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Mr. President, what lessons did you learn from Rwanda?



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By Ahaoma Kanu

Hello Mr. President, I saw that you had a very interesting visit recently during the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda; I saw your pictures and watched you during the event.

You are not one to miss such occasions that would accord you some shoulder rubbing with other heads of government as you have always shown a penchant to fly away to world meetings even when situations at home warrants your immediate attention.

Nigerians know better where your passion lies; you love the thrills of being in the assembly of foreign leaders for every reason, condolence, celebrations, medical trips but will never visit a community in Katsina who just got attacked by terrorists of which you as Commander-in-Chief have failed to protect.

I wonder if you don’t see those leaders you love being in their midst show active responsibility when calamity occurs in the sovereignty, I bet you do.

But you were in Rwanda and one of your tours of Kigali, your host city, took you to the Rwandan Genocide Memorial; I saw you looking at the pictures of the victims of that infamous moment in the history of Rwanda; people who died within those 100 days when one million ethnic Hutus and moderate Tutsis were killed.

It was a period when brothers, neighbours, in-laws, colleagues, friends revolted against their fellow Rwandans and inflicted death through very horrible methods using weapons like matchets, clubs, stones, bullets, fire and what have you. It was a period citizens rose against citizens all in the name of ethnicity.

Did you see the belongings of the victims; what is now viewed by the world as mementos of carnage. The footwears, earrings, clothes, rings, burnt out crucifixes that shows the outcome of how deep the quest for ethnic supremacy can cut. Did you see the depth such resentments can go among fellow countrymen?

Those pictures and items on display shows the world that Yes, there was a time Rwanda went up in flames and its soil absorbed blood of the people.

Mr. President, did those pictures remind you of something similar that you actively participated in? Did your visit there take you down memory lane of the fathers, mothers, children, and people of the Southeast of the country you preside over? That period they declared Biafra and you were in the Brigade of soldiers that took part in the police action required to put them back in place.

As you saw the faces on those pictures did the faces of the children emaciated and with stomachs ballooned and cheek bones protruding cross your mind?

Did the eyes on those photos on the wall penetrate your soul to remember same eyes of the man, women and children that fell to your bullets as you squeezed the trigger and cut them off from the world and allowed hunger to kill them by instalment?

Did you hear their cries and sounds of their brains being crushed, flesh being torn and bodies falling to the ground?

Did those eyes strike your conscience?

When you were told of the numbers of the victims, did you realize that close to 6 million died in the genocide you participated in?

Would you compare the number to those of your citizens that have lost their lives under your watch as Commander-in-Chief since taking office in 2015?

As you toured the mass gravesides of over 250,000 victims and laid a wreath, have you ever thought about the many mass graves that have been dug in Nigeria of which Nigerians you failed to protect were dumped in.

Did it cross your mind?

I saw the look on your face; it was bereft of emotion, desensitized to humanity and particularly empty of empathy. You have never been one to show emotion; after all, you are a General and have seen it all.

But you do show passion; a passion to protect livestock than people; a passion to allow your Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to shoot over 300 Shiite Muslims in Kaduna. These included men, women, and children. You rewarded him with an Ambassadorial position in Cotonou, Benin Republic.

You know quite well who I am referring to, the infamous, horrible, and corrupt Tukur Buratai.

He is your ambassador whose hands are bloodied. He is responsible for both the deaths of civilians and members of the Armed Forces in Nigeria.

While you were in Kigali, were you informed of the discovery made in his house- about the N1.85 billion and luxurious cars recovered in a building belonging to him?

Maybe he would make a case that the ghosts of the thousands of soldiers that died in the line of duty because they had inferior weaponry while fighting Boko Haram “put the monies in his property.” Monies that obviously were meant to procure better weapons for them to fight insurgency.

Would you ask him to step aside and clear his name as you did to the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen (SAN), in 2019 on mere allegations?

I am sure you would not. You have shown so much bias for elements from the South who do not share your ethnicity.

But be rest assured that no size of Diplomatic Immunity with which you clothe him will clean his hands of the blood he had shed.

He will one day be answerable to his actions; his file is at the ICC; they will bid their time.

When you listened to the curators at the Memorial, did they tell you familiar stories; tales of which you know so well from the perspective of a perpetrator.

Did you make efforts to ask the management of the memorial why they decided to keep the memory of that dark period alive?

Did it occur to you that trying to hide the evils and horrors of the Nigerian genocide from history does not help healing and is part of the problems we have as a nation?

Did you ask how the memorial is healed and is healing Rwandans?

Didn’t you observe a different kind of compassion in Rwanda among the people; didn’t you see the love and respect they have for each other?

The love, unity and togetherness that have bound them together under the inspiration of their leader. That is what healing does.

And talking about healing, did you see the strides the country is making under Paul Kagame your host?

How honestly and sincerely can you say you have brought Nigeria and Nigerians together? What will be your legacy after May 29, 2023?

Did you learn anything from stories you heard from citizens of Rwanda or were you there for the photo-ops?

Did you see the massive infrastructures and development in Kigali? This is a country that does not have natural resources as Nigeria does.

Did you see the opportunities the government is affording their young people? They were not labelled “Lazy”, neither were they shot at while demanding for good governance like your agents did in Lekki Tollgate during #ENDSARS protests.

Can you compare your style of government to that of your host while in Rwanda?

Did you see how he brought a divided country together while you further divided a country that had tensions of which there was optimism you would repair?

Do you realize the divisiveness your dictatorial style of leadership has further thrown Nigeria into? Your bias and stark disdain for the five percenters that did not vote for you was globally broadcasted and shamefully so.

What did you take away from Kigali Mr. President?

When you were elected President seven years ago and made that famous quote, “I belong to Nobody and I belong to Everybody”, can Nigerians and the world testify that you have lived p to that creed?

Is security in Nigeria worst or better than you met it and you hang the rank of a military General?

Have you not shown wanton disregard and gross incompetence to the people you lead that reports of killings after killings no longer make it to your briefs?

Have you defeated Boko Haram, or have you created more monsters to terrorize the people?

Today, state governments are calling their residents to take up arms to protect themselves, isn’t that an “F” on your scorecard General?

As you reflect on your time in Rwandan, I hope these questions prick your conscience and make you at least think about how you have fared as a leader…. that is if you are conscionable Mr. President.

  • Ahaoma Kanu, a CNN African Journalist Award Winner, wrote in from Ontario,Canada

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