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A General’s Narrow Escape

News » Politics


It was indeed a narrow escape in several ways for Nigeria when a recent bomb attack on General Muhammadu Buhari, a former head of state, failed. One, because it averted a sudden end of an era in the political history of the country and two, killing Buhari on the street of Kaduna would have sparked a major unrest which proportion is unimaginable.

Such attack would surely have had a dire consequence on the fragile peace in the country at a time like this, when Northerners in other parts of the country feel persecuted by being generally stereotyped as Boko Haram members. At the same time, Nigerians are inundated by the spate of heartless killings in the North on a daily basis by the sect.

Worst still, there is no time than now that Nigeria has experienced the infusion of ethnicity and religion into its body polity by desperate politicians, who are wiping up sentiments just for political purposes.

The danger was that Buhari, who contested the presidency in 2003, 2007 and 2011 and lost in all, is currently the face of opposition politics in Nigeria, aside former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu.

He was an active player in the merger of the four legacy parties that gave birth to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and is considered highly favoured to become the APC standard bearer for the 2015 presidential election. He is also one politician with fanatical support among the downtrodden, especially in the core north.

Hence, the attack which left no one in doubt that the masterminds actually targeted Buhari threw up two basic questions. First is who wanted the General dead? The second is why was a man whose party is being castigated as having links with the insurgent group the target of such a deadly attack?

Without hesitation, the APC is pointing fingers in the way of President Goodluck Jonathan. The Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), an umbrella body of APC governors was first to say it would hold President Jonathan responsible for further attacks on Buhari or any of its leaders.

That the assassination attempt on Buhari came barely two days after the former Head of State cautioned the president against sponsoring the impeachment of opposition governors formed the basis of their suspicion and heightened the fear that the lives of the leadership of the APC are no longer safe.

“We shall hold the federal government responsible for any further attempts on the life of General Buhari and other APC leaders,” the governors said in their statement.

The APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, held the opinion that even where no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, the mere fact that it occurred is a negative development for the Jonathan administration.

“Whether it is Boko Haram or not, one thing remains: this government has failed woefully in its core constitutional duty of protecting the security and welfare of the citizenry. And we mean all the citizens, not just the leaders,” Mohammed said.

But while the issue is still at the front burner today, the social media has been agog with various theories about what could have been responsible for the attack on Buhari.

For some, perhaps it was just accidental. Probably, Buhari ran into the blast. Or could it be that Boko Haram decided to take the General out for reasons best known to them? Or maybe some forces in his APC who are threatened that with him, their political ambition would not fly tried to get rid of him to better their chances ahead of the 2015 election?

There is also the probability that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may also want to deplete Buhari’s over 12 million votes in the 2011 election from his strongholds of the North-west and North-east of Nigeria, ahead of 2015.

Or could it simply be that some individuals willing to plunge the country into ethnic and religious crisis saw his death as a way to actualise such sinister motive?

There is also concern about whether some forces outside the shore of the country are working to ensure that the US’s earlier prediction that Nigeria may not exist beyond 2015 comes to fruition by sparking violence with Buhari’s assassination.

Doubting that the Nigerian security agencies can carry out an impartial investigation into the matter, the APC, through its National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, called for an international inquiry into the assassination attempt on Buhari.

The party wants the motive of the perpetrators unravelled and the masterminds brought to justice, especially as the party kicks against the arrest of a mentally deranged suspect, who is being interrogated as a possible brain behind the attack.

“Could the person who drove the vehicle that rammed into the General’s convoy have survived the explosion that was triggered by that action? Could the innocent passers-by who died in the blast not have been arrested and paraded as the ‘suspected masterminds’ if they had survived the blast? Clearly, the arrest of the pervert and his sickening description as a ‘suspected mastermind’ have kick-started the process of muddling the waters, as is usually the case with such high-profile cases.”

As these went on, President Jonathan’s Political Adviser, Professor Rufai Alkali, urged that Nigerians should not politicise the attack on Buhari, but instead, collaborate with security agencies to fight the problem of insecurity in Nigeria.

“Those who want to trivialise or personalise these issues by attributing it to this government or the leadership of this government in any form, directly or indirectly, should desist from that.

“We should also desist from any attempt that will weaken the institutions of government, especially security agencies that are doing very well in containing the situation. This government is committed to the security of this nation; it is committed to lasting peace in this country and the president is deeply committed to bringing stability to our political environment.

“We should not over dramatise these issues. All of us must come together; we have a collective responsibility to protect and defend our country. This is not a time for politicising issues,” he said.

But while the two rival parties make their cases over the attack, some Nigerians have continued to point out that had the attack been successful, Nigeria may have been at the brink of another civil war by now.

It was against this background that the National Publicity Secretary of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin advised the federal government to build maximum security around the former military president to avoid a situation where some individuals are only bent on ruining the country assassinates him for their selfish end and plunge the country into crisis.

Leaving aside the sentiments of the political class, Odumakin emphasised that had Buhari lost his life in the attack, Nigeria would have been plunged into a second civil war.

“I think God saved this country from a major disaster. If the bomb had killed him (Buhari) we would have had a civil war at our hand by now, considering the fact that he is a man with such following,” he said.

He however suspected foul play in the attack, which he thinks might have been masterminded by some forces within the body polity, to pave the way for their own political ambition.

“There may be forces that believe they cannot be what they want to become if Buhari is still living. Because hate him or like him, he is an institution in this country.

“Two days before the attack, he had made a statement that the president is waging a war against Nigerians and it was in all the papers. So it could be that some people just wanted to get rid of him for other reasons and blame it on the president,” he suggested.

Similarly, Buhari’s vice presidential candidate in the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), during the 2011 presidential election, Pastor Tunde Bakare, is also of the opinion that what would have resulted in crisis that would have ended Nigeria was averted by Buhari’s escape from the blast attempt that claimed about 80 lives.

“This past week might have marked the beginning of the end for our nation for if the attack targeted at General Muhamadu Buhari and his entourage on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, had succeeded the hatchers of the Nigerian disintegration agenda would have been smiling home to the bank by now.

“The enormous goodwill and massive following enjoyed by the General among the tens of millions of disadvantaged Northern youths for whom he has become a messianic symbol, would have transmogrified into the unguided and uncontrollable fury of a vengeful army whose target would not be without political and ethnic colouration.

“Invariably, this would have sparked up a corresponding reaction of violence from an equally militant antagonistic young population from across the Niger. One needs not be a political analyst to see that such a scenario might have culminated in the demise of our nation,” he said.

He suggested among other things that government should declare peace by apologising for the murder of Mohammed Yusuf; right political wrongs; and create an atmosphere of political inclusion rather than exclusion; update and strengthen military capability; create jobs and enhancing welfare to discourage recruits and to also engage the support of the international community, as ways out of the present predicament.

Bakare also suspected that the attempt on Buhari’s life might have been orchestrated by politicians, who feel threatened by Buhari’s personage in national politics, and he harped on the need for the Nigerian military to be properly equipped and adequately motivated to combat the sect so that it would not eventually plunge the nation into avoidable crisis.

“When the bullets are real, we do not need toy guns or toy soldiers, we need capable soldiers and superior weapons of war. No nation can win the war against terror with kid’s gloves,” Bakare said.

The onus, therefore, lies with government to take steps to contain some of the loopholes that could be explored to embarrass the country and destroy the nation while it works ultimately to end the activities of the insurgents.


Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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Tags:     General Muhammadu Buhari     Bola Tinubu     APC     PGF     Alhaji Lai Muhammed     PDP