…PDP playing cheap, childish politics with the dead- Presidency
…No, you lack respect for the dead, PDP tells Buhari
Barely a week after the killing of over 80 people in Plateau State during an attack by suspected Fulani herdsmen, the Federal Government and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have engaged in a war-of-words on the issue of sympathy to the dead.
The PDP had said it would declare a seven day national mourning for those who lost their lives in the attack with its party flags hoisted half-pole across the states of the federation.
But the Presidency, in a swift reaction, said that the sad and unfortunate killings in Plateau State over the weekend has been turned to opportunity to once again play irresponsible politics, particularly by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which said it is declaring seven days of mourning.
According to the Presidency, the PDP would rather dance on the graves of the dead, playing cheap, infantile politics.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, on Thursday, stated that the comatose and prostrate party is declaring seven days of mourning, during which flags in its offices would be flown at half mast nationwide,
“but unknown to the party, those flags had been forcefully lowered since its 2015 loss at the polls, and may remain so for a long time to come, because Nigerians are politically discerning, and cannot be hoodwinked by cheap antics”.
Adesina noted that “these are dolorous times that call for deep introspection on ‘how cheap human lives have become’, and the proffering of actionable ideas on how to get out of the bind.
He said: “A quick checklist of some savage and brutal killings in Nigeria during PDP rule, between 1999 and 2015, for which no national mourning was declared: November 20, 1999. Odi, in Bayelsa State, was invaded on orders of a PDP President. About 2,500 people killed. No national mourning.
“Between February and May, 2000, about 5,000 people were killed during riots over Sharia law in different parts of the North. No national mourning. In 2001, hundreds of people, including the old, infirm, women and children were killed in Zaki Biam. No crocodile tears.
“Between September 7-12, 2001, Jos, Plateau State, erupted in internecine killings. Between 500 and 1,000 people were killed. Flags were not flown at half mast. In February, 2004, at least 975 people were killed in Yelwa-Shendam, Plateau State. No mourning by the then ruling PDP.
“Between November 28 and 29, 2008, Jos was in flames again, with 381 deaths. No mourning. In 2010, 992 people killed in Jos. Mum was the word. In 2014 alone, according to Global Terrorism Index, at least 1,229 people were killed in the Middle Belt. No mourning.
“Boko Haram killings in PDP years were over 10,000. PDP flags were still fluttering proudly in the sky.
“Those who take pleasure in twisting statements from the Presidency may claim we are saying that many more people were killed under PDP than under President Muhammadu Buhari.
It would be unconscionable to do so. The intendment of this statement is to show that wanton killings had been with us for awhile; this government is working towards enduring solutions; and should be given the opportunity to do so.
“Even a single soul is precious, and no man should take a life, which he cannot create. But when tragic situations as had happened in Plateau State occur, such should never be used to play crude politics. Those who are wont to do so should have change of hearts, or lose their very humanity,” Adesina added.
But the PDP has said that President Muhammadu Buhari has no respect for the dead and that it was shocked by the response of the Presidency to the party’s declaration of a seven national mourning in honour of victims of the recent killings in Plateau State.
The party also berated the Presidency for justifying its failure to stem the tide of killings and bloodletting in the country, particularly in the Plateau, Zamfara, Benue, Yobe, Adamawa, Borno, Kogi, Taraba and other troubled states.
The party’s spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement on Thursday, said it was disturbing that even in death, the Buhari Presidency still wants to deny these victims of callous murder the honour of being mourned.
The PDP also said it was indeed reprehensible that the Presidency in its usual arrogance and insensitivity to the mood of the nation chose to condemn the PDP for declaring a seven-day mourning and flying our flags at half-mast in honour of the dead and solidarity with the bereaved.
He said, ‘We are particularly appalled that instead of joining Nigerians in mourning the dead and seeking ways to stem the escalation of the bloodletting under its watch, the Buhari Presidency is engaged in morbid reference to past killings as if the lives of Nigerians have no value under President Buhari’s watch.
“The PDP, as a party, will continue to identify with Nigerians at this troubled time irrespective of ethnic, religious and political affiliations and will therefore not allow itself to be dragged into a needless mire with the Buhari Presidency, which has shown by its statement, that it has no iota of regard for the lives of Nigerians”.
The PDP urged the Presidency to confront the challenge of fulfilling the basic responsibility of governance by providing security to the lives and properties of all Nigerians irrespective of their creed, tribe and political affiliations.
The party assured Nigerians that it would not be deterred in speaking out against the killings and the failure of the Buhari administration to take concrete steps to stem this ugly tide.
Soyinka wants Buhari to take decisive action
Meanwhile, a Noble Laureate and renowned playwright, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to arrest and make killer herdsmen pay for their crimes like others five who were sentenced to death for killing a herdsman.
He said that an arrest of culprits and their immediate prosecution would send a strong warning that the Buhari administration would not tolerate forceful land seizure anywhere in Nigeria.
Soyinka stated this in a statement on Wednesday, titled “On demand: A language of non-capitulation, non-appeasement.”
The Nobel laureate said that Buhari’s recent claim that it was unjust for the public to accuse him of being silent on the killer herdsmen’s activities was based on Nigerians’ observation of his “erstwhile language of complacency and accommodativeness in the face of unmerited brutalisation.’’
He added that Buhari had yet to speak in the language that the “murdering herdsmen” understand by exhibiting that forceful seizure of land would not be tolerated in any part of a federation under his governance.
Soyinka said: “That the temporary acquisition of weapons of mass elimination by any bunch of psychopaths and anachronistic feudal mentality will not translate into subjugation of a people and a savaging of their communities.’’
He noted that certain unconscionable events had taken place in the country, which cannot be ignored, adding that entire communities had been “erased from the national landscape,” thousands of family units in mourning and “survivors scarred.
He stated that famine loomed in many areas, even in those lodged in acknowledged bread baskets of the nation, adding that “impunity, gleeful and prideful impunity substitutes for decent self-distancing from once unthinkable crimes – let us not even speak of expressions of remorse and human empathy.
“The instigators, increasingly fingered as directors of human carnage are strutting around, defiant, justifying the unspeakable, daring a nation,’’ ge added.
Noting that land-grab must be reversed, Soyinka said the restored would still require to be defended and aggressors also served a lasting lesson both from the manifested responsibility of governance, and the resistant will of the people.
“Accounting for crimes is also part of that responsibility, and such criminality must not be seen to be rewarded through idealistic solutions that paper over crimes against humanity. For that is the present actuality.
“Crimes against our humanity have been committed, and restitution must be made. Nothing less will restore confidence in a government, and reassure the people of its integrity, its commitment to equity in internal relationships and the rightful custodianship of ancient resources,’’ Soyinka said.
The playwright said it was a time of far-reaching, yet immediate decisions, because the nation was dying.
According to him, the time for false pride is over and if the nation lacks the necessary technical resources, then there remains only one blameless, overdue recourse and it is for the President to ‘Get help.’
Soyinka, who bemoaned the recent attacks on Barkin Ladi council area in Plateau State, noted that five young men were recently sentenced to death by a Nasarawa State High Court for allegedly killing a herdsman.
The playwright stated that though he was not condoning murder in any cause or by anyone, it was necessary to insist on transparent and impartial justice.
He said: “The agitating question then is this: since this rampage began, has even one herdsman been brought up before those same courts on a charge of murder, much less sentenced to death at such lightning speed?
Shall we wake up and find that they have been hanged? Yet Nasarawa has lost hundreds to the homicidal orgy of these same herdsmen. There is a skewed application of justicial proceedings here that baffles many, this writer among them.’’
He revealed that when he visited the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, some weeks ago, he bitterly lamented that security agencies had ordered his communities to surrender even the very machetes of routine use in farming.
Soyinka also said what he termed as ‘the Danjuma thesis’ that helpless Nigerians should defend themselves was neither new nor strange, but simply a restatement of the logicality of human response in the face of aggression.
He said he told the President that he strongly believed that the recent planned massacre had a numerical target which was the formal annunciation of a new law.
The playwright stated: “From now on, for every missing, maimed, even legally seized cow-perhaps for trespassing and damage-one human being shall die, and the commensurate land shall be forfeited.
Make no mistake, that is the message! Berom or Ondo, Tiv or Efik. Egba or Igalla — it makes no difference — this is the language, and if your government does not understand it yet, we, whose field is language, both spoken and symbolic, must decode it for you.’’
Soyinka said he also learnt that a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, whose ordeal of being kidnapped by the “marauders was still fresh in the nation’s mind,” was still under siege by the same forces as neither he nor his workers could routinely attend to the farms.
“An aggressor who sniffs, however faintly, the permissive air of immunity, is near totally beyond recall. Only the stern language of reprimand, manifested in act, will deter him,’’ he stated.
He noted that the language of the leaders of Myetti Allah whom he described as ‘self-vaunting instigators’ in the nation’s herder colonisation was being promoted by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, on behalf of the government.
Soyinka added that if an individual qualified to be the guinea-pig for testing the outrageous hate bill speech contemplated by the nation’s lawmakers, it was the ‘unedifying pronouncements of the Minister of Defence, who “continues to defend the indefensible through his arrogant,
provocative dismissals of an agenda of ethnic cleansing, dehumanising the victims anew, and camouflaging the failure of the government by his gratuitous blame-passing.”
According to Soyinka, the language of the Dan-Ali is a language that is now being contradicted by the meaning of ‘land grabbing shall be reversed.