The bandits’ attack, penultimate Tuesday, on the famous Kaduna-based Nigeria Defence Academy [NDA] was a tough test of the military’s capacity and readiness for the fight against violent crimes. Although it was not exactly the first of its kind as similar attacks were launched by the Boko Haram on the Force Headquarters in Abuja and some military camps in the north-east, this particular one has widened the scope of the on-going interrogation of the approach of the government to the prevailing security challenges vis-à-vis the growing audacity of the perpetrators of the various forms of violence.
Aside the reactions of the members of the public, most which were full of expressions of disappointment, fear, confusion and helplessness and all of which the confirmation of the attack by the NDA management effectively re-enforced, strong emphasis on an alleged conspiracy as contained in the statements issued by President Muhammadu Buhari’s media and publicity aides was an angle that has attracted sufficient public attention. The almost total attribution of the rising rate of such incidents to what is being perceived in that particular circle as a resolve of political opponents to embarrass the president and possibly bring the government down is a very confusing game.
Buhari and all those guys who are, by either design or accident, are in this government have every reason to worry whenever the issue of integrity is raised, because it was something that they used as an instrument of campaign. During each of his four contests for the presidency he was always described as a man of integrity whose desire was the genuine repair of the country’s system so that they could work again work for all of us.
It was, in fact, the integrity label he carried that generated support for him and at the same time scared his opponents some of whom even joined the train just to continue to belong. The support for Buhari which originated from the north-west and later spread to other places, especially after he was re-packaged and threw up for the 2015 contest by some politicians who considered the project as an instrument for some kind of self-actualization predicated mainly on the integrity factor.
Even those Nigerians with a high sense of realism assumed or even believed that the emergence of Buhari would mean the end of the crises that manifested in the various spheres of national life over which he persistently complained and vowed to rapidly eliminate when he got to power. Having been in his mid 70s and as a retired army general and former military Head of State, the president who was put far ahead of others, in terms of moral uprightness and competence, successfully became the most preferred candidate and eventually got elected.
The insistence by the media aides that the insecurity in the country is being aggravated by the attitudes of some political opponents indicates a resolve to continue to play around the integrity factor which has been their biggest weapon. It is a clear attempt to ensure that the current challenges are seen more as the creation of the adversaries of the government than the failure of the president so that he will continue to enjoy the confidence and goodwill of Nigerians.
But it will not be easy for President Buhari and his promoters to have their way this time around because they are now on the other side and are therefore consistently required to provide answers to all the questions about the multifarious problems in the country. The conspiracy or sabotage theory that they continuously push in order to generate public sympathy will, just like it happened with some of the past governments, fail to yield the desired results.
In other words, the accusation against those who are, either in reality or by imagination, politically opposed to the government that they are either the sponsors, promoters or perpetrators of the lingering violence in a bid to give the president a bad name has apparently failed to sink into a lot of Nigerians. Rather than just swallow this argument, most people are simply asking the government to quickly unmask the suspected saboteurs and subsequently take further necessary actions against them.
Whether there is the involvement of political opponents in the persistence and escalation of violence or not, the basic requirement of the citizens is the containment and the obvious reduction of the crippling crimes that are already a threat to not only the lives of the people but the also the survival of the country. This particular demand is further being re-enforced by the consistent remembrance of the expressed concern of the president over the security and welfare of the public.
In the over last six years that he has been in power, President Buhari has evidently got sufficient percentage of all that he wanted from Nigerians as they had shown abundant appreciation of the enormity of the initial challenges that the government faced and had practically made sacrifices where and when necessary. The co-operation extended to the government by the various categories of the citizenry was not only unprecedented but was also definitely huge enough to render any sabotage ineffective.
The complaint about sabotage as being continuously expressed by the president’s media handlers indicates a lack of appreciation of the contributions of all the well-meaning Nigerians to the implementation of the programmes of government. It is terribly disheartening that even with all the deprivations and the self-denials that have become the main features of the lives of most people, such officials are still presenting the alleged sabotage as the cause of the failure to deliver on key promises.
As already mentioned, the complaint is not completely baseless as sabotage by political opponents or just some kind of traducers is one of the realities of politics and governance. Political competitions and rivalries are, in fact, more about the methods by which opponents seek to obliterate the policy-making and implementation strategies of the government which, as once a veteran opposition politician, the president must have known.
Now, the most popular submission is that the Buhari government should care much less about what its opponents say and care much more about the impact of its policies and programmes on the nation. It should realize that the cause of the dilemma is either an improper definition of sabotage or a failure to deal with it.