Now That Buhari Too Is Not Safe

By Suyi Ayodele

“The Presidency, in the meantime, wishes to reassure the public that the President has done all, and even more than what is expected of him as Commander-in-Chief by way of morale, material and equipment support to the military and expects nothing short of good results in the immediate”.

            The above is part of the statement issued on Sunday, July 24, 2022, by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to General Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity in reaction to the threat by the terrorists who abducted the Abuja-Kaduna train travellers, to kidnap General Buhari, our President, and Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State.

            The only take home from this statement, is that Buhari is overwhelmed and at the same time frustrated by the insecurity that has been the lot of his presidency since 2015.

            This is a statement of surrender from the Commander-in-Chief. If the president has done all what is expected of him, and we are in this state such that he is not in any way safe himself, then there is no hope. There is no hope for the victims of the abduction and there is no hope for us as a nation.

            The man who should know said he had done all he could. A woman cannot place more than the length of her lap on her husband, is what General Buhari has told all of us. May that day never come when the words: president, abduction and flogging, will appear in the same sentence.

One cannot but be alarmed that the presidency is giving up on the state of insecurity in the country. Two mid-Monday news items set the alarm ringing in my head.

Just when this piece was being put together, the news broke that terrorists attacked soldiers from the Guards of Brigade, who were on patrol of the Bwari Area of the Federal Capital Territory,  FCT, Abuja. Guards of Brigade, by all international standards, are elite soldiers trained in special ways to protect the seat of power.

Bwari is just about 42 kilometres from Aso Rock Villa, where General Muhammadu Buhari lives as the C-in-C. He was, on Sunday, threatened by a group of terrorists and the president’s Spokesman told us all that our C-in-C had done all that is expected of him to halt the drift! Buhari cannot kill himself is the summary of Shehu’s statement!

And just as Nigerians were ruing the reported July 22 attack by terrorists on the Guards of  Brigade, another panic erupted in the same Abuja. A directive came from the authorities of the Federal Government College, Kwali, that parents should evacuate their children and wards immediately from the school.

“If you have a child at Federal Government College Kwali, then act fast to this directive”, one of the headlines reads. A lot of parents, guardians and homes panicked. The college authorities asked parents to evacuate their wards from the school over the fear of attack by terrorists.

A village which “shares a fence” with the college was attacked by some terrorists on Sunday, July 24, 2022, hence the directive for evacuation. It takes a drive of not more than one hour from Kwali to Aso Rock. Parents were directed to evacuate their children and wards  from a College in Kwali and they all obeyed.

We know the consequences of failure to evacuate the children. The attack on Kwali is the third of such attacks in the FCT in the month of July 2022 alone. Kuje Prison, which is closer to Aso Rock Villa was attacked, viciously, by terrorists on July 5. The Guards of Brigade was ambushed on July 22. Add these to the attacked presidential convoy and tell me what you feel!

Some eleven months ago; precisely on August 30, 2021, in a piece titled: “Dogs Eat Tigers in Nigeria”, I alluded to the fable of a king, whose kingdom was ravaged by a ravenous tiger but he did nothing about it.

The king only showed concern when his Aremo (heir apparent to the throne), was devoured by the tiger. But then, it was too late for the king as the same tiger had killed all the hunters, who would have hunted it down.  That was when the reality dawned on the king that neither him nor his household was safe.

I did the piece in the wake of the terrorists’ attack on the Nigeria Defence Academy in Kaduna, where two officers were killed and one abducted, with their killers, like spirits, disappearing without any repercussion. I concluded that piece by saying that with the warning that if nothing was done to arrest the worsening situation, “in the calamities to come, nobody shall be spared”.

I was in an interview session, in company with two other senior journalists, with the Benin High Priest Osemwegie Ebohon in his grove, last Wednesday. The octogenarian African Traditional Religion (ATR) practitioner answered sundry questions, especially on the state of insecurity in Nigeria.

I found his responses very instructive here. “Nigeria is in a very bad shape and I do not think that prayer will help us again because we have been praying and our mouths are bent.

Those damaging our country will be paid back in hot coins. We are sitting on a keg of gunpowder”, the old man said. He could not fathom how we got to this level as a nation and warned of the consequences to come if the proper things were not done.

As he spoke, I debated in my mind that we needed to have leaders in the first instance before we could talk about good leadership. What we have at the moment, and what may likely follow after the 2023 general elections, especially if any of the two bigger parties, the APC and the PDP wins the election, is pure figurine.

Nigeria did not get to this bad shape by accident. Ineffective and almost dead leadership structure piloted us all to this unending hole. But the common people now have cause to rejoice because the end to the problems confronting them is close, as the same problems are gradually afflicting our leaders.

I have implicit confidence that given the selfish nature of our leaders, the problem of insecurity will soon be solved. Why? Our leaders have, lately, come to realise that they are just as endangered as the rest of us, if not more.

 The events of the last three weeks or so are enough reasons, I believe, and very strongly too, that General Buhari will rise to the occasion: if not by himself, but by proxy, and fix the nation’s security challenges.

The Daura-born retired General does not need any prompter to know that he is no more safe, even in the fortress of power called Aso Rock.

With the attack on his advance convoy to Daura on July 5 and the threat by the terrorists holding the Abuja-Kaduna train travellers hostage, that they would bring the president and his younger brother, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, as captives to the jungle where they are, I believe our C-in-C will act and act decisively too! Get it right; I am not just being optimistic because I see any new attitude in General Buhari. My conviction here is reinforced by my belief that Buhari cannot, and does not, hate himself as much as he detests other Nigerians.

I believe that no matter how dead his feelings are to the sufferings, pains and agonies bandits, killer herdsmen, terrorists, unknown gunmen and kidnappers had visited on us all and will, continue to visit on us, he would not allow some ragtag terrorists to abduct him the way they did to the Abuja-Kaduna train travellers.

I want to sincerely believe that General Buhari and his flat-footed security chiefs know by now that it is enough shame that terrorists could boast, in a video that has gone viral, that they would kidnap our president and a sitting governor and bring them to the forest for possible flogging; and almost two days after the video was released, nothing has been done.

I am saying General Buhari will, for once in his almost eight years of insentient presidency, rise to the occasion and answer his title, General, by scrambling all the nation’s security architectures to go after the felons who threatened to capture the president of Africa’s most populous nation like a common poultry bird.

No! General Buhari, no matter how precious these bandits and other killer agents have been to his government in the last seven and half years, must redeem the image of this nation by fishing and flushing out the guys who made that video.

Our C-in-C should not bother about the flogging the victims of the train attack received in the hands of their abductors. His primary concern should not be about the state of mind of the family members of the victims; they are already used to that.

The president should bother about his own personal safety now! That is serious! Our president was threatened and the bandits were not joking! If only to prove that he still has blood flowing in his veins, General Buhari should not allow such a threat to go unpunished.

To do otherwise has grave consequences. The implications of the video are too damning for the presidency to treat like any of the others before it. This is  definitely not the time for him to express “shock”. Nigerians are already “shocked” on his behalf. Let him go and do the needful: Go after the felons and bring them to justice.

In the first instance, that the video was recorded, posted and shared shows that the Buhari administration has been lying to Nigerians that it has the citizens communication database.

It is embarrassing and at the same time sickening that almost three days after the threat was issued, Nigeria has not been able to locate where the bandits recorded the video, and, or, track the felons behind it to their last coordinates! Yet we did SIM registration and barred people from using their mobile phones for lack of NINs!

Must we continue to ridicule this nation before sane countries of the world? The second implication of the viral video and the threat therein is that the bandits, who issued the threat know that General Buhari is as vulnerable as the farmer in Igboho, who is at the mercy of killer herdsmen daily; and who had been advised to give up their ancestral lands to criminals in order to live. In our primary school stage plays, we used to have the opening glee as teasers for the main acts.

The bandits in the video, we were told, were responsible for the July 5 attack on Kuje Prison. Perhaps, the same terrorist attacked the presidential advance team in Katsina. Yet another set of terrorists ambushed the Guards of Brigade.

And terrorists are sending school children home prematurely. Could all these be the opening glee to the eventual abduction of the president? God forbid! I hope nobody is taking the issue as “one of those things”.

Do we know how close the terrorists are to the number one citizen? Is this not the more reason the Aso Rock dwellers should be worried that the deity that attacked Kuje Prison, attacked the presidential convoy and ambushed the Guards of Brigade, also has the capacity to strike at Aso Rock and do much more?

This is why Buhari must act now. I don’t want to tell my grandchildren that once upon a time, a Nigerian president was kidnapped and flogged by terrorists.

On April 5, 2022, in a piece titled: “Bandits: Deities with Footprints Everywhere”, I postulated that a time might come when Nigerians would be forced to resort to the African metaphysics to secure themselves and do astral travelling to arrive at their destinations safely.

The piece was my reaction to the terrorists who abducted the Abuja-Kaduna train passengers. The same terrorists are now threatening our president with abduction.

All the fears I expressed in that piece are here with us. Terrorists are getting more daring. The excuse of “avoidable of collateral damage” as the reason why the Armed Forces had not been able to storm the forests and get rid of the terrorists is as flimsy as it is laughable.

Imagine terrorists are asking our president to dive under the bed or he gets kidnapped. What a shame! What impudence!

May I humbly suggest that if General Buhari would not go after his would-be abductors before they make good their threat to the shame of all of us, he should consider the African metaphysics of “Egbe” (astral travel), “Kanako” (shorten the journey) and Afeeri (see me not) for his safety.

These are safer than the non-existent security architecture that would make felons threaten to kidnap the president of a 200-million-strong populace without any repercussion. Pray, do we still have a country?

Ayodele is a public affairs analyst and write from Abuja


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