“I am disappointed with the intelligence system. How can terrorists organise, have weapons, attack a security installation and get away with it?” This opening quote is taken from President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement during his visit to Kuje Prison, where terrorists, in their hundreds, operated for close to three hours and set free, 64 of their colleague terrorists.
The bandits, who stormed the Minimum Security Correctional Centre unhindered, gave uncommon liberty to hundreds of other inmates kept in that facility. On his visit to the facility, the quickest ever since disasters of the Kuje Prison magnitude have become the signposts of his elusive administration since 2015, President Buhari lamented the lack of intelligence gathering in the nation’s security architecture.
Listening to the Daura-born General, the only thing that rang in my head was the abomination of a hunter saying that he was chased from the forest by a very bad wild animal. And that is exactly what happened to Buhari, and by extension, Nigeria, on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, when the nation suffered two security jeopardies.
In this piece, I would not be dwelling more on the Kuje Prison attack, but on the international disgrace that the Buhari administration has become. There is a saying that when one says here is where my friend was disgraced yesterday, the disgrace has become a general one. This in essence means whatever the monumental failings noticeable in the Buhari government have invariably become the failings of the nation and its people.
Earlier before the pampered felons attacked the Kuje Prison, their brothers, operating in another flank of the nation, made a complete mess of the security around President Buhari. That same fateful Tuesday, bandits attacked the advance convoy of President Buhari at Dustinma. As it is obtainable in the protocol camp, world over, once a VIP intends to visit a place, a retinue of aides and security personnel, travel ahead to secure the place the VIP intends to go.
Buhari had planned to be in his hometown of Daura for the Sallah holiday and his advance team left ahead of him. However, on their way, the convoy was attacked by terrorists at a village, called Dustinma. Simple geography puts the distance between Dustinma and Daura at 151.9 kilometres if the traveller takes the Dutsinma-Katsina Road. The travel time is also put at two hours and 12 minutes. But there is a shorter route of 139 kilometres via the Kankiya-Kafin Soli-Dustinma that takes a traveller to Buhari’s backyard in Daura. Ask.Com also gives another route through Kankiya-Kafin Soli-Dustinma Road and Daura-Dumawa Road to Daura at a distance of 150.3 kilometres.
In the three routes mentioned above, the bandits, who attacked the advance convoy of our Commander-in-Chief would have travelled for just a maximum time of two hours and thirty-two minutes if they had decided to storm Daura. And nothing would have stopped them! Why am I so sure that nothing would have stopped them? If bandits could operate in Kuje Prison for almost three hours, a distance of 47.0km and a drive distance of 57 minutes to the nation’s seat of power, Aso Rock Villa, unchallenged, covering the savannah stretch from Dustinma to Daura would have been a picnic trip for them.
I still keep asking how long it takes to scramble a helicopter from the Abuja Air Force Base, or one from the National Guard in Aso Rock to confront the terrorists at the Kuje Prison and I am yet to get an answer.
I had a fantastic argument with some friends about the attack on the president’s convoy to Daura. They kept reminding me that I must add the qualifier, “advance” to the head noun, “convoy” so as “not to mislead people” (their words) and I laughed. I laughed because I don’t know the difference between “advance presidential convoy” and “presidential convoy” except for the absence of the president himself.
In their defense of the Buhari administration and the obvious failure of the retired General in all aspects of governance, we still have some people who believe that bandits halting the advance convoy of the nation’s number citizen is no big deal! It beats my imagination that some people still won’t agree that whether present or not, the convoy of the president is the symbol of the presidency and that any attack on it, no matter how small, is an attack on the person of the president.
Even when the General himself lamented that security personnel, some 45 kilometres to his Aso rock Villa residence, lacked “intelligence system”, such that “terrorists organise, have weapons, attack a security installation and get away with it?”, some Buhari supporters are still seeing him as an enigma. I concluded our debate by asking my friends to ponder on the Yoruba saying, to wit: “olomo ni omo ohun o daa, iwo ni o ran ni akara ati eko lana” – a mother says her child is ill-mannered and you said you sent him on an errand to buy akara and eko for you yesterday!
The significance of the Dustinma attack on the advance convoy General Buhari is that the president, like the ordinary Nigerians who are daily slaughtered by bandits, herdsmen, Boko Haram terrorists, “unknown gunmen” and other roving felons, is also not safe! This is not the time to employ the service of euphemism to deploy the present terrible state of insecurity in Nigeria. We are in a bad shape in terms of security. Whoever still has the faintest iota of confidence that Nigeria has anything called security architecture should have his or her head examined.
If among the loyalists of General Muhammadu Buhari, we still have anyone who can beat his/her chest and boast that the Daura General is on top of his game, security-wise, we should collectively railroad such an individual to the nearest psychiatric hospital. The way we are now, anything can happen. Nowhere is impenetrable to the bandits who are holding us bound to violence. Where have they not attacked? The roads are at their mercy. Our farmlands are killer fields. They bombed railway and held train passengers captive for months. The airport is not safe anymore. Pirates hold courts on our seas. Churches and Mosques are no longer sacred sanctuaries. Even shrines are at the mercy of “unknown gunmen”. There is no single hiding place for us all, including our president. We are all endangered species!
On December 15, 2020, on this page, in a piece titled: “The Fire In Buhari’s Osanyin Shrine”, I wrote about the audacity of the bandits, who invaded a secondary school, the Government Science School, Kankara, Katsina State, on Friday, December 11, 2020, the very day Buhari touched down in his Daura village for a one week holiday. I was alarmed at the temerity of the students abductors and described Nigeria as; “where anything goes. Anything is possible in the country. As it is being run now, anything can happen, including bold bandits carrying their war of attrition to the very doorstep of the C-in-C”. Something close to that is already happening. Kuje Prison is some 47 kilometres from Aso Rock. The attackers of the facility did what they did knowing that Buhari was in Aso Rock. The attack happened at night. Scientists say sound transmits farther at night. If Buhari and his Aso Rock sojourners did not hear the sound of the bazookas used at the prison that night, then, we may as well call for the services of ENT experts at the Villa. A week after the incident and with Buhari’s “I am disappointed with the “intelligence system”, statement, nothing has happened. All the people whose responsibility it is to secure the Kuje Prison and failed woefully to do so, enjoyed their Sallah. Nothing will ever happen to them.
Little by little, they say, the snout of the pig is breaking the wooden fence. Yet our president is full of “disappointments”, and in most cases “shocked”. I wish I could reproduce “The Fire In Buhari’s Osanyin Shrine”, here today. December 15, 2020 is over one and half years ago. Now bandits did not go to Kankara, which is 190 kilometres to Daura. They waited for the president’s advance team at Dustinma and reduced the distance by a whole 39 kilometres.
Soldiers who have fought in battles will tell you that movements in a war situation, especially when the opponent is an ineffectual cluster, can be swift. Yet some people want us to believe that Buhari is on top of his game! They are not seeing the embarrassment the Dustinma attack on the symbol of our security is. Buhari is Nigeria’s Osayin, the deity we send to combat combustions. Now the fire we asked the deity to quench for us has its source at Osayin Shrine and we are expected to go to our places of worship to go and testify of how God has been so gracious to us that He kept the president in Aso Rock Villa while his advance team came under the attack of bandits!
What can be more spunky than the Dustinma attack? What can be more audacious than a band of felons attacking the advance convoy of our president? When the news filtered to the inner rooms of the CIAs of this world, how derisive was their laughter at our collective shame and silliness? Who is going to be punished for the attacks (Kuje and Dustinma)? Before the advance convoy left Abuja, did they get in touch with the Katsina arms of the nation’s security agencies? What complementary role(s) did the Katsina arms of the security agencies play? How come hundreds of bandits travelled the streets of Abuja and stormed Kuje Prison undetected? Are some security personnel suffering from river blindness or was it a case of “paddy paddy”? How do we tell our story to the comity of sane nations that terrorists operated 47 kilometres close to Aso Rock Villa and no single bullet was fired at them by our security agencies? What about the Tucano jets and the much advertised attack helicopters they told us they purchased? Those ones lacked aviation fuel while the bandits made a meal of Kuje Prison? What about the correctional guards at Kuje Prisons? Oh, they had no airtime on their mobile phones to call for assistance? What sort of people are we? When will these killings end? Are we waiting for Afghanistan to happen before we realise that we are done for? Can we collectively ask our Osayin, General Buhari: when is enough going to be enough?