HEAR FEMI ARIBISALA: Buhari will never be President of Nigeria By Femi Aribisala BUHARIS MANY EVILS TAIL AFTER HIM. ON Friday, 23rd August, 1985, the military government of Major-General Mohammadu Buhari decided to place me under arrest. My crime was that I wrote, among others, an article entitled: “Counter-trading Nigeria’s Future” in the National Concord, exposing the government’s scam of diverting public funds into private coffers through barter-trade with Brazil. A man by the name of Benson Norman was sent from the State Security Services (SSS) to my office to get me. Not finding me, he left a note that I must present myself unfailingly at the SSS office at 15 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi Lagos the next Monday morning. However, on Sunday, 25th August, 1985, Lateef Aminu came first thing in the morning to my house to inform me that the government of Buhari/Idiagbon had been overthrown. For this reason, I am fond of telling people that God brought about a change of government in Nigeria just because of me. Coup-plotter Under the Buhari/Idiagbon regime, once you ended up at 15 Awolowo Road, you may never be heard of again. Decree Number 2 of 1984 empowered Tunde Idiagbon to arrest and detain anybody indefinitely without trial and without legal reprieve. After Buhari was overthrown, Mohammadu Gambo opened the prison doors of 15 Awolowo Road on public television, revealing people in various stages of undress and malnutrition that had been kept in the dungeons without trial by Buhari’s hound-dogs. As self-imposed Head of State, Buhari had no regard for human rights. Immediately he seized power, he announced that he would “tamper with” the press. Soon, the infamous Decree Number 4 was promulgated which made even the publication of the truth a punishable offence. Under this cover, Buhari jailed innocent journalists, including Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabo. He abolished civil liberties, promulgated retroactive decrees enabling him to kill Nigerians through jungle justice, proscribed civil society organizations and professional groups and exercised “absolute” power. This same Buhari would now have us believe that he has gone through some metamorphosis and has become a democrat. I am sure you will forgive me if people like me don’t believe him. Buhari is not, has never been, and will never be, a democrat. Only in Nigeria would a man with his track record, who came to power through a military coup that illegally overthrew a democratic government, now be acclaimed as a democrat. It is on record that Buhari’s military regime is the only one in Nigeria’s history that failed to promulgate a programme for return to civilian rule. Facts and fiction So what exactly qualifies Buhari as a democrat today? Precious little! There is nothing democratic about forming and joining political parties just in order to be the presidential candidate. Little wonder then that Buhari’s parties have a short shelf-life. Buhari would like to be Nigeria’s head of state once again. He can no longer achieve this through the barrel of a gun. The only route now open to him is through the democratic process. That is the reason he now conveniently fashions himself as a democrat. It is merely a means to an end; no more, no less. Buhari’s reputation as an anti-corruption crusader is also a myth. As head of state, he did not make any dent in Nigerian corruption. All we got was a cosmetic “war against indiscipline.” The counter-trade scam happened under his watch. Rather than deal with it, he sent his hound-dogs after nonentities like me who dared to expose it. That scam was no different, in scope and scale, from the petroleum subsidy and other corruption scandals that have since plagued Nigeria. The Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) that Buhari headed under Abacha was also a citadel of corruption. While Buhari himself might not have enriched himself, his cronies and those who worked under him did so handsomely. On three different occasions, Buhari has run for the presidency. On three different occasions he has failed. That should really be enough. If, as seems likely, he were to run for the presidency a fourth time in 2015, there is no question that he would fail yet again. Try as he might again and again, Mohammadu Buhari can never be President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Buhari’s sectarianism There is a fundamental reason behind this. Buhari is a bad politician. He is an unbending former military dictator and not a democratic consensus-builder. Like his new ally, Bola Tinubu, Buhari is a regional, sectional politician. Such politicians are practically impossible to package and market nationally in the ethnically-delicate Nigeria of today. Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Nasir El’Rufai, one of those Northerners who deserve to be serious contenders for the presidency of Nigeria, observed that Buhari remains “perpetually unelectable” as a result of his “insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus.” This is an elegant way of saying that politically, Buhari has an uncanny tendency to put his foot in his mouth. He talks before thinking of the political implications of his words. He shoots from the hip. The strength of Obasanjo, which enabled him to capture the presidency on two different occasions, was that he was perceived as a broadminded politician, not overly partial to his people in the South-West. As a matter of fact, in his first election, his people did not want him. The strength of Goodluck Jonathan, which propelled him to win the presidency, was that he was able to string together a coalition that stretched both north and south of the Niger. The weakness of Buhari is that he is totally unacceptable to people outside his region. Buhari is a Northern regional champion. As head of state in the 1980s, his government was unapologetically Northern. No attempt was made to balance the ticket at the top. It was the only regime in Nigeria’s history headed by two Northerners. When he seized power, Buhari put Shagari, the Northern head of state he overthrew, under house arrest. But then he jailed Alex Ekwueme, the Southern vice-president. You may well ask what makes Shagari less culpable for the misdeeds of the Second Republic than his number-two man. The simple fact was that Buhari was Fulani as was Shagari; but Ekwueme was Igbo. Impolitic words At the height of the Sharia debate during the Obasanjo administration, Buhari declared that Muslims should vote only for fellow Muslims. This was politically suicidal for a man seeking national office. He became an advocate for implementation of Sharia all over Nigeria. He protested to the Oyo State governor, in the context of a dispute between Fulani herdsmen and indigenous farmers in the state, that “your people are killing my people.” This turned out to be unfounded and perhaps the reverse. His threats during the campaign for the 2011 elections incited widespread violence in the North after he lost. His supporters went on a rampage; looting and killing; in spite of the fact that, by all accounts, the elections were adjudged the most free and fair in the history of Nigeria’s current democratic experiment. By the time the mayhem had subsided, over 1000 people had been slaughtered in cold blood and some 65,000 displaced. Forgetting that a statement made in Hausa would readily be translated into English, Buhari later declared .unapologetically in a BBC interview: “If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.” These are the tokens of an irresponsible politician, whose ambitions for power supersede the national interest. Who then are the dogs and baboons that Buhari has in mind to soak in blood if and when he loses yet again come 2015? Are they his children or are they those of others? With the Boko Haram insurgency in the north, Buhari played to the Northern gallery yet again, calling the Jonathan government “the biggest Boko Haram.” Wole Olaniyi was a fly in the wall at a meeting in Kano Government House designed to persuade PDP rebel governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, to decamp to the APC. Assuming that only Northerners were present, Buhari declared the Boko Haram was a “strategic plan” by the government of Goodluck Jonathan to “destroy the North.” When Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states, Buhari still saw this with Northern goggles, insinuating that the President is waging war on the North. President of the North Without a doubt, Buhari has massive support in the North. Indeed, he is the most popular Northern politician in the North today. But that precisely remains his undoing at the centre. The more he has been identified as a Northern champion, the less attractive he has become as a national choice. Even in the North, his support base is limited to the Muslim population. He does not appeal to Northern Christians. Then there is the added factor of the opposition of his implacable opponents among the Northern elite. Men like Babangida and Atiku would rather die than allow Buhari get to Aso Rock. One thing is certain, the South-South and the South-East will not vote for Buhari in 2015. Not only that; there are no buyers for Buhari’s sectarian politics in the South-West. No matter what Tinubu might be telling him, the people of the South-West will not vote for Buhari in 2015. We already had the template in 2011, when Buhari tried to sell himself, first by balancing his ticket with a Yoruba man; and then by making sure the Yoruba man is a Christian; a pastor no less. But it just did not wash. It will not work in 2015. The worst thing that can happen to Northern presidential aspirations in 2015 is for Buhari to be on the APC ballot.That is a sure guarantee that the North will not be providing the next president. Buhari would be a shoo-in in an election for president of Northern Nigeria. But in an election encompassing the entire country, the best he can envisage is to be a kingmaker. He cannot be king. The nearest Buhari will get to Aso Rock in 2015 is by attending the Council of State meetings (culled from Vanguard Newspaper How to lose the presidential election four times on December 23, 2014 / in Femi Aribisala 7:18 am By Femi Aribisala If anybody would like to be a serial loser of the presidential election in Nigeria, here is a list of what he needs to do; according to the blueprint of Muhammadu Buhari. If one were to decode the guiding principle of Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential ambitions, it would be this: “If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up until you have failed three more times on the trot.” Nigerians don’t want Muhammadu Buhari to be our president. We have said this repeatedly since 1999. But Buhari simply refuses to take “No” for an answer. When is he finally going to get the message that an overwhelming majority of Nigerians don’t want him? Buhari is the last of yesterday’s men who insist that a country of 170 million people must continue to rely on the leadership of the same old and failed generation. Nigerians have already put paid to the presumptions of Olusegun Obasanjo; who wanted a fourth term; Ibrahim Babangida; who stepped aside and wanted to step back in; and Atiku Abubakar, who runs a marathon for the presidency. Buhari is the last of these recalcitrant dinosaurs. The one good thing about the coming presidential election is that it is likely to provide Nigerians with a final definitive opportunity to send him permanently into retirement. Buhari’s repeated failure to secure a national mandate provides a textbook case of how not to run for the presidency in a plural country like Nigeria. This is a compendium of some of the reasons why the Nigerian presidency will forever elude men like Buhari, inspire of all the song and dance that attends their candidacies. If anybody would like to be a serial loser of the presidential election in Nigeria, here is a list of what he needs to do; according to the blueprint of Muhammadu Buhari. Be an enemy of democracy Claim you are anti-corruption but steal the presidency of the entire country through an illegal and fraudulent military coup. Claim you are a democrat after you overthrew a democratically elected government in 1983 and made yourself Head of State without the consent of the people of Nigeria. As military Head of State, refuse to entertain any plan for a return to civilian rule. Tell Nigerians that anyone who discusses a return to civil rule would be arrested. Overthrow a government, but be more against the opposition than the government in power. Establish manhunts for key politicians in the length and breadth of the country. Nevertheless, allow key elements of the ruling NPN to escape out of the country, including party chairman, Richard Akinloye; legal counsel, Richard Akinjide; and Minister of Transport, Umaru Dikko. Allow the Secretary-General of the party, Uba Ahmed, to escape abroad, even after he had mistakenly returned to the country and was arrested and jailed. Violate human rights Promulgate the infamous Decree 2 that makes even the reporting of the truth a punishable offence. Use it to imprison Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabo, two journalists from the South, for reporting stories that were factually true. Then tell Nigerian journalists: “It does not matter whether the story reported was true or not, if my regime does not like it, the writer would go to jail.” Try Nigerian civilians in military tribunals as opposed to regular courts of law in violation of internationally acceptable legal norms. Create a secret police, the National Security Organization (NSO) for the first time in Nigeria’s history under infamous Lawal Rafindadi to harass and imprison without trial Nigerian citizens in clear violation of their human rights. Publicly murder three Nigerians; Lawal Ojuolape (30), Bernard Ogedengbe (29) and Bartholomew Owoh (26): two from the South-West and one from the South East, under the dubious Decree 20 for drug-related offences. Ignore the fact that, at the time they committed their crimes, their offences were not punishable by the death sentences. Nevertheless, maliciously backdate the death-sentence with illegal retroactive decrees that violate every international norm of due process and human rights just in order to kill these three hapless young men. In spite of widespread international condemnation for this, refuse to show any remorse or contrition or to apologise for this judicial murder till date . When asked to appear before the Justice Oputa “Truth and Reconciliation Panel” in order to answer for a litany of abuses of power and violation of human rights while in power as Nigeria’s military Head of State, refuse to appear showing your contempt for Nigerians. Discriminate against the South Balance a Northern Fulani Head of State with another Northern Fulani deputy. Conduct a coup d’état, ostensibly to overthrow a corrupt Nigerian government. However, be so ethnically chauvinistic that you put Dr. Alex Ekwueme, the vice-president who took none of the decisions under lock-and-key in jail in Kirikiri because he is Igbo and Christian. At the same time, put Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the president who was the person in charge under house arrest in a palatial mansion in Ikoyi, Lagos because he happens to be the same as you: Fulani and Muslim. Make Northern politicians sacred cows and untouchable. Fail to arrest and prosecute none of the prominent Hausa/Fulani politicians who were the principal actors in the government you overthrew; including Adamu Ciroma, Suleiman Takuma, Aliu Gusau, Lawal Kaita, Barkin Zuwo, Shehu Kangiwa and Awwal Ibrahim. At the same time, jail Southern politicians, including Bisi Onabanjo, Ambrose Alli, Lateef Jakande, Jim Nwobodo, and others on trumped up charges that could not be substantiated in any court of law. Try octogenarian Michael Ajasin of the South-West before a tribunal. When he is discharged and acquitted; try him again. When he is discharged and acquitted again, try him a third time. When he is discharged and acquitted yet again, keep him in indefinite detention without just cause. Maltreat Southern leaders Send a team of soldiers to ransack the Park Lane, Apapa residence of elder Southern statesman, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Give no reason whatsoever for this blatant violation of the old man’s privacy. Seize his international passport for no just cause. Later, try to pull the wool over the eyes of the Yorubas by choosing a man married to Awolowo’s grand-daughter as your vice-presidential running-mate. Lock Emeka Ojukwu, an Igbo man from the South, in prison in Kirikiri with the politicians of the Second Republic, in spite of the fact that he committed no crime and held no public office in the Second Republic. Moreover, after Ojukwu returned to Nigeria after 13 years of exile, he received a full pardon from the president of Nigeria for his activities as leader of the secessionist government of Biafra. Provide Nigerians with no explanation whatsoever for the exact offence that led to Ojukwu’s arrest and incarceration. Get booted out of office by your own clique in the army. Have your colleague, Ibrahim Babangida, give this testimony about you: “regrettably it turned out that (he) was too rigid and uncompromising in his attitudes to issues of national significance. Efforts to make him understand that a diverse polity like Nigeria required recognition and appreciation of differences in both cultural and individual perceptions only served to aggravate the attitudes.” Corrupt practices Prohibit the importation of naira into the country during a much ballyhooed currency exchange program. Then contravene your own policy by having your ADC, Colonel Mustapha Jokolo, allow his father, the Emir of Gwandu from the North, to smuggle into the country through Muritala Muhammed International Airport 53 suitcases which the then Area Administrator of the Lagos Airport Customs Command, Atiku Abubakar, was not allowed to search. At the same time, sentence Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, a Yoruba man from the South-West, to 20 months in jail for being in possession of foreign-exchange he had legitimately procured for the upkeep of his band on a foreign trip. Because Fela mocked you in his songs for being unable to address the problems of Nigeria, declare to Nigerians that: “I decided to deal with this Fela problem once and for all.” Face public embarrassment because the judge who pronounced the sentence on Fela later confessed that he was ordered to jail him. Disregard for Nigeria’s secularity As military Head of State, contravene the country’s secularity by having Nigeria apply to join the Organisation of Islamic States (OIC). The application finally came through in 1986 and divided the country acrimoniously along Muslim/Christian lines. Tell Muslims not to vote for Christians. Reveal to Nigerians that you are a religious bigot by declaring in Kaduna in 2001 that: “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria. God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country.” Say this, in spite of the fact that declaring some states as sharia states is in clear violation of the secularity of Nigeria’s federalism, as contained in section 10 of the Constitution of Nigeria Anti-corruption contradictions Claim to be an anti-corruption crusader; nevertheless, agree to serve under Sani Abacha, one of the most corrupt Heads-of-State ever in the history of Nigeria. On the 10th anniversary of General Abacha’s demise, tell incredulous Nigerians that Abacha did not steal anything while he was Nigeria’s Head of State. Describe all the allegations of looting the treasury leveled against Abacha as “baseless.” Maintain that: “ten years after Abacha, those allegations remain unproven because of lack of facts.” Hold this position in spite of the millions of dollars of Abacha’s loot recovered from banks around the world, and in spite of the fact that the Abacha’s family signed a formal agreement to return over $1 billion to the Nigerian government. As chairman of the juiciest portfolio of all under Sanni Abacha’s government; the Petroleum Trust Fund with a budget of 181 billion naira between 1994 and 1999, fail woefully to curb the rampant corruption in the organisation. When in 2000, President Obasanjo set up an Interim Management Committee to look into the affairs of the PTF under the chairmanship of Haroun Adamu, it was discovered that over 25 billion naira was stolen under your watch. Claim to be an anti-corruption crusader, but Group Captain Usman Jibrin, a board member of PTF, resigned from the organization in protest over the blatant irregularities in your appointment of consultants. Ijaw Institute of Strategic Studiess photo. Ijaw Institute of Strategic Studiess photo.
Posted on: Fri, 26 Dec 2014 12:47:07 +0000
Recently Viewed Topics