I don’t know about you. I care enough about Nigeria and our new sheriff in town to sound this alarm before it is too little too late. Not everybody you speak to in Nigeria loves or appreciates the change agenda Buhari has been preaching.
The great majority of Nigerians, myself included, strongly support Buhari and we are rooting for him to succeed. The Christians and the Muslims among us welcome his bold pronouncement when he quickly dismissed any attempt by his hosts in the United States to raise the issue of same sex marriage with him. He told his interviewers not to go there. Those of us who support him do so with passion because we believe he has what it takes to be the catalyst for change in Nigeria.
As a historian, I take the position that all it needs for evil to triumph is for good people to see evil and to keep quiet or look the other way. I also know that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Some have accused me of being too critical and too impatient with President Buhari and his slow pace for doing things including the decisions that may affect his personal security. I do appreciate like most of you that the only constant in Nature is “change” but I also know that “change” is like trying to extract a honey from a rock. It does not come easy. The change agent himself is like somebody riding on the back of a tiger. The person might end up in the stomach of the tiger if care is not taken.
Some clinical psychologists among us like Professor Ozodi Osuji not to talk of the famous and big ones like Sigmund Freud would tell you that change is not only scary but intimidating and more so for perpetrators of evil who would readily gang up in a heartbeat and find some ways to fight back and to neutralize the change agent by all means if they feel threatened. If you accept that precept, you will understand why Nigerians should be very scared about the danger of possible elimination of Buhari as he pushes the agenda.
That I live in America, that I have been part of the Public Service of Nigeria for no less than 25 years of my prime serving in various capacities, and that I am of the same age bracket with Buhari and a historian and a political scientist and an opinion columnist with the Sahara Media Company of New York have all combined to put me at a vantage position to see some things the rest of you may not readily see.
I pay attention to what is going on in America and the world at large and I pay attention to what is going on in Nigeria. Buhari himself once reminded us in his first odyssey as a military Head of State from 1983 to 1985 that Nigerians have no other country to call our own than Nigeria, and that we must therefore join hands to salvage the country together. I pay close attention to such statements and to a recent statement by Ibrahim Babangida, the evil genius, a former Military Head of State for more than 8 years when he recently said that “Those who live in a glass house must not throw stone”
I interpret that as a warning from him to Buhari just like I believe that Buhari was indirectly talking to Ahmed Tinubu and to some of his critics that he has become a lap dog of Tinubu because Tinubu goes around telling anybody who will listen that without him Buhari could not have won the presidency. Buhari said to Nigerians, “I belong to everybody, and I belong to nobody” The two statements are loaded given the nature of the times we live in and the challenges facing our new President as he fights corruption at all levels of our Government and even in the Legislature and the Judiciary.
Part of the stalemate in the Nigerian Legislature today is a fall-out from that Buhari statement. Saraki and Dogara and their backers like Atiku and Tambuwal, and to some extent Buhari himself, wanted to clip the wings of Tinubu, and to let him know he is only one among the other powerful kingmakers in the APC. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand what is going on in the Senate and the House right now. The APC won the election but the PDP has managed to use individuals like Saraki and to a less extent Dogara, to share power with the APC hiding under some improvised House and Senate rules.
“Once beaten twice shy” is a British adage I pay close attention to in writing this piece. I think I have seen this script too many times before in Nigeria. I will be foolhardy to not pay some attention to this observation as a historian.
In 1975 when Murtala Mohammed took over from Yakubu Gowon in a bloodless coup, he came in with an agenda for change that is very similar to the change mantra promised by Buhari. To Murtala’s everlasting credit, he pursued his change agenda with the persistence of a demon and he received popular support for so doing, Murtala decidedly stepped on many toes in the process and he paid with his own life.
It took only 200 days before Colonel Dimka and his coup plotters which included his Defense Minister, Colonel Bissala decided to fight back and to kill Murtala in a hail of bullets less than a block away from my Udoji Salary Review Commission office at Alagbon, Ikoyi in Lagos. I actually saw Dimka pulling the trigger as I came out of my office out of curiosity to see what was going on that early in the morning. I saw the green Mercedes Benz riddled with bullets from the back of the car.
I did not understand what has happened until the announcement came over the radio that Murtala Mohammed, the man with whom I served in the Army Headquarters from 1968 to 1970 at the Republic Building along Marina, Lagos, has been assassinated. The coup plotters felt threatened by the draconian changes introduced by Murtala... They were also going to take out his number 2, Olusegun Obasanjo, his Chief of Staff. The coup plotters mistook Colonel Dumuje of the Air Force for Obasanjo and they fired shots at his car before they discovered they were firing at the wrong man. Colonel Dumuje narrowly escaped death.
Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon came to power in 1983 by taking out the very corrupt NPN Government of Shehu Shagari. Their Government lasted for only 20 months before they were taken out by Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha. It was a close call for Buhari who could easily have been killed if he had resisted arrest. Tunde Idiagbon was in Mecca when the coup occurred he returned to Nigeria nonetheless because he was a brave soldier.
It was a close call for Babangida and Abacha who were both penciled down for retirement from the Army by Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon. They narrowly escaped retirement by staging their own coup against Buhari a week or less before their own retirement would have taken effect. Their coup had put an end to massive change Buhari and Idiagbon had promised the nation.
If Buhari is a good student of history, he would remember and pay more attention to survival as the first art of Politics as advised by the great Harold Wilson of Britain. I am writing this piece today because I have not seen any persuasive evidence that Buhari is doing enough to guarantee his own safety and survival.
I was a little bit taken aback when he escaped death narrowly in Kaduna when a Boko Haram bomb exploded within a striking distance of his motorcade while he was campaigning to be President. You would have thought that the retired General would have been more conscious of his own security than many of the bloody civilians working with him. I see little evidence of that awareness as I write this piece.
I see Buhari more as a risk taker rather than a risk averter and I agonize a lot about that. If I was advising him, I would have raised serious alarm about his security lapses and some of the things happening around him lately. I could not for the life of me understand why he waited that long to fire Alhaji Dasuki, Mr. Ekpenyong, Mr. Ekpo Nta and all of the 5 or 6 Service Chiefs and the Inspector-General that were all appointed by Goodluck Jonathan to make it that much harder for the Opposition and Buhari to win on March 28 and April 11.
I could not, for the life of me, understand why the new Inspector General Arase had looked the other way while Governor Ayo Fayose was harassing all of the 19 APC legislators in Ekiti and rendering them helpless under a Government controlled by their own party.
I wondered what kind of instructions and directives the new IG had received from his new boss on May 29. The truth was that Ayo Fayose got away with murder when he barricaded all the roads leading to Ekiti to make it impossible for those legislators to enter Ekiti to do their job. I thought that Mr. Arase was going to be reprimanded for not stopping the impunity by Ayo Fayose. It was as if nothing has changed at the Federal level. I call it “Okaraba Baba Edi” that neither Buhari nor Inspector General Arase had anticipated.
Up till now the fate of Captain Sagir Koli who blew the whistle on the PDP rigging of Ekiti elections on June 21, 2014 is still up in the air. The man remains a fugitive offender while his boss Brigadier-General Aliyu Momoh who commanded the operation still keeps his job even with Buhari as President and Commander-in-Chief.
I am sure that many of the officers promoted by Goodluck Jonathan in the Military and Police in his last two weeks in office are still there working in very sensitive positions for the new Sheriff in town who wants to change Nigeria from bottom up. What if Buhari’s political enemies had decided to use such officers to destabilize his Government? It is a very legitimate question to ask when you remember that Indira Ghandi was assassinated by her own security detail who was supposed to protect her. When you remember that Uncle Bola Ige was killed by weapons left behind by his security detail who were there to protect him but who chose to go have a dinner at the time his assailants showed up at Bola Ige’s private residence at Ibadan. I write all these to remind Buhari his security is less than adequate. He is only able to master-mind the change if he is alive. If he gets careless and is taken out, he should have himself to blame and nobody else, but should have been a big tragedy for Nigeria.
I recall our oil minister, Allison Madueke, a trusted loyalist of Goodluck Jonathan flying first class to Britain with the new Sheriff in town without any formal invitation to her. How did she get to know about the itinerary of the President to begin with? That is another legitimate question to ask. It is now being widely reported in the social media and the main media that President Buhari was trailed to the United States by the current Governor of Central Bank who gate-crashed the President’s meeting with the US Chamber of Commerce with two other individuals who were not invited to the meeting.
The individuals were Godwin Emefiele the Governor of Central Bank, Jim Ovia Elumelu and Wale Tinubu, the son of the national leader of the APC. The three gentlemen could possibly have come to America to spy or eavesdrop on Buhari. It was a clear breach of presidential protocol that should never have been allowed.
I recall a military plane crash in Nigeria that took the lives of young Military officers coming to Lagos for a meeting. The plane crashed on the outskirts of Lagos killing so many promising young Nigerian officers which included one of my young brothers from Akure. I am talking of Lt. Colonel Aladesuyi. It was rumored in many quarters that the crash was a ruse to eliminate all of those officers. It all happened in the regime of Ibrahim Babangida.
Up till tomorrow the cause of the crash was not made public. Any number of things can happen to President Buhari because he had left in office many of the individual appointed by Goodluck Jonathan. The PDP does not want Buhari and the APC to succeed and it beats my imagination that Buhari was so slow in removing some of those individuals. A good many of the Jonathan ministers and aides cannot like a man who wants to take away their daily bread or the millions and billions of Dollars they have stolen from Nigeria.
That Buhari actually took the trip to the United States to solicit the support of the American President to recover all of that loot cannot be music to the ears of many of the powerful and the superrich in Nigeria like former Heads of States and Generals, and Colonels and ministers who have lifted thousand barrels of crude oil on a daily basis to be sold abroad and the money kept in private accounts in the United States, in Europe, in Japan, in China and more so in Britain talk less of Monacho, Canada ,and Switzerland. Buhari would be living in a fool’s paradise if he thinks those individuals are not going to find a way to block his change agenda.
I am scared to death about what those individuals may want to do to Buhari who believes that Allah would protect him. If Allah did not protect Anwar Sadat of Egypt or Moammar Ghadafi of Libya or Osama Laden who claimed he was fighting for Allah, it is foolhardiness for Buhari to believe that Allah is going to protect him.
Thomas Sankara who ran on a platform to clean up his country was assassinated by his enemies in cold blood. All it took is one bullet and that was the end of it. If Buhari should seek some help from Israeli Mossad or the KGB, Scotland Yard and the CIA and FBI to make sure some of his enemies within and without don’t have easy access to want to hurt him or neutralize his change agenda.
Leaders like Buhari who have been eliminated around the world for attempting to change their country are many. Patrice Lumumba is one. Thomas Sankara is another. What of Anwar Sadat of Egypt, Indira Ghandi, of India, Aquino of the Philippines , Mommar Ghadafi of Libya and so many others?
There are many leaders in Nigeria who have been taken out just because they were leading a change agenda that their enemies did not want. The list is as long as the River Niger. They include Murtala Mohammed, M.K.O Abiola, Dele Giwa, Tunde Idiagbon, Uncle Bola Ige, Kenneth Tsaro Wiwa, Jaspar Adakar Boro, Mamman Vatsa, Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Victor Banjo, Chukwuma Nzeogwu, and Olusegun Obasanjo who was going to be poisoned or injected in prison. There was Mohammadu Buhari himself, Sani Abacha, Oladipupo Diya, Benjamin Adekunle, the black scorpion, Joe Akahan and Colonel Shittu Alao of the Air Force, Aguiyi Ironsi and Adekunle Fajuyi. There were Adegoke Adelabu “Penkelemess” Olaiya Fagbamigbe, Robert Akesogie Agbayewa and Lawyer Agunbiade all of Akure and so many others who were killed or murdered in cold blood because many of their enemies felt threatened by their presence and some their actions.
I mention all of these names to remind Buhari that he could possibly pay the ultimate price if he continues to think he has 9 lives like a cat. He can take a script from Louis Farrakan of the Nation of Islam in America whose security is nearly as sophisticated as the one assigned to the President of the United States. Malcolm X, Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King died from an assassin’s bullet all because their security fell far short of what was needed to protect them.
I know God Almighty is the ultimate protector of man but Buhari must not because of that throw all caution to the wind. Heaven helps those who help themselves.
I rest my case.