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Has Muslim President-Elect Buhari Accepted Christian IGP Solomon Arase?

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By Dr. Mohammed Sarki
On Wednesday 21st April 2015, the President, Commander-in-Chief, Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in exercise of his constitutional authority, dismissed Mr. Suleiman Abba from the office of Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force and named Mr. Solomon Arase (until then the Deputy Inspector General, Force Intelligence and Criminal Investigation) as Nigeria's 18th indigenous Inspector General of Police (IGP).

As soon as the announcement of the above referred development was made,  the Muslim Rights Concern (which claims to advocate for the interests of all Muslims in Nigeria) vociferously protested, insinuating that the former IGP Abba's removal must have been due to his nability or refusal to manipulate the recently concluded general election in favour of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Almost immediately, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie (himself a former IGP), now the Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (the presumed mouthpiece for Nigerian Northerners) also decried the decision, suggesting possible foul play. Several questions arise.

What is it about Nigeria and Nigerians that makes us frequently resort to knee-jerk emotive behaviour ( in the manner of the recent bizzare rant by former Niger Delta Minister Elder Peter Orubebe against INEC Chairman Professor Jega) when what is required is logical reasoning?

Why is every issue assessed through the subjective (and mostly unhelpful) prism  of religion, ethnicity and gender? So if a Northern Muslim service chief is deemed to have been insubordinate to his Commander-in-Chief, the said individual should be allowed to retain his/her position, just to appease Northerners and Muslims – who, I must confess, represent two very powerful constituencies.

Have the Muslim Rights Concern, the Arewa Consultative Forum and other similar partisan groups paused to consider, even for a moment, that President Jonathan might have acted purely in the national interest, based on  certain information and considerations which may not be in the public domain?

While it is true that the general elections have been won and lost, Nigerians should not forget that the nation still has only one leader until Thursday 28th May 2015. His name is Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. He should be given the benefit of the doubt except and until there is irrefutable evidence to the contrary. Having said that, though, we must continue to hold the President accountable for all actions he takes on our behalf until his very last day in office.

Since President Jonathan's unprecedented concession of defeat to the President-elect, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retired), there has been a deliberate attempt by many persons and interest groups to diminish the significance of the President's gracious action.

The argument is that President Jonathan was pressured by the international community to accept General Buhari's victory. This view was apparently, unfortunately first given public expression by General Buhari himself in the President-elect's post-victory interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Wednesday 1st April 2015.

Such an uncharitable analysis seeks to detract from the noble gesture which, more than any other development in recent times, has restored Nigera's standing within the comity of nations. Even, assuming there was actually concerted pressure by certain so-called foreign powers on President Jonathan, he could have decided to ignore same and toe the ignoble path. That he chose the way of honour will be to his eternal credit and the shame of all those who predicted an unfavourable outcome for Nigeria.

We were all reminded of the sheer magnificence of the President's action by none other than the President of Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Mr. Alassane Ouattara when he visited Nigeria recently. Mr. Ouattara recalled how his predecessor, the now disgraced Professor Laurent Gbago vehemently refused to accept defeat in the November 2010 elction despite the active, diplomatic and military intervention of the United Nations and France respectively.

Given the foregoing, I was rather pleasantly delighted when General Buhari (who is a Northern Muslim) practically welcomed the appointment of the new acting Inspector General Mr. Solomon Arase who happens to be a Christian Southerner.

Today, i.e. Thursday 23rd April 2015, General Buhari's position was communicated through his main megaphone, namely the All Progressives Congress (APC) spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who happens to be a Northerner (since he originates from Kwara State) and also a Muslim.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed thoroughly rejected the suggestion that the former Inspector General Suleiman Abba was a principled, non-partisan public servant. In the classic good-riddance tradition, Alhaji Lai Mohammed reminded all who cared to know that:

We do not know the reason for the sack of the immediate past IGP, but we have read, just like other Nigerians, that it might not be unconnected with the role he either played or did not play in the last general elections. What we do know is that the police force under the former IG was a major actor in the massive rigging and violence that characterized the elections in some parts of the country, especially in Rivers, Akwa Ibom Sokoto and Gombe states just to mention a few…

Therefore, the new Acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, having also been embraced by President-elect Buhari, even if just for now, should quickly settle down to deliver on his constitutional public safety mandate to every Nigerian citizen.

Dr. Mohammed Sarki
<[email protected]>
April 23rd 2015.
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