What Have We Learnt About Buhari
The tragedy of our political story is that so far, citizens no longer trust the ruling class and the elites, because they have shown consistently by their deeds that we do not matter to them. Past frustrations has made many citizens not to see themselves as contributors to the system, but rather as pawns. Hence, many of us will rather choose to be safe than stick our heads for any politician. Tope, this is in response to your question, but you will pardon my long essay and endeavour to read this. I will make this more about Buhari and say very little of the others.
Buhuri before becoming the head of state has been active in the national structure. First he was military administrator of the old North Eastern State and subsequently became Federal Commissioner of Petroleum and also head of the NNPC under then head of state, Olusegun Obasanjo. In these capacities, he achieved much by birthing two of our existing refineries; the same refineries the PDP government have struggled with to put in shape for 12 years despite the fact that oil prices keep rising. Talk of misplacement of priorities of the government of today. What could have dented Buhari's record later will be the so-called case of N2.8bn oil money that Tai Solarin alleged was deposited in a private account in UK Barclays Bank. However government and independent investigations will later reveal that no UK bank can hold such an amount if it existed due to banking regulations and there was no evidence to support the allegation. The case was not helped by the fact that Tai Solarin will later admit that he heard of the matter while he was a passenger in a bus!
Why did Buhari and the military of the day sack the government of Shehu Shagari? It is no hidden fact that the elected officials at that time were returning us to the inglorious situation we found ourselves after the 1965 elections - leading to destabilisation of the polity, violence (remember operation weti e in the western region?) was rife. This we saw in the various issues that trailed the 1983 elections - Omoboriowo/Ajasin conflicts should readily come to mind as anarchy reigned in Ondo State then. To complicate matters, the officials became hopelessly corrupt. The army struck and Gen. Buhari will have the honor to lead the Supreme Military Council(SMC) which unfortunately still had retrogressive elements in the mould of IBB and Abacha.
The new administration sought to correct the ills of the system. Of course, they were not in a hurry to return government to civilians, an issue critics have repeatedly accused him of. But it is understandable based on the reasons the army struck in the first place. They believed Nigeria needed to be set right. Like we always agree today, that Nigeria's problem is both with leadership and followership. So, it was at that time also. For the leaders, we should all remember that Buhari prosecuted all that were perceived to be corrupt. Barkin Zuwo will readily come to mind - he was the Kano State Governor that has raw governmet cash running into millions in his bedroom. When queried, he said, "Dem find am Government money for Government house". He was later sentenced to 300 years and he died 5 years later under IBB presidency. For the followership, Buhari sought to instil discipline and order. Well, he used the full arsenal of the military because he felt at that time that it was the only way. Buhari as the head of the SMC was not a lone man; he carried everyone along - remember Tunde Idiagbon was his deputy who was very involved also. Unfortunately, he was too trusting of members of his government. IBB and Abacha will later connnive to remove him after he (Buhari) insisted on probing an arms deal in the Ministry of defense. Their argument?
Buhari was too rigid in matters of national significance
IBB came with a smile - indeed a deceitful smile; one that will eventually ruin the system totally.
Buhari himself was incacerated for 3 years after he was removed. During this time, he was no longer an army officer and he had learnt important lessons in governance - that no matter how bad the system is, only the people can correct it and not the might of the military. During Abacha's government, when Nigerians complained of mismanagement of oil proceeds, Abacha set up PTF and decided to call someone who could be regarded as honest to head it. Buhari is on record to have accepted the offer only on the condition that he will run the fund independent of Abacha's government inteference. This was granted and today, we are all living witnesses of the capital projects successfully executed through the fund.
Buhari did not contest the 1999 election, but in April 2002, he joined the then APP to offer his service for 2003. Not many voted for Buhari, because very few knew him and to many (including me), his candidacy was a joke. However, a few people knew the truth, such as the then DGM of UBA, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who said, ?
Unless we start by educating our people and changing their value system, people like Buhari will remain the victims of their own love for Nigeria.
Buhari lost that election and in 2007, the same thing happened. Why? The PDP Rigging Machinery is definitely a major reason.
Fallout with ANPP (former APP) and Birth of CPC
After the 2007 election, Buhari decided not to go to court, but the ANPP insisted that he must. Infact, after he agreed, he was told that two cases will be filed; one on behalf of the party, another on behalf of himself as the presidential candidate. Again, he agreed. Then UMYA, then president decided to invite ANPP to its Government of National Unity. Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, then ANPP Chairman was happy to join the PDP government. Infact, Ume-Ezeoke's son was quickly nominated for ministerial appointment. ANPP withdrew the court case and ordered Buhari to withdraw his. Buhari refused accusing the ANPP of greed and dishonesty. If the party believed the 2007 election was rigged and decided to go to court, why withdraw the case after they were invited to "come and eat". He followed through but lost the case. Today, there are wikileaks revelation of bribery of the supreme court judges to that case. Meanwhile, Buhari realised the ANPP was on a self-destruct mission and he must go elsewhere. He registered CPC. After Atiku left ACN, Buhari was approached to join the ACN; he refused because he felt it will be betrayal to start a party (CPC) and dump it midway. Today, the CPC is as strong, if not stronger than the ACN - fact.
What have we learnt about Buhari
1.Buhari has held numerous juicy offices, but he has not enriched himself corruptly
2.Buhari has a passion for Nigeria
3.Buhari knows the odds against him, but that has not detered him because he is banking only on the fact that Nigerians will decide this time around if they are fed up with the PDP or not.
4.Buhari is not someone who strives to be politically correct - otherwise, he would have joined the ACN or pick a traditional politician rather than an activist pastor as his running mate
5.Buhari recognises deputies - just like Bakare is a relevant figure in his campaign today, we can remember how Tunde Idiagbon was a relevant figure in his government
6.Buhari is a victim of his love for Nigeria - Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
7.Buhari focuses on priorities of his office and not side attractions; as NNPC and Ministry of Petroleum Boss, he built refineries; as Head of State, he worked vigorously to kill corruption - a reason why he took power; as PTF Chairman, he made sure Abacha did not intefere to deter him from delivering results
8.Buhari is not a candidate of the northern elites; unlike the Atikus and IBBs of this world, Buhari's support is with the northern commoners, not the elites
9.Buhari is not an apostle of do-or-die; this was the infamous Obasanjo declaration. Contrary to popular critics, Buhari never asked riggers to be lynched - he only asked voters not to allow their votes to be stolen. He didn't say how.
10.Buhari was head of state who combated religious extremism; in 1984, he successfully quenched the Maitatsine in the north; unlike the PDP failure to quench Boko Haram; this is a teatament to the fact that Buhari can address the security situation in this country better thanthe PDP.
11.Buhari has NEVER advocated for Sharia in all of Nigeria; he only acknowledge that Sharia is a part of the consitution and he even mentioned that in difficult circumstances, the civil court always overide Sharia which is a legal and constitutional fact
12.Buhari does not have a godfather or godmother - all he wants is to serve Nigerians - ONLY if they allow him.
13.Buhari believes in the rule of law; when he was rigged out of past elections, he went to court for a record 50months. In 2011, he has said, he is not going to court again as this is the last time he will contest Nigerian election.
All said, I want you to realise that asking for Buhari is not because we see him as the ONLY one or a perfect man. No. But among the other aspirants, he is the only one that can break us from the shackles of the past. GEJ will only continue the status quo and antics of the PDP. GEJ has so far been playing safe with the elites and let's be honest, he will continue to do so given another four years. So, he will continue celebrating Bode George, consulting OBJ and IBB and allowing every unholy practises of government to continue. Forget the usual story of his poor background. Have we forgotten that even Obasanjo and MKO Abiola had poor backgrounds? Actually, Ribadu happens to be my second choice; he would have been first (given Buhari's age), but, I do not know how Ribadu intends to break free from Tinubu's influence. Also, I cannot honestly judge his anti-corruption criteria, because when he succeeded in EFCC, we know that he had the backing of Obasanjo. What happens when he suddenly have the charge to himself? He may choose to save his own neck rather than offend any elite for Nigeria.
I will end this note by quoting the man Buhari himself;
Nigerians are fed up with the indiscipline and the corruption of governance, and this is our greatest hope against next year's elections - that they need change. They need a serious team to be in charge of the country.
By Ayodeji Abiola