If you are abroad, particularly in the United Kingdom, you may likely bump into one or two top ex-government officials, who are now quietly enjoying their loot in the tranquility of London.
Then, if you have an opportunity to exchange pleasantries with them, they will tell you the usual story of being abroad on holiday, short visit or for medical check.
Well, the reality is that they have fled the country to the peaceful sanctuary provided by their fellow politicians abroad, while regrettably wasting the opportunity they had to turn their own country to a safe haven.
Surprisingly, some of the people you will never imagine leaving the country are already enjoying summer abroad.
If the reports making rounds that Muhammadu Buhari, the immediate past president, has fled the country, is something to hold on to, then the exodus of Nigerians abroad has received a huge boost.
It also offers a perfect scene for a make belief storyline, while leaving the viewers with the height of irony and hypocrisy.
A concerned Nigeria, who described himself as Distinguished Everest on his tweet recently, said: “Katsina is unsafe for Buhari. He is living in the UK now. His children are outside the country. Katsina citizens are still living in Katsina with its insecurities.”
Read also: I am eager to return to Daura – Buhari
Recall that few weeks to his handover to the then president-elect, Buhari in a meeting with governors of the All Progressive Congress (APC) had assured that he would be moving to Daura, his hometown in Katsina State, and spend six months before relocating to Kaduna, where he would spend his retirement.
Just a few days in Daura, the former president is said to have relocated to London, a place he considered more conducive and that offers the peace he needs on his retirement.
It is obvious that the former president is fleeing from the escalating insecurity in the country, especially in the North-West, his geopolitical zone, where banditry and kidnapping have turned into a small hell for the inhabitants.
Of course, Garba Shehu, Buhari’s ex-media aide, has been issuing statements to defend his former boss’ action and absence at his home at Government Reserved Area (GRA) in Daura, where he planned to stay for six months.
“He chose to go home in Daura hoping to find the type of quiet he wished for himself, but realising that this was not the case, visitors trooping in morning, day and night, he moved out to a more distant place,” Shehu said.
But pundits think otherwise. They think that the former president is running away from insecurity, which he paid lip service to for the eight years he was in power.
“If his own people could boo him when he came to commission projects in Katsina in January this year, and went to the extent of throwing stones at vehicles, which were part of his convoy, then that was a sign of what will happen if he decides to relocate to Daura on his retirement.
“The truth is that many were killed in Katsina, his hometown by bandits, many kidnapped and the president could not do anything. The people are angry with him and staying with them on retirement and now that the state security apparatus is not fully deployed for his safety is a risk,” Mathias Oniwoh, a security expert, said.
Another pundit argued that if Katsina is not safe enough for the ex-president, Kaduna, which he chose as his retirement home, and also closer to Abuja, would have offered him the peace he desired, instead of fleeing abroad as if there are no troubles in the United Kingdom.
“I think the former president is reaping from what he sowed. Imagine if Buhari had fought insecurity head-on, removed non-performing army chiefs, sought foreign collaborations on time, raised the morale of soldiers and removed sentiments, insecurity would have been a thing of the past,” an anonymous pundit said.
Also, considering the fact that before Buhari became president, he hardly travels abroad, the pundits see a different Buhari now, who dislikes rural life in Daura, who sees Kaduna as unsafe, who doesn’t want to be spotted in Abuja, but prefers London, his new love.
They also smell a rat in this new lifestyle, which comes with a cost.
“A former president cannot live in any kind of place in the UK. It has to be a mansion, well furnished and protected. So, he had to get money out of the country to acquire such an edifice, whose monthly cost of maintenance can pay the school fees of many students in Daura.
“Is Nigeria going to be maintaining his new-found luxurious lifestyle and does it mean he has abandoned his Daura people to their fate?” anonymous pundit further wondered.
Meanwhile, the irony for many concerned citizens is that Buhari had boasted in an interview with Bloomberg in June 2022 that his regime would “leave Nigeria in a far better place than we found it,” adding that “terrorists no longer hold any territory in Nigeria, and their leaders are deceased.”
Same man has fled his country in less than a month after leaving power and that mirrors the mindset of most African leaders, who care less about the development of their countries, as they always run to the United Kingdom, Europe, America and other developed countries where the government is working, infrastructure and peace are in place.
It is also needless to count the number of lives lost to bandits, kidnappers and Boko Haram under Buhari’s eight years in power, considering the huge funds spent on fighting insecurity with little result.
Earlier this year, the former president revealed that his administration had invested over $1billion in the acquisition of weapons from the United States and other countries in the fight against insurgency since he assumed office in 2015.
With all the funds, and unable to subdue the bandits, Bulus Yakubu, a Pankshin-born lawyer, think that the former president decided to leave the country for a more organised one for fear of having skirmishes with the bandits, who were bold enough to attach his presidential convoy.
“If with the huge number of security personnel, sophisticated weapons, intelligence and advance team, yet Buhari’s convoy was attacked, imagine what will happen now with far less than the number. The former president is scared and is running for safety,” Yakubu said.
However, apart from the former president, most former ministers, and political office holders under Buhari’s administration are jetting out of the country for fear of prosecution by the anti-graft agency.
Before now, many of them had relocated their families, making it easy to sneak in and out of the country, moving their loots abroad.
In their conclusion, the pundits blamed the insecurity, misrule and mass looting of the state funds by selfish leaders on the gullible Nigerian society.
“If we don’t take the bait from politicians, if we insist and forget ethnicity, if we force the legislature to make laws that will keep our leaders back home, then they will ensure there is security to enable them retire in peace here,” Chijioke Umelahi, a former lawmaker, said.