Some Nigerians have described President Goodluck Jonathan as an insensitive leader. This followed his moves to formally declare his re-election bid amid his administration’s failure to ensure the release of the 219 Chibok girls abducted six months ago in Borno State by the violent Boko Karam sect.
They said they were worried that the President seemed to have abandoned his responsibility of protecting lives and the property of the citizens while focusing on his re-election ambition.
The President had on Thursday set up a Presidential Declaration Committee with a former Minister of Defence, Dr. Bello Haliru, appointed as the chairman.
Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, was appointed as the Deputy Chairman and Senator Anyim Pius Anyim will serve as secretary of the committee.
The declaration will hold on November 11, 2014.
The President had insisted some years back that he would not stay in office beyond 2015.
But concerned Nigerians believe that the President ought to have secured the release of the girls before he declares his intention to seek re-election.
The Executive Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said the fact that the President had chosen to concern himself about returning to power at this time amounted to insensitivity.
Mumuni, who spoke with one of our correspondents in a telephone interview on Thursday, said the President could simply have delayed his declaration until when the Chibok girls are rescued.
He said, “But in Nigeria, politicians at all levels, not just the President, think mostly about the moment rather than the future. It has become customary that they don’t bother about the situation in the country when their political career is concerned.
“There were reports that the girls would be released last Monday but this is the end of the week and nothing has happened. What the President should have done was to address the nation on this issue and tell us why nothing has happened.”
The Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, Mr. David Anyaele, expressed worry over the President’s seeming reluctance to prove to Nigerians that he could provide adequate security for them.
He, however, urged the President to ensure that the Chibok girls are rescued immediately.
He said, “Nigerians should demand that the President should produce the girls right now to show he has the capacity to provide security for the country beyond 2015 and that he is not insensitive.”
The spokesperson for the BringBack Our Girls Campaign, Mr. Rotimi Olawale, who spoke on behalf of the parents of the Chibok girls, said it would be unfair to the abducted girls for the President to put politics above their safe return.
He said, “For us at BBOG campaign, one of the things we have been demanding is that we need to see a resolve from the Presidency that rescuing the Chibok girls and other boys and girls who have been kidnapped in the past remain number one on the agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“Unfortunately, this is a time we have different political intrigues and the 2015 elections close by. Sometimes we feel they have placed politics above the return of the girls.
“We demand that the government should rescue the girls and communicate with the families of the girls who have been kept in the dark since the news broke that there was a ceasefire and a negotiation.”
An Abuja-based lawyer and social commentator, Mr. Jide Oluyemi, believed that it was shameful for the President to seek re-election in the midst of the security crisis in the country, especially in the North-East.
He said that the action showed that the President was not sensitive to the plight of Nigerians.
Oluyemi said, “Six months ago, Boko Haram abducted over 200 Chibok schoolgirls and they have yet to return home. There are thousands of people displaced and yet President Goodluck Jonathan still has the gut to declare his ambition to seek re-election.
“This is insensitivity at its greatest height; this is unfair to many Nigerians who have lost their loved ones to the insurgency in the North. This display of insensitivity must stop. He should address the insecurity first and lay aside his ambition for now. He was not properly advised on this one.”
A Lagos-based lawyer, Fred Agbaje, believes that though the President has the right to seek Nigerians’ mandate for re-election, the timing was wrong.
Agbaje said, “There is no law or any process which bars the President from declaring his interest. Once the necessary provisions of the law are met, he can declare. But the question is whether he can still go ahead to declare in the face of mounting insecurity, unemployment, corruption and abduction of Nigerians, among other problems confronting the country.
“Yes, he can still declare but it is now left for Nigerians whether in the face of the social ills that I have highlighted to open their eyes and allow him to continue to rule us and we continue to suffer or we open our eyes and reject his coming back and say we don’t want him.
“Just like the governor of Kano State said, we have had many opportunities to reject Jonathan and vote him out. Just on Thursday, we heard that some group of girls and women were abducted by the Boko Haram insurgents while this government told us it had entered into a ceasefire agreement with the insurgents.
“I am sure the ceasefire agreement the President is telling Nigerians about is not true or done with the wrong people. Otherwise, the original sect would have told us by themselves if there was any ceasefire agreement. That is why they are still going ahead, kidnapping, maiming, and killing people. I agree with Kwankwanso that we have lost opportunities to vote the President out especially in the midst of all the social crises facing the country.”