-Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) –By Julius OWEH:
The bond of brotherhood in Africa is very tight and unique that distant cousins can even compete for attention with your own children and siblings. That is why it is very common when an African introduces someone as a brother to a European, the question that follows is: Are you of the same parents? In Africa, there is little or no distinction between nuclear and extended families. In times of sadness as in death or times of happiness as in marriage, the glue of African relationship is simply legendary and could confound outsiders. That is why I am very happy with my president, Muhammmadu Buhari that a lot of his cousins, nephews and nieces are staying with him in Aso Rock. This should be a message to our political leaders and wealthy Africans on the need to sustain the much cherished African brotherhood and sisterhood.
However, the news that gained currency very much of last week seems to be a stab of ingratitude and it gnaws the very foundation my being and faith in African brotherhood. That there was altercation between the First Lady, Aisha Buhari and a cousin of Buhari, Sabiu Yusuf that led to shooting by some of the security aides guarding them. According to media reports, the First Lady was very incensed by the alleged refusal of Sabiu Yusuf to go into self-isolation after coming from Lagos and the reported contact with someone who died of the dreaded coronavirus disease.
The presidency has not denied the story and the news is that Inspector General of Police is already conducting investigation into the shooting in Aso Rock, the very sanctuary of our democracy and where the president resides. It should be concern to all Nigerians especially those that wish well the run of our democratic ethos.
Mallam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President said that our elected leader was not in any danger during the shooting. He also stated that the president has ordered investigation into the incident. Listen to part of Shehu
s statement on the matter :The presidency wishes to acknowledge concerns expressed by several members of 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, Muhammmadu Buhari is not and was not at any time in any form of danger either from deadly infection or the reported incidents by security personnel which is currently under investigation. This particular incident happened outside the main residence of the President………. In this particular instance, the President says the law should be allowed to take its course`.
The whole unfortunate incident raised two critical issues – the security of the president and the imminent threat from COVID 19. I am highly disturbed that those who are assigned to guard the president and members of his family should be engaged in public brawl to the extent of firing shots. This is dangerous and those found culpable should be made to face to the law. Agreed that the mouthpiece of the president disclosed of his principal resolve to enforce the full weight of the law, those in charge should be up and doing and no stone should be left unturned to serve as deterrent to others.
Secondly is the issue of coronavirus. Is it true that the said cousin of the president had a contact with someone who recently died of COVID 19? If that is true, the man should self-isolate for 14 days and go for testing. We cannot toy with the health of our president and those of his immediate family. President Muhammadu Buhari may be father, husband or uncle to some people. But what must be stressed here is that Muhammadu Buhari is the president of the country and by implication, the father of all Nigerians. My concern is about the health and political development of the country and blood relationship by any stretch of imagination should not take precedence over the more serious issue of governance. The fates of millions of Nigerians are involved.
I therefore appeal to all those in charge of the security of the president and the family to be aware of the enormous responsibilities placed on their shoulders. True that in African tradition, distant relations can compete for space and attention with immediate family members. Those enjoying such privileges should know that there is limit to the man`s affections. It is my supplication that those enjoying the fraternal relationship with President Muhammmadu should not abuse the privilege. In other words, they should not cross the red line. The way and manner the investigation into the shooting is carried out shall define the character and tenor of the Buhari presidency.
- Julius OWEH, a journalist, Asaba, Delta State.