Sagay, others differ on Buhari’s traffic rules directive
DISCORDANT tunes continued yesterday to trail President –elect Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s (rtd), directive to his security personnel to always obey traffic rules. Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi’s had earlier called on Buhari to rescind his decision on obeying traffic rules in the interest of national security.
Buhari had, on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, ordered all security personnel attached to him as well as his official escorts to obey traffic rules at all times, a directive, which Akinyemi described as security risk.
Referring to the events of 1975/76 when then Military Head of State, Murtala Muhammed, was murdered at a road junction while waiting for the traffic, Akinyemi stressed, “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.”
Subsequently, Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), Itsay Sagay and Sabastine Hon, as well as former Chief of Logistics, the Nigerian Army, General Ahmed Ishaku Dikko, at separate interviews with The Guardian, expressed divergent views on the matter.
While Sagay and Dikko insisted on Buhari rethinking the directive , Hon said the President-elect could chose to remain civil in the spirit of democracy. “
I agree with Akinyemi entirely. I think that Buhari means well, but Nigeria cannot afford that kind of obedience,” said Sagay. “We know how Murtala Muhammed was killed.
He was obeying traffic light in Obalande. He stopped to wait for traffic to pass him, and they just descended on him. So, we can’t afford that. The tragedy that could result would be too much.
“I think once the President is passing by, he should have escorts, which should allow him to go. Irrespective of the traffic, his entourage should not be stopped.
But I agree with the spirit of what he is saying.” Dikko, a retired Army General, urged Buhari to review his position in the interest of national security.
According to him, “the traffic situation in Nigeria and the laws may endanger the life of the President if he decides to obey traffic rules; the situation is even more problematic if we should put the behaviour of Nigerian drivers in perspective.
“Even in the developed world, I have not seen where the president of a country will conform to traffic regulations at the expense of his security.
Buhari should be guarded by the security challenges in the country, as he asks his escort to obey traffic rules.” “He is the President of Nigeria and we all love him.
He should not subject himself to such security risk by trying to obey traffic rules; it will be a great risk.” Dikko, who is also the National President of Hausas/Fulani Christians in Nigeria, remarked that Nigerians must prevail on the President-elect to rescind his decision as he mounts the saddle of leadership on May 29, 2015.
“The President-elect should listen to the voice of all Nigerians. We love him for his patriotism, leadership by example; but, on this issue, he must not expose himself to danger.”
However, Hon disagreed, insisting there was no problem with Buhari’s decision to obey traffic rules. “There is no problem if the President insists on obeying traffic rules. In fact, there is no law compelling him to do otherwise. In Ghana, you can walk to the President’s house and there is no serious security beef up.
A couple of other presidents live the same way. If you see the United Kingdom(U.K) Prime Minister, he enters train with members of the public without being harmed.
It has to do with everybody’s style. “If the President-elect says that is his style, we have to respect that. If you were in sync with the people and delivering the goodies of democracy, nobody would go out of his way to harm you.
It is only those who have skeleton in their cupboard and those who have been misruling us that can insist on using convoys and intimidating ordinary Nigerians.”