The private visit to France by President Bola Tinubu has continued to elicit more condemnations from Nigerians with the latest coming from the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo and some civil society organisations (CSOs).
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar fired the first salvo, accusing the president in insensitivity to the insecurity plaguing the nation currently.
Atiku said it was wrong for the president to travel at a time he said kidnapping and banditry were on the rise, and asked him to step aside if he know jhe is unfit to resolve the challenges.
President Tinubu left Abuja for France on Wednesday, January 24, 2024, according to his spokesperson Ajuri Ngelale saying it was “a private visit”.
The groups’ position is coming in the wake of criticism by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who questioned the purpose of a private visit to France amid the heightening banditry and other security challenges bedevilling the nation.
The presidency has since replied Atiku, saying Tinubu’s trip does not affect the domestic situation, and has been giving the security agencies all the necessary support they needed to win the battle against criminal elements, in order to secure every inch of Nigeria.
Tinubu left Nigeria while debate was ongoing over a series of attacks in Plateau State, abductions and killings around Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, and most recently, the ambush on a school bus in Ekiti State where pupils were abducted.
In its reaction, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) accused the President of only pursuing personal goals instead of encouraging Nigerians in a time of need by travelling to France.
The NEF spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said the forum views the Tinubu trip at a time when the country is virtually under the siege of rampaging bandits, kidnappers, and other criminal gangs as a confirmation of the concerns that Nigeria has ended up in the hands of “A citadel of poor governance, indifference, insensitivity, and unprecedented impunity.”
The NEF said Tinubu’s decision to prioritise a private trip over the urgent needs of the Nigerian people has proven the general fear that Nigeria is being led by individuals who are ill-equipped and ill-prepared to lead.
“It is a stark reminder that our leaders are more concerned with their personal interests than the welfare and security of the Nigerian people.
In condemning the trip, Ohanaeze Ndigbo lamented that it was wrong and amid “the current daunting security, economic, and other pressing challenges facing the country.”
Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said Tinubu’s trip came at a time when the nation is experiencing huge financial and economic challenges.
Isiguzoro urged Tinubu to communicate the reasons behind engaging in private visits to the Nigerian people.
“We would like to ask the president to fulfill his constitutional obligations by formally sending power to Vice President Kashim Shettima in his absence.
“Nigerians are already suffering immensely due to the escalating security challenges and the dire state of our economy, exacerbated by the crash of the naira in foreign exchange markets. The consequences of neglecting these pressing issues pose a severe risk, as the potential fallout could be nothing short of disastrous,” he said.
A civil society organization Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), through its Executive Director, Resource Comrade Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, said: “What this private visit means is that whatever semblance of governance would have to pause. For every day the president stays away, Nigerians have to face the insecurity, and economic challenges of the country, without the leader being in charge.
“This runs contrary to the promises in the Renewed Hope Agenda, which the president promised to implement vigorously when he was running for the highest office in the land,” Zikirullahi said.
Another CSO, the Good Governance Team (GGT), through its National Coordinator, Mr. Tunde Salman, however, said the president appears to have delegated top officials including the vice president, to engage the issues.
“For instance, a small summit was hosted on security with regards to the upsurge in crises in Northern Nigeria, with the VP and ministers of defence playing active roles.
“The same can be said with the constitution of the wage review committee as well as the revenue targets FIRS announced recently. Nonetheless, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should personally address some of the issues,” Salman said.