ByOchereome Nnanna The target-bombing of former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari’s convoy last week in Kaduna left me with mixed feelings. It would have been a very sad day for Nigeria if the bomber had succeeded. It certainly would have resulted in spontaneous bloodshed, especially in the Muslim North, and the usual targets would be Southerners and Igbos in particular. Buhari has a cult image among the youth of the Muslim North.
Coming a couple of days after his latest verbal exchange with the Presidency over the gale of impeachments and reverses suffered by his All Progressives Congress, APC, the Federal Government and ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, would also have been blamed and even accused of state-sponsored assassination. Former Governor Murtala Nyako, wherever he is, would have rubbed his palms with pleasure, saying he warned of an anti-North monster that President Goodluck Jonathan has turned into.
It is very gladdening that Buhari and members of his entourage, as well as renowned Islamic cleric, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, miraculously escaped death, even though scores of ordinary citizens were not so lucky after the twin blasts went off. We do not need the death or destruction of the political ambition of anyone as we sidle towards the great 2015 electoral and transitional season. We want a free, fair and safely conducted election, where losers will congratulate winners and winners will stretch their hands of fellowship to losers. Together we will then join hands to confront our common enemy – the Islamist militants – conquer them and proceed to build a strong, united nation where all Nigerians will be proud to belong.
That attack on Buhari should leave us with food for thought. It was a very bold message from Boko Haram, the obvious culprits and masterminds. Buhari had been seen, rightly or wrongly, by his critics as a hidden supporter of Boko Haram. They have nominated him twice to head a team to negotiate terms of settlement with the Federal Government. Buhari, on both occasions, turned down the appointment. The mere fact that he was named by the insurgents made Buhari’s critics to feel justified in their claim that he had some link to them. The very fact that the former head of state made very inflammatory statements in the past that seemed to support violence against “election riggers”; his prolonged silence after some youth corps members of Southern extraction were murdered in the North by his sympathisers in the wake of the 2011 polls, and his tongue-in-cheek attitude to the bloody exploits of Boko Haram (which he only recently changed to active condemnation), all came together to paint a picture of him as a leader who is reluctant to come out against the insurgents.
Personally, I do not believe that Buhari is a supporter of Boko Haram, though he recently declared his readiness to help in spreading Sharia to all parts of Nigeria. Statements like this are responsible for the widespread misunderstanding that people of Muslim North extraction suffer, especially on the political battlefront among non-Muslims or moderate Muslims. For them, the logic is simple. Buhari would like to spread Sharia to all corners of Nigeria. Isn’t that same as Islamising Nigeria, the grand agenda of Boko Haram? So, if Buhari and Boko Haram share the same objective, then they must be together.
It does not necessarily follow. Buhari,
as a military officer, went after insurgents in the same North East. He ignored international diplomatic protocol and chased them across the border deep into a neighbouring foreign country. I have no doubt in my mind that if he has the opportunity of occupying the seat of President of Nigeria again, he will probably be tougher on the insurgents than President Goodluck Jonathan, who is bogged down by his own (uncalled-for) sensitiveness to certain political considerations. He is likely to meet the insurgents with the same viciousness that the late President Umaru Yar’ Adua did, when they reared their ugly heads in 2009.
Here was Umaru Yar’Adua who, as a governor, introduced Sharia in Katsina State in 2002. He later nominated his Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Shehu Shema, to succeed him in office. Between these two, the death sentence passed on a single mother, Amina Lawal, would have been carried out if not for the enormity of pressure piled from around the world. Yet when he became president, Yar’ Adua crushed Boko Haram.
The truth is that the Islamisation agenda that Boko Haram is gunning for is not the same as the one on the mind of people like Buhari. Buhari is unlikely to kill to carry out his own type. Buhari is a member of an establishment based on Islamic law. He is a scion of the Sokoto Caliphate currently headed by Sultan Saad Abubakar; an Islamic order running the show in the Muslim North and seeking to maintain dominance all over Nigeria and beyond. Buhari will like to propagate the status quo while implementing his own standards of right and wrong.
On the other hand, Boko Haram is a revolutionary group. They want to overthrow the Sokoto Caliphate and all it stands for and enthrone a new Islamic order based on the Salafist ideals of Al Qaeda worldwide network. Boko Haram is an enemy of the Sokoto Caliphate as much as it is an enemy of the Federal Government which derives its legitimacy from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
What happened was that when Boko Haram assumed its current monster dimension, some people in the North and some opposition parties erroneously saw them as the possible distraction that could be used to derail or weaken the Goodluck Jonathan presidency, and thus create an opportunity for them to assume power. After all, some of these political speculators were actually instrumental to cultivating the initial germs that became Boko Haram. Some also foolishly saw them as the Islamic army bombing churches and killing Christians and “non-believers” whom they have been brainwashed in their various sects to hate. Some naively saw them as “soldiers of the North” out to help in retrieving power from Jonathan, the man usurping the North’s “turn” after Yar’ Adua died.
The ruling party, PDP, joined in this folly by blaming the opposition APC as the party sponsoring Boko Haram, even though they never offered a shred of evidence or arrested anyone of them to prove their allegation.
The pattern of Boko Haram’s attacks has made it abundantly clear that all these low ball politicking are totally off the mark. They are targeting everybody, including top political leaders, traditional rulers, churches, mosques, clerics, government establishments, security agencies – everyone! Boko Haram has declared war on all of us. No one is safe from them.
The earlier we get this message the better. There is no alternative left for us than to close ranks against this enemy. Boko Haram cannot win this war. It does not have the capacity to carry out its mission of Islamising Nigeria, including my own part of it. It can only spread terror and kill innocent people for a time, pending when we collectively decide enough is enough.