President Muhammadu Buhari might have been worried at recent torrent of events, which indisputably seemed to have at last alarmed him about the spectre of political instability in the country. Despite that possibility (of being rattled), he should take comfort in the positive aspect which the multi-challenge triggered in him. Before now, Buhari’s response to such political problems confronting his administration was weeks, indeed months, of disturbing quiet of a recluse. Time there was when he even restrained his men from explaining his own side of events to reckless, irresponsible and indeed subversive critics.
On this occasion, for two successive days, Muhammadu Buhari personally repulsed damaging aggression against his administration. It is not yet clear whether this tough stance is a promising sign of the new style he hinted for his second term. All the same, his old style rendered him and his administration vulnerable to all manner of negative insinuations and cheap shots from two main groups. The first comprises those who lost out in political influence and patronage as a result of change of government in 2015, still agonising to get back into reckoning in the scheme of things. The second group comprises criminals and drug addicts who looted Nigerian taxpayers’ money as pre-2015 public office holders now accounting for their various financial misconduct in law courts. Currently dignifying themselves as critics of the Buhari administration, they mischievously operate as ethnic champions of a group deriding other ethnic group(s), inciting ethnic hatred aimed at disintegration of the country to enable them escape on-going trial by EFCC in any ensuing chaos.
These are the challenges Buhari must face and he cannot afford to lose. There is a third group – those who, post-2015, lost their erstwhile easy access to public funds and gifts from federal and state governments. Their bitterness and sense of loss are such that they seize the slightest opportunity to create or indeed inflame tension in the country. Occasionally, Aso Rock does not help itself with, for example, poor handling of killings in Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Taraba and, lately, Zamfara states.
There is a curious gang exploiting and situation, one after another. None of the gang is pursuing the interest of any group. They have no mandate or reputation to champion the cause of any class. This clarification is necessary so that these fellows do not drag innocent Nigerians into any civil conflict.
Unfortunately, the personal tragedy of old man Reuben Fasoranti has been pounced upon in mischievous attempt to cause bloodshed in Nigeria. Somehow, circumstantial atmosphere exists for the anarchists on both sides to flourish. There was the false alarm raised on alleged plans to change the face of Nigeria along religious and ethnic lines. Also, government’s poor reaction to those who believe there are no laws in Nigeria their actions for collective peace created the impression of the pampering of such groups. Sensing tension being generated by the row over ranching, grazing, RUGA or all these agricultural, farming or herding jargons, government moved to douse tension by cancelling all such proposals, only to be dared by a group issuing 30-day ultimatum to have its way on RUGA. Otherwise, the group threatened all northern Nigerians resident in the South would have to return up-country.
The Ohanaeze, cultural umbrella for South-easterners, also put them on alert to return en-masse. In the midst of this uncertainty and fear for group personal safety, tragedy struck at Ondo State junction of Ore on Sagamu-Benin expressway when gunmen shot a female passenger in a private vehicle. On being identified, the deceased turned out to be Mrs. Olufunmike Olakunrin, daughter of Chief Reuben Fasoranti, a top political leader in South-West. It was instantly a field day for anarchists claiming that Mrs. Olakunrin was murdered by Fulani herdsmen. That claim was a desperate mischievous attempt by anarchists to inflame inter-ethnic reprisal violence on an uncontrollable dimension all over the country.
For a very lucky President Buhari, Nigerians, at least on this occasion, were discerning enough rather than allow their minds to be poisoned by the anarchists with the rumour that Mrs Olakunrin, daughter of Chief Reuben Fasoranti, was killed by herdsmen. Indeed, as the anarchists were beating drums of war, level-headed Nigerias were sifting for facts. What were the facts, according to police authorities?
There was a victim of an armed attack at Ore. Next, Ore is a notaries flashpoint for occasional or even regular armed robbery, despite heavy traffic on that road, day or night. No iota of evidence so far that the murderers were Fulani or Igbo or even Yoruba.
The victim, Olufunmike Olakunrin, was not killed as a Yoruba but an innocent wrong victim at a wrong place and wrong time. So far, police have not identified any suspect.
In the midst of this confusion, Arewa Elders Forum, directed herdsmen and Fulani in Southern Nigeria to return to the North. It is difficult to understand the reason(s) for the directive except the baseless allegation that northerners in the South had been earmarked by their hosts to be attacked. Where in the South? Not in the East, not in the West and not in South-South. Was any thought given to the wide-ranging implications and inevitable fall-out of such mass dislocation? If Northerners in the South returned en masse to the North, there would, in the process, be panic, stampede and tension, which would also put Southerners in the North at imminent risk. A minor spark would set the whole place on fire. 1966 should remind all Nigerians to guard against reckless utterances. A false report on Radio Cotonou (Benin-Republic) that Nigerians from one part of the country were being killed in another part of the country sparked reprisal ethnic killings of innocent ones.
If we keep quiet without warnings, drug addicts and false self-proclaimed political messiahs will plunge Nigeria into bloodshed of uncontrollable dimension while the instigators and their family will be safe as they escape accountability for their loot of public fund.
Neighbours must enlighten themselves and their children not to be misled into disaster. If there was any doubt on this looming danger, the reaction of President Buhari to the silly directive of Arewa Elders Forum to Fulani and herdsmen to return to the North must show that even Aso Rock was so alarmed to overrule the order within hours by re-assuring Nigerians to continue staying in any place of their choice in Nigeria. That is governance. For too long, Aso Rock had been irritatingly stingy with information and especially governance. Present-day Nigeria is too restless for what the late Stanley Macebuh once described as “minimum governance.”
By asserting his sole authority to guarantee every Nigerian the freedom and security to live and earn a living in any part of the country, this is a tempo that must be maintained. No part of the world is governance perfect or all-accomplishing but, like in a household, the head must be felt if and when necessary.
A day earlier, the same Buhari shot down his (malicious) critics as unpatriotic. Of course, they are malicious and Nigerians know them as obsessively malicious in their criticisms. Whose fault? President Muhammadu Buhari who (has) made himself a sitting target. He can do with occasional give-aways to entertain Nigerians and he will be remembered for such as leaders all over the world throw down the gauntlet even if humorously.
While discussing the matter of the moment – insecurity – the Senate opted for a summit and demanded declaration of emergency. Do these people realise how unlimited are emergency powers? Emergency powers were introduced in United Kingdom to combat Irish terrorists, otherwise known as IRA. Culprits were detained for years without trial (Internment). United States also introduced emergency powers in dealing Al Queda and culprits went in for detention over many years. Law courts, in such cases, had no powers to inquire into the constitutionality of such harsh measures. In any case, relevant sections on human rights would be suspended.
In a panic reaction to the murder of Chief Reuben Fasoranti’s daughter, Funke by armed robbers at Ore junction of Sagamu-Benin expressway, and perhaps rattled by the malicious rumour that she was killed by Fulani herders, Nigeria Police announced what it called beefing up of security in all southern states. Meaning what? That the police were being unduly patronising to the South? Or that the North should also experience such dastardly murder to warrant beefing up of security in that part of the country? Security must be beefed up in all parts of the country all the time.
A public figure will occasionally pay a heavier price. That was the (ill?) luck of Bola Tinubu in the matter of the murder of Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Chief Reuben Fasoranti. In the midst of such rising tension. Caused by malicious rumour that she was killed by Fulani herdsmen, any politician had a duty not to inflame the atmosphere. What is more, even till now, police have not identified the murderers of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin as Fulani. Tinubu could, therefore, not join the archaists in concocting tension in the country.
Postscript: This time next week, Britain’s potential next Prime Minister Boris Johnson, would have been appointed by the Queen, after the resignation of Theresa May whose last day in office after three years is Wednesday July 24.