Some of the odds against Buhari
By Abba Adakole
Going by the last birthday celebration of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, he was 90 years old, and the second oldest serving Head of State in the world, closely following President Shimon Peres of Israel. If serving Presidents can be as old as that, it would not be valid to say that at 72, General Muhammadu Buhari is too old to aspire to be President of Nigeria. The point, though, is that when Mugabe first became Head of State in 1980, he was a “young man” of 56 years old.
In modern times, and with advances in the medical sciences, the assumption that younger people are physically and mentally stronger than older people no longer holds. It follows that the correlation between age and effective leadership has no validity. Indeed, neither the supporters nor opponents of Buhari are concerned with the science or logic of the matter. It is all political, which explains why the bulk of Buhari's supporters, especially in the North, are rabid and fanatical youths who have little or nothing to do with reason. For the opponents, men of Buhari's age, whether strong or weak, should quit the scene for the younger ones, period. Whichever way, the plain truth is that age is not on Buhari's side.
In moving towards 2015, it would be wrong to say that age is Buhari's heaviest baggage. To be an effective leader in a society as complex such as Nigeria, the man or woman must be of a strong political will and be prepared always to act and take personal responsibility for his actions. It is on this score that General Muhammadu Buhari is lacking in what it takes to be the President of this country. The facts in support of the evidence against Buhari are numerous and can be drawn from the General's records of public service.
As Military Head of State (1984-85), General Buhari exhibited all the traits of a weak leader, who had little or no control of his regime and for whom decisions were taken and actions executed. For the entire period, Buhari ceded much of the powers of Government to his Deputy, Major-General Tunde Idiagbon, who was known to be the defacto leader of the regime. The main achievement of that Government, namely the effective enforcement of discipline through the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) was generally acknowledged to be the handiwork of General Idiagbon and credited to General Buhari, only by virtue of his being the official Head of State. In fact, it was General Idiagbon who personified nearly everything associated with the Buhari regime.
In a similar vein, when General Buhari was appointed by General Sani Abacha, as Executive Chairman of the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF) (1994-1999), he did not take personal charge of much of what happened throughout the period. Instead, he ceded his authority to a firm of Consultants, Afri–Projects Consortium (APC), a firm owned by his relative. APC was given exclusive powers to initiate projects, assess and approve their probable costs, execute the projects, assess the quality of execution, all without any higher supervision.
After Buhari's stint at the PTF, the general impression that he has never been involved in any corrupt deals collapsed. The Management Audit that investigated the affairs of the Fund revealed that over N181 billion was released to it and that most of the projects were awarded to Northern contractors, at the expense of contractors from the South. More damaging to the image of Buhari, it was found that APC overcharged PTF to the tune of N2 billion. Even if General Buhari were not personally involved in any of the fraudulent deals, the fact that they were all perpetrated under his watch should be enough to disqualify him from holding any public trust.
Once again, General Buhari's lack of capacity to take responsibility was amply demonstrated when, after his election as the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), he couldn't immediately choose a running mate. The information was that in his characteristic manner, Buhari ceded the responsibility for choosing a running mate to another national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The cause of Buhari's prolonged delay in announcing his running mate was the same that led to the change of venue of the Convention that produced him as the APC Presidential candidate. The decision to take the venue to Lagos was Tinubu's and Buhari had no choice but to comply. That is the extent of the lack of political will of the APC Presidential candidate.
On the whole, even if the issue of age were to be resolved in favour of General Buhari, granting that at 72, he can still be the President of this country, his past records in public service still do not support his candidature. He has been a serial failure. He is a man who would seek power but abdicate responsibility when he gets it. He did it as Military Head of State; he did it as Executive Chairman of PTF and has just done it as a Presidential Candidate of the APC. He would do the same, should the Nigerian electorate entrust him with the leadership of our dear nation. General Muhammadu Buhari deserves a good rest.
Mr Adakole sent this piece from Abuja via [email protected]
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