by Demola Rewaju
If Buhari had died last week, a coup would be inevitable in the next one month and perhaps ‘a raba’ would be the cry of the northern secessionists once more, as in the first republic.
News report last week had it that General Muhammadu Buhari was the target of a suicide bomb and gunfire attacks yesterday in Kaduna State of Nigeria. With the merciless recklessness that has accompanied most Boko Haram attacks, that the General did not lose his life is a most fortuitous event for the nation’s very fragile union. It’s been over one hundred days since the schoolgirls of Chibok have been kidnapped but more than four years since the name Boko Haram creeped into our national lexicon to inspire fear in our collective hearts of a nation in dire need of solidarity.
One is no security or intelligence expert but I do not for any moment think that the Buhari attack was stage-managed; neither do I think that Buhari is a part of the Boko Haram in any way but I do believe that Buhari’s statement just before the last election gave fillip to the Boko Haram insurgent leaders and their sponsors to carry out their dastardly acts on a grand scale across the north and in the federal capital. Buhari’s statement predicted violence if Goodluck Jonathan was elected and just as some prophecies are sometimes self-fulfilling, his prophecy/threat played no small role in what Boko Haram has finally become. By sowing the seeds of disunity in the hearts of his loyalists in the north, his statement was nothing less than a call to arms. Not done yet, Buhari again said that the 2015 elections would find both the dog and the baboon bathed in blood if the elections were somehow manipulated.
That these statements were less than statesmanly or gentlemanly is quite obvious but they were also reckless, thoughtless and terribly misguided and provocative. Buhari willy-nilly encouraged the Boko Haram terrorists and by keeping quiet except to attack the presidency, Buhari continues to water the ground for this harvest of deaths to continue. I can only recall one statement where he has come out to condemn the Boko Haram terror but he needs to do more.
Let’s pretend for one minute that it is not nauseating that at over the age of 70, some are still putting Buhari in the permutations for the 2015 elections – would it not be wiser for such a man to try and win some hearts in southern Nigeria where he has always suffered a great defeat by using every opportunity to condemn Boko Haram and showing support to his President and Commander-in-Chief? Buhari has often acted as less than a patriot: attending Council of State meeting until he lost the 2003 elections to General Obasanjo which he claimed were rigged on the pretext that he did not recognise Obasanjo as president. He borrowed the robes of patriotism in early 2007 and started attending the council of states meeting again until he lost to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and then stopped attending again, with the same argument as before. He’s still not attending those meetings by the way but he did well to attend the centenary celebrations in what I believe is one of Nigeria’s finest moments in history – all our past and present leaders alive (or past and present problems if you like), standing side by side on the stage after President Goodluck Jonathan had deftly recognised MKO Abiola’s unassailable role in history.
I do not also believe as extremists on the other side are suggesting that somehow Goodluck Jonathan may have had a hand in the Buhari assassination attempt – more than anybody else, I think Mr. President needs Buhari alive. A living Buhari is the APC’s best candidate but PDP’s most easily defeated opponent (I explained that in this piece). A living Buhari still has hope of redemption and may one day offer to lead the war on terror against a Boko Haram whose rank and file have a measure of respect for him (never mind Shekau’s assertion to the contrary – Boko Haram is divided into many cells).
I however believe that Buhari must know the figures behind Boko Haram. As former head of states and a war general, Muhammadu Buhari would be grossly out of touch if he says he does not know much about the group’s operations and those who are behind them. He may have kept quiet so far because the ‘Nigeria is insecure because Goodluck is clueless’ narrative plays into the agenda of his party and his own ambition to rule Nigeria once more but yesterday’s attack shows that God still has a role for him to play. It is blessed for a Muslim to die in the Holy Month of Ramadan but Buhari still has a role to play in the destiny of Nigeria – either as the leader of an opposition that is yet to get its acts together, as a four-time failed candidate if he contests again next year or as the heroic statesman from Daura who rallied his kinsmen in unity behind a southern president.
If Buhari had died , the north would be on fire already and many Igbos, Niger-Deltans and Yorubas (in that order) would have been killed already in the mayhem that would follow. At his burial, any former leader who ventures to go there (including OBJ or IBB) would receive the greatest embarrassment of their lives. If Buhari had died last week, a coup would be inevitable in the next one month and perhaps ‘a raba’ would be the cry of the northern secessionists once more, as in the first republic.
Thank God Buhari did not die and he still has life in him to use the remainder of his life to speak up against Boko Haram. Let the general forget poltics for now and earn a spot in our history by showing to the whole world that he respects the office (if not the person) of the Commander-in-Chief and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As the foremost leader of the north in this time and age, Buhari’s voice is urgently needed and he must speak, not once, not twice, but as long as it takes for his voice to strike discord in the Boko Haram camp where a repentant lieutenant can decide to betray Abubakar Shekau and pick up the $7m bounty on his head from the United States as well as the NGN50m of the Nigerian military.
Let his voice with the voices of clerics, kings and political leaders of the north sing a sonorous chorus that Boko Haram is the greatest Haram in the land, not education; because we all would die one day but the wish of every man or woman is that their names should be written not only in the Book of Saints in Heaven but also in history as men who were heroes. Right now, if Buhari had died, his name would be of a hero only to some but a villain to many of us.
But thank God Buhari is alive.
Demola Rewaju blogs from www.demolarewajudaily.com
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.