AS we gradually approach the 2011 general elections, any right thinking Nigerian who is patriotic enough would now be concerned with how the country should achieve hitch-free polls.
The present administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has promised and guaranteed a free and fair outing for Nigerians.
But the security situation in the country calls for concern now and after the period leading to the general elections! From the country’s 50th Independence Day bomb blast, which was hitherto alien through the Jos bombings which killed scores of people down to the Boko Haram imbroglio and the recent Suleja blast, all had political connotations.
Surprisingly, and watching all these happen, the presidential Candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Muhammadu Buhari turned a blind eye as he saw no evil and heard no evil, when millions were sending their condolences to other Nigerians who lost their families in the various sad events; not even words of condemnation! Haba Buhari!
Security, no doubt, should be the responsibility of all Nigerians. But one is taken aback when a former Head of State in his desperation for the coveted number one seat has chosen the path of dishonor to encourage youths and voters in this country to take laws into their hands by unleashing violence on anyone who tampers with elections results or materials. That was his postulation recently at the Kaduna rally.
Buhari in his characteristic manner has shown Nigerians once more the stuff of which he is made. His penchant for extremism and dangerous outbursts is now commonplace and can only be sustained in a despotic regime which we last had between 1983 and 1985. Never shall we go back to those dark days again, Insha Allah.
Instead of the retired General to engage in campaigns based on issues, he has occupied himself with campaigns based on the preachment of violence, a norm he is now, perhaps out of desperation to be president, so comfortable with.
That is why his recent pronouncement in Imo State during his campaign tour that he will tackle insecurity in the country baffles me. Is Buhari speaking from both sides of his mouth? In one breath, he calls for violence and yet in another breath, he calls for checkmating insecurity.
Inconsistency, which has been his hallmark, is again on display!
The apostle of violence should be reminded that he must be ready with his children at the forefront when it happens, so that the taste of violence can be experienced.
At a time his Northern brothers and sisters at the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) are busy consulting with retired Generals on how to checkmate the spate of violence in the North and other parts of the country, Buhari is busy encouraging his followers to adopt violence as a means to get to the presidency.
To show that his promise of tackling insecurity in the country is for campaign purposes, Buhari does not have a strategic plan on the nation’s security, hence he cannot boast of spearheading a meaningful security initiative.
Buhari should be informed that security agencies in the country are not the same group he presided over between December 1983 and August 1985, as political thugs would face the full wrath of the law from security agencies, come 2011 polls.
However, Buhari’s outbursts should not discourage the average Nigerian because there is hope. Hope predicated on a man, President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been destined to change both the political and security landscape of the country.
Apart from his promises on electoral reforms which are far-reaching, the security agencies are being trained and retrained for better performance. In his avowed commitment to put security as a priority, he has recently set up a Presidential Committee on Public Awareness on Security and Civic Responsibilities basically to address insecurity in the country.
What is so unique about the President’s bold move is that apart from the regular security chiefs in the country who make up numbers every time on security matters, a whole lot of other persons drawn from the public service, the civil society, academia were included in the committee to make more effective contributions.
The Committee is saddled with the responsibility of strengthening crime prevention efforts of the security agencies and looking at existing strategies of raising awareness on potential security threats and drawing up strategies and structures at community level and other tiers of Government on how the public can cooperate with security agencies to ensure safety of lives and property.
This, to my mind, is the way to go! A presidential candidate like Buhari should review his operational strategies by following the popular line of issue-based campaigns and stop inciting supporters to violence.
Mr. JOSEPH BELLO, a public affairs analyst, writes from Lokoja, Kogi State.