Buhari booed, Dickson jeered as Nigerians vent anger
Growing public anger, bitterness and animosity against the poor handling of security matters by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration took a turn for the worse on Wednesday with display of open hostility and booing of the president by residents of Maiduguri, Borno State in Nigeria’s insurgency-ravaged north-east.
Buhari, who had been in Ethiopia since Friday for the African Union Summit, headed straight to Borno to condole with the people over the latest Boko Haram attack in the state.
The attack at Auno near Maiduguri, the state capital, on Sunday left more than 30 people dead.
Just as the president’s convoy made its way into Maiduguri, residents of the metropolis, who came out on the streets to welcome him, openly expressed their anger, booing the president and members of his entourage.
Hundreds of youths were heard shouting in Hausa, “Ba ma so!”, “Ba ma iyi!”, which translate to “We don’t want!”, “We’re not interested!” They were apparently referring to his visit.
Borno is a stronghold of the president. During his previous visits to the state, crowds lined up on the streets chanting “Sai baba!”
In Bayelsa State in the oil-rich Niger Delta, protests were staged in front of Government House in Yenagoa, the state capital with the access barricaded by angry civil servants amongst others who were protesting non-payment of their December salaries.
Just two days to the formal handover to David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC), angry workers, staff of the 24 rural development authorities, were heard shouting invectives at outgoing Governor Henry Seriake Dickson as his convoy attempted to drive out of Government House for an official engagement.
Some of the aggrieved workers accused him of “killing our party when we dey manage”, which is an indication that there is more to the protests which ran into a second day on Wednesday.
The protesters also barricaded the Onopa Junction and the Treasury Building which resulted in traffic congestion that lasted for several hours before normalcy could return.
It would be recalled that against the advice of many bigwigs in the PDP, Dickson singlehandedly chose a successor that caused disaffection within the party in the state.
His choice, Douye Diri, lost the governorship election and the PDP has been in a meltdown ever since, for which Dickson has not been forgiven though he had boasted that he is finishing strong.
In a reaction to the booing of Buhari in Maiduguri, the People’s Democratic Party said it was a clear indication that Nigerians have lost confidence in his administration for the escalating insecurity in the country.
Specifically, the PDP said the Buhari presidency and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have failed.
Consequently, the party has charged President Buhari to go beyond his sympathy visit to Borno State and take decisive steps to end the killings in the country.
The opposition party, through its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement that Mr. President should not limit his visit to Borno State but also visit other parts of the country, including Kaduna, Kano, Benue, Plateau, Yobe, Adamawa, Zamfara, Kogi, Niger, Taraba and other states.
The visit, PDP said, would enable Buhari to face the feelings of Nigerians as well as view the national devastation his poor handling of security and infrastructure has caused the country.
But Buhari has promised that more proactive and decisive measures would be taken by the Federal Government to put an end to the Boko Haram menace in the country once and for all, according to a statement by Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity.
The statement said Buhari at the palace of the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Ibn Umar Gabai, appealed for more intelligence sharing and synergy between law enforcement agencies and the civil populace, saying these are critical towards achieving the objectives.
“I assure you that improvement in security will be pursued vigorously. The military will work harder and strategise with tactics to deal with the insurgents. This is however not possible without good intelligence and cooperation with local community leaders,” he said.
“Boko Haram cannot come up to Maiduguri or environs without the local leadership knowing because traditionally, the local leadership is in charge of security in their own respective areas. I want to call on the leadership at various levels to cooperate with law enforcement agencies and let us deny Boko Haram access to our loyal citizens. We will do our best and I hope history will be kind to us; to recall what was on the ground when we came and what will be on the ground when we leave,” he added.
President Buhari was accompanied to the palace of the Shehu of Borno by Babagana Umara Zulum, the state governor.
Solomon Ayado (Abuja), Iniobong Iwok (Lagos) & Samuel Ese (Yenagoa)