Last week’s attack on the car of General Muhammadu Buhari, former Head of State and a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), by a suicide bomber in Kaduna, is a wakeup call to all politicians that the time has come to close ranks and stop playing politics with the issue of terrorism. The incident, which was part of a coordinated attack involving two explosions about two hours apart, bore the trademarks of the dreaded terror group, Boko Haram. Although Buhari and popular Islamic cleric, Sheik Dahiru Bauchi, who was also purportedly targeted, survived the two separate explosions, scores of persons lost their lives.
Coming soon after Buhari, rather unfairly, accused President Goodluck Jonathan of declaring war on Nigeria, the attempt to eliminate the former Head of State has already generated ridiculous and unsubstantiated accusations from some uncharitable and clearly mischievous political elements. It is precisely this sort of political gimmickry which has not served the nation well in these times of crisis that must be avoided.
Even without a statement from Boko Haram claiming responsibility for the acts of terror in Kaduna, what is fairly obvious is that such heinous crimes are typical of the handiwork of the group. It should also be fairly obvious to any discerning observer that creating distrust and disunity among Nigerians is a strategy that Boko Haram has been pursuing since it began its campaign of terror. Thankfully, the strategy continues to fail.
For this reason, the tendency of some unpatriotic politicians to knowingly or unknowingly play into the script of the terror group all in the name of opposition politics must be condemned without reservation. The point that must be made to all Nigerians, whether they belong to the active political class or not, is that politics of any sort (opposition or otherwise) can only be possible when there is still a united and peaceful nation called Nigeria. If politicians are in doubt that they cannot indulge in their political shenanigans when there is chaos and confusion in the land, they should look to Central African Republic, Somalia and South Sudan for guidance.
It is telling that, after a recent Boko Haram bomb attack in Abuja, Buhari himself said: “My heart breaks every time I take to this platform to offer condolences in this tormenting season of seemingly endless violence. I understand that it is difficult for the government to prevent every terrorist attack, but we can always do more to protect our defenceless citizens by boosting our intelligence and counterterrorism capabilities.”
According to the former Head of State, “Our security and stability cannot be conditioned on any ideology or partisan agenda. Every Nigerian reserves the right to his own security, to his own freedom and dignity, and no amount of terrorist blackmail can make us surrender these. May God unite our hearts as we confront this evil.” These words of sympathy from Buhari underscore the need for Nigerians of all political ideology or partisan agenda to stand united in the fight against terror.
Similarly, not so long ago, President Jonathan commended General Buhari for his statesman-like views on terrorism when the former military leader published an article on the subject in the print media a little while ago. According to a statement issued at the time by Reuben Abati, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Jonathan welcomed “Buhari’s call on all Nigerians to remain steadfast and work in unity to overcome terrorists and other merchants of death who currently threaten national security.” Abati further said that President Jonathan shared General Buhari’s view that a minority must never be allowed to “bring the nation to its knees through terror.”
In supporting the call for the political class to unite against terror rather than indulge in unhelpful political grandstanding, Chief (Dr) Tony Anenih, Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT), reminded Nigerians that, “When militant gunmen attacked a shopping mall in Kenya, killing many people and holding many others hostage, the opposition leader, RailaOdinga, stood right beside the President, Uhuru Kenyatta, while the latter was addressing Kenyans on the dastardly attack.”
Anenih also said: “Boko Haram is a threat to Nigeria and to our democracy. The insurgency is not against Jonathan as an individual; rather it is against the Nigerian state. That is why our collective efforts are needed to tackle the challenges. All Nigerians, irrespective of their regional, religious or political affiliations, should be united in supporting the Federal Government and all the security agencies in the fight to end terror in our country.”
As Nigerians of all faiths and regions join General Buhari in thanking the Almighty God for sparing his life against the machinations of terrorists, the point must be reiterated that the attack on him (the former Head of State) is a pointer that no Nigerian is safe from terrorism. As such, the last thing the country’s political class should do is continue to politick with the issue of terrorism. It is a pastime that will not do any good to the polity.
Sufuyan Ojeifis an Abuja-based journalist.