Okogie in an article titled, ‘The Wisdom of the Sultan,’ likened Buhari’s silence on the killings in Southern Kaduna to how former President Goodluck Jonathan allegedly abdicated his duty to protect the citizenry against the Boko Haram insurgents during his tenure.
Okogie wrote, “In his inaugural address on May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari said inter alia, ‘Boko Haram is a typical example of small fires causing large fires. Through official bungling, negligence, complacency or collusion, Boko Haram became a terrifying force taking tens of thousands of lives and capturing several towns and villages covering swathes of Nigerian sovereign territory.’
“While those remarks represent a pointed reference to what had been perceived as abdication of responsibility on the part of the administration of his predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan, the ceaseless silence of President Buhari on the banditry of herdsmen represents a sad reminder of the negligence he so eloquently disparaged.”
“Given the recent massacre of hundreds of innocent Nigerians in Southern Kaduna by herdsmen, not a few Nigerians expected this silence to be broken. But those who harboured such expectation got a rebuke from one of the presidential spokespersons, Mr. Femi Adesina.
“Mr. Adesina is reported to have said that, in consonance with the principle of federalism, the President did not need to say a word on the recent killings. The responsibility for security in Kaduna State, he claimed, belonged to the state Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai. But Mr. Adesina did not consider the fact that the latter’s effectiveness as chief security officer has been eroded.
“The governor had said that he had paid a pacifying visit to the marauders when in fact he should have had them arrested.”
“Mr. Adesina’s remarks do not serve the President. They remind one of a saying that the late President Harry S. Truman of the United States of America made popular.
“On President Truman’s desk was a sign bearing the inscription, ‘The buck stops here.’ Truman understood the imperative of a decisive and responsible Presidency. In the same vein, it is simply inexcusable for our own President to remain silent while innocent Nigerians are being slaughtered.
“Silence in the matter of marauding herdsmen negates the content and message of President Buhari’s inaugural address. Moreover, Mr. Adesina’s explanation of the silence by recourse to the principle of federalism is in clear contradiction of another remark made by President Buhari in the same address of May 29, 2015.”
“Constitutionally, there are limits to powers of each of the three tiers of government but that should not mean the Federal Government should fold its arms and close its eyes to what is going on in the states and local governments.”
The Catholic bishop also recalled “the admonition” offered by the Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.), who spoke through his Press Secretary, Mr. Ehisienmen Osaigbovo, warning religious leaders to refrain from reading and interpreting the killings in Southern Kaduna through the lenses of religion.
“For him, it is an altercation between herdsmen and farmers. One would agree with the minister that this is a conflict between herdsmen and farmers. But it is also the case – and the minister’s admonition clearly avoids admitting this – that the herdsmen are of one ethnic and religious affiliation, while the farmers are of another ethnic and religious affiliation,” Okogie noted.
“Unfortunately, successive governments have failed Nigerians in this regard. President Buhari’s remarks in his inaugural address raised expectation that the government he leads would be an exception. But there is now a wide gulf between expectation and experience. This gulf will need to be bridged.”
“Instead of his presidential silence, the ambivalence of Governor El-Rufai’s “pacifying visit,” Mr. Adesina’s attempt to pass the buck, and General Dambazau’s utterly unhelpful admonition, there is need to put out this small fire now before it engulfs the whole country.
“If and when President Buhari breaks his silence and takes a decisive stance on the menace of herdsmen, he would underscore the veracity of his own words in the same inaugural address: ‘Today marks a triumph for Nigeria and an occasion to celebrate her freedom and cherish her democracy.’
“Killing of innocent Nigerians has nothing to do with the triumph of democracy. We are not free if our lives are in danger while government that ought to protect us appears to be helpless.”