Major General Muhammadu Buhari has emerged as the APC flagbearer for the 2015 presidential election and President Goodluck Jonathan for the PDP. Now the battle for the soul and future of our nation begins. The forces of light shall surely prevail over the forces of darkness and God’s counsel alone shall stand over Nigeria. I stand with Jonathan and I say ‘’lets dance’’, ‘’lets get it on’’ and ‘’may the best man win’’.
Yet whilst doing so we ought to consider the words of Miss Dora Ade Bentley. On December 11 on her Facebook wall, she wrote the following: ‘’Jihadi groups killed more than 5,000 people last month, with Iraq topping the league table of deaths, followed by Nigeria, Afghanistan and Syria. In 664 incidents recorded in November by the BBC World Service and researched jointly with King’s College London, the overall death toll was 5,042, or an average of 168 deaths per day and nearly twice the number of people who were killed in the 11 September 2001 attacks on America. After Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Syria, Yemen was fifth in the deadly league table, tying with Somalia, with 37 incidents each’’.
All these and some people still say they don’t know who they want as President? An individual once said, only last year, that ‘’an attack on Boko Haram is an attack on the North’’; in 2001, that he wanted to ‘’spread Sharia throughout the federation’’; that “Muslims should only vote for Muslims’’; that ‘’why should Christians be concerned when Muslims cut off their limbs under Sharia”; and that ‘’after all the limbs that are being cut off are Muslim ones and not Christians; so why should the Christians other about it?’’
Since some are partial to Buhari, let us subject him to a little scrutiny right here and now. Let us put a few questions to him. Let us judge him by what he says and does.
On July 22, 2014, he told The Nation Newspaper: “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. Never before have I seen a Nigerian President deploy federal institutions in the service of partisanship as we are witnessing now. Never before have I seen a Nigerian President utilize the common wealth to subvert the system and punish the opposition, all in the name of politics. Our nation has suffered serious consequences in the past for egregious acts that are not even close to what we are seeing now. It is time to pull the brakes’’.
One may have been prepared to accept the general’s words as being those of a genuinely concerned and committed patriot who simply wanted our President and his government to do a better job and who was worried about the unfolding situation in our country if he had not consistently exposed his true colors and his obvious soft spot for Boko Haram.
Permit me to share just one example of the expression of that soft spot in this contribution. On June 3, 2013, Thisday Newspaper’s lead story carried the following headline: ‘’The military offensive against Boko Haram is anti-North – General Muhammadu Buhari’.
The story ran as follows: ‘’Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has criticised the declaration of state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States and the subsequent military offensive against the Boko Haram Islamic sect. Buhari, who featured on the “Guest of the Week,” a Hausa programme of the Kaduna-based Liberty Radio, yesterday, said the Federal Government’s action was a gross injustice against the North. According to him, unlike the special treatment the Federal Government gave to the Niger Delta militants, the Boko Haram members were being killed and their houses demolished. He said he was not in support of the declaration of state of emergency in the three north-eastern states because President Goodluck Jonathan had failed from the outset in addressing the security situation in the country’’.
The implications of these comments, coming from a former Head of State, are obvious and self-evident.
Yet that same General Buhari who said these unacceptable things one year ago is now busy pontificating about his concerns for our nation. Many would argue that, that is pretty rich coming from him given his past comments about a ruthless group of terrorists who, more than any other, merit the award for the greatest ‘’troublers of our nation’’. Given this, I regard Buhari’s comments to The Nation Newspaper on July 22, 2014 as nothing but self-serving.
Of particular interest to me were the following words: ‘’Never before have I seen a Nigerian President declare war on his own country as we are seeing now’’. Really? Correct me if I am wrong but I thought that the war that President Goodluck Jonathan has declared was against terrorism and Boko Haram and not against the Nigerian people.
Questions begging for answers
Does General Buhari find it difficult to make a distinction between the jihadists and the Nigerian people? Does he see them as being one and the same? Does he actually equate members of Jama’at ahl as-sunnah li-d-da’wa wa-l-jihad with the Nigerian people? Does he regard the military offensive against Boko Haram as being an offensive against OUR people? Does he honestly believe that anytime that a Boko Haram terrorist is killed by our armed forces and security agencies or that his house is blown up, it is an attack on the Nigerian people or an assault on the North? Are those people that Boko Haram slaughtering, terrorising, abducting, pillaging, robbing and raping on a daily basis all over our country not the real Nigerians?
Does he honestly believe that Boko Haram is representative of the thinking of our people or even the majority of the people in the Muslim North?
Is he still insisting on having another Muslim as his running mate in order to establish his strange dream of a Muslim/Muslim President and Vice President for our country or has he shelved that idea due to public resentment and outrage? Does he have any empathy with the Christian community in northern Nigeria for the immense suffering, degradation, humiliation, contempt, shame, indignity, persecution and mass murder that they have been subjected to in the North for the last 53 years and particularly in the last few years?
Does he still believe that ‘’Christians should not worry when Muslims chop off their own arms and hands in the name of Sharia because it is none of their business’’ as he said in 2001? Does he still believe that Boko Haram members should be forgiven, granted amnesty, pampered, sent abroad to learn and given monthly allowances like the Niger Delta militants like he suggested in 2013?
If the truth must be told, the only thing that is worse than Boko Haram are those in the Nigerian political class that secretly support and covertly assist them.
*Fani-Kayode was Minister of Aviation under the Obasanjo administration.