Former vice president and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar has criticised President Muhammadu Buhari over his absence at the funeral of five air force officers who died in a helicopter crash while providing support to troops in the north-east.
The slain servicemen were buried at the national military cemetery in Abuja on Tuesday with full honours, and Atiku said Buhari’s failure to attend the funeral is “part of a pattern of unpatriotic behaviour demonstrated” by him.
“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,” he said in the statement.
“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?”
Abubakar urged Buhari to learn from French President Emmanuel Macron, who on March 28, 2018, attended the funeral of a French policeman 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,” he said.
“Let me end this by commending our military for their sacrificial efforts to secure all of us. You have my full support and solidarity.”