By Akanimo Sampson
Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says it is alarmed by the news of a seeming unprofessional conduct coming out of the security forces in the country’s seat of power, the Presidential Villa.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement, “our party is disturbed by such ugly situation in the Buhari Presidency, which has already heightened apprehensions in the public space over the apparent failure of security architecture and central command system in the presidency leading to such reckless and irresponsible breaches.’’
There was alleged shooting and security breaches within the precincts of the Presidential villa following a reported degenerated squabble among members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s family and officials of the Presidency.
Gun shots allegedly caused a scare at the Villa as the aides of President Buhari and his wife, Aisha, engaged in a show of presidential power at the weekend. The ugly incident caused a swift intervention of the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
Insiders say the shooting disrupted peace and order at the Villa. It was however, gathered that trouble started when Aisha, Nigeria’s First Lady, accompanied by her children – Zahra, Halima and Yusuf – mobilised some policemen led by her Aide-De-Camp to forcefully confront Sabiu Yusuf a.k.a Tunde, Buhari’s influential Personal Assistant and nephew following an earlier rumpus over his refusal to self-isolate on his return from Lagos where he has gone to see his wife, who was delivered of a baby boy.
When the Buhari family ‘army’ allegedly stormed Tunde’s chalet within the precincts of the Villa, there was a heated argument between him and Buhari’s wife, her children and her security aides that eventually snowballed into a security breach and free-for-all of sorts.
Tunde immediately fled when Mrs Buhari’s ADC and four members of her security escort fired some shots into the air as they gave him a chase.
The allegedly injured Tunde, escaped to the residence of Mamman Daura, Buhari’s uncle, for the night.
The obviously enraged police big boss, Adamu who raced to the war scene, disarmed and ordered the arrest of Mrs Buhari’s ADC and the policemen attached to her who took part in the show of force and shooting spree.
Sources say Buhari’s wife has been battling to dislodge Tunde, who is named after the late tough Tunde Idiagbon, Buhari’s former military deputy when he was Head of State since coronavirus claimed the life of the late the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, to enable her take effective control of the seat of power.
On his return to Abuja from Lagos the previous Sunday, Tunde was allegedly asked to self-isolate for 14 days because of the coronavirus pandemic by the Chief Personal Security Officer to the President, Abdulkarim Dauda and the President’s Aide-De-Camp, Mohammed Abubakar.
But, he told them that President Buhari said he should not. On Monday, Tunde returned to his duty post.
Buhari’s wife on Thursday heard that Tunde, the President’s strong man was still coming to work. Apparently irked, she asked him to self-isolate. The unyielding Tunde told her that her husband said he didn’t have to.
Her insistence led to heated verbal hot exchanges between the antagonistic duo.
Those who seem to know the workings of Buhari’s kitchen cabinet say Tunde has an undefined role in the Presidency. Guarded whispers have it that all Presidency officials usually run to him for help when they are in stormy waters. From Protocol to the media men in the Villa, all take instructions from him most times.
The enraged Buhari’s wife is demanding immediate release of her detained aides by the police big boss.
The development is likely to compound governance challenges in the country. The Niger Delta for instance, has been suffering from oil pollution for decades which has led to the loss of livelihoods and sources of food for locals.
It is no longer news that the oil and gas region has also been neglected by the Federal Government even though the bulk of the country’s fund comes from there.
In the last decade, clashes between militants in the area and the security forces reached an all-time high; kidnappings were rife, and oil infrastructure destroyed at a phenomenal rate.
In 2016, one of the most prominent armed groups in the region, the Niger Delta Avengers destroyed oil production infrastructure reducing production from 2.2 million barrels per day to the two decades low of 1.4 million barrels a day.
The infrastructure vandalism contributed to the onset of one of Nigeria’s worst economic recessions on record.
Efforts were made by the Buhari administration in its first term to address the grievances of the region. But the government has not made good on bringing development to the region, and now the worsening rift in Aso Rock is setting in to distract the government more.
Also the militant Islamic jihadists are still destabilising the volatile North-East axis. Since 2009 the group killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.
Around 2.5 million Boko Haram victims fled their homes and towns, and the direct consequence of the conflict is that the North is plunged into a severe humanitarian crisis. As of 2018, the region was one of the worst in the world that left some 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
Before the controversial 2019 elections, Buhari had boasted that his All Progressives Congress (APC) will bring an end to the suffering inflicted by the persisting Boko Haram.
Buhari, however, made significant military gains, reducing the number of Boko Haram attributed deaths from more than 5,000 in 2015 to less than 1,000 in the past couple of years.
Yet, the crisis is not yet over, and it will be a grave mistake for the president to disregard the continued importance of the conflict to be entangled with his domestic problem. Suicide attacks and kidnappings are still being carried out by the jihadists.
The North-Central is facing prolonged violent clashes between the predominantly Christian farmers and the mostly Muslim cattle herders. At the core of the conflicts are disputes over access and rights to land and water resources and rapid desertification which has changed the grazing patterns of cattle.
Though these clashes are not new, but since 2015, the disputes have become more frequent and violent. In 2018 alone, more than 2,000 people were killed in such clashes – more than the number killed in the previous two years combined.
The dispute is being politicised and is stirring ethnic and religious tensions, which is very dangerous in a deeply polarised country like Nigeria.
It is certainly not fair to President Buhari for the security operatives to compound his headache by the avoidable show of shame.
Continuing, the PDP said it is deeply worried that the protracted spat between the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, and aides of the President has now degenerated into violent combats, raids and free use of firearms within the Presidential villa.
The party described as distressing, the report that a members of Buhari’s family were at scene of the assault against one of the President’s aides, during which the First Lady’s security details were alleged to have resorted to the use of firearms.
“The chaotic situation in the Presidential villa only points to the failure by President Buhari to provide a leadership that can guarantee orderliness in governance and effectively ensure the security of our nation’’, PDP says noting that such leadership failure at the highest level has further exposed why our nation has been bedeviled by myriads of security and economic problems under President Buhari’s watch in the last five years.
“More worrisome is that the Buhari Presidency had failed to speak out on the frightening situation so as to reassure Nigerians and douse the tension in the polity; especially at this critical time when our nation is facing serious security challenges’’, the party adds.
While calling on Buhari to take immediate steps to restore order in his Presidency and shield our security system from the division and power tussle among persons close to him, PDP also demands for an immediate inquest into the security breaches as well as the alleged violation of COVID-19 ban on inter-state travels by officials and relations of the President, which was reported to be part of the immediate causes of latest disturbances in the Presidential villa.
Furthermore, the opposition urges the National Assembly to save the country by wading into the persistent infighting in the Buhari Presidency especially as those in charge of the Presidential villa has not demonstrated the required capacity to engender the needed orderliness for productive governance.