Source: pointblanknews.com

By Femi Aribisala
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
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”
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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