President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to Yola, Adamawa State, yesterday provoked the ire of some residents who protested against the disruption of their commercial activities.
The President’s visit was the first since he assumed office. He was in Yola to commission an Air Force Secondary School of about 50 students. The school was established by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Alexander Badel, an indigene of the state.
Hundreds of market women took over the streets along Mohammed Mustafa Way about 10:00 a.m., protesting against the closure of their shops over the visit of the President.
They were chanting different songs
condemning the President for spending public funds on a trip that constituted economic problems to the residents of Yola.
In a statement on Monday by the Army Public Relations Officer, Captain Nuhu Jarfaru, he stated that from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. yesterday, the busy Numan road, Galadima Aminu road, which house all the commercial banks in the capital and Jimeta-Yola Road would be sealed off.
A woman who identified herself as Mrs. Ijeoma John, a vegetable seller at Jimeta modern market told The Guardian that Jonathan’s visit was not only anti-Yola residents, but that it was designed to inflict more hardship on the already suffering residents of the state capital.
“ I’m shocked by this kind of attitude by the soldiers. They cannot fight Boko Haram, it is us harmless civilians that have become their target. They should face Boko Haram and leave us alone to continue with our suffering that the PDP government is inflicting on Nigerians”, she stated.
The women who were walking half-naked protesting against the military who closed down the busy market located along Galadima Aminu Way, urged the President to resign if he had no trust in those that voted him into power.
“Even during the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s dark days there was nothing like this, but in a democratic government our President we laboured for to win an election is today denying us our daily bread. It is very sad”, one of the women said.
Journalists working with different national media organisations in the state yesterday also got a share of the pains of Jonathan’s visit. They were stoned out of the venue by men of the Air Force on an order from an officer suspected to be the head of the school Jonathan visited to commission.
Trouble started for journalists at the venue of the occasion when the Public Relations Officer of 75 Strike Force, Yola, Flying Officer Ishaku Abdullahi, asked journalists to wait in one of the classrooms for their accreditation.
Little did it occur to the waiting reporters that trouble was looming. An officer with a nametag A.A. Dogo, suspected to be the head of the school slated for commissioning came and asked who directed the reporters to sit inside the classroom. But after an explanation from the chairman of the correspondents’ chapel Mallam
Umar Dankano, of the Peoples Daily Newspapers, the aggressive officer left without a word.
A few minutes after, another man dressed in a rough suit with a name tag SPA Emmanuel C. Anita, came and ordered the reporters who were waiting to be accredited to get out of the venue, saying that their presence was not needed. But before Dankano could offer some explanations, some men of the Air Force started throwing stones on the reporters.
It took the intervention of some military officers from the 23 Amour Brigade Yola to rescue the helpless journalists out of the venue.
While commissioning the school, Jonathan warned that the hitherto rivalry among the services would no longer be tolerated.
He said the insurgency would be better tackled with synergy among the service chiefs.
“I urge you all to cooperate… there has been some mutual competition among the service chiefs and personnel, this time around, we will not tolerate any unnecessary competition…
“We charge you to work together… and believe that we would no longer experience any unpleasant situation we had in the past because of some obvious lapses,” he said
He said the National Assembly along with traditional institutions could form the bedrock on which “we can move our country to the next level.”
Commending the initiative of the school as a foundation for the development of scientific and technological innovation, he said it would also fill the void created by the closure of schools in the area as a consequence of the Boko Haram menace.
Jonathan said the appointment of Badeh to the office of the Chief of Defence Staff was because of his ability to manage allocated resources for the development of the Air Force, where he was the chief before his elevation. He said that he could use that quality for other services as their head.
“One of the reasons for lifting the CDS from the Chief of Air Staff is, I noted carefully that in terms of managing resources, I believe that he tried.
“I believe that for him taking charge now, as CDS, he can work with other colleagues and properly brief them on how to do it, then the Nigerian Armed Forces will be different Armed Forces”, he stated.
The CDS along with other service chiefs according to the President would be decorated soon after the National Assembly screening within the week.
While tracing the historical evolution of Air Force schools in the country, Badeh said the intention was to ensure that quality education was brought to the doorsteps of staff’s children and others within the communities they were based.
According to him, he noted that with the commissioning of the Comprehensive School in Yola, all the six geo-political zones now have one each.
Earlier, Jonathan paid a courtesy visit to the Lamido Adamawa, Alhaji Mohammed Aliyu Mustapha, who urged the President to fast-rack the restoration of normalcy in Yola and the entire state.
The paramount ruler said the curfew imposed on the state had crippled socio-economic activities completely, such that “business no longer thrives here because of the restriction.”
He also asked the President to consider the reconstruction of some of the federal roads linking the states with its neighbours to facilitate easier access and trade.