It was the former First Lady Aisha Buhari who first raised the alarm some years ago, as an insider, that Aso Villa is not safe. But because she had the means, she packed her packable things and japa(ed) to Dubai for safety. I will run for my life too if I had the means.
Thereafter, robbers allegedly attacked the Chief of Staff’s house and carted away some valuables. Then, I wrote an article titled “Your Excellency, Mrs. Aisha Buhari! So you are Right! Aso Villa Not Safe” to highlight the precariousness of our state of affairs. If we may ask, who made Abuja unsafe? Many fingers will point to the direction of her husband. Her husband, Buhari, will probably top the list since he is not alone. Many thought she was an alarmist. But what would be her benefit in raising such alarm against her husband’s government?
It is not unusual to see those in authority trying to play down the all-encompassing nature of insecurity which has engulfed all and sundry. Could it be because it exposes their failures as elected leaders who choose to rule rather than lead? But failure is part of human existence. There had not been a man or woman who had never failed in life. It could be academic failure, marital or business failure. It could also be leadership failure or failure to recognize the Creator Whose guidance must be sought to live a pleasurable life on earth. On this last note, we have all failed.
It is not debatable that our rulers have failed to fulfil their part of the social contract they had with us. What is debatable is the redeemability of this failure. Some claim the insecurity in Nigeria is not redeemable, we are already in the Hobbesian state of nature. Even if they sound pessimistic, their pessimism is excusable to anyone who could not stop wondering why everything (except corruption) fails in Nigeria. Thomas Hobbes sounds rather hypothetical in his depiction of a state of nature. His hypothesis was not about any modern state. I doubt he had any real picture of a “state of nature” in mind when he described life of man therein as solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. But if Hobbes had any real state of nature in mind with the above characterization, it was obviously a state of nature in its primitively atavistic sense.
Primitively atavistic? That sounds tautological; but it describes to present day Abuja, not to talk of Nigeria. While many lament the recent chain of ugly kidnappings in Abuja, the poor villagers in different parts of the country will find the lamentation too noisy as if it causes noise pollution. Why? They are used to it. So why the noise? Don’t blame the villagers. Blame the ruling rulers in Abuja who think Abuja is safe. In that case, poor villagers should die if they like. These rulers failed to realize that insecurity anywhere is insecurity everywhere.
If there should be an oasis of peace in the midst of this life-threatening-desert which Nigeria currently is, it should, of course, be Abuja. But Abuja is not safe. If the rulers are not secure, what is the fate of the ruled? If there is anything useful in Hobbes’ description of the state of nature, it is to caution leaders (and even rulers) not to slide into it. But we have slid into it. Our successive rulers who fought tooth and nail to hug power—but with no sense of responsibility—have allowed it to happen. This Nigeria, with the recent kidnappings in its capital (Abuja), has slid freely into the state of nature. Life, anywhere in Nigeria, is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
Thomas Hobbes should be pained in his grave only if the dead had knowledge of the unseen. To them, this world, which they once lived, is now an unseen world.
But one fact remains immutable; this world shall become unseen to us one day when we depart. Then, we shall all meet our Creator and our tormentors shall account for their atrocities. Each time I see victims recounting their nasty experience in kidnappers’ dens, horror gets registered on my mind as it would on the mind of a little boy who had just finished watching a horror film. It is indeed terrifying. Man’s wickedness to man is terrifyingly unbecoming in Nigeria. Man shouldn’t be this beastly. Unfortunately, some are.
This is not the right time to be president of Nigeria. Many will agree that it is not also the right time to be Nigerian citizens. But what can we do as Nigerians? We are not Nigerians by choice, we are Nigerians by an accident of birth. However, President Tinubu chose to be Nigerian President and even contested fiercely for it. He is not an accidental president who should be excused for not making Nigeria or Abuja a safe place. I hope he understands his priorities.
Relocating some big offices like those of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the headquarters of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) which are considered big engines of the Nigerian ship from Abuja to Lagos shouldn’t be a priority as the nation boils. I learnt it is because of the “congestion” in Abuja. This sounds too ridiculous to those who are familiar with Lagos. But if it is due to the insecurity in Abuja, our rulers in Abuja should know that no where is safe. Rather than run away from the responsibility of securing Abuja, the government should do something about its security architecture. I believe this ugly situation is redeemable.
We also learnt there is a plan to relocate the Seat of Power (FCT) itself to Lagos. This is particularly troubling as one wonders why N7 billion was earmarked for the renovation of President’s and Vice President’ official residence in Dodan Barrack Lagos. I strongly believe it is a joke. Majority of the Lagosians voted against Tinubu, how would he then relocate FCT to a state he is not wanted? I agree he remains the Lagos LANDLORD but he is not wanted in Lagos.
Senator Ali Ndume has been very vocal in his condemnation of the planned movement of these offices to Lagos. On the surface of it, I don’t see why that should generate any noise. But scratching beneath the surface—and because we are people afflicted with rabid mutual suspicion—it is political unwise to do so. Ndume is known for his sense of justice. He is known for speaking his mind, not minding whose ox is gored. He is one of those few northerners who often openly speak against Buhari in those days when it was suicidal to do so. Therefore, I join the long line behind Ndume for kicking against the planned relocation of CBN offices and FAAN. I don’t see the need.
Ndume is right; northerners are clapping for him. I only lined behind him. I would have clapped for him too if he had condemned Buhari for creating many institutions and executing many mega projects in Daura as if Daura was pencilled for the new FCT. We thank God; FCT remains in Abuja despite Buhari’s engineered federal presence in Daura. I think Tinubu is only taking a cue from Buhari having learnt a lot from him. Tinubu is not establishing anything new in Lagos as Buhari did in Daura. He is only moving some offices and headquarters to Lagos. That is following Buhari’s footsteps by other means. But following wrong footsteps as precedents to justify a political unwise plan (and maybe nepotistic act) is very dangerous at the moment and for the moment. I hope President Tinubu will learn only good things—administratively—from Buhari, if any. I am not sure there is.
My advice to President Tinubu: focus on how to make Nigeria a safe haven and avoid distractions. If Abuja is not safe, Nigeria is not safe and you are not safe. Your Excellency! Recall that kidnappers once threatened to kidnap the man who handed over power to you. Now kidnappers are operating freely at your doorstep. Be careful. May the country witness peace as you lead.