From Elohor Igbru, Abuja
Nigerians were left fuming after President Muhammadu Buhari again refused to attend the burial ceremony of the late Chief of Army Staff COAS, Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru who died alongside 10 others in a plane crash on Friday.
Attahiru was to attend the passing out parade of Regular Intakes into the Nigerian Army at the Army Depot Kaduna when the incident occurred.
President Buhari who recently returned from a conference in France was only about 10 minutes away from the National Military Cemetery, venue of the burial but chose to send his Defense Minister, Bashir Magashi.
The President has never made a direct comment whenever the military loses huge number of personnel or high ranking officers in the course of duty. Many Nigerians on social media say the President has sent a terrible message to members of the Armed Forces that they do not matter to him.
The burial ceremony however was witnessed by the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, governors of Borno, Kaduna, Yobe and Kebbi.
The federal government was represented by the Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Minister of Communication a fun Digital Strategy, Isa Pantami.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Iraboh, led the remaining Service Chiefs at the event.
Tears and more years
Family members and friends of the departed wept uncontrollably at the burial of the late patriots. Never had a military burial seen such display of anguish and pain which is comparable only to the burial of Lt. Col. Ali Abu ( Sarkin Yarki) in 2017.
President Buhari in an address read on his behalf by the Defence Minister said the deaths of the heros will not be in vain.
He said, “Today is indeed a trying moment for the Nigerian Army and indeed the armed forces of our country, a period that witnessed the death of 11 brave officers and men of the armed forces in an ill-fated crash in Kaduna.
“These fine gentlemen had a glorious career in the armed forces in the course of which they served gallantly in several capacities.
Many Nigerians were however not impressed by fine speeches read on behalf of the President. They questioned the leadership of the country describing Nigeria as “leaderless.”
Former aide to former President, Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Monroe wrote: “Sad that President Muhammadu Buhari did not attend the burial of the late Chief of Army Staff, (Lieutenant) General Attahiru. He was represented by his Defence Minister… Attahiru died serving Nigeria. Buhari, who went to Paris for four days, could not go to Attahiru’s funeral for 30 minutes.”
“I ask again, where is the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? When the occupant of the highest office in the land becomes so redundant to the point that he cannot attend the funeral of his Chief of Army Staff and other officers who died in a plane crash while on official assignment, it is an indication that the country is leaderless. Buhari has become a mere mannequin. He is neither useful to the country nor to humanity,” Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, wrote on Facebook.
Another popular blogger, Japhet Omojuwa, tweeted, “If you can go to France, you can attend the burial of your COAS + others and use that platform as an opportunity to reassure your troops whilst celebrating the loss of our gallant men. But I shouldn’t tweet this. I shouldn’t attract unnecessary negative energy to my timeline.”