Tambuwal should know better in times like this
By Tamuno West-Greene
Some years ago, I heard of a security protocol the Israelis came up with, in view of the situation in that country. It entailed ensuring that the Prime Minister was made to pass through the protocols put in place for every dignitary attending official events. In that wise, it was thought that if the Prime Minister was subjected to some measure of checks, then nobody, absolutely nobody, was left out. For a country surrounded by so many enemies, no one could blame the Jews for the extreme measure.
And today, with the security situation in the country, it is about time President Goodluck Jonathan adopted protocols like the Jews, subjecting himself and indeed everyone to them. These days we are not sure of anyone's right standing in security matters, and what is good for him should be good for everyone, including Speaker Aminu Tambuwal who thinks he is more important than Governors, the National Security adviser (NSA), the Service Chiefs, who were searched and parked their cars 300 meters away, at an event in Kaduna, but in his usual immature nature drove up, until common recruits cut him to size.
Israel is, perhaps, one of the countries in the world which is not intimidated by anybody's clout and will cut anyone, even the American President to size, if its interests were threatened. It calls to mind the attempt by the late Muammar Gaddafi to put up a show of protest at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, a few years ago, when security personnel subjected him to checks but trust Baba L'Egba, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who would have none of it and told the visiting leader to respect our security protocols.
Angered that he was being subjected to checks by Nigeria's security operatives at the airport and, wanting to railroad his way as he had done under military regimes, Gaddafi had threatened to walk the 50 kilometers distance from the airport to the city center. The Foreign Service officers on hand to receive him were confused, but just about the same time, Obasanjo arrived the airport and it was brought to his knowledge and he took charge. He cut the Late Libyan leader to size, just as he persuaded him not to attempt his showmanship in Nigeria by walking with his retinue of female bodyguards the distance. Obasanjo managed the man who wanted to be the President of the United States of Africa, some say to the disdain of Obasanjo himself who thought he was more important than a show boy from North Africa, if such a position became available.
The story concerning Tambuwal's embarrassment in Kaduna gained undue prominence because government spokesmen did not rise up to the occasion until a day later when the details of what happened were made public by security operatives who were at the event. This writer wondered why they bothered to explain, because the man, Tambuwal, should know he is not president and shouldn't seek to accord himself certain rights. He is just number five (not number four as the National Assembly members delusively put in place) and should comport himself as such.
It is already in the news that the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, had raised a panel to investigate Monday's alleged harassment of Tambuwal, a needless probe for a man who can easily forget that in the times we are in today security operatives should be allowed to search for bombs anywhere, after all, a whole Senator is on trial for his role in the Boko Haram saga.
A prominent Nigerian once told the story of how this Senator regaled him and others with how he was able to deal with the terrorists in his home Borno State. A few months later, he was arrested, and the truth of his romance with the insurgents came to light. That prominent Nigerian got to know the true story of how the Senator managed to avoid being attacked or harassed.
Tambuwal's incident occurred at the 17th Hotel Kaduna, the venue of an international conference on security and development challenges of pastoralists in West and Central Africa. As the story goes, he was one of the keynote speakers at the conference, arriving about 9:16 am; but soldiers insisted his car would only be allowed entry after it was frisked.
In anger, the childish Speaker who should commend the soldiers, jumped out of the car into the venue.
“The issue has been blown out of proportion, creating the impression that the Speaker was targeted for raw treatment because of his perceived cold relationship with the President, so the NSA has ordered an investigation. He wants an internal review of what happened. Our suspicion is that it was overzealous officers who misbehaved to the Speaker. But the NSA wants to get to the bottom of it all,” an online publication quoting security sources, said. The publication added: “Detectives from the Department of State Services were trying to verify whether or not it was the actual vehicle of the Speaker and he hurriedly disembarked and walked to the hall.”
“The service chiefs parked their vehicles 300 metres away from the venue and walked to the venue. And the Speaker is aware of security protocols because anytime he came to Mambilla Barracks in Abuja for Friday prayers, his vehicles are usually verified. It is customary….The speaker came with just two cars and no siren blaring. The car in which he rode had tinted glasses and the soldiers wanted to be certain who was in the car.
“There was no attempt at frisking the car for bombs. On his own, he came down from the car and walked into the venue and nobody, how much more the speaker, was harassed or embarrassed in any way. There was no attempt by soldiers and other security agents to search the Speaker's vehicle and all dignitaries and participants were accorded due respect.”
And when he would speak on the issue, Tambuwal's equally inexperienced and immature spokesman, Imam Imam said: “As the number four citizen, the Honourable Speaker deserves the respect of all Nigerians. What happened was unfortunate. We should have respect for the office and his official car is part of the symbol of that office.” What is to be expected from a blind aide and members led by a leader on the horn of political dilemma? He should simply restrain his tongue.
Tamuno West-Greene sent piece from Abuja.