By Ndubuisi Michaels
Former Vice-President and PDP Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Wednesday criticized President Muhammadu Buhari over his absence at the burial at the burial of five Air Force personnel who lost their lives in last week’s helicopters crash in Borno State.
The PDP standard bearer, in a statement he signed, expressed sadness that Buhari had elevated his 2nd term ambition above national security.
In the statement, titled: “Our Heroes Deserve Respect in Life and in Death”, Atiku said: “At a time when the morale of our soldiers should be lifted up as they face the difficult task of defeating the terrorists who are threatening our national security, I find it most regrettable that President Muhammadu Buhari, despite being in Abuja, chose not to attend the funeral of the five airforce officers who died in a helicopter crash while prosecuting the war on terror.
“Yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) refusal of the president to attend the funerals of these heroes is part of a pattern of unpatriotic behaviour demonstrated by President Buhari.
“Last month, I had cause to advise the President to find time to attend the funerals of the hero soldiers of the 157 Taskforce Battalion in Metele, Borno State, who paid the supreme price for Nigeria in large numbers.
“Sadly, due to reasons best known to him, President Buhari chose not to attend their funeral, neither was he represented by the Vice President nor any federal delegation. This was despite the fact that the President had time to host Nollywood actors and actresses the previous day. Imagine celebrating just before such a solemn event!
“The most recent funeral held in Abuja, the President was in Abuja on the day of the funeral. The previous day, he had inaugurated his re-election campaign council.
“My question for Mr. President is this: is securing your second term, more important to you than securing Nigeria?
“I urge President Muhammadu Buhari to learn from even younger leaders, like French President Emmanuel Macron, who on March 28, 2018, attended the funeral of a single French policeman, Lt Col Arnaud Beltrame, killed by terrorists in Southern France.
“That single event boosted the morale of the French security forces, because it showed a commitment to their wellbeing and honour for their memory by the head of state. Very sadly, President Buhari missed another opportunity to demonstrate such commitment to our armed forces.
“Let me end this by commending our military for their sacrificial efforts to secure all of us. You have my full support and solidarity. When we make the solemn vow that the “labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain”, we mean your colleagues, who paid the ultimate price to secure Nigeria.
“May their souls rest in peace. May God bless the Nigerian Armed Forces and May God bless Nigeria.”