The politicisation of the attack on Emir of Kano
On Saturday January 19, 2013, the convoy of the Emir of Kano was fatally attacked by unknown gunmen leading to the death of at least six people. As condemnable as the attack was, the attempt by the Presidency to politicise it was even more so.
Soon after the 19 January attack on the convoy of the emir, there was an outpouring of grief and condemnation from across the social divide. Notable Nigerians, including all former Heads of State and Presidents, religious leaders and politicians, instantly condemned the atrocity. In his reaction to the attack, General Buhari,in a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary of the CPC, RotimiFashakin, noted that, “This is indeed one attack too many! Let it be stated that insecurity of lives and property in any clime is a measure of its level of development. This aptly explains why the Nation’s constitution, in section 14, places security and welfare of the people on the Government. As Citizens, we look forward to the time that this cloud of insecurity shall be lifted and all Nigerians (of whatever religious persuasion and ethnic extraction) shall be free to pursue happiness and living anywhere under the Nation-space in tranquil setting. God bless Nigeria”.
The President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, who also spoke through his Media Assistant, Mr. Kenny Ashaka, stated that, “This attack reinforces CAN’s call to the Federal Government on the need to do more in the area of securing Nigerians and Nigeria. Although Nigerians are yet to know those behind the barbaric act, I want to, again, appeal to northern political, religious and traditional leaders to say and do more in order to, practically, engage those responsible for the ‘madness’ going on in northern Nigeria and find ways to help end this nightmare.”
And former Military President, General Ibrahim BadamasiBabangida was no less sparing in his comments about the attack, observing that, “It is not in doubt that our dear country is undergoing serious security threats on a regular and unbroken basis. The reported cases of terrorist attacks are becoming frightening and seriously call for security alert by all and sundry.Despite spirited efforts by government, it is disturbing that this ugly trend has refused to depart from us, reason why government must change tactics and methods in handling this security challenge. I wish to advise the Federal Government to exploit the option of dialogue with members of the insurgent groups in order to arrest this prevailing drift in our national security.The use of force has proven to be inadequate and ineffective to checkmate this ugly trend”.
The Emir of Kano was not the first traditional ruler in the north to be attacked by unknown gunmen.The Emir of Muri and the Shehu of Borno had been attacked, and a bomb had once been detonated near the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto. These incidents happened before the attack on the Emir of Kano.
But surprisingly, among these and other comments, the Presidency could only find fault with the statement of General Buhari, with the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, saying that “the statement by General Muhammadu Buhari, his party the CPC is unfortunate, reckless and opportunistic”.
What is more, Okupe, in what has become the Presidency’s penchant for flippant remarks, added that, “Though the attack itself is regrettable, it is difficult at present to blame it on the Boko Haram or terrorism or in fact on some criminal elements within the society that hid under the spate of insecurity in the state to perpetuate this heinous crime.”
This, by our understanding, can only mean that the Presidency believes that the opposition may have something to do with the attack.
This attempt by the Presidency to politicize tragedies in our midst was not the first time. If we flash the October 2010 Nigeria Independence Day attacks, when the President quickly absolved the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which not only claimed responsibility soon after the attack, but had in fact sent out warning of its intention to bomb the Eagle Square venue of the ceremony. The eventual conviction of the leadership of MEND in Nigeria and South Africa and Okupe’s reaction to General Buhari’s comments on the attack on the Emir of Kano are proof of the desperation, including using tragedies, of the Presidency to find faults with the opposition. This is certainly how not to run a focused administration.