Amidst criticism against President Muhammadu Buhari for not visiting the epicenters of killings in the country like Yobe, Benue and Zamfara States, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday moved in defense of his boss.
Over 100 persons have been killed in Benue State this year by suspected herdsmen, with bandits killing over 30 persons last month in Zamfara, while over 100 girls were abducted from Government Girls Secondary School in Dapchi, Yobe State by Boko Haram insurgents.
Speaking during a media chat in Lagos, Osinbajo pointed out that no amount of condolence could compensate for the loss of lives.
According to him, ensuring security in trouble spots is the priority of government and not condolences.
He said, “Let me say it first that no amount of condolence can compensate for the loss of life, whether in Calabar, Mambilla or Benue or where people were killed in Adamawa or Zamfara, any of these states.
“There is no amount of condolence that can compensate for the loss of life. Benue killing is one set of killing far too much; there is no amount of condolence that can compensate for that.
“And I want to say that it’s a massive tragedy. But the question that you seem to ask, I’ve been to Zamfara, I’ve been to Adamawa when these killings took place. There are those who said, ‘oh, why don’t you visit the Fulani settlement, why do you visit only where Christians were?’
“I even visited Benue in September where there have been killing before; then I’ve visited them when the flooding took place and we looked at all the issues and tried to address many of these.
“There have been several of these issues in different places, recently Dapchi. We have expressed condolences, but no amount of condolence would do. The more important thing, and our focus has been, is first of all ensuring security in these places.
Buttressing his point, Osinbajo stated that government needs to address the security question in a much more robust way, adding that the Police are able to do these effectively.
The VP said, “We have deployed the military to Kaduna, two battalions to Kaduna. In Benue and Taraba axis, we have the 93 battalion and we have 72 Special Forces. We have full concentration in Taraba and all of that, and by the way, the military is fighting in most of the North East.
“So there is a situation where the military is overstretched. So I think the most important thing is first of all to ensure they actually address the security of the people”.
When reminded that Nigerians want to see their leaders come to them to grieve with them in the face of national human tragedy, Osinbajo said, ” Let me say that I definitely agree with you; the more places that we can go to the better. But I made a point earlier that we also have to address the serious concern that people have.
“We have to address those concerns; we have to address the rehabilitation concern. I am going round and the President is also going round, there is no question at all and I agree that if we go to all these places it would be so much better”.
Osinbajo also dismissed allegations of nepotism against the Buhari administration, saying they are misplaced.
He explained: “Look at the cabinet, for example. From the point of view of the religion, it has an equal number – 18 Christians, 18 Muslims. But we have the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as well as the Head of Service who are Christians.
“So, we have 20 Christians to 18 Muslims. That is the structure of the cabinet. If you take that narrative you may argue that perhaps the Christians have the upper hand; that’s a possible narrative.
“Let us look a little deeper into that. There are those who may argue, for example, that the North has an upper hand or perhaps one section has an upper hand in the cabinet as one narrative. The South East, for example, has five states. Four of the South Eastern states have senior ministers; all of them, except one, who is Minister of State for Education”.