27 May 2012

Nigeria: Buhari's Statement


Former head of state General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) recently addressed a delegation of supporters from the Niger State chapter of his party, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), who paid him a visit in Kaduna. During the said visit, he reportedly made a certain statement regarding the 2015 general elections in the country.

While warning that the federal government must ensure those elections are free and fair, Buhari reportedly said that "if what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood".

The former head of state was obviously alluding to the allegations his party, CPC, had levelled against the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), last year, that the latter rigged the presidential election to favour its candidate, incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan.

General Buhari reportedly did not stop there. In obvious reference to the group that has lately unleashed a reign of terror on Nigerians, the former head of state allegedly said "...the biggest Boko Haram is the federal government".

Buhari's comments have drawn pointed criticisms from many Nigerians. In the aftermath of the 2011 presidential election referenced in General Buhari's statement, over 800 Nigerians - most of them innocent souls - lost their lives in bloody rampages in many parts of the north.

However, many of the reactions to Buhari's statement, even if it sounded offensive to some, have crossed the line of public decency, decorum and well-being that the retired general's own statement could be said to have breached. For example, the president's spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, made a snide reference to the way Buhari was removed from office more than 26 years ago by his martial colleagues.

Far from achieving the purpose of casting General Buhari in a bad light, this particular statement approximates to a democratically-elected federal government shooting itself in the foot, and consequently becoming hobbled.

The fact clearly cannot be lost on the custodians of the present democratic government that if such a "change" could happen to Buhari, they could inadvertently have planted the seeds of that same possibility in the minds of those "well equipped" - by the state no less - to effect such reprehensible "change" in our polity. We can only hope that those seeds do not germinate.

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