A former envoy of the United States, Richard Grenell, had warned Nigerians not to elect Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress in the 2015 presidential election.
In an opinion article dated March 19, 2015, and published in Washington Times, Grenell noted that Buhari, if elected will be a disaster for Nigeria and Africa.
In the article titled, “Nigeria on the brink”, Grenell warned that having Buhari as president will signal trouble for the West’s fight against ISIS and terrorism throughout the Middle East.
Grenell, who recently served as the Acting Director of the United States National Intelligence, had advised Nigerians to re-elect the then President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
His article read, “With the polls closed in Israel, international election observers now turn their attention to the Nigerian elections on March 28. The choice for the leader of Africa’s most populous country pits Goodluck Jonathan from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The decision by the roughly 73 million registered Nigerian voters could have a profound impact on the future of Africa.
“But Western foreign policy observers pre-occupied with the rise of ISIS in the Middle East should wake up to the reality unfolding in Nigeria. Opposition candidate General Buhari wants Sharia law throughout Nigeria. In fact, he wants it everywhere. ‘I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria,’ Mr Buhari said. ‘God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country.’
“Agitation? Is this an indication that Mr Buhari supports violence because the end goal of the terrorist attacks throughout Nigeria and Africa is an Islamic state? It is a legitimate question that should be asked by leaders of the (Barack) Obama administration.
“Boko Haram has pledged its allegiance and support to ISIS. The northern Nigerian based Islamic terrorist group wants Sharia law throughout Nigeria and beyond. They are also actively terrorizing Chad, Niger and Cameroon with their goal of an Islamic state.
“Mr Buhari has also spoken sympathetically about members of the terrorist group Boko Haram, has cautioned against a rush to judgement on its members and has personally been selected by the terrorist group to lead its negotiations with the Government of Nigeria.
“Mr Buhari’s election as Nigeria’s head of state would be a disaster for Africa. It would also signal trouble for the West’s fight against ISIS and terrorism throughout the Middle East.
“Islamic radicals have Africa on their target list and young Nigerians are reported to be interested in ISIS’ messages. Nigeria is at a tipping point. Tunisia, where the Arab Spring uprisings began, saw a deadly Islamic terrorist attack at a popular museum killing 23 people this week.
“ISIS attacked a hospital in Libya within the last few days and Boko Haram killed 54 people with 4 suicide bombers in Nigeria last week. The West, and specifically the Obama Administration, need to wake up to the growing problem.
“The French government has been fighting ISIS in Africa for the past two years, starting in Mali but with little help from the Obama Administration. As terrorism grows in yet another region of the globe, American and Western officials should realize they are not stopping the advancements of Islamic radicals. Al-Qaida is not dead and ISIS is not a JV team.
“The recent moves by the White House against Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu signal a willingness by President Obama and his team to intervene in foreign elections. The sitting President Goodluck Jonathan has committed to defeating Boko Haram and overseeing a free and fair election.
“The Nigerian economy has been growing faster than South Africa’s. Imagine what Nigeria could do for Africa if it was also free of Boko Haram’s violence. The Obama Administration should be doing more to ensure Africa’s most populous country doesn’t slip away.”
Grenell’s article gained relevance as the President Buhari-led administration has been accused of treating terrorists with kid gloves.
The Presidency has been criticised by the public recently for defending the embattled Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, over his past comments in support of terrorist groups like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement aligned itself with the submission of the embattled Minister that he was young when he made those statements and his position had since changed.
There have been several calls for the minister’s resignation after multiple reports accused him of endorsing terrorism and extreme views. The presidency, in the statement, claimed that the calls for the minister’s resignation were politically motivated.
This attracted outrage from Nigerians who have tagged this government as a ‘terrorist sympathiser’.