The reported intrusive search of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his entourage at the Abuja international Airport has generated mixed reactions among Nigerians. While some argue that the former Vice President is not above the law and hence should be subject to normal procedures that apply to all travellers passing through our airports, others are raising the red flag of intimidation.
Irrespective of the take of Nigerians on the issue, what is indisputable is that the former Vice President deserves certain courtesies that can not or should not be viewed as favours. These courtesies are standard practice and should not be considered as preferential treatment.
Nevertheless, those who are expressing concerns that the treatment meted to Atiku may be some kind of intimidation have a basis for such a position. We have a long history of ruling parties intimidating members of the opposition especially during election periods.
In the past, we have seen members of the opposition being prevented from entering certain states for campaign, or their chartered flights not being cleared for take off for no justifiable reasons or their campaigns being disrupted by security men.
In about a week, formal campaigns will begin across the country. Politicians will be crisscrossing various states and the country to interface with prospective voters. This process is critical to the health of our democracy and should not be fettered in any way by anyone
We must not be found to be doing the same undemocratic things again and again and hoping that we will become a better country. Security personnel should do their job without bias. Their allegiance should be to the people and not to any sitting government.
Already the country is tensed up with security challenges. Provoking political conflicts will only make a bad situation worse with consequences that are difficult to predict.
While it is inconceivable that every infraction by security officials are at the instance of a so called “order from above”, the bulk still stops at the table of Mr. President. Therefore, President Buhari must show good leadership by calling errant security officials to order and punishing them when necessary.
At the same time, politicians should desist from raising unnecessary alarms just to attract sympathies or make others look bad when nothing of any significance has occurred.