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On Buhari and obedience to traffic laws




PRESIDENT-ELECT Muhammadu Buhari’s order charging all security personnel attached to him, official escorts and convoys to obey traffic rules, has expectedly generated the kind of debate that all changes do.

One good thing is that some of these exchanges, especially ones that described Buhari’s directive as a security risk, have opened up new perspectives to evaluating security for public officers as well as the question of leadership by example.

Buhari, who stated that compliance with the law would be the guiding philosophy of his administration, hinged the necessity of obedience on the argument that, “without leadership by example, the ordinary citizens would become copycats of the lawlessness of their leaders.” In this regard, he also admonished security personnel in the military and police to abide by, and ensure that they bring the rule of law to bear on the conduct of leaders during their movements on public roads.

Whilst many Nigerians have lauded this directive as a gesture of exemplary leadership, some, who are more concerned about the security of the commander-in-chief, have construed it as an open invitation to homicide! On its surface, this directive, would seem an affront on security protocol, especially so for a former head of state, who a few months ago had a close shave with death when twin bombs, detonated in the Kaduna metropolis, exploded within dangerous distance around him and his convoy, and killed no fewer than 60.

Again, given the ethno-religious temper of Nigerians, any fatal mishap relating to security lapses that befalls the President-elect, would be a recipe for more blood-letting. A head of state attacked on the road is not only a monumental disgrace to state security but also a reflection of the vulnerability of that society. Thus to ensure maximum security for the head of state, it might make sense for outriders and other retinue of escorts to breach traffic rules.

However, in a country where power is not only wielded but has to be flaunted for maximum recognition and oppression of the people it is meant to serve, it is a superb tragedy of misplaced priorities to witness how the appurtenances of power are used with so much impunity.

In a country whose citizens live at the mercy of hoodlums and terrorists, some governors have been known to flaunt about 170 security personnel, while a legislator, a principal officer of the National Assembly is known to have about 60 security operatives as official adornments to their portfolios, breaching traffic rules with reckless abandon.

This is besides the caravan of security personnel that accompanies the President or First Lady. It is interesting to know that, in this wanton abuse of state privileges, with its terrible nuisance to environmental sanity and blatant waste of resources, the overall motive is to instill fear and intimidate. This, by any reading, is an assault on the people’s power that brought them to office.

Buhari is coming to power with the mantra of change and he has certainly been voted into power by the people yearning for change.

By his resolve to ensure his convoys obey traffic rules, he has committed himself to doing away with the extravagant display of power and privileges that is demonstrated by blatant abuse of traffic rules and disrespect for road users.

Such inordinate discrimination over the use of a public facility as common as the roads, is the clearest indication of a government against the people.

Buhari’s converse position to that of earlier governments is therefore a symbolic gesture of his affinity with the people. Viewed in this light, his directive of enforcing the rule of law is consistent with the expectations of a truly democratic government; and for this, he should be commended and emulated by other top functionaries with the proviso that this gesture would percolate to the lower rung of leadership.

Furthermore, being a soldier and former head of state, Buhari’s intelligence should not be underrated. His training, career and other administrative positions in the army furnish him with the competence and expertise about security issues, least of which is his own security.

As former head of state and even as President, the import of adequate security for the country and his office is not lost to any personal preference.

Notwithstanding, the loyalty of the President’s security should not be in doubt; because often, as history has shown, heads of state have been betrayed by their own men. It behoves Nigerians to defend Buhari having stated that he has come for the change they have for so long desired.

Rather than engage in needless debate over peripheral security protocol, authorities at the helm of security operations in Nigeria should realise that the security a nation plans for its president is a reflection of the dignity the country accords that office.

If Buhari is worthy of any security deserving of a president, the least the authorities should do is to, without flamboyant expression, commit themselves to providing well trained, well-organised and well-equipped personnel.

This requires the need to reform the security apparatuses. Covert pre-programmed technological devices could be used to provide easy road access for the president rather than the environmentally menacing, pollution-prone and the oppressive method of convoys and outriders.

Security is not instilling fear; it is planning. What this means is that planning for good governance as well as excellent execution of that plan for the people are the best forms of security. The Nigerian people should back Buhari to set a great template for change to begin.

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  • banks111

    You can obey traffic laws and still be security conscious. A security detail obeying traffic laws, would not drive haphazardly when on public roads. The will have a rider at traffic intersections, to close the road in cases of long convoys, always sending one ahead as soon as the convoys reaches the intersection. They will not use sirens unless in cases of emergencies and always drive at reasonable speeds, even when escorting dignitaries.
    The security details should have training comparable to seasoned soldiers or policemen, not just every day poorly trained security guards. they should be well educated and able to plan ahead. They should be expert vehicle operators and good marksmen, very versatile with operation of weapons. Above all, they should be diplomats, able to operate in diverse situations.


    it is a lie. No risk. You can be hit even at a top speed

  • Babalakin

    I do not understand the risk involved. What is see is the other side of the equation (and I hope you see it with me). The security apparatus of the president will have to change their security style and above all work to make Nigeria save. If Nigeria is save, we will not be rise dust on the president elect directive. We need to call on, encourage and advice the security apparatus of the nation to make Nigeria save and they should also enforce the president elect’s directive on other ‘big men’ in the country. I think it will force all the ‘big men’ too to work towards a greater safety of the nation and not just their own safety.

  • Gumel

    Why are they making it an issue ? He said obey they should obey full stop.

  • New Nigerian

    Everyone should obey traffic laws. We have one president and so it is expected that on the tactical situation of movement, his security outfit can ensure his free flowing without stopping – even that would be done with law enforcement agencies ensuring that traffic laws are obeyed. Technology can easily be employed, I am aware of a technology that is installed in ambulances in one western democracy that progressively signals to traffic lights control system as it travels in an emergency ensuring that it’s path is always clear (green) to get the patient safely and quickly to the hospital. I am also aware that in another country dispatch riders get ahead quickly to ensure that intersections are traffic controlled to ensure smooth passage of the President. So it should never be expected that our president would be sitting duck at any intersection anywhere in Nigeria for crazies to be able to take pot shots at him – that I am sure is not the intent or the planned execution of the directive, and we the people should not overtly simplify the operations of the movement of the nations No1 citizen.

    Having said that the excesses where every self-declared VIP disturbs public peace and float all traffic laws should be seen to be over – this I believe is what is being referred to..Excesses where whenever Jonathan visits Lagos, the whole city shuts down with no movement and no plane can take off or land even before his flight leaves Abuja, and everyone orderred to pack off the road and those that parks have their tires deflated is what is being checked….we have seen governors travel at break neck speed and have their convoys involved in an accident – this is what need to be stopped. We have also seen even bank bullion vans do similar things – let them leverage technology like is being done in the western countries where monies are also moved without all the siren blaring

    So I believe GMB’s statement that his convoy would obey traffic rules is well said and is practical even with all security considerations considered.

  • I couldn’t agree more with this editorial. Hardly a day goes by without the “high and mighty” of society oppressing hapless citizens wHo supposedly have equal rights as they on the roads. The fact that their agents of intimidation are security personnel funded by our tax money makes it all the more maddening.

    This pronouncement by Buhari is good. To make it work, he must drive the same directive down the line of people working for him. Where he has the authority to, he also needs to give security agencies clear rules of engagement concerning road usage. Finally, ordinary Nigerians with evidence of road abuse need platforms via which they can report identified offenders.

  • taj

    Contemporary security is about intelligence gathering and not welding of arms to harass innocent people.

  • john

    Chanji for sure. WAI must be reintroduced