Buhari is unfit to be president

With Buhari's recent announcement to contest the 2015 presidential elections, his cantankerous online supporters and other diehard Buharimaniacs have been reenergized in their strident campaign to market him as the best presidential candidate. The General's sycophants want us to believe corruption is Nigeria's number one problem, and Buhari is the solution.

They are dead wrong on two counts - first corruption is not Nigeria's most pressing challenge, and secondly as I shall show later, Buhari's hyped anti-corruption credentials are at best dubious. Like several other Third world countries, corruption no doubt hinders our development, but ethno-religious discord which is our most pressing challenge, can lead to violent disintegration, and there will be no Nigeria for anyone to fight corruption.

The 1967-70 civil war which nearly destroyed this country and was rooted in ethno-regional discord bears me out. Since then many Southerners have repeatedly called for separation from the North - a la South Sudan - on account of the intractable ethno-sectarian violence therein. Gideon Orkar even led a coup d'etat to expel the Islamist core North from Naija.

As with the 1966 Northern pogrom of Easterners that led to the declaration of Biafra and Civil war, the North again threatens Nigeria's unity… this time with Boko Haram. But for restraint of Christians, this country could by now have been embroiled in a religious civil war. Indeed Christians and Muslims freely slaughtered each other in Kaduna after Boko Haram bombed Churches there last year. The former northern capital remains divided along religious lines to this day.

Given this invidious ethno-religious schism that threatens to unravel our motherland, Islamist demagogues like Buhari whose incendiary utterances and posturing have brought us to this sorry pass, must never - I repeat NEVER be allowed anywhere near Aso Rock… not even for a visit. His dubious anti-corruption credentials just isn't worth it.

Buhari it must be remembered, was among the northern Islamists vociferously agitating for Shariain the early part of this political dispensation - "God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Shariain the country." That same Sharia agitation eventually gave rise to Boko Haram which has taken the Sharia fight to the next level.

Given the history of religious violence in our North, and having battled an Islamist insurgency as Head of state, Buhari should have known better than promote religious extremism in the form of the limb-amputating misogynistic barbarism Muslims glorify as HududSharia. Instead the washed-up ex-tyrant insisted on 'total Sharia' even when Kaduna convulsed from Sharia riots in 2000, as he publicly dissented against the National Council of States directive for northern states to revert to status quo ante on Sharia.

It is bad enough that a former Head of state who aspires to Presidency of this multi-religious nation does not have the common sense to steer clear of divisive ethno-religious politics like other northern Presidential aspirants. It was even more reprehensible and unpardonable for him to have displayed such callous insensitivity - insisting on 'total Sharia' in complete disregard of the hundreds of citizens killed in the Kaduna Sharia riots.

In doing so, he gave the disturbing impression that he would rather Nigeria burn if he and his Islamist ilk were not allowed to impose their violently intolerant Arab pseudo-religion on the rest of us. This is basically the mindset of Boko Haram. Little wonder Boko Haram mentioned Buhari as a mediator to negotiate with the Federal government. By virtue of his provocative Islamist utterances - “total Sharia”, Muslims should only vote for Muslims - Boko Haram saw the Daura General as one of their own.

There is yet another reason why Boko Haram considers Buhari a Jihadist bedfellow. The former dictator was ANPP presidential flag bearer when ANPP co-opted Boko Haram and rode the Sharia wave to win the 2003 Borno gubernatorial election. Boko Haram even had a slot in governor Ali Modu Sheriff's cabinet in the person of the late Alhaji Buji Fai who was then Sharia commissioner.

The Jihadist group later withdrew from Sheriff's government and Buji Fai resigned when it became clear the governor had no intention of implementing “total Sharia.” Boko Haram then gradually resorted to violence in a futile attempt to forcibly impose the 'total Sharia' it couldn't get it peacefully. As ANPP leader, Buhari is not known to have done anything to nip in the bud the burgeoning Islamist insurgency in his ANPP states – Borno & Yobe.

Buhari passed up another opportunity to peacefully resolve the Jihadist insurgency when he declined Boko Haram's invitation to mediate. Consequently, the demagogue General who is only interested in exploiting Boko Haram issue for cheap anti-Jonathan propaganda, lost any moral authority to criticize Jonathan's all out military onslaught on his Jihadi brethren.

OBJ, a Southern Christian and also a former head of state had more guts and patriotism than Buhari. The Ota General braved the odds and risked his life as he dared into Boko Haram's den in Maiduguri in an attempt to find peace in Buhari's backyard. That's what patriots do, they put their lives on the line for their country. In Buhari's case his life wouldn't even be in danger because Boko Haram consider him their Jihadist buddy. Consequently, the Islamist General might have been more successful than OBJ in negotiating peace.

Buhari compounded matters with his Liberty radio interview. Listening to him, one got the impression that he either does not understand the Boko Haram problem, or he was being clever by half… playing to his northern Islamist gallery by mindlessly regurgitating their inane talking points.

He stupidly equated the just and rational struggle of Niger Delta militants with the mindless murderous mayhem of Boko Haram to forcibly Islamize this multi-religious country. Although most Niger Deltans abhor the violent insurrection of their militants, they wholly support the militants' demand for more developmental resources for the region.

In equating Niger Delta militancy with Boko Haram, are Buhari and other closet Boko Haramists telling us the core North also backs Boko Haram's agenda to forcibly Islamize Naija?

In essence Buhari and his fellow Boko Haram apologists should be very careful about the subliminal message they send other Nigerians as our fragile nation totters on the brink of disintegration with the ominous approach of doomsday 2015 when Buhari threatened bloodshed (kare jini, biri jini) if he is not elected… just like after the 2011 presidential polls.

Since Buhari pretends not to know the difference between Boko Haram and Niger Delta militancy, I'll spell it out for his obtuse mind. Niger Delta militants never wantonly massacred innocent civilians as Boko Haram has repeatedly done.

For all their badmouthing of northerners as lazy parasites, Niger Delta militants never blew up a mosque full of northern Muslims. They mostly attacked oil installations, abducted oil workers and only battled security agents deployed against them. Unlike Boko Haram that wantonly attacked even off-duty policeman/women way outside the conflict zone in other states.

The gaffe-prone General blundered further when he erroneously ascribed the current Boko Haram insurgency to the killing of their leader, Mohammed Yusuf:

“How did Boko Haram start? We know that their leader, Mohammed Yusuf started his militancy and the police couldn't control them and the army was invited. He was arrested by soldiers and handed over to the police.

The appropriate thing to do, according to the law, was for the police to carry out investigations and charge him to court for prosecution, but they killed him, his in-law was killed, they went and demolished their houses. Because of that, his supporters resorted to what they are doing today.” – Buhari

Is Buhari that naïve to believe that Boko Haram, which doesn't recognize our secular courts would have peacefully laid down their arms if Mohammed Yusuf and his Jihadist goons were tried before being executed for their violent insurrection across several Northeast states that killed hundreds?

Perhaps the General and his fellow Boko Haram sympathizers expected our courts to free Yusuf after a protracted Mustapha-type trial, during which the loudmouthed usual Northern suspects will howl for release of 'our son.' After all the Maitatsine leader, Musa Makaniki was acquitted by Jos Appeal Court after he and his murderous Jihadists wrought mayhem across large swaths of our North east killing hundreds of innocent Nigerians in the 1980s.

Buhari's major selling point has been his hyped anti-corruption record. This is the same guy who told us a few years ago that Abacha didn't stealany money. Never mind the confessions of Abacha's own finance minister Anthony Ani that billions of dollars were carted off from CBN; and that of Abacha's own wife, Maryam that her husband “kept the money” for Naija.

In other words, if it was up to Buhari, Abacha family wouldn't have returned the stolen billions they were forced to refund… all because the late goggled General compromised him with some PTF crumbs.

Not surprisingly, when patriotic Nigerians bravely spoke up against Abacha's tyranny, the compromised MaiGaskiyawas loudly silent even when his fellow Katsina General and schoolmate, Shehu Yar Adua was murdered in Abacha's gulag. Today, under the democratic freedoms fought for by those brave patriots, the cowardly Daura General recklessly runs his mouth in a way and manner he wouldn't dare under Abacha.

Despite his obvious moral failings and flaws, OBJ may have been more effective in battling corruption than Buhari. Not just because the Ota General recovered some of Abacha's stolen billions, but because he understood that sustainable fight against corruption requires institutionalizing mechanisms against graft. Hence he established EFCC, Office of Due Process and tried to promulgate the Freedom Of Information (FOI) Act.

Contrast that with Buhari's capricious manner of 'fighting corruption.' He insisted on jailing and detaining several politicians who had been acquitted by his own tribunals. Others were detained indefinitely without any charges against them. But Uba Ahmed was allowed to escape after being nabbed.

The so-called anti-corruption hero even dispatched soldiers to intimidate airport Custom officials and abet the smuggling in of 53 suitcases for an Emir.

Perhaps the strongest evidence that Buhari was unserious about sustainable principled fight against corruption was his promulgation of Decree No. 4 to gag the press from speaking the truth if it embarrasses him.

Either the supposedly upright General had skeletons in his cupboard he didn't want Nigerians to know about, or he was too daft to understand that a vibrant free press holding leaders accountable is one of the major bulwarks against corruption. In other words if it was up to Buhari, we wouldn't have the FOI Act which promotes transparency in governance in the battle against graft.

As the presiding judge would later confess, the vindictive General railroaded the Judiciary to jail Fela on trumped-up charges. Perhaps Buhari is not aware that tampering with the judiciary in that manner is yet another form of corruption.

Fela's real offence was his hit track - Army Arrangement - in which he sang about the 2.8 billion Naira that reportedly went missing on Buhari's watch as OBJ's petroleum minister. Never mind that the late Afro-beat maestro did not mention Buhari's name in the song.

Despite its laudable achievements, Buhari's PTF stank of corruption. If the General couldn't rid a small parastatal like PTF of corruption, then he obviously can't do it for Nigeria.

Buhari's fans who tout his dubious anti-corruption record don't seem to realize that all his highhanded abuse of power and jackboot military gra-gra, which they mistake for principled fight against corruption, won't have any place in a democracy. As the ill-fortunes of his defunct party (CPC) show, Buhari has not shown that he can function in a democracy.

Despite his personal popularity in the core North, Buhari's CPC was unable to capture any state therein. His only saving grace is Nassarawa state in the Middle belt. Opposition parties with less popular leaders at their helms (ACN, APGA, ANPP) fared better.

As several CPC insiders admitted in published interviews, the party's poor outing wasn't just because of PDP rigging, but largely due to Buhari mismanaging the party's fortunes with CPC hopelessly fractured. Consequently, one week after Buhari's supporters rioted and wrought mayhem in his favor in the 2011 presidential elections, they trooped en masse to vote for PDP governors in Kano and Buhari's home state of Katsina.

An immensely popular politician who can't deploy his enormous clout in his locality to improve the electoral fortunes of his party has no business running for president. It is common knowledge that even during Buhari's tyranny, his deputy, Tunde Idiagbon actually ran the show. Consequently when Idiagbon travelled out of the country and wasn't around to keep the soldiers in line, Buhari was overthrown … that's how inept our Daura General was as a leader.

Then there is the issue of Buhari's failed economic policies which some Buharimaniacs spin as some sort of brilliant innovation. Among his hyped achievements was that Buhari reduced imports, but at what cost? Nigerians were condemned to queuing for essential commodities a.k.a. 'essenco' as a result of widespread shortages of basic necessities.

Consequently there was hoarding of the available essenco, and soldiers went around breaking into shops and warehouses confiscating goods or forcing traders to sell below purchase price. That's vintage Buharonomics for you, which the General's willfully blind sycophants try to pass off as brilliant economic innovation.

Going by his uninspiring performances in Presidential TV debates and his repeated public gaffes, there is no evidence Buhari has evolved intellectually since his first outing as military head of state 3 decades ago.

Thus the romanticized hype of heroic saint Buhari which his lapdogs love to peddle, just doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. The simple truth is that our Daura General is an overrated mediocre unfit to run the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Nafata Bamaguje

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Articles by Nafata Bamaguje