by Dare Lawal
Tunde Bakare, the cleric who ran in 2011 as the running mate to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in the now-defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), has weighed in on last week’s controversial assassination attempt on the former head of state in Kaduna. Bakare who formed an unlikely partnership with Buhari in 2011 and have remained close to the retired general ever since, said that Nigerians should be grateful to God that the assassination attempt was unsuccessful.
Bakare stated that the attempt on Buhari’s life could have have led to a crisis of unprecedented destruction and loss of lives if it had succeeded. Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan shared the same sentiments yesterday in Aso Rock when he said that the attacks on Buhari and the Muslim cleric Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi last week, could have thrown the nation in turmoil if the planners had succeeded.
Bakare – just like Pres. Jonathan – said that considering the large following which Buhari had, especially in the North, some of his supporters might have taken the law into their own hands which could have led to reprisals in the southern part of the country.
Speaking in his church, the Latter Rain Assembly, on Sunday, Bakare said that, “But for what could only have been an act of God, this past week might have marked the beginning of the end for our nation. For if the attack targeted at Buhari and his entourage on Wednesday had succeeded, the hatchers of the Nigerian disintegration agenda would have been smiling home to the bank by now.
“The enormous goodwill and massive following enjoyed by the General among the tens of millions of disadvantaged northern youths for whom he has become a messianic symbol, would have transmogrified into the unguided and uncontrollable fury of a vengeful army, whose target would not be without political and ethnic colouration.
“Invariably, this would have sparked up a corresponding reaction of violence from an equally militant antagonistic young population from across the Niger. One needs not be a political analyst to see that such a scenario might have culminated in the demise of our nation.”
The cleric also warned that the acts of terror by Boko Haram was gradually spreading to the south, hence viewing terrorism as a purely Northern affair was naive. He cited instances of the arrest of terror suspects in Abia state by the military and the Apapa, Lagos blast which Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for, even though the government has dubbed it as mere “explosions.”
Bakare said the reasons terrorism thrived in Nigeria include a failure of intelligence which preferred to track opposition rather than the terrorists; governmental incompetence, a weakening armed forces, internal and international conspiracy; and opportunism.
He added that the attack should have made it clear to all that Buhari was not a Boko Haram sympathiser.
Bakare noted that the military at present cannot adequately combat terrorism, noting that soldiers confront members of the Boko Haram with “inferior weapons.”
He criticised President Goodluck Jonathan for seeking $1bn foreign loan to fight terrorism, saying “the last time the military was equipped was in the 1980s and there have been budgetary allocations every year.
“The senate say they want to reconvene to consider the request and nobody is asking what happened to the amount budgeted for security this year.”
The cleric noted that the reign of terror should not be ascribed to religion but “sheer psychosis.”
He warned that traditional Islam and radical Islam must not be grouped together, saying that radical Islam, alongside zoning deprivation, oppression and injustice, were the cause of terrorism.
“To win this war, we must embark forthwith on accurate diagnosis. There is a fundamental difference between traditional Islam and the radical Islam of our day. To lump them together would be a tragic mistake. It would only produce error, which would lead to attendant terror.
“I only hope that this is a wakeup call to our government and we must now rise up so that together we can deploy all our resources to stop the terrorists dead in their tracks,” he said.