The Nigerian Head of State, President Muhammadu Buhari, is conspicuously missing in action in a time of need.
While it may appear to some that he is observing a self-quarantine from the electorate that voted him into power, seeing the president at select functions which he has a bias for is very untoward, to say the least.
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On Sunday, March 15, a gas explosion rocked the vicinity of Abule Ado, near FESTAC, Lagos with many properties destroyed and with a human death toll of at least 16, and many more injured.
No emergency unit, from Lagos (Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, etc) or National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) itself, was dispatched to the location of the catastrophe. Even more embarrassing and unempathetic was the notable absence of the state governor, Jide SanwoOlu, who only appeared more than 24 hours later to solicit relief funds from the public. Buhari himself only sent a condolence message to the affected community of Abule Ado in a tweet. Not even a visitation was considered, let alone a press conference assuaging the victims of the disaster.
The Corona Virus pandemic currently ravaging the world has been in the news for the past 3 months. And to say that Nigeria was prepared for the new cases of the virus surfacing daily would be a complete lie.
As the world is shutting down activities to contain the spread of the deadly virus, and at the same time sending some people into panic mode and chaos, the least that is expected of a great leader is to address the nation in a televised broadcast on what every citizen needs to cater to personally and in joint effort. That is the least Buhari can do while leaving other experts to do their jobs in containing the spread.
Leaders across the world are stepping up to the occasion to assure their citizens that all will be well; offering palliatives to affected industries and individuals in the form of tax cuts, cash handouts, bailouts, sick leave, and other measures to ensure their economy does not crash. Stringent rules around flights and mobility are even being put in place to reduce human activity which could spur the spread of the virus. But without that leadership from the president, Nigeria now seems to be losing grip on our earlier wins.
While the presidency was quick to close the borders to the so-called illegal smuggling along the western border, it however was dragged into shutting down flights from high risk countries where the COVID19 virus is mainstream.
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Somewhat akin to a lackadaisical attitude, the Federal Government just set up a presidential task force headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, to curtail the COVID19 virus when other pragmatic presidents across the world are personally running the task force to nip the pandemic in the bud. No palliatives have been announced by the government except for the vague declaration by the Central Bank of Nigeria during the week.
All we got from our president in the past two weeks was just him attending the Argungu Fishing Festival about a week ago, participating in photo-op sessions with captains of industry, and launching the toll-free National Emergency number (122) yesterday.
With all of this evidence at play, one is close to submitting that the president is either nonchalant, uncaring, unconcerned and/or indifferent to whatever fate befalls his country folks. The whole country just seems to be on autodrive with residents running helter-skelter like headless chickens just because our president is missing in action.
And again, except Nigerians demand accountability from their leaders, they might be forced to resort to the usual self-help and self-governance format they have been used to – only that this time, we are dealing with a force (COVID19) too potent and fatal to handle individually. Still, a great leadership can get us out of the current mess.
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