SOBs of Pres­i­dents

Daily Trust - - SPORT -

In 1972, White House Chief of Staff H. R. ‘Bob’ Halde­man was asked why he and an­other aide, John Ehrlich­man cre­ated a siege at­mos­phere around Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon. The two men, both of Ger­man an­ces­try, were called “the Ger­man shep­herds” and were ac­cused of erect­ing a “Ber­lin Wall” around Nixon. Halde­man said, “Ev­ery Pres­i­dent needs his son of a bitch. And I am Nixon’s.” The ques­tion ag­i­tat­ing Nige­ri­ans’ minds in the wake of last week’s events is, was Lawal Musa Daura the of­fi­cial SOB of the Buhari Pres­i­dency?

Only six days ago, LMD was the pow­er­ful, ram­bunc­tious, all-loyal Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Direc­torate of State Ser­vices, DSS. His oddly-shaped, white goa­tee beard struck ter­ror in the hearts of regime op­po­nents. In the cor­ri­dors of power how­ever, he was seen as a bul­wark against regime op­po­nents, his nu­mer­ous ex­tra-le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties in the name of na­tional se­cu­rity not­with­stand­ing. As 2019 ap­proached, po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents have in­creas­ingly boxed the Buhari Pres­i­dency into a cor­ner and its aloof, self-as­sured, mes­sianic ap­proach to politics since 2015 was rapidly giv­ing way to a com­bat­ive, all guns blaz­ing ap­proach.

What a long time a week makes in politics. In six short days Daura be­came the poster-boy of Nige­rian demo­cratic mis­deed. Re­mark­ably, both sides of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide are now heap­ing blames on him for the sin­gle most shock­ing po­lit­i­cal deed of re­cent times, last Tues­day’s siege on the Na­tional As­sem­bly by hooded DSS agents. The Act­ing Pres­i­dent promptly sacked Daura, or­dered his ar­rest and de­clared the siege as il­le­gal and unau­tho­rized. One would have thought that mat­ters ended there, but the sack only opened the flood­gates of bit­ter ac­ri­mony, in­sults, claims, counter claims and out­ra­geous con­spir­acy the­o­ries.

Let us be­gin from the be­gin­ning. To find a com­pa­ra­ble, overzeal­ous ac­tion by a Nige­rian se­cu­rity of­fi­cial, we must go all the way back to 1980 when Pres­i­dent Shehu Sha­gari’s In­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Al­haji Bello Maitama Yusuf or­dered the se­cret de­por­ta­tion to Chad of Al­haji Shugaba Ab­dur­rah­man Dar­man, GNPP Ma­jor­ity Leader of the Borno State House of As­sem­bly. The day the story broke, a stern Yusuf ap­peared on NTA Net­work News. He owned up to or­der­ing the de­por­ta­tion and said, “He is not a Nige­rian. His par­ents were from Chad.” Ap­par­ently, he did not tell the pres­i­dent be­fore he acted, a script that LMD re­cently bor­rowed. Af­ter a huge me­dia out­cry, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment al­lowed Dar­man back into Nige­ria. Sha­gari then set up a Pres­i­den­tial Com­mis­sion to De­ter­mine the Na­tion­al­ity of Shugaba Dar­man, which the me­dia de­rided as an af­ter­thought. In con­trast, Act­ing Pres­i­dent Os­in­bajo’s sack of Daura was firm and de­ci­sive.

Apart from Yusuf, the Se­cond Repub­lic threw up other overzeal­ous se­cu­rity of­fi­cers, in par­tic­u­lar Al­haji Tahiru Jidda, Po­lice Com­mis­sioner of Borno State. In 1983 when NPP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe ar­rived in Maiduguri to hold a rally, Jidda’s men blocked his path. Zik, who was ac­com­pa­nied by Gov­er­nor Muham­madu Goni, alighted from his car and walked to­wards the po­lice cor­don; Jidda’s men fired tear gas. It was a mon­u­men­tal scan­dal; the fa­ther of the Nige­rian in­de­pen­dence move­ment tear-gassed by the Nige­ria Po­lice.

The Se­cond Repub­lic also threw up a very con­tro­ver­sial Po­lice In­spec­tor Gen­eral, Mr. Sun­day Adewusi, re­cently de­ceased. Adewusi was so pow­er­ful that news­pa­pers said he dic­tated the choice of min­is­ters to Pres­i­dent Sha­gari. It was Adewusi who told the pres­i­dent to sack one child of Chief Sa­muel Ak­in­tola from the cab­i­net and he brought an­other one as re­place­ment. It was Adewusi who formed the Po­lice Mo­bile Force, not only to sup­press ri­ot­ers but also to con­front the mil­i­tary if nec­es­sary. When the Army over­threw the Se­cond Repub­lic on De­cem­ber 31, 1983 one of their first acts was to seize a con­sign­ment of ar­moured cars at the La­gos ports. Adewusi im­ported the cars for Mopol, hav­ing boasted that he could stop even a mil­i­tary coup.

The long years of mil­i­tary rule pro­duced many no­to­ri­ous se­cu­rity chiefs. One of them was Al­haji Lawal Rafind­adi, Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Or­ga­ni­za­tion [NSO] un­der mil­i­tary Head of State Gen­eral Muham­madu Buhari. In 1985 when the Buhari regime was over­thrown, then Deputy Po­lice In­spec­tor Gen­eral Muham­madu Gambo Jimeta led an NTA News crew into the NSO’s dun­geons in La­gos. What we saw were cells crammed with de­tainees, liv­ing in the filth­i­est of con­di­tions. Last week when the Act­ing DSS DG opened the cells and re­leased per­sons that Daura il­le­gally de­tained, he did not in­vite tele­vi­sion cam­eras to wit­ness the event.

Nige­ri­ans will not for­get Al­haji Is­maila Gwarzo in a hurry. The Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser to Gen­eral Sani Abacha co­or­di­nated the reign of ter­ror in Nige­ria, to­gether with Ma­jor Hamza Al-Mustapha’s Strike Force which dealt with regime op­po­nents. Fast for­ward to this Repub­lic. EFCC’s first Chair­man Malam Nuhu Ribadu did a lot of qual­ity service to Nige­ria but he also aided the big­gest im­punity of this Repub­lic, namely Pres­i­dent Oluse­gun Obasanjo’s se­rial im­peach­ment of the gov­er­nors of Bayelsa, Oyo, Plateau and Ek­iti that fell out with him po­lit­i­cally. In all cases EFCC rounded up state as­sem­bly mem­bers and threat­ened to im­prison them un­less they agreed to im­peach their gov­er­nors. In the case of Plateau, only eight mem­bers of out 30 were put in an EFCC bus, driven from Abuja to Jos, pro­vided with po­lice cover to im­peach Dariye, and were then driven back to Abuja. Then there was Rivers State Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Joseph Mbu of the Jonathan era.

A de­bate raged in the so­cial me­dia last week as to what would have hap­pened if Daura had per­pe­trated his act while Buhari was in the coun­try. We will never know since Buhari was not around but those who made the charge have a point be­cause in the last three years, the pres­i­dent did not act de­ci­sively when his top of­fi­cials were ac­cused of cor­rup­tion or im­punity. Even be­fore he went to Lon­don, po­lice­men laid siege on the Benue State As­sem­bly and tried to help a mi­nor­ity group of eight mem­bers to im­peach Gov­er­nor Sa­muel Or­tom. No one was pun­ished for that deed.

It was a real puz­zle that Act­ing Pres­i­dent Os­in­bajo gave Po­lice IG Ibrahim Idris the task of in­ves­ti­gat­ing Daura for last week’s siege of the Na­tional As­sem­bly. The mis­takesrid­dled re­port that Idris sub­mit­ted to Os­in­bajo leaked faster than the Ch­er­nobyl nu­clear re­ac­tor. The re­port also con­tained a coded sen­tence that soon pro­vided the ba­sis for a star­tling con­spir­acy the­ory. The IG said Daura con­nived with some politi­cians to per­pe­trate the act. One would have thought that the most likely politi­cian to con­nive with Daura was APC Na­tional Chair­man Adams Osh­iom­hole, who is lead­ing the cav­alry charge to re­move Se­nate Pres­i­dent Dr. Bukola Saraki from his seat for de­fect­ing to PDP. Yet, gov­ern­ment spokes­men soon said it was Saraki who mo­bi­lized Daura to carry out the siege in order to paint the gov­ern­ment in bad light. This al­le­ga­tion flies in the face of rea­son but if there is hard ev­i­dence to sup­port it, Nige­ri­ans will kindly like to see it.

Right now, APC has con­cen­trated all its en­er­gies in a cru­sade to oust Saraki. The as­sump­tion that the rul­ing party and Pres­i­dency are in trou­ble just be­cause they do not own the top Na­tional As­sem­bly lead­ers is not true. Sha­gari co­ex­isted peace­fully with the Na­tional As­sem­bly for four years even though the House Speaker, Ed­win Umeh Ezeoke and the Deputy Se­nate Pres­i­dent, John Wash Pam were mem­bers of NPP, which had only 15 se­na­tors out of 95. Nor was PDP un­duly im­per­iled just be­cause Speaker Aminu Tam­buwal de­fected to APC in 2015.

Given the de­ter­mi­na­tion with which Osh­iom­hole is lead­ing the ef­fort to re­move Saraki and given the un­like­li­hood that APC will garner 73 se­na­tors needed to re­move him, the dan­ger ex­ists that the at­mos­phere might soon be cre­ated for an­other se­cu­rity of­fi­cial to cash in on the des­per­a­tion and step for­ward to oc­cupy the va­cant seat of SOB to the Pres­i­dent.

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