From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has sharply criticised President Goodluck Jonathan for devoting his broadcast to the nation on Wednesday night to the centenary celebrations instead of the national tragedy involving the cold-blood murder of over 40 school children in Yobe state.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the President’s action sends a wrong signal to the world about the value which the Nigerian government places on the lives of the nation’s children.
It wondered what was so important about the centenary celebrations that it would be elevated over and above what in any nation would be considered a monumental tragedy, describing the President’s broadcast as insensitive, misplaced, and an embarrassment to the nation.
“Even as the nation is still counting the death toll from Monday night’s senseless and gruesome murder of our children, and the ceaseless killings of innocent civilians before that, the President has already switched into a celebratory mood, dwelling on the money-wasting centenary-celebrations instead of leading a clearly distraught nation in mourning.
“Nothing better illustrates the fact that the President showed more concern about the centenary celebrations than the calamity that befell the nation than the mention, in only about three paragraphs, of the tragedy in a speech that spanned over 40 paragraphs.
“This is very sad indeed, considering that President Jonathan is the head of a government that has failed woefully in ensuring the welfare and security of Nigerians, especially those of our children, which is the very reason for the existence of any government,’’ APC said.
The party said now that the President has goofed again, he should quickly make amends by visiting the scene of the tragedy to empathize with the families of the victims as well as the government and people of the state, which is what any leader worth his salt will do under the circumstance.
It said in case President Jonathan is still in doubt on whether or not to take a trip to Yobe, and indeed Borno where hundreds of innocent citizens have been dispatched to their early graves by rampaging insurgents in the past few weeks, he should take a cue from what other Presidents do in times like this.
“While the nation waits for the President to hit the road to Yobe and Borno, we call on the federal government to massively scale down the centenary celebrations, if it does not want to cancel them. It is incongruous, unconscionable, unacceptable and an assault on our collective humanity to be celebrating, throwing fire works and popping champagne cocks when the ashes of our children, who were slaughtered and burnt to death for no fault of theirs, are still so fresh.’’ APC said.