Aso Rock, APC And Political Terrorism
In this report, George Agba examines the controversy trailing the alleged assassination attempt on the life of former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) by a suicide bomber within the back drop of suspected plans by the Boko Haram sect to influence the country’s electoral process with a new kind of politics.
The political dust raised by last week’s attack on the convoy of former Head of State and national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) by a suicide bomber in Kaduna is instructive of the role the Boko Haram sect intends to play in the country’s politics ahead of the next general elections. Judging by the manner in which politicians are already dancing to the unscrupulous rhythm and manipulative tactics of the terrorists group, there is no doubt that the insurgents would be a defining factor in the 2015 polls.
Apparently blinded by their own desperation, key actors are already bracing up to what pundits have described as ‘political terrorism’, a term for a new kind of politics introduced in the country’s political lexicon by the insurgents. The coordinated attacks that saw two bombs exploding within the interval of two hours in Kaduna was quintessential Boko Haram onslaught. While Buhari and the renowned Islamic cleric, Sheik Dahiru Bauchi who are the alleged targets of the attacks escaped death only by a whisker, the twin explosions killed over 80 persons and injured scores of people.
In the aftermath of the gory incident last Wednesday, it turned out that Aso Rock is the worse hit following the unfolding skirmishes the political terrorism is brewing. Coming barely 48 hours after Buhari alleged that President Goodluck Jonathan has declared war on Nigeria, there is no doubt that the purported assassination attempt on the APC leader and Sheik Bauchi was a calculated attempt by the insurgents to cause pandemonium in the country’s already overheated polity. The leadership of the sect must be grinning mischievously and laughing now as they watch comic political actors haul funny and unfounded accusations at each other.
The pace was set for this political terrorism to thrive when, penultimate Monday, Buhari lashed at President Jonathan over the impeachment storm that has been sweeping governors of the APC from office. The former Head of State had alleged that the presidency’s orchestrated impeachment of governors of opposition states, just to decapitate the opposition, will not augur well for the survival of a fragile nation like Nigeria or its tenderfoot democracy. According to him, it is indicative of the fact that the president has declared war on his own country.
Specifically, the statesman noted with dismay that Jonathan had been deploying federal might and the country’s resources in a bid to fuel partisanship, subvert the system and punish the opposition in the name of politics.
In a statement issued in Kaduna, Buhari alleged that the recent induced impeachment or threats of opposition governors, was a ploy by the president to subvert the constitution in his desperation to impeach opposition governors. This, he added, entails deploying the institutions of state, some of which are symbols of the country’s unity, just to kick an out-of- favour state governor in the stomach.
He maintained that the use of impeachment to settle political scores can only breed anarchy and lead the nation down the slippery slope to chaos.
Urging Jonathan to pull the brakes on his administration’s runaway train of
impunity in the interest of Nigeria’s survival and the sustenance of
the nation’s democracy, Buhari said, “Our country has gone through several rough patches, but never before have I seen a Nigerian president declare war on his own country as we are seeing now. Never before have I seen a Nigerian president deploy federal institutions in the service of partisanship as we are witnessing now.
“Never before have I seen a Nigerian President utilise the commonwealth to subvert the system and punish the opposition in the name of politics.
Our nation has suffered serious consequences in the past for egregious acts that are not even close to what we are seeing now. It is time to pull the brakes”.
The president who had been maintaining an awkward silence on the impeachment saga did not find Buhari’s remarks funny. For the presidency, the general’s statement was not the run-of-the-mill media attacks that usually characterises the intermittent criticism of the opposition. Swiftly, Jonathan struck back, describing as most unfortunate, Buhari and his allies’ decision to resort to the blame game against him, instead of working hard to put their house in order.
On the night of the same day Buhari issued his own statement, the president’s special adviser on media and publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati quickly scribbled the president’s reaction. He noted that Jonathan received Buhari’s “wild and totally unsustainable allegations” against him with much surprise and regret. Against the allegation that he was subverting the constitution in order to gag the opposition, Abati said the president was fully committed to “upholding the letters, principles and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution as he has sworn, and defending the rule of law and integrity of the democratic process with all his might.
“It may well be time to pull the brakes, as General Buhari says in his statement, but it is he and others who have resorted to idle scapegoating and blaming President Jonathan for their self-inflicted political troubles who need to stop their inexcusable partisanship and show greater regard for the truth, democracy, constitutionalism, the rule of law, peace, security and the well-being of the nation”, Abati added.
Noting that Buhari was no more the elder statesman he once commended him to be, Jonathan said, “Although he tries very hard to deny it in the statement titled “Pull Nigeria Back From the Brink”, there can be no doubt that General Buhari has sadly moved away from the patriotic and statesmanlike position he recently adopted on national security, which President Jonathan publicly commended, and has now reverted to unbridled political partisanship.
“We therefore urge General Buhari to tarry a while, ponder over his own antecedents and do a reality check as to whether he has the moral right to be so carelessly sanctimonious”, he added.
The presidential spokesman asked Nigerians to cross-check properly whether there can be any other explanation or justification “for the completely unwarranted and very uncharitable assault on the conduct and integrity of President Jonathan” which Buhari’s statement represents.
Abati continued: “The processes for impeaching an elected governor are clearly stipulated in the national constitution which Nigeria has operated since 1999. The president of Nigeria is not assigned any role in that process and President Jonathan has certainly not played any role in the recent impeachment of Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa or in the impeachment drama currently being played out in Nasarawa State.
“Contrary to whatever General Buhari and his new friends may imagine, President Jonathan fully respects the rights, powers, authority and independence of elected representatives of the people, including the members of the state assemblies who have concluded or initiated impeachment proceedings against their state governors on grounds which they consider justifiable”.
Ironically, the verbal war between the president and the opposition leader not long after Jonathan commended Buhari for his statesman-like views on terrorism. The former head of state had published an article condemning the activities of Boko Haram. In a statement issued by Abati, Jonathan who welcomed “Buhari’s call on all Nigerians to remain steadfast and work in unity to overcome terrorists and other merchants of death who currently threaten national security,” gladly said he shared Buhari’s view that a minority must never be allowed to “bring the nation to its knees through terror”.
Apparently sensing what was to follow next- the politicisation of the attack on Buhari’s convoy-the presidency was rattled. The next day, Jonathan condemned the Kaduna bombing, describing it as a deliberate ploy to cause sectional division by inflaming passion and causing panic in the land. In a statement by Abati, the president who thanked God for sparing Buhari’s life ordered the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies to do whatever they could to bring those behind the gory attacks to book.
Confirming that Aso Rock was yet to recover from the shock, the president raised the issue when a Muslim delegation led by Vice President Namadi Sambo paid him Sallah homage to mark the 2014 Eid-el-Firtri celebration at his residence in the presidential villa. He said the country would have been in turmoil if Buhari and Sheik Bauchi had died in the coordinated attacks.
“You can imagine if these two people had died in those attacks. Sheik Bauchi is one of our top Islamic preachers; he has millions of followers. Buhari, former head of state, a leading political figure has massive supporters. On the same day people wanted to kill them. Those who planned the attacks are clearly sons of the devil because if they had killed these two people, we wouldn’t have been here today. This country would have been in turmoil; we couldn’t have gathered here to celebrate. We thank Allah for saving their lives and preventing a major calamity that would have befallen our country”, Jonathan noted.
Although some keen observers in both political divide have insisted that there is no logic in linking the presidency with the purported assassination attempt, the opposition party has called for an international probe into the matter. Seeking the assistance of the international community to conduct an investigation into what it termed as a “dastardly act that could have plunged the country into a deep turmoil, had it succeeded”, the APC said the call became more urgent because the agents of the federal government have started muddling the waters with “their sickening statements and actions on the attack”.
In a statement issued by its national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the APC said it lacked confidence in the Nigerian security agencies to carry out an impartial investigation, adding that the security work for the government instead of the nation. On its part, the government in power are accusing the opposition of stage managing the Kaduna attacks in order to engage in their campaign of calumny.
The discordant tunes that have greeted the incident since last week is a dummy of how Boko Haram plans to use political terrorism to shape the electoral process as the 2015 general elections approaches. The balance of terror at the moment is in favour of the insurgents, while Aso Rock and the opposition battle themselves over what logically should have nothing to do with them.
Political analysts have contended that creating distrust and disunity among Nigerians is a strategy that Boko Haram keeps pursuing since it began its campaign of terror. Their worry now is that, while the strategy had continued to fail in the past, the tendency of some unpatriotic politicians to knowingly or unknowingly play into the script of the terror group in the name of opposition politics may spell disaster in the general polls.
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