By Femi Aribisala
IF one were to decode the guiding principle of Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential ambitions, it would be this: “If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up until you have failed three more times on the trot.”
Nigerians don’t want Muhammadu Buhari to be our president. We have said this repeatedly since 1999. But Buhari simply refuses to take “No” for an answer. When is he finally going to get the message that an overwhelming majority of Nigerians don’t want him?
Buhari is the last of yesterday’s men who insist that a country of 170 million people must continue to rely on the leadership of the same old and failed generation. Nigerians have already put paid to the presumptions of Olusegun Obasanjo; who wanted a fourth term; Ibrahim Babangida; who stepped aside and wanted to step back in; and Atiku Abubakar, who runs a marathon for the presidency. Buhari is the last of these recalcitrant dinosaurs. The one good thing about the coming presidential election is that it is likely to provide Nigerians with a final definitive opportunity to send him permanently into retirement.
Buhari’s repeated failure to secure a national mandate provides a textbook case of how not to run for the presidency in a plural country like Nigeria. This is a compendium of some of the reasons why the Nigerian presidency will forever elude men like Buhari, inspite of all the song and dance that attends their candidacies. If anybody would like to be a serial loser of the presidential election in Nigeria, here is a list of what he needs to do; according to the blueprint of Muhammadu Buhari.
Be an enemy of democracy
Claim you are anti-corruption but steal the presidency of the entire country through an illegal and fraudulent military coup. Claim you are a democrat after you overthrew a democratically elected government in 1983 and made yourself Head of State without the consent of the people of Nigeria. As military Head of State, refuse to entertain any plan for a return to civilian rule. Tell Nigerians that anyone who discusses a return to civil rule would be arrested.
Overthrow a government, but be more against the opposition than the government in power. Establish manhunts for key politicians in the length and breadth of the country. Nevertheless, allow key elements of the ruling NPN to escape out of the country, including party chairman, Richard Akinloye; legal counsel, Richard Akinjide; and Minister of Transport, Umaru Dikko. Allow the Secretary-General of the party, Uba Ahmed, to escape abroad, even after he had mistakenly returned to the country and was arrested and jailed.
Violate human rights: Promulgate the infamous Decree 2 that makes even the reporting of the truth a punishable offence. Use it to imprison Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabo, two journalists from the South, for reporting stories that were factually true. Then tell Nigerian journalists: “It does not matter whether the story reported was true or not, if my regime does not like it, the writer would go to jail.”
Try Nigerian civilians in military tribunals as opposed to regular courts of law in violation of internationally acceptable legal norms. Create a secret police, the National Security Organization (NSO) for the first time in Nigeria’s history under infamous Lawal Rafindadi to harass and imprison without trial Nigerian citizens in clear violation of their human rights.
Publicly murder three Nigerians; Lawal Ojuolape (30), Bernard Ogedengbe (29) and Bartholomew Owoh (26): two from the South-West and one from the South East, under the dubious Decree 20 for drug-related offences. Ignore the fact that, at the time they committed their crimes, their offences were not punishable by the death sentences.
Nevertheless, maliciously backdate the death-sentence with illegal retroactive decrees that violate every international norm of due process and human rights just in order to kill these three hapless young men. In spite of widespread international condemnation for this, refuse to show any remorse or contrition or to apologise for this judicial murder till date.
When asked to appear before the Justice Oputa “Truth and Reconciliation Panel” in order to answer for a litany of abuses of power and violation of human rights while in power as Nigeria’s military Head of State, refuse to appear showing your contempt for Nigerians.
Discriminate against the South: Balance a Northern Fulani
Head of State with another Northern Fulani deputy. Conduct a coup d’état, ostensibly to overthrow a corrupt Nigerian government. However, be so ethnically chauvinistic that you put Dr. Alex Ekwueme, the vice-president who took none of the decisions under lock-and-key in jail in Kirikiri because he is Igbo and Christian. At the same time, put Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the president who was the person in charge under house arrest in a palatial mansion in Ikoyi, Lagos because he happens to be the same as you: Fulani and Muslim.
Make Northern politicians sacred cows and untouchable. Fail to arrest and prosecute none of the prominent Hausa/Fulani politicians who were the principal actors in the government you overthrew; including Adamu Ciroma, Suleiman Takuma, Aliu Gusau, Lawal Kaita, Barkin Zuwo, Shehu Kangiwa and Awwal Ibrahim.
At the same time, jail Southern politicians, including Bisi Onabanjo, Ambrose Alli, Lateef Jakande, Jim Nwobodo, and others on trumped up charges that could not be substantiated in any court of law. Try octogenarian Michael Ajasin of the South-West before a tribunal. When he is discharged and acquitted; try him again. When he is discharged and acquitted again, try him a third time. When he is discharged and acquitted yet again, keep him in indefinite detention without just cause.
Maltreat Southern leaders: Send a team of soldiers to ransack the Park Lane, Apapa residence of elder Southern statesman, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Give no reason whatsoever for this blatant violation of the old man’s privacy. Seize his international passport for no just cause. Later, try to pull the wool over the eyes of the Yorubas by choosing a man married to Awolowo’s grand-daughter as your vice-presidential running-mate.
Lock Emeka Ojukwu, an Igbo man from the South, in prison in Kirikiri with the politicians of the Second Republic, in spite of the fact that he committed no crime and held no public office in the Second Republic. Moreover, after Ojukwu returned to Nigeria after 13 years of exile, he received a full pardon from the president of Nigeria for his activities as leader of the secessionist government of Biafra. Provide Nigerians with no explanation whatsoever for the exact offence that led to Ojukwu’s arrest and incarceration.
Get booted out of office by your own clique in the army. Have your colleague, Ibrahim Babangida, give this testimony about you: “regrettably it turned out that (he) was too rigid and uncompromising in his attitudes to issues of national significance. Efforts to make him understand that a diverse polity like Nigeria required recognition and appreciation of differences in both cultural and individual perceptions only served to aggravate the attitudes.”
Corrupt practices: Prohibit the importation of naira into the country during a much ballyhooed currency exchange programme. Then contravene your own policy by having your ADC, Colonel Mustapha Jokolo, allow his father, the Emir of Gwandu from the North, to smuggle into the country through Muritala Muhammed International Airport 53 suitcases which the then Area Administrator of the Lagos Airport Customs Command, Atiku Abubakar, was not allowed to search.
At the same time, sentence Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, a Yoruba man from the South-West, to 20 months in jail for being in possession of foreign-exchange he had legitimately procured for the upkeep of his band on a foreign trip. Because Fela mocked you in his songs for being unable to address the problems of Nigeria, declare to Nigerians that: “I decided to deal with this Fela problem once and for all.” Face public embarrassment because the judge who pronounced the sentence on Fela later confessed that he was ordered to jail him.
Disregard for Nigeria’s secularity:As military Head of State, contravene the country’s secularity by having Nigeria apply to join the Organisation of Islamic States (OIC). The application finally came through in 1986 and divided the country acrimoniously along Muslim/Christian lines.
Tell Muslims not to vote for Christians. Reveal to Nigerians that you are a religious bigot by declaring in Kaduna in 2001 that: “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria. God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country.” Say this, in spite of the fact that declaring some states as sharia states is in clear violation of the secularity of Nigeria’s federalism, as contained in section 10 of the Constitution of Nigeria
Claim to be an anti-corruption crusader; nevertheless, agree to serve under Sani Abacha, one of the most corrupt Heads-of-State ever in the history of Nigeria. On the 10th anniversary of General Abacha’s demise, tell incredulous Nigerians that Abacha did not steal anything while he was Nigeria’s Head of State. Describe all the allegations of looting the treasury leveled against Abacha as “baseless.” Maintain that: “ten years after Abacha, those allegations remain unproven because of lack of facts.”
Hold this position in spite of the millions of dollars of Abacha’s loot recovered from banks around the world, and in spite of the fact that the Abacha’s family signed a formal agreement to return over $1 billion to the Nigerian government.
As chairman of the juiciest portfolio of all under Sani Abacha’s government; the Petroleum Trust Fund with a budget of 181 billion naira between 1994 and 1999, fail woefully to curb the rampant corruption in the organisation. When in 2000, President Obasanjo set up an Interim Management Committee to look into the affairs of the PTF under the chairmanship of Haroun Adamu, it was discovered that over 25 billion naira was stolen under your watch.
Claim to be an anti-corruption crusader, but Group Captain Usman Jibrin, a board member of PTF, resigned from the organization in protest over the blatant irregularities in your appointment of consultants.
(TO BE CONTINUED).