by Emma Aziken
It was heartwarming that President Muhammadu Buhari phoned Mrs. Rebecca Sharibu, the mother of the Boko Haram captive, Leah Sharibu last Wednesday. The call was apparently made to reassure the distraught mother that the might of the Federal Government would be brought to release her daughter.
The telephone call came in the wake of the approaching deadline by the Boko Haram terrorist group for the Federal Government to enter into negotiations with the group.
The telephone call remarkably reconnected the bond between the government and Citizen Rebecca Sharibu which had been extensively bruised after the capture of her daughter by the terrorists last February.
It has now emerged that since then that there had been no formal or informal contact between the Federal Government and the Sharibu family. Even more striking is the fact that not even the Yobe State Government made an effort to connect with the Sharibu family.
Given that no Nigerian government official had as at September made any contact with the Sharibus, it must have been a strike at the conscience when the British Parliamentarian, Tom Brake last month laid siege to the Nigerian Embassy in London to protest government inaction on the issue.
“There cannot be a clearer example of someone whose human rights are being ignored than that of Leah who is being detained just because she has maintained her Christian faith,” he was quoted as saying.
The abandonment of the Nigerian citizen by government as Mr. Brake pointed out has been the undeniable narrative for many Nigerian citizens. In infrastructure, governments at all levels have prioritized infrastructure at Government Houses over that of the general public. In security, they have positioned guards around themselves over the general security of the populace.
What made the call to Mrs. Sharibu significant was the timing. It happened just before the All Progressives Congress, APC nomination convention holding today. Buhari, despite his lack of campaign easily swept the presidential primaries of the party that took place a week ago.
It was remarkable that Buhari was even out of the country when the internal party poll took place. Being the only party aspirant who partook in the exercise he perhaps took his victory for granted.
He did not bother himself as President Jimmy Carter who as an incumbent had to fight off Senator Ted Kennedy to win the United States Democratic Party, nomination in 1980. Neither did he have the fright of President Lyndon Johnson who even as an incumbent in 1968 so much feared that he would lose that he opted out of the Democratic Party presidential contest.
President Buhari’s rivals, about four of them, were moved by what they alleged as the overwhelming bias of the APC establishment to bow out of the contest.
However, the victory over his internal rivals was undoubtedly the easiest thing for the president.
A more crunchy test for the president and his entourage would have been the defence of his record at today’s APC presidential nomination convocation. That was the issue.
Was the president who promised to address insecurity going to tell the party faithful that Nigeria is now more secured since he became president? Leah Sharibu’s captivity has turned into a testimonial of the administration’s rating on that score. The proclamation of ‘technical defeat’, ‘degrading’ or ‘final defeat’ of Boko Haram has for many turned into an echo that can hardly be reconciled with the continued captivity of Sharibu.
Sharibu after all was not captured outside of Nigeria. And she is certainly in Nigerian territory as are the remaining Chibok School girls whose captivity was inherited by the Buhari government.
So for the president to have appeared today before his supporters at the Eagle Square without as much as connecting with the Sharibu family would have meant the propagation of political debauchery. It was as such nice he did the right thing even if belatedly.
The welfare and security of Nigerians was what he swore to uphold. Where he fails to do so and refuses to give an explanation for his failure, his position is bound to become untenable.
Having made the call to Mrs. Sharibu, the president and his entourage may well have soothed the conscience as they mount the soap box.
About 670 kilometers south from Abuja, another gathering of political actors under the aegis of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP would also be holding. Their plot would have been to formulate strategies to strike at the conscience of those at the Abuja gathering. However, indications are that primitive political permutations that have pulled the nation backward will be a challenge!