Buhari’s order on escorts is a security risk, says Akinyemi
FORMER Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Akinwande Bolaji Akinyemi, yesterday, faulted the instruction given by President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, to his motorcade to obey traffic instructions at all times.
Buhari had, on Wednesday May 6, 2015, ordered all security personnel attached to him as well as his official escorts to obey traffic rules, a directive which the Director of Media and Publicity of the All Progressives Congress Presidential campaign council, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement, described as a demonstration of Buhari’s leadership style.
The president-elect specifically said his administration would be guided by obedience to the law, as the ordinary citizens would become copycats of the lawlessness of their leaders “without leadership by example.”
But Akinyemi, a professor of Political Science, who was deputy chairman of the 2014 National Conference, described the President-elect’s decision and directive to his motorcade as potential threat to national security.
In his May 9, 2015 ‘open letter’ to the President-elect, Akinyemi argued that Buhari was wrong on his security instructions. “There is no country in the world where the motorcade of a President, or Prime Minister or Head of State is subject to traffic regulations.
I have just watched the motorcade of the British Prime Minister on his way to Buckingham Palace. Traffic was stopped and his outriders ensured that the motorcade was not impeded,” Akinyemi explained.
He disclosed that he initially refrained from commenting on Buhari’s instruction to his official escorts and security personnel, but stressed that his reaction became even more important following the bombing episodes in Potiskum and gun attacks along the Damaturu-Kano Road.
“When you announced on Wednesday May 6, 2015 that you have instructed your security motorcade to obey traffic instructions, my immediate reaction was to write you this letter.
I refrained because I did not want to subject myself to the abuse on the social media that passes for criticism. “But after the bombing episodes in Potiskum, Yobe and gun attacks along Damaturu-Kano road, I changed my mind because of the implication for national security of your decision.”
Referring to the events of 1975/76 after the overthrow of General Gowon’s military administration, Akinyemi recalled that General Murtala Muhammed became Head of State in 1975 after the overthrow of General Gowon and abolished the motorcade for himself, governors and military ministers in reaction against what was perceived as the security excesses of the Gowon regime.
‘‘You were a military governor in that regime. You would recall what happened next. General Muhammed was gunned down while his car was waiting at a road junction.”
According to the Political Scientist, Nigeria and the world have become a more dangerous place than in 1976 when Muhammed was assassinated. He, therefore, urged the President-elect to recall the attempt on his life just last year when his motorcade was attacked in Kaduna.
“There is no country in the world where the motorcade of a President, or Prime Minister or Head of State is subject to traffic regulations. I have just watched the motorcade of the British Prime Minister on his way to Buckingham Palace.
Traffic was stopped and his outriders ensured that the motorcade was not impeded.” Akinyemi further argued the issue at stake should not be about General Buhari’s personal safety alone, but also that of the “Nigerian national security.’’
“You would recall the controversy that followed the ascension to the Presidency of the then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan following the death of President Yar’Adua because some people felt the ascension breached the principle of rotation.
“In fact, this was what led the 2014 National Conference to recommend a constitutional provision that in case of vacancy in the President’s seat, a Vice-President from the same zone should serve out the term of the incumbent.
This…shows the extent of the sensitivity about the seat of the President. “We cannot continue to take chances with the peace and stability of Nigeria and depend on God to bail us out,” Akinyemi said, urging the President-elect to reconsider his decision, “not for your sake but for the sake of Nigeria.”
Akinyemi was appointed Minister of External Affairs by former military president, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida in 1985, during which he originated the Technical Aid Corps (TAC), a programme that sent Nigerian professionals overseas to engage in volunteer work.
He also headed numerous Nigerian delegations, including those to the United Nations General Assembly Session (1985), the Organisation of African Unity, Council of Ministers Session (1986), the Non–Aligned Foreign Ministers Conference (1986) and the United Nations General Assembly Annual Session (1986).
Akinyemi also headed the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the Critical Economic Situation in Africa (1986), the Budget Session of the Council of Ministers of the Organisation of African Unity (1987), the Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the Organisation of African Unity (1987), the United Nations General Assembly Session (1987), and to the Extra–Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the Organisation of African Unity devoted to African debt (1987).
Akinyemi, in 1987, stated his support for Nigeria developing nuclear weapons, referring to the proposal as the “black bomb.” The Wikipedia quoted the professor as having said: “Nigeria has a sacred responsibility to challenge the racial monopoly of nuclear weapons.”