Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) has just declared his intention to contest once again for the much-coveted seat, for the fourth time, and his interest is generating, expectedly, much controversy. There are those who believe that his record as a former military Head of State is enough to keep him out of public office, especially the one that requires an exercise of democratic preference. He is widely regarded as a tyrant, despotic megalomaniac who abused power while in office. Many indeed are his sins. But the greatest enemies of this enigmatic character are the funny elements in the all-embracing platform for hustlers called APC. Can anyone imagine that these charlatans are indeed serious that a presidential candidate of their brand of progressive politics must pay N27.5 million to pick an ordinary nomination form? I am waiting to read from the commercial public intellectuals on this undisguised conspiracy against Buhari. One Femi Aribisala has made too much weather of this misstep amidst deliberate falsehood liberally bandied to justify the logic of his prosaic treatise on why he will not win.
There has been strident opposition to the candidacy of this former Army General, Head of State, GOC, Military Governor, Federal Commissioner for Petroleum, Chairman, PTF, and Presidential candidate of ANPP, CPC and hopefully, APC. Nobody appears to be analyzing the ruinous rule of the Ijaw President. There has been this easy recourse to ethnicity and religion in justifying why Nigerians should persevere with the affliction called Jonathan. The APC has given the opposition an easy platform to launch its attacks on the fabled integrity of this man. The social media is now awash with jokes of a poor man who is able to pay N27.5 million for a mere form for declaration of intent. It matters little to those who cast aspersion on the decision of Buhari to pick the form that Atiku had forgotten ever going through the same process. It means nothing that the sole candidate of the most corrupt party in Africa will pay N20 million. Every hack is quick to put pen on paper to lampoon the man of the moment. Buhari remains the issue.
It is not difficult to see that Buhari’s enemies labour in no small measure to convince the converted that this man is not honest after all. There was indeed no substantiated allegation of sleaze against him save the beer parlour gossips on his phantom wealth arising from his “theft” of N2.8 billion, 53 suitcases that Atiku refused to allow in as a Customs Officer until he was removed from the airport unceremoniously, the killing of three drug convicts with retroactive decrees and the hypocritical attitude of his deputy, late Tunde Idiagbon, who took his son to Mecca to perform the Hajj after outlawing same, the indecorous attack on the residence of the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the conviction, with long and ludicrous jail terms of corrupt politicians, the detention of notable members of the opposition parties to the then ruling party, NPN, and the detention of perceived radical elements, especially from the south, among others.
I should throw in this caveat without hesitation. I do not see Gen. Buhari as the only person who possesses the magic wand to turn around the fortunes of this serially raped country. I am also educated enough to know that there is a wide world of difference between the young Buhari who was a military Head of State and the one seeking to lead through deliberative process. I equally know that a mobilized parliament can yank him off his illusion as a man of power. If anyone is in doubt, the case of Murtala Nyako, a former Admiral, and impeached governor of Adamawa State should clear that unbelief. But in spite of all these, I am still waiting, anxiously, to read about any direct allegation of theft against this man who has held virtually all important positions needed to be quoted on the Stock Exchange. Only beer parlor gossips are issuing forth, the latest being the hagiographical musings from one Femi Aribisala.
Having said this, I proceed to assert that no individual living or dead, in Nigeria, has created this cult-like following and sustained hatred from certain sections of the country since the demise of the legendary Awo. Never in recent years has the personality of an individual been subjected to acerbic criticism, libelous innuendoes and unjustified vilification as we have witnessed in the case of Buhari. Not even the sitting erstwhile “shoeless” President has caused many people to secrete bile at the mere mention of his name. Yet there has been no mention of his name in connection with any fraud, either remotely or directly. Aribisala failed woefully in his bid to indulge in faction in propagating falsehood. N2.8 billion was declared missing under General Obasanjo and not Shehu Shagari. Obasanjo had explained the reason for the movement of the money into an escrow account. It was to avert a retaliatory measure from the British government for the nationalization of British Petroleum in the 70s due to her support of apartheid.
There are those who still believe that he contributed to the massacre of the Igbos in South East during the civil war. No one seems to remember that it was T.Y Danjuma and Murtala Muhammed who abducted Aguiyi Ironsi when he was visiting Ibadan. It is of no moment that Danjuma once granted an interview confirming that he was the one who killed Ironsi. Cowards and irredentists would rather dine with him and vote against Buhari. Not a few people agree with the tag of a religious bigot pinned on him since his regime’s misadventure to Organisation of Islamic Countries at the time Nigeria had no diplomatic relations with Israel. He has since graduated from a mere fanatic to a terrorist. He has been accused of planning the attack, which almost took his life to gain popularity. He is believed to be a major sponsor of Boko Haram, the confused group of lunatics whose real objectives for killing and maiming innocent Nigerians remain hazy. The Goodluck Jonathan’s government is now negotiating with Boko Haram and their main “sponsor”, Buhari, is not in the picture.
The type of interest that this man’s involvement in current politics has excited is such that should cause political scientists and other serious researchers to scrutinize his life and times. Some members of the opposition are even expressing their preference for Atiku Abubakar who is also an aspirant. Nobody questioned the rationale behind an Atiku picking a form for that humongous amount. Buhari’s avowed ascetic disposition should raise a genuine query on the propriety of having an exemplar move with the madding crowd on a hypocritical political platform called APC. Aribisala, a so called public analyst, does not seem to know how Buhari got his bullet proof jeep. He equally cannot differentiate between the Naira and the US Dollar. Too simplistic!
Let me make bold to say that in spite of all the afore-mentioned facts and fiction, the simple reason that he remains the issue is enough for all good men and women to root for him. I am not unaware of the fears of some who are convinced that he will further advance the cause of parochialism which a certain tendency among the adherents of Islamic religion represents. I shall also not pretend that there are no valid objections raised to his conduct in the past. There are those who strive to convince some of us who genuinely desire change that he should not be forgiven for the perceived sins of the past. I will also not fail to assert that many of these allegations are on false and sinking premises.
How easy could it have been for a junior officer of Buhari’s status to have successfully stolen a whopping sum of N2.8 billion under a greedy superior like Obasanjo? Who actually gave instructions for the invasion of Awolowo’s house at Park Lane, Apapa, Lagos? Were the executions of the three men convicted for drug pushing under decree 20 justified? Why were Nigerians forced to queue in public places and what has become of that legacy? How much was the debt of the country when the duo ruled and how much did Babangida set the whole country back with? Reports on the activities of his are too many in the public space for any jaundiced analyst to get away with falsehood.
Buhari did not permit any political discussion but his successor spent N40 billion on an endless transition programme which culminated in the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election. Abdulsalami is praised today for handing over to the civilians in 1999 but nobody remembers how he depleted our reserves like no other Head of State has done since the flag independence of 1960. Buhari managed the sale of crude oil and maintained the value of the naira through the government’s economic policies. His successor devalued the currency and laid the foundation for this seamless slide into the abyss. The current rulers continue to tread this path of perdition.
Buhari promulgated Decree 4, 1984 and curtailed press freedom. Babangida soon annulled it and Dele Giwa became history. Many media organizations were shut down. And remembering the jailed journalists, Nduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson, it will not be out of place to remind Nigerians that it was Nduka Irabor, as Chief Press Secretary to Admiral Aikhomu, the former Chief of General Staff, who announced the annulment of June 12, presidential election won by Abiola. He was the one who distributed the unsigned press statement and advised Nigerians not to allow a section of the country that is Yoruba, plunge it into confusion.
Buhari supervised the construction of at least two refineries while serving as a Federal Commissioner. No refinery is functioning today. Jonathan and the World Bank prefect in Nigeria, Aunty Ngozi, consider the current madness wherein our crude oil is taken to even Niger Republic and brought back as an imported product to justify the monumental scam currently going on under the name of fuel subsidy. In 1981, Buhari displayed his unwavering commitment to the preservation of the territorial integrity of the country when he pushed back the Chadian soldiers who had invaded some parts of the north, taking away our women and children. Buhari moved right into Ndjamena until the OAU intervened. That was the last time they ever came. The inept and corrupt government of Shehu Shagari reportedly came to an expected end partly because of that episode.
The current scandalous practice wherein the security of our pipelines is given to Asari Dokubo, Tompolo, Ateke Tom and other glorified miscreants while the armed forces are starved of the necessary equipment with which to realize their mandate to secure and protect the territorial integrity of the country as well as maintain internal peace cannot happen under a Buhari Presidency. The noise of Asari Dokubo can better be appreciated along this line of thought. A former minister, Musiliu Obanikoro, confirmed that the Nigerian army was last equipped twenty-five years ago in spite of yearly humongous budgetary allocations. Boko Haram has established its own “Caliphate” on Nigerian soil and this government is completely clueless.
Isn’t it curious that most of the acerbic criticisms against Buhari have decidedly ignored the sterling contributions of this man to national development? In as much as no right thinking person will support, uncritically, some of the glaring excesses of the military regime of that era, are we saying that we have since forgotten that it was under him as Federal Commissioner for Petroleum that two major refineries were constructed and put into maximum use? Can anybody point at this man’s oil bloc as we can confidently assert about Danjuma and other military adventurers whom some will describe, affectionately, as “blunt, disciplined, forthright and principled” in spite of the incontrovertible fact that Danjuma’s colleagues and he are a pestilential burden on the country? Have we chosen to ignore the fact that Buhari participated actively in the construction of most major roads in Nigeria at that time? Is anyone ready to deny that supply of electricity was stable throughout his regime before Babangida introduced “settlement” into our lexicon? Who will deny that it was his regime which commissioned the Egbin power plant? Is there anyone who can point at real instances of indecorous and primitive stealing during his regime as we now operate as a national policy?
I am often amused at the level of pain through which the current traducers of this uncommon Nigerian traverse to convince us that we should espouse and promote the dour, dull, uninspiring, bovinely stupid and thieving propensities of some characters on account of age, ethnicity and religion. Beyond the often repeated charges bordering on religious bigotry, rigid adherence to personal viewpoints, the very fact that no one has been able to point at the obscene edifices erected to showcase vacuity, properties in Dubai, fat accounts in major countries of the world or at his acts of sheer benevolence exhibited in the wanton display of ill-gotten wealth through monstrous donations to institutions and duplicitous charitable organizations, stands in condemnation against all suborned peddlers of mendacious yarns designed to confuse the youths of this country.
For the simple reason that Buhari is not responsible for the collapse of basic infrastructure in the country, I will cast my ballot for him in the next election. I will ignore the rantings of ill-educated Internet activists and proclaim to those who are capable of reasoning that he remains the only one at the moment who can look Obasanjo straight in the face and tell him to prepare for the hottest part of hell. I will ask the youths of this country whose future these thieving politicians have mortgaged to join others in ensuring that Buhari is elected as the next president to arrest the current drift. I will not fail to tell the carpetbaggers and their acolytes that Buhari is not as averse to modernity and human progress as they who ask the youths to ignore science and embrace miracles.
I will tell anyone who cares to listen that his name has not featured in the list of the beneficiaries of import duty waivers, some of whom are the prosperity pastors on the expressway. I will proclaim to the whole world that I rever the name of Fela more than those of the imported prophets of the transposed and imposed religions from the Middle East, that I felt pained when Buhari jailed him to prove a point, that I cursed the day he was born and hated everything that he represented at that time. I will also not fail to mention that as Remo indigenes, Awo to many of us is a god. His person remains, even in death, inviolate and sacrosanct.
The offspring of Awo’s adversaries, the children of the bankrupt Agbonmagbes of this world, the notorious descendants of the exponent of “maul e”, which became corrupted as “Molue”, a progenitor of the power- mongering band, and other indolent votaries at the altar of power, will do everything to obliterate the memories of inglorious past of their forbears. No mortal will seek to desecrate that cherished memory, the abiding legacies of the legendary Awo, and still enjoy the respect of true sons and daughters of Remo, nay Ijebu and indeed Yoruba. Even at that, we concede to this man of exemplary character who was accused of masterminding the invasion and violation of that hallowed space.
I personally still find it strange that Buhari will be on the same podium as many of these characters whose sordid deeds have brought us to this sorry pass. Short of asking him to inherit the carcass of the fraudulent template employed by Mimiko and Dan Iwuanyanwu to fleece the people of Ondo, or to team up with Baba Oodua, Frederick Faseun’s Unity Party or, better still, Olu Falae’s SDP, the only credible alternative to PDP is its other half, APC.
Voting for Buhari and engaging the political merchants in his party afterwards is the only viable alternative. The other is to resign to fate and allow the Jonathans’ transformation train crush the polity.