President Jonathan Must Protect General Buhari, at All Costs By Nze Anizor
What the hell is Nze talking about? Has he started smoking? These may be some of the questions which will immediately agitate the minds of anybody who sees the title of this article. There is no doubt that they are very valid questions. I will try to make things easier by attempting to provide answers starting from the second question. No, I have not started
smoking yet. The first question will take much longer to answer.
I have to think seriously about the answer considering that General Muhammadu Buhari is not just a retired Major – General of the Nigerian Army, but a former Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is thus entitled to full protection till death does him part from this world. In an attempt to provide an answer to the question, another question immediately arises: why should Buhari be particulate protected as if his life is worth more than that of other Nigerians? And why should I ask President Jonathan to protect him? Has our President become a bodyguard? Why must the President show interest in his ‘arch – enemy’?
Our dear country is presently in a deep mess. We are in the grip of the murderous sect that we have never had the misfortune to witness in our history. We are daily killed and traumatised by full – blown terrorists which easily rivals the worst anywhere on earth. There is no gainsaying that our President is trumped and floating. He has no idea whatsoever what to do, or how to get us out of this mess.
This is really understandable considering the Igbo saying that what is bigger than the cricket has found its way into the cricket’s hole. While Mr. President is grappling with ways to bring peace to the country he leads, there are hawks in his cabinet who confuse him daily with tales of how his enemies are the cause of our nation’s problems. It will not be far – fetched to assume that there will be native doctors and ‘men of God’ in the mix who will be dishing out their own predictions and ‘prophecies.’ All this will make for a thoroughly confused President, especially one who is naturally not a war – time leader.
How does General Buhari get into the mix? Recently he made what is the most detailed and profound condemnation of the Boko Haram by any Muslim or Northerner of influence. He went as far as describing the group as ‘devilish’ and called on the Federal Government to do all in its power to crush them. Note that before that time, Shekau, the leader of the group has included the General in their list of high profile targets. Buhari is the most high – profile of the Boko Haram targets for more reasons than one.
I have followed the utterances of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and other Northern leaders since the beginning of the present wave of unbridled violence by the terrorists. He has been very careful in his utterances. He condemns the group but in a very subdued manner. I thought about this matter, and the answer became very clear. Atiku does not have the clout, despite his wealth and political stature, to take on the terrorists or dare them. If they kill him today, politicians will mouth the usual platitudes and that will be that. Added to that is that Atiku has his university to protect, and that will mean a lot to him. But Buhari is different. He is easily the most popular human being in Northern Nigeria and his popularity does not derive from the elite but from the down – trodden. He is the only Northerner, by a mile, who can galvanise the entire region against the sect, and do it successfully.
He is the target whose killing will set the region ablaze because his followers are the poor who will think nothing of massing into the streets and visiting a level of violence never before seen or heard in Nigeria on government interests because they will blame the government for his death. Why should they blame the government knowing fully well that the Bok Haram killed him? They will do so because many Northerners actually believe that the Federal Government is behind the activities of the sect. More Northerners than you may realise believe this with all their heart. It is this frustration which is behind the recent outbursts of the Governors of Borno and Adamawa states.
A careful analysis of the trajectory of Boko Haram activities indicates that they have fully set their sights on Abuja and have come to stay. They will not leave until they lay the city to waste. After Abuja, they will turn their attention to either Lagos or Port Harcourt. But during this period, or immediately after this period, they will change tactics and go after high – profile individuals which may later include President Jonathan. But unlike what many people think, their ultimate target will not be the President; it will be General Buhari who rebuffed their request to negotiate on their behalf with the Federal; Government, and whose death will grant them what they seek – violence of unmitigated proportions which will have so many fronts that it cannot be controlled by anybody.
Imagine this scenario. The Boko haram kills Buhari. Southerners, especially the South East and South South, celebrate because according to them, Buhari is a sponsor of the sect. The social media will be awash with such comments as ‘Buhari has lost control of the group he sponsors and they have killed him’, ‘God has avenged the blood of Christians killed by the Boko haram’, Praise God, Buhari has received his due punishment’, etc. The Northern poor will naturally be incensed and have three primary targets. The first will be the Southern Christians, mostly Igbos in the North; the second will be anybody representing government in the region, especially the PDP; and the third will be anybody deemed to have any link with the Boko Haram.
The army will be clearly overwhelmed, and the bloodshed will be such as has never been seen in our history. Remember that the Boko Haram, who are fully armed, will not just fold their arms and allow themselves to be killed by mobs. They will escalate their own activities especially considering that their security will lie in the uncontrolled confusion. The [possible retaliation against Northerners in the South East and South South will be a topic for another day. The above scenario is not far – fetched, and all it will require is the taking of one life. Just one life.
The Boko haram has offered President Jonathan his easiest route to retain his seat in 2015, an ambition he holds dearly. His wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, unwittingly pointed him in the right direction with her recent statement that ‘terrorism can defeat anyone, including my husband, if he fights alone.’ No statement has been more correct.
The President should not listen to any politician or carpetbagger who advices him to fight alone. The crisis facing us is way beyond political parties.
The President should therefore as a matter of urgency extend an honest hand to Buhari and seek his support to fight this battle. It will be surprising if Buhari shall reject the invitation if he believes it was genuinely made. Jonathan and Buhari standing shoulder to shoulder can win this battle. While Jonathan has the armed forces, Buhari has the Northern youth. He can stem the ability of the Boko Haram to recruit more people because his followers hang on to his every word. He can speak to the Northern youth and they will go all out, defeat their fear, and give up Boko haram members or sympathisers wherever they may be found. But he must be alive to do this. Buhari’s safety is of critical importance to all of us now, and it must be assured.
Lest I be misunderstood, this will not be an easy picking. The fact that there is official complicity of some sort in the ongoing crisis is obvious. Where many Nigerians miss the ball is in thinking that the President actively supports the Boko haram. He does not and cannot. But there is no doubt there are people in government who must be benefitting from this crisis and will wish it to continue. The ease with which the terrorists carry out attacks, especially in the North East, bears this out. The successful abduction of more than two hundred students in an area under a military lockdown confirms this assertion. They will do everything in their power to ensure that the President and Buhari do not arrive at a détente. But Buhari’s recent public condemnation of the terrorists and the President’s immediate welcoming of that statement is a starting point. They must build on that beginning and act now.
Interestingly, if President Jonathan takes my advice, 2015 will become very dicey and shocking in its outcome. If President Jonathan shows leadership to such a high level, the APC may actually not present a candidate in 2015. It is possible, and our President should go for it.
Our President must shake off all distractions, mostly political and ethno – religious, and do that which he must do: keep General Buhari alive and work with him. Therein lies the strongest ladder to pull us out of our current quagmire.
Dr. Nze Anizor
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