The condition of insecurity affecting many Nigerians has long surpassed bearable proportions; it is only a matter of time before even our inept president is viscerally touched. Several reports indicate that members of the Nigerian political class also get a bitter taste of the medicine Nigerians have been made to swallow but the peak of it all will still come when even the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), is affected. Unless the situation is urgently arrested, it cannot be taken for granted that those who have been trying to breach the president’s security will not eventually find a loophole somewhere. There is no point speculating what exactly might happen to the president if the bandits get to him—this is neither sadism nor schadenfreude on my part—but they only need to persist and something will yield.
Last Friday in the Federal Capital Territory, some gunmen attacked officials of the 7 Guards Brigade, an elite troop that secures the president. The unfortunate incident left three soldiers wounded and eight officers killed. Although about 30 of the attackers were reportedly killed by Nigerian soldiers some days after the incident, it is still telling that some untrained group of gunmen got close to the president’s guards and hit them that hard. In July too, suspected bandits attacked a convoy of cars conveying the advance team of the presidential security guards to Daura, the president’s hometown in Katsina State. Recently too, some bandits vowed that they would abduct the president. If anyone thinks the bandits can never get close enough to the president, then they must have forgotten that supposed armed robbers penetrated the residence of Ibrahim Gambari, the president’s Chief of Staff last year. To date, nobody has been reported apprehended over that curious incident of burglary inside the presidential villa.
Bandits have had the temerity to sack army barracks and face off with various levels of security agencies and they can do worse. Also recall that in October, the Wall Street Journal reported that Nigerian security agencies paid an equivalent of $50,000 cash to some bandits camped in Rugu Forest in the North-West region to retrieve an anti-aircraft weapon that posed a direct threat to the president when he had a scheduled trip to Katsina. These various incidences of how closely the bandits have circled the president’s security forces show the degree to which our leaders’ administrative incapability extends to their own selves. Given how self-serving and self-preserving the average Nigerian politician can be, one can only imagine how low they have fallen for the bandits to have penetrated them several times. They cannot protect the nation and they are also failing at protecting even themselves. Something will give at some point.
Lately, Kaduna Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, noted Buhari was unaware that some bandits had threatened to abduct him until he told him. One cannot but wonder at the incompetence and sycophancy that rules Aso Rock. If the president did not even learn of such a significant development, who knows what else happens in Nigeria to which he is oblivious? One wonders, what were Buhari’s security agents protecting him from when they failed to tell him that bandits threatened to attack him? Were they embarrassed to tell him that the same northern Nigerian youths, who were once Buhari’s fanatical followers, now want his head off his neck or his putative ignorance is simply the degree to which he has removed himself from the affairs of the nation he supposedly governs?
No president in Nigerian history has been as much of a disaster as Buhari. His government has been entirely underwhelming; the man himself is so fundamentally lazy that there is no point in his rudderless leadership that he decided to take charge of affairs. If there is something almost everyone will agree with now, it is that Buhari’s leadership abilities were grossly exaggerated and that the man never had even the slightest interest in redirecting Nigeria away from failure towards prosperity. Those surrounding him must be feeding him lies about how much his regime has achieved over the years. Knowing Buhari and how entirely unmotivated he can be when he is supposed to pursue the truth of the Nigerian situation, he probably never reviews security reports to confirm whatever he is told. He must have wholly disconnected himself from reality.
For the criminal group called “bandits” to be emboldened to the point that they now serially target the presidency, they must be seeking a means of legitimising themselves before the public. They likely understand the difficulty—and the risk—of such a venture but they keep trying anyway because they need the moral validation of attacking a failed president who has grown unpopular. If there is something those bandits must be certain of by now, it is how much many Nigerians have come to passionately resent Buhari for how he wasted our time for seven years. The bandits sense that people are angry with that man for his gross incompetence because their various attacks suggest some measure of confidence in the virtue of their venture. They probably assume that if they can get close enough to Buhari and make him feel some of the pain most Nigerians have been subjected to under his watch, the feeling of catharsis that will sweep the whole nation will turn them into some kind of folk heroes. Overnight, the rage and hate most Nigerians justifiably feel towards Buhari might even morph into gratitude when they see the sociopath residing in Aso Rock get some comeuppance for his neglectful leadership.
Some days ago, an Islamic preacher in Sokoto State, Bello Yabo, publicly prayed for terrorists, who had threatened to kidnap Buhari, el-Rufai and some other public officials, to succeed in their mission. According to Yabo, who was responding to the nonsense-spewing presidential media aide, also called Garba Shehu, “These are people who promised heaven and earth, and now they have the opportunity but became incompetent. Take them to the bush and flog them instead of humiliating innocent citizens who are striving to make ends meet. And please make good your threats, and we will support you with prayers.” It is a significant measure of how low Buhari has fallen before his own adoring crowd that the preacher could state something like that publicly and not receive any blowback. A while ago, Yabo’s comment—whether he was serious or merely being facetious—would be considered inappropriate and then condemned by the crew of Buhari’s followers. That they are no longer expending their energies to defend the worth of Buhari’s life shows why the bandits need the legitimacy of attacking him.