Aso Rock Shooting: How bad could this national disgrace get?

By Editor on 15/06/2020

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Buhari and Aisha

A few days ago, the nation was woken up to another gory drama involving President Muhammadu Buhari, his immediate family and officials of his government. In this particular instance it was said that things degenerated to the level of the supposedly sacrosanct ambience reverberating with gunshot sounds.

What was in issue this time? The same story of bickering between the First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Buhari and the relations of her husband. Mrs. Buhari, was said to have stormed the residence of one of the President's nephews, Sabiu ‘Tunde’ Yusuf, currently serving as an aide to demand that he self-isolated for taking a trip not only outside the Villa, the official abode of the Nigerian first family, but outside Abuja.  

Yusuf was said to have travelled to Lagos where he spent a few days with the wife who had a new baby. On his return, the first lady was said to have directed that  he moved into self-isolation, in order not to endanger the President, his immediate boss and in turn, the first family.

The presidential aide, was said to have bluntly refused. His argument, according to reports, was that he was not the only one that travels out of the Villa and therefore asking him to isolate, was personal. He was said also to have cited the case of the new Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, whom he reportedly said virtually came to work from Lagos, having not settled in Abuja yet.

But, Mrs. Buhari, would not have any of such explanation. She was said to have stormed the residence of the presidential aide, with her own aides, where a heated argument ensued in the bid to force Yusuf out of the Villa. It was in the heat of the argument that gunshots were fired.

The initial report also added that fearing for his life, Yusuf, actually scaled the wall to escape into the home of the President’s uncle, Mamman Daura, who, incidentally is the brother to his (Yusuf’s) mother. It was from there that the Inspector General of Police was contacted, who now ordered the arrest of the First Lady’s aides, said to comprise her Aide De Camp (ADC), Usman Shugaba, one Sheriff Kazeem, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, and four anti-riot policemen who were at the scene of the incident.

The issues here are multi-pronged and our position at is that each must be fully examined in the bid to get to the root of the matter without leaving any ground uncovered.

We are indeed appalled that the President and his handlers are dismissing this as a minor case going by the statement of his spokesman, Garba Shehu, who, unfortunately also tried to read some political meaning into the outcry of Nigerians on the outrageous development, apparently because the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also joined in the fray.

Hear him: “The Presidency wishes to acknowledge concerns expressed by several members of the public regarding the recent incident among the occupants of the State House which escalation led to the arrest of some staff by the police.

“This is to assure all and everyone that the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, is not, and was not at anytime in any form of danger arising, either from deadly infections or the reported incident by security personnel which is currently under investigation.

“This particular incident happened outside the main residence of the President.

“Armed guards and other security personnel assigned to the State House receive the necessary training of especially weapons handling and where they come short, their relevant agencies have their rules and regulations to immediately address them.

“Having authorised the proper investigation to be carried out into this unfortunate incident by the police, the President has acted in compliance with the rule of law.

“That a minor occurrence is being used by some critics to justify attacks on the government and the person of President Muhammadu Buhari beggars belief.

“In this particular instance, the President says the law should be allowed to take its course.”

Granted that the Presidency is not keeping quiet entirely over the matter, but the tragedy is in the seriousness it attaches to it. The President, his officials and his household, are supposed not only to be completely scandalised by the incident, they ought to convey same to Nigerians and beyond.

Two things stand out quite poignantly in the matter. The first is the indiscipline and apparent lack of control within the Presidency. There is a clear directive by the President on the COVID-19 protocol, which precludes inter-state travels and trips outside the State House. This was flouted.

It is even more saddening that the culprit instead of doing the needful, was said to be questioning why he should be the only one asked to follow the rules, which others also break. If this is true, it means that those who work at the Villa, wantonly break the rules of COVID-19, flouting the clear protocols the President asked Nigerians to follow, apart from putting the first family in danger.  

It was this that the wife of the President emphasised in her statement after the incident, which read: "I call on all relevant Government Agencies to enforce the Quarantine Act signed by Mr. President and ensure no one is found violating this law and the NCDC guidelines especially on interstate travel without the necessary exemptions for movement of essentials.

“Anyone who does that should at the very least be made to undergo a 14-day mandatory isolation no matter who the person is, no one should be above the law and the Police command will do well to remember that.” She is right!

The death of former Chief of Staff (CoS), Abba Kyari on April 17, ought to have jolted everyone in the Presidency to the reality of the dreaded virus and its devastating nature and as the wife of the President and the closest person to him, Aisha has a singular duty, to protect him, more than anyone in the world, just as she has to protect herself and the children. This is a natural course of action. Any woman who loves her family would do the same.

However, trying to enforce the rules herself, amounts to taking the laws into her hands. Aso Rock is not her personal estate. There must be rules guiding her conducts with not only officials of government, but those living within its precincts. Leaving her own quarters to storm that of another, within the villa, is not only belittling of her person, as it is a desecration of the Presidency, but gives the impression that the fight is outside what she is telling the public.

Besides, this is not the first time her much-touted bickering with the relations of the President, which is prevalent in many homes where women are usually not in good standing with relations of her husband, would be blowing into the open.

Some months ago, a video emerged of her physically going to throw out a member of the President’s family, which, on its own raised a lot of dust. Granted as given that women naturally protect their territory, but this approach of being in the fray constantly, is not edifying of her exalted office and person. There is a level of dignity, she ought to maintain, lest, her public image began to assume that of a cantankerous woman. God forbid that a First Lady should be equated to a fish monger at Epe waterside that takes to fighting as sport.  

Some years back, Nigeria was dealing with a particular First Lady, who was breaking every rule. It even came to an anti-climax when against the world recognised best practices of giving her husband the respectable distance his office required in public, began shaking hands with dignitaries who lined up to receive him while the President was still alighting from his official plane.   

That said, what remains, is for the President to rise to the occasion immediately. This is not the time to assume a laissez-faire attitude as he seems to be doing in many things. This bitterness in his family circle has endured for so long that he must find a solution immediately. The bone of contention is that there are some elements his wife does not seem comfortable with at the Villa. She must either be appeased and  made to see why she must co-exist with them or such people be moved elsewhere for peace to reign.

Unlike the US or UK where the President or Prime Minister pay for food and drinks their guests take while visiting, public money not only feeds the entire family of the President, but anyone that finds his or her way into his home. That is why hundreds of billions of Naira are budgeted each year for feeding in the Presidency. While it may not be worthwhile to advocate an end to what, at best is cultural, Nigerians could at least be spared the bickering that comes with it.

In the end, we emphasise again that it would be fatal for the President to be aloof over the matter. Yes, he has said that he would leave the matter to individual security agencies to handle. Even at that, he must also ensure that the influence he is not willing to throw around, others are not throwing.

We say this because the First Lady’s camp is denying that the gunshots never came from her aides, but security men attached to Yusuf and that the Inspector General of Police (IG), is biased and punishing the wrong people because of the influence of Daura. It will be unfortunate if this is actually the situation.

Nothing short of deep, thorough and dispassionate investigation bereft of external pressures and influences must be put in place to get to the root of this matter and steps put in place to ensure that Nigerians would not have to deal with this type of international disgrace again. This, the President must personally ensure.

It is not only crime and official corruption of pillaging the national treasury and salting the proceeds away in foreign banks that make Nigeria a laughing stock across sane societies and make the Nigerian passport almost worthless, the wanton sacrilegious defilement of Aso Rock does a similar damage, if not more and we say, Enough is Enough!   



Posted on June, 15 2020

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