What started as a big joke suddenly became a reality. In a desperate bid to stop the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari the heat of the 2015 presidential election, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, the Ekiti state Governor, did the unthinkable. He single-handedly placed an “obituary” of a living person on the front pages of The Punch and The Sun (January 19, 2015). What was his reason for this: “Will you allow history to repeat itself? Enough of State burials.” These he told Nigerians who listened to him eagerly. Suffice to say that many political analysts described the advert as one of the lowest moments in the run-up to the election. Trust “Prophet” Fayose he did his utmost to make his “prophesies” come to pass. He told us all that Buhari had “advance stage” cancer, even coming up with a “medical report” from Ahmadu Bello Teaching Hospital (I meant the one in Ikare, not ABUTH please)!
Let us spare the Fayose’s infantile theatrics for a while. Recently, a group that calls itself the Niger-Delta Avengers (NDA), threatened to assassinate President Buhari if he goes on with his intention of going to Rivers state on official visit on Thursday 2 June, 2015. An NDA member reportedly issued a threat to the President on his visit to the volatile region. In a phone monitored on the pirate Radio Biafra, the militants say the president will be signing his death warrant by visiting Ogoniland as scheduled.
If the President is visiting the land with a history of oil spills to assess the extent of damage(s) done by multinational oil companies in the region, it still baffles rational minds to know those who really wish the president dead!
I happened to be one of the people who wished the President will call the bluffs of these so-called militants who threatened to assassinate him should he attempt to visit the region. I was so disappointed to know that the president will later shelve his plans to attend the official launch of the cleanup of Ogoniland.
The reason for my disappointed steams from the fact that, as Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, the President should not be seen to be cowardly. This was the reason some of us supported him in the first instance. Is there any part of the federation that the President cannot visit? Can the so-called Avengers be more powerful than the Nigerian Army? What becomes of the morale of hardworking soldiers under the Joint Task Force (JTF) fighting the militants when his C-in-C is “too afraid” of “assassination threats” from a ragtag group? That also reminds us, why the president made the visit a public announcement when he could have appeared unannounced?
Let us take the argument of these groups that they are indeed fighting a course on behalf of their “offended” ethnic groups. Let us assume for the sake of analysis that the NDA wants to “right the wrongs” meted out on them by the Federal Government in the past. To whose benefit really is the cleanup of Ogoniland when it is finally done?
On getting the news of the cancelled Buhari’s visit to Ogoni, a colleague of mine quickly, in a desperate attempt to attract my attention, told me how he wished to “disappoint” me with the piece of news having barely resumed work that day. “Buhari shouldn’t be afraid of these Niger-Delta Avengers because they are smaller than Boko Haram. Buhari should have gone to launch the cleanup.” I had to agree with him. While agreeing with him, I thought about the what the headlines will be in the online media. “Coward President Buhari Succumbs to Niger-Delta Militants” will be a good one on an anti-Buhari media platform. Is is just about the president not honouring his own visit, or is he just being “bullied” or misadvised?
I remember sometimes last year when late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s son, Chukwuma, was to be buried. The drama was so sensational that, just for some people to justify their arguments of Buhari “hating Igbos”, they won’t mind insulting the late son of the Zik of Africa even in death just because of his friendship with the President. He was buried, Buhari did not attend the ceremony and they were happy! To these ones, as long as Buhari has no ‘footings in the South East’, the party can continue.
On the assassination threats coming from the Avengers is really nothing new. If Buhari had attended the event, the worst that would have happened would have been some pockets of protests here and there just to “show the world how unpopular Buhari’s administration is.” Their own problem is that they see it as a taboo that a Fulani man (a tribe they told the world hates them) is the one to commence the cleaning up of the oil spills in “Biafra land” a feat “our son” could not achieve in several years in power. Does it surprise anyone that as Buhari was planning to launch Ogoniland’s cleanup brought “our son” back home from his “hiding spot”?
Earlier this year, the fiery Enugu Catholic priest and Founder, Adoration Ministry, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, alleged that there were plans by unnamed people to assassinate President Muhammadu Buhari. According to the clergyman, many people were plotting to kill the President because of what he described as his campaign against corruption, saying, “I am not a sycophant, but I want to tell you that so far, God is happy and he, who God has blessed, no one can curse. Many people are planning to kill Buhari – there are many plans on how to eliminate his life so that corruption will continue, so that embezzlement will continue.”
When Mbaka made this statement, the so-called NDA that threatened to assassinate Buhari was still in incubation. They were waiting to see whether some of their paymasters, like Sambo Dasuki will be granted a leave to travel abroad for “medical treatments” or granted bail on his present corruption charges. The question some of us ask ourselves is whether Dasuki comes from Niger-Delta that these ones are avenging!
The forces that have been battling the president before his elections are not giving up the fight as one may have thought. For these once, they will prefer a dead man occupying Aso Rock than for Buhari to withdraw from them their daily bread!