There are a few clips making the rounds in the social media space from Thursday’s Council of State meeting at the presidential villa. In one of those clips, President Buhari cracks a joke at the expense of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom.
“How are your cattle rearers?”, the president asked Ortom in jest, before moving on to the next man on the queue.
In another of those clips, Governor Elrufai of Kaduna State who allegedly demolished the home of a political opponent in Kaduna this week appears to get a ringing endorsement of some sort from the president.
“Allah gafarta mallam ya kake tuka bulldozer (Mallam, why are you riding bulldozers?)”, Buhari says, as laughter permeates the room.
But it is the president’s attempt at humour while addressing Ortom, that this piece is all about.
The president’s aides love to tell everyone who doesn’t want to listen that the sense of humour of their principal is top notch and often on point. They love to infer that he cracks better jokes than Alibaba and ‘I go Dye’ combined.
However, that attempt at a joke with the Benue State Governor should be called what it is—it wasn’t just dry, it was insensitive, tasteless, cruel and ill timed. This particular joke landed with a thud.
For context, Governor Ortom has taken on the Buhari presidency for not doing enough to quell herdsmen killings in Benue. Like everyone else who has a conscience, Ortom has also asked aloud why Buhari hasn’t deemed it necessary to visit Benue after 73 persons allegedly killed by terrorists, were buried in that State in one day.
Buhari should be asking about the safety and security of the good people of Benue and not how the herders who have been accused of killing people, are faring.
To now make a joke out of the killings was darn cruel and insensitive from the nation’s Commander-in-Chief. The timing, atrocious.
Heck, Buhari didn’t even visit Benue when floods submerged the State in 2017.
You don’t make jokes out of a crisis or some misfortune. Elrufai’s bulldozer jibe wasn’t funny as well. The one to Ortom wasn’t even remotely so.
Buhari has often been accused of aloofness and being emotionally detached. He’s been accused of not showing up when he should; of not leading from the front like he promised he was going to do. The jury is still out on whether those claims are right on the money or not.
What we do know however is that the president’s sense of humour can be a tad irritating and grating. This week was another example.