THE news that President Goodluck Jonathan jetted out of the country amidst violence in Kaduna and Yobe states provoked public outrage on Tuesday.
Jonathan on Monday travelled to Brazil to take part in a United Nations’ Earth Summit, leaving behind killings in Kaduna and Yobe. Opposition parties and other eminent citizens who spoke to The PUNCH on Tuesday described the trip as disappointing.
The House of Representatives also said the President could have delegated the trip to Vice-President Namadi Sambo or any of his senior aides since the trip was “not special or of economic interest.”
The spokesman for the House, Zakari Mohammed, told our correspondent, “A trip like that could have been delegated by Mr. President so that he can stay at home to take charge of security.
“We know that security agencies are supposed to do their job, but we cannot afford to compromise security. If our security is compromised, it is a failure of governance.”
Mohammed added that investors would not come to Nigeria if the country was not safe.
But the Senate said Jonathan was in order since he would need to honour international commitments. Spokesman for the upper legislative chamber, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, said it was not the business of the Senate to determine whether Jonathan travelled or not since the Executive and legislature are different arms of government.
The Action Congress of Nigeria, in a statement by his National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, faulted Jonathan’s journey amidst what it described as a “national tragedy.”
“We are constrained to ask whether this President is getting quality advice from a myriad of aides surrounding him, or whether, like his benefactor, Olusegun Obasanjo, he has decided he may not even take any advice from his advisers. In other climes, the usual thing is for leaders to cancel foreign trips or rush home from such trips when their countries suffer tragedies,” the ACN said.
It described the President’s decision to travel “two days after innocent Nigerians, including women and children, were killed as a sign of insensitive and confused leadership.”
The ACN said that Nigeria’s paramount interest should make the President stay at home and oversees efforts to prevent the precarious situation in Kaduna from degenerating into an all-out religious war.
The Congress for Progressive Change also faulted the President, saying it was wrong for him to leave the country at the moment. It said the President’s trip was disappointing.
According to the National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, who spoke with one of our correspondents, Jonathan ought to put off his scheduled travel because of the crises in the country.
He said, “President Jonathan got a mandate to defend or enhance the interest of the State, including diplomatic visits. However, it is impolitic for the President to leave the shores of the land at this time for any meeting, irrespective of the emergency situation in the nation.
“There is a dire security challenge in the nation. The President promised the nation that Boko Haram insurgency shall end in June. But with the recent escalation of the problem, that promise of Mr. President appears to be of no effect.”
Lawyer, Itse Sagay, noted that although the constitution permitted the President to travel anytime he wished, the timing of his Brazilian trip was wrong.
Sagay expressed concerns that Jonathan’s pronouncements on the activities of the Boko Haram sect suggested that he had lost control of the situation.
Sagay said, “Honestly, I don’t know. The situation in the country is very serious. He should sit down and face it.
“The impression one has now is that he has lost control; his responses have been weak. We expected something more forceful. We expected a decisive attitude towards a very serious problem.
“I don’t think it is the right time for him to travel because the situation is very critical.”