Former External Affairs Minister and vice chairman of the last national confab, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, has urged the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, to take his personal security seriously in the interest of the nation.
Akinyemi, who was reacting to a report credited to Buhari where he directed his motorcade to obey traffic regulations, said he was constrained to issue the statement after the bomb explosion in Potiskum, Yobe State and gun attacks on Damaturu-Kano road at the weekend.
In an open letter to the incoming President, Akinyemi called on Buhari to reconsider his decision, reminding him of security threats bedeviling the country, adding that there was nowhere in the world where the motorcade of a President or Prime minister, was subjected to traffic regulation.
The letter reads, “When you announced on Wednesday, May 6, that you have instructed your security motorcade to obey traffic instructions, my immediate reaction was to write you this letter. I refrained because I did not want to subject myself to the abuse on the social media that passes for criticism…
“I changed my mind because of the implication for national security of your decision.
“You would recall the events of 1975/76 in this country. When General Murtala Mohammed became Head of State in 1975 after the overthrow of General Gowon, he abolished the motorcade for himself, governors, and military ministers in reaction against what was perceived as the security excesses of the Gowon regime.
“You were a military Governor in that regime. You would recall what happened next. General Mohammed was gunned down while his car was waiting at a road junction.
“Nigeria and the world have become a more dangerous place than in 1976 when General Mohammed was assassinated. You would also recall the attempt on your life just last year when your motorcade was attacked in Kaduna.
“There is no country in the world where the motorcade of a President, or Prime Minister or Head of State is subject to traffic regulations. I have just watched the motorcade of the British Prime Minister on his way to Buckingham Palace. Traffic was stopped and his outriders ensured that the motorcade was not impeded.
“General, it is not about your personal safety. It is about Nigerian national security.
“You would recall the controversy that followed the ascension to the Presidency of the then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan following the death of President Musa Yar’Adua because some people felt the ascension breached the principle of rotation.
“In fact, this was what led the 2014 National Conference to recommend a constitutional provision that in case of vacancy in the President’s seat, a Vice-President from the same zone should serve out the term of the incumbent. This Sir shows the extent of the sensitivity about the seat of the President.
“We cannot continue to take chances with the peace and stability of Nigeria and depend on God to bail us out. General, please reconsider your decision, not for your sake, but for the sake of Nigeria.”