By Theophilus Ilevbare*
The attempt to snuff life out of one of Nigeria’s most revered former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, in a fiendish operation which would have passed for a routine Boko Haram attack if their hand had performed their enterprise, would have thrown Nigeria in turmoil of unimaginable proportions as President Jonathan submitted days ago. The failed “assassination attempt,” as Buhari tagged it, may not be unconnected with the grand plot to silence the opposition. This is coming on the heels of the impeachment of Murtala Nyako of Adamawa state and the tightening of impeachment noose around Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa state. Clearly, the shades of the varying scope of operation to hunt down those who pose a threat to the present government as enshrined in the alleged sniper’s list former President Olusegun Obasanjo divulged in his missive is being made manifest. Surely, the mere knowledge of an alleged sniper’s list should be instructive to the opposition party leaders. Impeaching opposition Governors one after the other, it now appears, is part of the grand scheme.
To underscore the gruesome motive of the perpetrators, eyewitness accounts said the bomb-laden car single-mindedly targeted the vehicle conveying the APC chieftain to Daura, his ancestral home from Kaduna. It hit target but the bulletproof construction of the SUV ensured the General escaped death by the whiskers. To the ‘terrorists’, they came agonisingly close.
How can we forget retired General Muhammadu Mamman Shuwa? In November 2012, the civil war veteran was killed in cold blood by unknown gunmen in his Maiduguri home yards away from soldiers idling away in enforcement of law and order. Boko Haram, the usual suspects were fingered. Had Buhari suffered a similar fate, the perpetrators would use the sect to divert attention from the perpetrators.
The PDP have sold a dummy to Nigerians for too long that the sponsors of terror were members of the opposition, All Progressive Congress (APC), but this attack have vindicated the much maligned progressives. Buhari has openly challenged those who accuse him of religious fundamentalism to come out and show proof. No one till this day has any clue.
For irredentists, who think the attack on Buhari’s life was stage-managed, let them continue to stew in their bitterness and wallow in their chutzpah. Same people who peddle such falsehood of a self-masterminded attack won’t roam within a metre radius of a spot of a bomb scare. Any reasonable Nigerian will acknowledge the risk in masterminding such an attack as the probability that it could spiral out of control is higher than its success.
The political elite in the ruling party must truly be frightened by Buhari’s growing popularity ahead of the 2015 elections even though the media coverage on the General is frequently negative with unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations. It has rather won him more support from discerning Nigerians who cannot be misinformed or misled by needless propaganda. For his loyalists across the country, they can boldly say of him, “All I need from Buhari is his word, I can take it to the bank.” Such is the cult-like following that Gen. Buhari wields that he need not rent a crowd, or share rice to garner support.
This is because of his glowing and incorruptible antecedents. Very few people in this country will occupy the number one position to live a modest and Spartan life afterwards like him. He occupied lofty positions like the Governor of the defunct North-Eastern State of Nigeria, Head of State, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources and Chairman of NNPC, Chairman of Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF). He could easily be one of Nigeria’s wealthiest politicians with oil blocs to boot because he birthed and supervised the establishment of our existing refineries. Today, we import 70% of the fuel we use because those after him have literally crippled the refineries. He could have retired into stupendous opulence like the Danjumas, Obasanjos, and Abachas of this world. But Buhari bucked the trend and chose the honourable path.
His detractors and traducers are uncomfortable with him around the political scene. Maybe he scares them with his incorruptible, uncompromising, sober, painstaking personae he exudes; his intolerance of impropriety – a major fault of the privileged political elite – scares them. He is everything they are not.
There have been various attempts to erode the electoral value of a man who has validated his cast iron reputation for accountability and transparency coming out unscathed from probes regarding his tenure as Chairman of PTF. And as Buhari’s staunch loyalist in Mallam Nasir el-Rufai posited that his antagonists “have changed our politics into that of ethnicity and religion to divert attention from their incompetence, lack of capacity and looting of the treasury… PDP is scared of Buhari’s integrity and his track record of doing the right thing and ensuring that people are brought to justice when they break the law. They are afraid of that day when he will become President.”
With the failed attempt to take General Buhari’s life, the burgeoning army of opposition against the General of impeccable integrity would now sit back, maybe have a rethink, recall their foot soldiers masked in the toga of Jihadists cutting short the lives of “infidels” they see as living corpses.
In the 2011 presidential elections, the man they hate to see even in their dreams, got over 12 million votes with a party that was formed barely 10 months to the election without the support structure and votes a state Governor or even a Local Government chairman would have brought into the party. He had no war chest or federal might to manipulate voters and electoral officers, a trick the PDP has perfected over the years. But Buhari’s enormous star power earned him a couple of senators and a state governor after the elections. It won’t take a political scientist, a Nostradamus or some prophetic unction to work the numbers in votes the General will pull in 2015 with the 15 Governors in the APC fold!
Those who plotted the dastardly act are enemies of Nigeria, they neither seek its prosperity nor tranquility but thrive and profit from the chaos, bloodshed and colossal sleaze. They are afraid of the intimidating profile of the former Head of State and his acolytes in the opposition party.
Whoever wanted Buhari dead has made a super hero of him. Of all the reasons why Buhari was wanted dead, the 2015 general elections keep popping out of every possibility and conspiracy theory. Inadvertently, they only succeeded in raising his popularity meter. With the overwhelming outpouring of emotion and support, the retired General has reaffirmed his status as a political heavyweight and gladiator who remains a top contender for next year’s general elections.
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