Bestselling Author, Chimamanda Adichie, says the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), sometimes acts in a manner that seems as if engaging with Nigerians is beneath him.
Adichie stated this in an article published in New York Times titled, ‘Nigeria Is Murdering Its Citizens’ on Thursday, hours before Buhari’s televised speech.
She wrote, “The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has long been ineffectual, with a kind of willful indifference. Under his leadership, insecurity has worsened; there is the sense that Nigeria could very well burn to the ground while the president remains malevolently aloof. The President himself has often telegraphed a contemptuous self-righteousness, as though engaging fully with Nigerians is beneath him.”
The writer added that she had relatives that were victims of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
She said the nasty experiences of many Nigerians in the hands of the now-disbanded police unit led to the widespread anger.
The author stated that rather than take the protests seriously, Buhari began by issuing a weak speech.
Adichie wrote, “In the first week of the protests, the President sent out a tweet and then gave a flaccid speech about ending SARS. The inspector general of police has announced that SARS has been scrapped, but the government has announced the dissolution of SARS a few times in the past, starting in 2017.
“Because Nigerians are so accustomed to the two-faced nature of their governments, to promises destroyed even before being made, it is unsurprising that the protesters distrust the government and are demanding clear actions rather than words.”
She described the attack on protesters by soldiers at the Lekki toll plaza on Tuesday as an unforgivable crime, adding that she was surprised that a state could carry out such an attack against its own people.
Adichie added, “The Nigerian state has turned on its people. The only reason to shoot into a crowd of peaceful citizens is to terrorize: to kill some and make the others back down. It is a colossal and unforgivable crime. The brazenness is chilling, that the state would murder its citizens, in such an obviously premeditated way, as though certain of the lack of consequences.”
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The novelist, who has been in Nigeria for weeks for her father and aunt’s funeral, said the recent attacks and killings had caused her to think about the grief that families of slain protesters are feeling.
“I think of their families brutally plunged into the terrible abyss of grief, made more terrible by the knowledge that their loved ones were killed by their country. And for what? Because they peacefully asked to be allowed to live.”
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