Posted by Chima Nwafo | 24 January 2015 | 4,186 times
This is a reaction to a rebranding campaign launched immediately after General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) emerged presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). An irritating aspect of the image laundering is the choice of headline ‘We need Buhari more than he needs us’ by two newspaper columnists writing in The Nation and Daily Sun. The Guardian and Vanguard took a ‘deconstruction’ approach: presented in a number of balanced feature articles, leaving the reader to make his choice.
Given their deliberate misrepresentation of facts, it is important to examine some issues they laboured to conceal. Nigerians, who can recall events of the 1970s, would rather say that Buhari owes the emirs and Nigerians generally an apology. He was a member of the Supreme Military Council, during the Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd.) regime that handed over power to civilians in 1979. Yet, being a Fulani prince, Buhari’s participation gave credibility to the team that ousted the legitimate government of President Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983. The allegation of corruption, the alibi for the coup, was media hype by one South-West political contractor/publisher and a powerful northern emir to discredit the civil administration. Today, we know better, how corrupt the Lateef Jakandes, Sam Mbakwes, Bisi Onabanjos, and Abubakar Rimis were, given their legacies within four short years, compared to the jolly looters of the current democratic dispensation.
Given his political grandstanding and saintly depiction by the paid pipers, it is important to recall some of Buhari’s earlier roles and utterances. Buhari was the unforgiving Head of State that authored the Public Officers Protection Against False Accusation Decree 4 of 1984, which unfairly jailed two Guardian Newspaper journalists and kept another colleague from an Ibadan-based tabloid in detention for one year before Buhari’s ouster. Decree 4 was Buhari’s retaliation for the N2.8 billion scandal during his tenure as Chairman of former Nigerian National Oil Corporation (NNOC), fore-runner to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He was not satisfied that NTA’s star reporter, Vera Ifudu, lost her job over the scandal.
Buhari is also an unrepentant Sharia exponent and supporter of Boko Haram. Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd.), who installed him in 1983 and ousted him after 20 months in office, rationalised their action thus: “We have so far been subjected to a steady deterioration in the standard of living, an intolerable suffering by ordinary Nigerians have risen higher, scarcity of commodities has increased, hospitals still remain consulting clinics, while educational institutions are on the brink of decay.”
On Buhari’s performance as PTF chairman, the state of federal roads in the East (not South-East alone) vis-à-vis the North during his tenure was enough testimony to his sense of patriotism and social justice.
In a June 13, 2013 interview he told ThisDay: “The military offensive against Boko Haram is anti-North.” On July 13, 2014, he told The Nation: “Our country has gone through several rough patches, but never before have I seen a Nigerian President declare war on his own country as we are seeing now… Our nation has suffered serious consequences in the past for egregious acts not even close to what we are seeing now (the Boko Haram insurgency).” That is a former commander of the 4th Sector in the 2 Division of Nigerian Army, ex-Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and aspiring President speaking. Yet, the image-makers say Buhari is being stigmatised. My dear colleagues, freedom of speech should not over-ride the sanctity of facts.
I’m neither an admirer of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan nor a supporter of his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Unfortunately, APC is equally as ugly as PDP. Besides, Buhari is not broad-minded and tolerant enough to command a father image, despite his enviable military training and numerous juicy military and political positions.
The image-makers also elevated the APC primary that produced Buhari to an unmerited platform. What the public witnessed was a veneer, a façade of internal democracy. Were they shown the chaotic Lagos State House of Assembly primary? The APC is widely perceived as a partnership between Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. Given their antecedents, free and fair primary means satisfaction of their collective wish.
Finally, they failed to tell readers that Governor Rochas Okorocha, during the primary, was almost booed when he buoyed his speech with advantages of youth. According to reports, there was a spontaneous muffle of Arugbo la fe – a Yoruba phrase which roughly translates into ‘We prefer older men’. Of course, that’s the offspring of the ultimate godfather speaking. Ironically, the same people endorsed a younger Alhaji Nuhu Ribadu in 2011. Progressives indeed!
•Chima Nwafo, a veteran journalist, writes from Lagos. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo shows Buhari.
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