By Ochereome Nnanna
WE have landed in the magic month of February. All Progressives Congress (APC) supporters from the South West say February 14th, the day of the presidential election which is also the traditional Valentine’s Day is, FeBuhari. It means they are going to show love to the APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu (or is it Mohamed?) Buhari with their votes. But supporters of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), enthusiasts of President Goodluck Jonathan, the flag bearer of the PDP and antagonists of Buhari say February 14th is Fail Buhari, because on that day they will deny him his ambition to make a second coming, having had sour a taste of him 31 years ago.
As a student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1984, I was one of those who had a sour and bitter taste of Buhari in power. I covered one of the Military Tribunals as an intern of The Satellite Newspapers based in Enugu. The tribunal took place at the parliamentary building in Enugu. The Chairman of the three-man panel was Col. Anthony Awote, a withered, mean-looking officer.
Once a suspect was arraigned, they read out his “sins” to him, and when he opened his mouth to explain his role over the allegations, Awote would thunder: “shut up!”. Many of them were not even allowed access to their lawyers and were sentenced to long prison terms within a couple of hours in the dock! It was this manner of kangaroo trial that led to the conviction of former Vice Alex Ekwueme, a man who was later exonerated by the Justice Sampson Uwaifo Panel when it was proved that Ekwueme not only fought corruption as Vice President but also came out of government poorer than he went in. Ekwueme languished in Kirikiri Prisons for over 30 months, courtesy of Buhari’s jungle justice.
That was how Buhari “fought corruption” and became Mr. Integrity.
If you examine all the points used to advance the argument for Buhari’s return as president of Nigeria, they do not really add up. They are artificially spruced up to confuse and deceive those who were not born or matured enough to experience firsthand, Buhari as a brutal public officer. Even if the missing $2.8 billion from the coffers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has not been conclusively proved, we have the Dr. Haroun Adamu Panel which President Olusegun Obasanjo set up to probe the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), which Buhari headed as its Executive Chairman. The panel’s disclosure that 25 billion Naira was “mismanaged” is always swept under the carpet by Buhari’s sanctifiers. The General and his supporters always ignore the 53 mysterious suitcases suspected to be full of foreign currency, forcibly cleared by Buhari’s military aide, Major Mustapha Jokolo, even after the Customs had confiscated it as a contraband item.
Now, this certificate saga, which ought to be known as Buharigate, puts additional question to the Mr. Integrity tag placed on the Daura general. His supporters say it does not matter; it is a mere distraction dressed up by the ruling party to divert attention from “the real issues”. I do not agree. Certificate issues have become an enduring item in determining a person’s fitness to occupy public office. It was a certain “Buharigate” that, in July 1999, got Hon. Salisu Buhari bundled out as the Speaker of the House of Representatives when it was proved that he made false claims about attending University of Toronto, Canada.
Muhammadu Buhari’s case is more complicated, and he was the cause of his own ensnarement in a spider’s web. Buhari refused to obey the law, which says that every candidate must submit a minimum academic requirement to the INEC. Instead, he swore an affidavit, saying his certificates were with the Military Board. When the Army came out and denied having Buhari’s certificate, the APC, as usual, accused the Army of becoming a tool in the hands of PDP. The question of whether Buhari actually had any certificate with the military was drowned in noisy propaganda.
Secondly, the matter of whether it was the job of INEC to go and collect Buhari’s credentials from the Military Board was also ignored, and those asking the questions were rudely told to “go to court”, the same court that Lai Mohammed, the National Publicity Secretary of APC, is accusing of being used to “scuttle democracy”.
One day, we woke up to the earth-shaking news that Buhari had applied to his school to release his School Certificate. What came out must have made the operators of “Oluwole” forgers park in Lagos livid with rage at the bastardisation of their trade by incompetent amateurs. It was a “cut-and-join” affair bearing the letterhead of Katsina State Ministry of Education, with Buhari’s old man 2015 photo superimposed! To the best of my knowledge, Katsina State was created in 1987 and Buhari claims he took his WASC in 1961. Yet, Buhari’s supporters cacophonously chorused that we should move on, the man has produced his certificate.
Why this issue is important is that Buhari lied under oath that his certificate was with the military. He has presented none. That is perjury, a serious offence that could get him disqualified and even jailed if we had functional rule of law. Secondly, it means Buhari became a Major General and later Head of State without valid evidence he was educationally qualified for officer commissioning. I am afraid, even if Buhari manages to produce the genuine copy of his WASC, his famous claim to integrity has already been injured beyond repair as a result of his perjurious lies under oath. The evil that northern political leaders committed by bringing uneducated individuals into our state institutions has shown in the fact that these chaps ran the country aground.
Buhari was one of such individuals inflicted upon the nation. During his time as Head of State, goods disappeared from the shelves, and food was being rationed in an otherwise capitalist state! Draconian laws were made, backdated and used to murder drug suspects – Bartholomew Owoh, Lawal Ojuolape and Bernard Ogedengbe. Buhari ruled Nigeria like a bushman. The Press was put in chains.
Buhari became a beautiful bride to those wishing to do away with President Goodluck Jonathan, having risen on the wave of religious messianism after the Sharia riots of 2000 which swept across the Muslim North. He supported it openly and vowed to ensure it is taken to all parts of Nigeria, including the non-Muslim parts. It was from this constituency that he always got his votes in the three previous times he has vied for the presidency. Now buoyed by Bola Tinubu’s supporters in the South West and renegade former PDP governors, Buhari looks much better placed than ever to take a good shot at the presidency.
What should we expect from such a man with limited educational background and outdated connection to modern reality as president? Why is a professor of Law, Yemi Osinbajo, enthusiastic about deputising for a man who can’t even pronounce his name correctly? The answer is simple. They know that when Buhari was Head of State it was Tunde Idiagbon, the deputy, who was in charge. They also know that as Chairman of PTF, it was a battery of Fulani technocrats headed by Afriprojects Consortium CEO, Alhaji Salihijo Ahmad, that was in charge. They are hoping Osinbajo will be in charge if Buhari is elected. And I laugh!
Let’s leave it there, for now. One day, I will explain.