Edeni, a reporter with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The lady was eventually evacuated with assistance from Red Cross paramedics and fellow journalists.
Despite showing accreditation tags, a team of security operatives “acting on orders from above” had cordoned off the entrance, preventing journalists from gaining access.
Pleas by officials of the Ministry of Transportation to allow journalists go in fell on deaf ears. This was followed by a threat from an operative to push the reporters away. Some security men were said to have readied their guns and attempted to deploy tear gas. In the ensuing scuffle, a mobile policeman reportedly punched Edeni in the face.
Buhari meanwhile expressed optimism that the dry port would boost the nation’s economy.
The facility, with a capacity for 29,000 tonnes of cargoes yearly, is expected to serve as a port of origin and destination, as cargoes would be conveyed via locomotives from ports in Lagos to Kaduna.
According to Buhari, industries and businesses have waited long for the facility, which he said would accelerate the implementation of the Federal Government’s economic diversification agenda.
He said the port would provide importers and exporters in the hinterland the opportunity to ship and clear cargo easily without travelling to Lagos. This would reduce the cost of transportation and doing business and eliminate congestion at Lagos ports, he said.
“It remains for customs and port officials to make these facilities work and not frustrate business, commercial and industrial enterprises with unnecessary bureaucracy, inflicting delays and hardships, thereby defeating the object of the whole exercise, as has happened in the past. Make these facilities work this time,” the president added.
Yesterday, leaders of the three main ethnic nationalities in Benue State rose from an emergency meeting in Abuja, passing a no-confidence vote on President Buhari’s administration for failing to ensure the security of Benue citizens.
They also rejected the President’s condolence messages to the people through Governor Ortom, saying that it is not from the bottom of the President’s heart.
President General of Mdzough U Tiv, Engr. Edward Ujege, presided over the press conference alongside the President of Idoma National Forum, Bar. Amali Adoya Amali, as well as the President General of the Omi Ny’ Igede, Ode Enyi.
”We believe that the Federal Government is playing to the gallery. There is no guarantee that these incidences will not occur again. The leaders said, “The blood of those killed is on the heads of those running the Federal Government.
“We the people of Benue, wish to remind the President that we voted massively for this government to protect us and provide conducive atmosphere for development but the reverse is now the case.
“We also want to remind the President that he swore an oath to defend all citizens of Nigeria but had failed woefully in the discharge of this responsibility in Benue State.”
Also yesterday, the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described the recent massacre of defenseless Nigerians in Benue, Rivers, Kaduna and other states by marauders as extremely wicked, iniquitous and horrifying.
The party also flayed as inexcusable, the failure of President Buhari-led APC Federal Government to act upon early danger signals and threats by taking cautionary measures that could have averted the killings, particularly in Benue.
PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement on Thursday further lamented the insensitivity of the Presidency which reacted to the ugly incidents only after the PDP and well-meaning Nigerians called them to task.
The party said the height of insensitivity of the APC Presidency became glaring in its reaction, wherein a media aide issued some apathetic and indifferent lines without any precise commitment towards bringing the perpetrators to book and assurances of adequate security to forestall a reoccurrence.