MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
The recent media report alleging the threat of assassination of the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP) Mr. Peter Obi by some jihadist Fulani elements has not come as a surprise to discerning Nigerians who are conscious of Obi’s increasing popularity in the political space since he joined the Labour Party and emerging as its presidential flag bearer.
If anything, the threat to his life whether real or imagined, is unarguably an indication that he has higher chances of winning the 2023 presidential election over candidates of other parties inclusive of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) if there is a level playing field.
The threat whether real or imagined, in a saner clime could be taken with a pinch of salt because the state security architecture rests on efficiency and commitment irrespective of the religious or ethnic extraction of those in leadership position. Regrettably, Nigeria currently thrives on ethno-religious plank with ineffective political leadership which has resulted in years of great terror and absolute state of insecurity.
The assassination threat to Peter Obi therefore, coming at a time the security situation in Nigeria is at its worst level, throws up the urgent need for the threat to be taken with all seriousness by the nation’s security agencies at all levels so that any unseemly attempt could proactively be nipped in the bud.
As the political atmosphere is gradually heating up with the conclusion of presidential primaries by all the parties, the coast has become quite clear now to know who the gladiators are. As contestants for the number one political position in the country, all the presidential candidates have suddenly become endangered species but threatening Obi among all other candidates means that he has a higher potential to win the race hence some people have become afraid of defeat even when campaign for the election is yet to officially commence.
From the least of the political parties to the greatest in terms of national acceptability, it is unarguable that their candidates have become high networth personalities whose security and safety must no longer be taken for granted.
Today, we are talking of the jihadists’ assassination plot against Obi of Labour Party, how are we sure that tomorrow, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of APC, or Abubakar Atiku of PDP would not face such threat from other yet unidentified killer groups? How are we sure that presidential candidates of other parties would not face similar threats from faceless terror groups who just want to scare them out of the presidential race for reasons best known to them.
Threat to any candidate coming from any quarter and for whatever reason is capable of creating national crisis that can put the 2023 election in serious jeopardy. For instance, the threat to Obi by the so called Fulani jihadists has already elicited reaction from the leadership of some Igbo youths who warned against such act as doing so, would be an invitation to war.
As lightly as any body may want to take such threat of war by the Igbo youths in the event that the jihadist killers successfully carry out their threat on Obi (God forbids), let us be reminded of one major cause of the First World War. The First World War also known as the Great War began in 1914 as a result of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. His murder ignited a war across Europe and lasted till 1918 with many lives lost.
It was the fallout from the First World War that laid the foundation for the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 which eventually involved more nations of the world and lasted till 1945.
It has therefore become highly imperative that the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and various security agencies should become extra more committed to the security and safety of Nigerians and their presidential candidates among whom one would emerge a winner and eventual leader of Nigeria in the next four years.
The threat to Peter Obi by the jihadists should not be taken for granted like in other cases where security agencies would leave substance to pursue shadow as witnessed in the case of a former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia who was reportedIy threatened severally by some elements in and outside of government who did not like his outspokenness against insecurity in Nigeria.
In spite of the repeated fears he raised concerning his safety, the killers got him eliminated though not through lethal weapon but other deadly means because he would have possibly exposed some unpatriotic elements who were bent on destroying the country. Uptill now, security agencies have remained unconcerned about the issues he raised and the chapter has been closed.
The Buhari administration should therefore not worsen the already bad security situation in the country by allowing the faceless jihadists to have their way. Truly, like the Igbo youths have warned, no particular tribe or group has monopoly of violence like some people would like others to believe. The earlier our political leaders understand this, the better for all, to avoid unimaginable consequences of being naive with issues of our individual and collective security.