It is a well-known dictum that a person who eats with the devil uses a long spoon. And the reason for this is not just obvious but too self-explanatory for an additional explanation to be furnished. Hence one had thought that this fact would have been well known by all the people who had either been suspected or are still being suspected to be the brain, the sponsors or the benefactors behind the
Islamic Boko Haram sect, or whose past utterances about the “plight” of the sect members readily portray them as the latter’s supporters and sympathizers. Incidentally, this obviously stereotyped mentality accounts for why the news about the terrorist attack in Kaduna State on wenesday, 23rd July, 2014, reportedly targeted at the person of the former Head of State and an All Progressive Congress (APC) leader, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), came to me, and perhaps many other Nigerians, as a big surprise. Yes, a big surprise. Not because of any other reason than the fact that it still beats one’s imagination how possibly the Boko Haram Ismaic terrorist group could have even contemplated it in the very first instance, let alone bringing to fruition, to attack anybody associated with General Buhari, much less the latter himself – going of course by the umpteenth goodwill remarks hitherto credited to the General over his hot and cold support for the Boko Haram cause.
For the records, more importantly, it is unarguable that Major-General Muhammadu Buhari had not abini tio concealed his craving for the Federal government to treat with kid glove the activities of the Islamic Boko Haram sect. Consequently, it is no hidden fact that General Buhari had at some point tended to advocate for the Boko Haram sect to an extent that he even pressured the Jonathan-led government to consider as Hobson’s choice the obviously disgusting option of not only dialoguing at a round table with the “invisible” leadership of the Boko Haram sect, but also granting its members the Niger-Delta kind of amnesty. Needless to say that the same General Buhari quickly turned down the offer when he was eventually nominated by the Boko Haram leadership to represent them in the anticipated dialogue. Again, it is no long news that the same General Buhari once upon in time tended to think and strongly believe that the lives of the Nigerian soldiers did not worth any respect and so, that any cruel elimination of few of them under any provocative circumstance is not such that would warrant genuine need for a reprisal from their colleagues. This inlination was well demostrated by General Buhari in the course of the event which took place at his Daura community in Katsina state at a time some Nigerian soldiers on patrol in the area were ambushed and mercilessly butcherd by no other than members of the Islamist Boko Haram terrorist sect. In a similar vein, it remains a historical fact that can hardly be forgotten by Nigerians that this same General Muhammadu Buhari had publicly expressed his unreserved condemnation of the declaration of state of emergency in the North-Eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa by the Federal government, even in the face of the gory atrocities increasingly being perpetrated agaist the innocent and hapless folks this region by the marauding Islamic Boko Haram members.
Yet, as if all the foregoing were not enough for General Buhari after – for an interlude – he seemed to have renounced his demeaning stance in supporting the activities of the Boko Haram sect, it is still a subject of concern in the thinking of many observers if really he meant well when he recently accused President Goodluck Jonathan of declaring war on Nigerians. No doubt, some analysts beieve that his comment in this regard cannot be adequately appreciated or correctly construed in isolation of the causative political factors in the hitherto APC controlled state of Adamawa as well as the lingering political currents in Nasarawa state and the cummulative potential political implications of all these trends for other APC states. But then, granted that Buhari’s use of the word “war” was conceived metaphorically/literary, it is still very hard to fathom how analysts could begin to situate mere high level political intrigues that characterised politicking in the foregoing states as war – in advancing their untenable defence for Buhari’s extremism in the area of diction and mannerism. But left to common sense, it is crystal clear that Buhari’s grave allegation that President Jonathan had declared war on Nigerians shares nothing with the above line of thought of these analysts. In the opposite rather, General Buhari did not think that the Federal governmet was striving enough in its bid to overcome the prevailing insecurity. And one wonders if the FG’s declaration of full scale war on the Boko Haram Islamic terrorist group is in any way or by any standard of assessment tantamount to a declaration of war on the larger law-abiding population of people of Nigeria. If therefore this is General Muhammadu Buhari’s perception of the Federal Government’s pragmatic approach to winning the war against the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency, then it is most unfortunate that a “stateman” who parades himself as a civil war veteran can no longer appreciate the nature of war and the exigency of employing whatever coventional or unconventional strategies needed in combating the terrorists simply because the war now rages in his own enclave. little surprise that our profession of patriotism in Nigeria is so fictitious in just the same way our feigned assertion to statemanship often gets exposed in moments national challenge which ultimately – though unconsciously – impels us to unveil our nationalistic hypocrisy and double standard. Anyway, this is just by the way.
Now back to the issue of the alleged terror attack on General Muhammadu Buhari which he has even gone further to allege that it was rather an assassination attempt on him. Funny enough, it is now convenient to submit that all the people who unfortunately died in that bloody attack were actually assassinated, and all those who survived it – just like General Muhammadu Buhari – are now at liberty to equally allege assassination attempt on their lives. But we all know that scores of Nigerians die on daily basis as a result of the dastardly operations of the Boko Haram sect. Yet, never at any point in time has anybody impute their fate to assassination. And not even those who luckily escape or survive these incessant terrorist attacks on daily basis ever come out to allege assassination attempt on their lives. But here we are, the tide has changed? By implication, it is now a new mindset being developed and propagated by General Buhari that when a “big” man or a top Nigerian politician happens to be involved in a terrorist conflagration or he is exposed to witness such by circumstaces of life, then it becomes an issue of assassination or assassination attempt. Though, as humans, it will be unusual to rule out the possibility of the routine machinations of our enemies, imagined or perceived, yet in the prevailing circumstance we all have found ourselves in Nigeria with repect to the menace of terrorism, it is simply nonsensical for us to now begin to single out a case of assassination or its attempt from a typically sheer terrorist attack which all Nigerians are prone to.
Though the allegation credited to Alhaji Mujahid Docubo-Asari, the leader of Niger-Delta Peoples Salvation Forces (NDPSF), to the effect that General Muhammadu Buhari masterminded the attack on his convoy in Kaduna state may well not be fobbed off as his “usual reckless” statement/unguarded utteraces going strictly by the seeming failure of Buhari’s security details to nip that attack in the bud at the earliest opportunity. According to the press release reportedly signed by him in the afetrmath of that attack, General Muhammadu Buhari was quoted as saying that: “The unfortunate event, clearly an assassination attempt, came from a fast moving vehicle that made many attempts to overtake my security car but was blocked by my escort vehicle. We reached the market area of Kawo where he took advantage of our slowing down and attempted to ram my car and instantly detonated the bomb which destroyed all three cars in our convoy”. Interestingly, the big question is: in the course of all these repeated attempts by this terrorist driver to overtake General Buhari’s security car which were conspicuously and duly observed by his security details, what serious and reasonable pre-emptive measures did they take beyond just blocking this terrorist driver from overtaking their convoy? Or are we to believe that these “many attempts to overtake” did not and still do not constitute grounds for reasonable suspicion to act, in the estimation of Buhari’s security details? In fact, critically weighed, this whole story leaves much to be desired.
But be that as it may, it will suffice at this juncture to await the report of the high powered panel set up by the Police authority to investigate this alleged attack on General Muhammadu Buhari. Till then, let it be known that those who gather woods infested with ants invariably invite the lizards for a visit.
Onyiorah Chiduluemije Paschal writes from Abuja