I was invited to a book presentation at the Kaduna Trade Fair on July 30. The book was written by Prof Tam David West who has never hidden his love for Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari, whose new party, the Congress for Progressive Change, is making waves in the North, in spite of whatever anyone may tell you. When you see the hoi polloi yelling and shouting Sai Buhari (Only Buhari) and Mai Gaskiya (The Truthful, Honest), then you begin to appreciate that if these sentiments are translated into votes, then we may have some shocking news for Nigerians in 2011. Buhari has no radio station, no newspaper, no television station, not even a strong enough publicity outfit to tell the world what he is doing. But the people, young men and women, old men and old women I saw at the Kaduna Trade Fair to attend the unpublicised book presentation, The Sixteen ‘Sins’ of General Muhammadu Buhari did not seem to me to be there because of what Buhari could give them. They were there because they see him as the promise, the one who can do for them what out politicians have failed or refused to do in response to the call on them to seek the welfare and security of the citizens.
Believe me when I say that the North and the South are two different worlds and that my reading of the call for zoning is the manifestation of extreme greed. It may well be part of what gentlemen agreed should regulate their relationships in 1998, but from the loud ovation that greeted Buhari’s deprecation of zoning as a subversion of the opportunity to get the best for the polity in service delivery, I have no doubt in my mind that if votes are counted in the 2011 elections and those votes are allowed to count, many of the people parading themselves as leaders today will fall like dead leaves.
Where the chairman of the occasion, Alhaji MT Waziri, the first Fulani to be an architect in Nigeria (he qualified in 1964) had to break down weeping like a child at the harm being done by our leaders who are more interested in what they can get from Nigeria than what they can give, and the whole hall joining as if in a national mourning. then you can imagine the anger building up. Yes anger is building up and only free and fair elections may stem the explosion that awaits us. I was happy to hear at the forum that Jonathan should be given a chance to deliver on his promise to conduct free and fair elections. It seems also that people believe in Attahiru Jega’s ability to moderate the elections. Whoever emerges from such an exercise would be congratulated by all concerned.
I was surprised that only AIT was at that venue, aside of some other reporters. I asked myself who the loser is. There may have been no arrangement to pay for coverage, being a book presentation, but what of the news value of an outing where explosive political statements are likely to be made, and were indeed made.
In the first outing in Popular News, we have a report of what happened at the book presentation, the speech Gen Buhari gave and the book review by Prof Ayo Dunmoye of the Department of Political Science, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria’
I have already given you a summary of what happened at the presentation. Hereunder is the speech of Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari and the Review of Prof Dunmoye which encapsulates the views of Tam David West.
1. This book entitled “The Sixteen Sins of General Muhammadu Buhari” is Prof. Tam David-West’s second book on me. The first was “Who Really is General Muhammadu Buhari?”
2. As was the case with the first book, I had no prior knowledge that the author was working on this book until it was out. Surprises of this kind seem to be Tam’s way of doing things.
3. Service to our nation brought Tam and I together and the values we shared in the course of that service have held us together. He is the kind of friend that brings out the best in you; the kind of friend in whom you feel confident to go into the jungle with. I have not only found in Professor Tam-David West a personal friend, but also a good servant of his country.
4. Like Tam, many of us would cherish to be good servants to our dear country – Nigeria. As good servants it will obviously be our desire that our country prospers. In my view the right way to prosperity is for this country to get credible leadership. Leadership that will provide good governance, transparency and accountability in the handling of public affairs. Leadership that will rule with the fear of God and be fair and just to all.
5. This country has suffered so much from the “arts” and “sciences” of deceit, corruption, evils of sectional, ethnic and religious sentiments. Let us for once address issues on how to repair our decayed infrastructures, provide energy, good education, healthcare, security and generate employment. I, therefore, challenge the people especially the media, organized labour, the academia and civil society organizations to evaluate us – the politicians, on these, rather than engaging the nation on unnecessary and selfish detraction. The Nigeria of this era should be made of a community that tasks its leaders on their past performance and how they will improve upon that. I think it is out of date to bore the people on where one comes from, the language he speaks or his mode of worship. We should ask: Can we trust him? Can he put our country right? This is what Nigeria requires today – leaders of character, achievement and accomplishment.
6. As I said above credible leadership leads to prosperity and the sure way to bring this about is through conduct of free and fair elections.
7. In the end, getting credible leadership and the conduct of free and fair elections is not the responsibility of any body or any country but that of Nigerians. If Nigerians choose to remain where they are or even want to go backwards, it is their choice; if they choose to make the country better, it is also their choice.
8. Thank you Tam for enumerating my “sins”.
Thank you all for listening.
General Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR
Kaduna, July 29, 2010
AUTHOR: PROFESSOR TAM DAVID WEST.
TITLE OF BOOK: THE SIXTEEN “SINS” OF GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI
PUBLISHER: SHOLA – WALE PRINTERS, IBADAN
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2010
NUMBER OF PAGES: 151
Professor R. Ayo Dunmoye
Department of Political Science
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
THE ICON AND THE ICONOCLASTS: THE BUHARI PHENOMENON.
I have been given an onerous task of being a reviewer of a book, written by an extra ordinary scholar and eminent Professor, a brilliant scientist endowed with analytic creativity, a genius amongst his peers, about another eminent Nigerian; a military strategist, a political icon, an extraordinary and remarkable personality, one that can be nearly compared to an avatar. This is a daunting task indeed, but I will do my utmost to do justice to both the eminent author, Professor Tamuno Sokari David-West, and the great subject of the book, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).
This 151 page book is not a biography, though its content can be regarded as an extemporaneous vigments of Buhari’s life; it is not praise singing, or songs of praise, though it smirks of an adulation of observed positive traits of a fellow mortal; it is not an obsequious treatise on a benevolent superior; though it is a recognition of exemplary leadership. This is a book written from the indomitable guts of a social critic and renowned intellectual.
It will be puerile to review a Book written on an important and controversial personality like General Muhammadu Buhari without a thorough and objective revelation of the pedigree, antecedence and motive of the author. This is in order to disabuse the mind of the unwary public about the intention of both the author and the subject, those who may want to see this effect as political propaganda or image laundering.
Professor Tam David – West and General Muhammadu Buhari are two of a kind – almost. The former, is a scientist and social critic, while the latter is an accomplished General and a former Head of State.
However, the two share common traits. These are commitment to probity in public life and an unwavering adherence to principle. These are no ordinary traits, because they stand out from a society where public service is seen as avenue to power and wealth through dubious combination of corruption, blackmail, abuse of office and pathological disrespect for public ethics and rule of law.
The author, Professor Tam David-West is an internationally respected Professor of Virology in academic circles. Outside the academia, he is known as a former Commissioner of Education, Rivers State, ex Federal Minister of Petroleum and Energy, and Federal Minister of Mines, Power and Steel. Amongst the media practitioners and members of the Civil Society, Tam David-West is a respected social critic and public policy analyst.
In Marxian taxonomy, there are two categories of intellectuals (Gramsci: 1957, pp. 118 – 20).
An intellectual is someone who is devoted to the pursuit of knowledge as distinct from feeling or willing. Gramsci distinguishes between the ‘traditional’ intelligentsia of any country, which regards itself as a separate class that carries out positive intellection to improve society through constructive criticism of the decadent socio-economic and political order. The second are the “organic” intellectuals who tend to rationalize the existing socio-economic and political order, through their writings, commentaries and postulations that are geared towards the preservation of the status quo.
Prof. Tam David – West as a social critic, belongs to the rank of the “traditional intelligentsia” who speak out against the ills of society even at the expense of their freedom.
The title of the book “The Sixteen “Sins” of General Muhammadu Buhari may sound confusing to the uninitiated in literary antics. The word “Sins” should be understood within the context of antonymous and allegorical connotation. The word ‘Sin’ here is the exact opposite of what the book is all about. The “Sins” here is “mimicking” the misconception of General Buhari’s virtues as negative traits by his critics. It is used here as an exact opposite of the known meaning. These so – called “Sins” are not sins, but virtues, goodness, honour, purity, and reputability. Hence, this book from the eminent Professor of Virology should be taken as an antiviral remedy to the virus of blackmail, hatred, hypocrisy and perfidy that has become the cankerworm in the characterization of General Buhari by his critics.
The Book is an updated and expanded Chapter of a previous Book, Who Really is General Muhammadu Buhari? Published in 2009 by the author. This updated Chapter should be regarded as the kernel of the previous book. In fact, the author claims in page 1 that the “Chapter encapsulates the main thrust of the Book”.
The “Sins” are numerous and the author attempts to disprove clinically all of them serially. The “Sins” or accusations include, but not limited to the following:
(i) Human Rights Abuse
(ii) Islamic Fundamentalism
(iii) Draconian Decrees
(iv) Aiding Corruption ‘i.e the Saga of 53 suit cases.
(v) Humiliation and Disrespect for Traditional Rulers.
(vi) Direct Involvement in Corruption i.e N2.8 billion missing oil money.
(vii) Disrespect for the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
(viii) Parochialism and Ineffectiveness of the Petroleum Trust Fund under his Leadership.
(ix) Rejection of National Award; and
(x) Refusal to Appear before the Oputa Commission.
We shall try to discuss the repudiations of some of these accusations by the author.
The issue of Human Rights Abuse is not based on solid foundation of credible discourse. Military Regimes from time immemorial are not known for their adherence to respect for human rights and rule of law. The author reproduced Duro Onabule’s article “If General Obasanjo, Why not General Buhari? (Daily Sun of 26 January, 2007 See pp. 109 – 121) to prove that Human Right abuse is not peculiar to Buhari regime. He also alluded to the fact that “Ita-Oko off-shore Detention Camp, off Epe in Lagos State, was created by Obasanjo and not Buhari, therefore Obasanjo is guilty of human rights abuse more than Buhari. However critics of Buhari, like Soyinka suffered from selective amnesia by ignoring Obasanjo’s Human Rights abuse.
Retroactive laws or Decrees were not only promulgated by Buhari regime but also by General Babangida who promulgated Decree No.52, of 1993 on controversial Osborne Land, Ikoyi, Lagos, which was back-dated to 1st January 1975 (18 years). The Decree also ousted the jurisdiction of the courts on the land. (p.11). Quoting the Black’s Law Dictionary, the author submits that a retroactive law is not unconstitutional unless it is constitutionally forbidden (P.10).
On the sin of being an Islamic fundamentalist, the author disproves this accusation. (pp.19-23). Although the 1999 Constitution, section 10, decrees that Nigeria shall not adopt any religion as state religion, Nigeria is not a secular state – according to Obasanjo. General Buhari himself declared that he is not a religious fundamentalist. One may ask, when has strict adherence to one’s religion become fundamentalism? The twin concepts “fundamentalism” and “extremism” are subjective tags, depending on circumstances and personalities involved.
Press freedom is another sore point. General Buhari was accused of promulgating Decree 4 to muzzle the Press. However, as the author points out, other Heads of State also proscribed National Newspapers. At present we are still awaiting the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill by the National Assembly. The point here is that politicians and leaders, military government or civilian administration consider the press as necessary evil to be courted if needed, and muzzled when it is politically expedient to do so.
Decree No.2 of 1984 which gave power to the military administration of General Buhari to detain persons is another ‘sin’. It is pointed out by the author, that although he is not in support of obnoxious military government Decrees, it should be noted that Decrees are not drafted by soldiers, but by civilian lawyers!!! This proves the point that no military regime can govern without civilian collaborators.
The suspension of the Emir of Kano and the Ooni of Ife respectively by Buhari regime is another of the “Sins”. Both Wole Soyinka and Ebenezer Babatope are the major “prosecutors” here. The author explains that the two venerable traditional rulers left Nigeria, giving a different destination for their travel out of the country. They did not state that they were going to Israel, which the BBC reported and also suggested that they were the official delegation of the Federal Military Government. As of that time, it must be noted that Nigeria had no diplomatic relations with Israel. No government, military nor civilian, would have condoned that diplomatic faux-pas. Other governments, have deposed the traditional rulers for less offences!
The siege on Chief Awolowo’s House was written off as the work of the fifth columnists or mischievous insiders to discredit the regime. However the author fails to provide credible evidence to support this view which was given by General Buhari himself. Though, on benefit of hindsight, one can now guess who these “insiders” of Buhari’s administration were.
Accusations of direct corruption or aiding and abetting corruption i.e. the 53 Suit Cases and the missing N2.8 billion oil money were both proved to be unfounded rumours and General Buhari’s escutcheon was not dented.
On Oputa Commissions, General Buhari was not the only former Head of State to ignore the Commission. For the fact that it was an administrative and not a judicial panel. It lacked legal backing. (pp 93-94). The fact that the findings of the Commission were never made public proved that it was a mere political grandstanding by the Obasanjo administration (p.97).
The last and perhaps, very important accusation against General Muhammadu Buhari was his stewardship at the Petroleum Trust Fund. He was accused of operating a ‘parallel government’. However, the author provides evidence to show that PTF was under a Board of Trustees with eminent Nigerians as members. The Accounts of PTF was audited by their External Auditors, Messrs KPMG. Accusation of corruption against the PTF could not be proven. The author goes on to accuse President Obasanjo of “policy plagiarism” by adapting the PTF concept to create Petroleum Technology Development Fund (pp 85-86).
The Book is the product of painstaking research by the author. What really matters here is the moral uprightness and truth which should be taken as the authentic point of view, irrespective of one’s political or religious affiliation. It is a creative attempt at debunking the infelicitous comments and accusations against General Buhari, an exemplary personality. As a renowned scientist, the author’s submissions, though polemical, are based on empirically verifiable statement of facts, as opposed to unverifiable assumptions of Buhari’s traducers, whose assumptions are based on literary intuitions, and sometimes jaundiced stereotyping.
Be these as they may, the Book has some shortcomings. It is difficult to know sometimes if the book is about General Muhammadu Buhari or is the author’s autobiography. (See for stance pages 28-30) when the author claims that he respects the press – just to prove that Buhari’s Decree 4 was justified. The pictures from page 122 to 132 portray the author with various traditional rulers. Their pictures and the point being made, bear only tangential relevance to the subject matter of the book.
Furthermore, the author also succumbs to the pitfalls of the Buhari traducers by laying emphasis on personalities rather than issues. His views on Obasanjo, Soyinka and Babatope go beyond mere debunking of unfair accusation against General Muhammadu Buhari. The views are sometimes uncharitable. However, since the Book is a polemic, these rather strong criticism of the traducers can be condoned.
Duro Onabule’s article, “If General Obasanjo, Why not General Buhari?” (pp 109-121) extracted from Daily Sun 26, February 2007 could have been added as an appendix, otherwise the Book could have been an edited one by the author.
In conclusion, if the reader is uncomfortable about the author’s effusion on General Muhammadu Buhari, His views on page 51 is instructive:
“I am a committed – very –committed-Pro Buhari. Dyed in the wool pro Buhari. I have no regrets and apologies. My unswerving, unflagging support is not based on sentiment or any patronage expectation what so ever (I think I don’t need it). Like all mortals, he is not perfect. Trite. But within the reality of mortal perfection, General Muhammadu Buhari easily stands out a refreshing beacon of an exemplary leader in Probity, Integrity, Focus, Visionary, Disciplined, Principled, Courageous, Humble, Honest in leadership by example not sermons. These are very, very rare qualities in contemporary Nigerian leadership. (May be even for all time)”.
Prof. R. Ayo Dunmoye
Gramsci, Antonio (1957) ‘The Modern Prince’ and other Writings London, International Publishers.