A former External Affairs Minister for Nigeria, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, has urged the President 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 President, Akinyemi called on him to reconsider his decision, reminding him of security threats bedevilling 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 in part: “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.”
Continuing, Akinyemi argued that, “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… General, it is not about your personal safety. It is about Nigerian national security.”
- General Murtala Ramat Muhammed was killed, aged 37, along with his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Akintunde Akinsehinwa, on February 13, 1976 in an abortive coup attempt led by Lt. Col Buka Suka Dimka, when his car was ambushed while en route his officeatDodanBarracks,Lagos. Nigeria’s first national traffic law was the 1920 Road Traffic Ordinance of Lagos Colony and Southern Protectorate of Nigeria that was applied for the operations of all motor vehicles until the country was demarcated into regions (Northern, Western and Eastern).
- The National Road Traffic Act was enactedon1stJanuary,1949during the colonial era. This Act is available in the Road Traffic Act Chapter 548, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.
- The world’s most dangerous roads are in Africa and Nigeria has a fatality rate of one death per 10,000 vehicles.