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Buhari: When bigotry and incompetence threaten Nigerian unity

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By Dele Sobowale

“I am not aware that IPOB came anywhere close to this homicidal propensity and will to dominate before it was declared a terrorist organization.”  Wole Soyinka, January 2018.

“In every community, there is a class of people profoundly dangerous to the rest. I don’t mean the criminals. For them we have punitive sanctions. Invariably, the most dangerous people seek power.” Saul Bellow.

Saul Bellow and Soyinka are both Nobel Prize winners in literature and it is my honour to have the two on board for what might be one of the most important columns I have written on these pages in almost thirty years. It breaks my heart to write it because I was a fanatic supporter of Buhari from 2010 until 2015 July. Like most long term Buhari supporters, I expected great achievements in four years. Today, I wish the man never ran for the office; that he had kept his promise not to run again after the 2011 defeat. My shock came very early. Buhari’s first forty appointments revealed a trait that I knew was there in him, but, which I thought that he would keep in check, given the fact that Nigerians in all the thirty six states voted for him.

Buhari suffers from four forms of bigotry which old age and his elevation to the highest office in the land have not erased. They are ethnic, regional, religious and gender. Before his supporters and sycophants attempt to deodorize human waste in the attempt to dispute these charges, let me bring the evidence – starting from the latest fact.

I won N1000 bet by predicting his appointment of a Northerner as NIA DG. When Mr Ayo Oke, the former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, was caught with the bundle of loot last year, I told a friend, another die-hard Buhari fan that he will be replaced by a Northerner. I even went so far to say “You will see, it will be another Abubakar.” My friend disagreed. According to him, “after the noise that you journalists have made about lopsided appointments, he will not do that.” Today, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar has replaced Oke. By contrast, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, a Northerner, sacked at the same time as  Oke, was replaced, not just by another Northerner but a cousin according to Dr Junaid Mohammed.

All the security agencies are headed by Northerners. It is not a coincidence. It is a reflection of the man’s regional discrimination. And, he cannot change now. On the contrary, he will get worse. Any Southerner contemplating voting for him in 2019 should accept the fact after that vote discrimination against the South will get worse. Old men seldom change their attitudes. Meanwhile, when the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, was relieved of his appointment, another Northerner was his replacement.

Buhari’s appointments to high office invariably follow the same pattern as will be demonstrated as this series goes along with facts which even his best friend cannot dispute because there are records in the public domain to prove them. His preference for appointment is always for Northerner, Fulani, Muslim, Suni and Male. The rest of Nigerians who don’t fall into these categories are at best tolerated whenever he is in charge of anything. Wait for the evidence.

Midnight December 31, 1983 was one of the most important dates in Nigerian history. On the dot of twelve all radio stations suddenly stopped broadcasting regular programmes. Instead, martial music was on the air; followed by one Brigadier Sani Abacha announcing that the military had once again taken over government. A few days later, Buhari addressed the nations as the new Military Head of State. Among his first appointments was the Chief of Staff, COS, Tunde Idiagbon, Northerner and Muslim; not just any Muslim but Suni Muslim. Just as today, all the security and paramilitary organizations were headed by Northerners and Muslims. They were not just any Muslim, but Suni Muslim. About seventy per cent of all Ministries and major parastatals were headed by Northerners and Southern Muslims. Even when concessions were given for appointment of Southerners, only in the South East and South South, where there were no Muslims were Christians appointed. There were almost no women in his entire line-up of appointees.

Sani Abacha in that broadcast to the nation ordered all political office holders to report to the nearest police station. The former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a Northern, Muslim, Suni, Fulani, did not immediately report. Instead he fled in one of the Shagari Mercedes Benzes of the era and was eventually stopped with his wives at a check point and arrested. He was placed under house arrest; with stewards and messengers in 24/7 attendance. His Vice President, “the spare tyre” an Old Kings College boy, actually reported at the nearest Police station as instructed – confident of his innocence of the allegations of corruption leveled against them by Buhari’s colleagues. Late Dr Alex Ekwueme, an Igbo man and Christian, was immediately carted off to Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison – where he spent his days until General Babangida came to his rescue. That was even when all the records revealed that the Igbo man ended up poorer than he was before becoming VP in 1979.

Before his return to top office in 2015, Buhari had a brief appearance as the Chairman of the Sani Abacha administration’s Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, an omnibus organization created by the late dictator and world acclaimed kleptomaniac. PTF received billions to fix bad roads, buy drugs for hospitals, buy books for school children – in short everything those appointed can imagine and fund. In fairness to Buhari, there was no record of self-enrichment by him. The same could not be said of his subordinates who quickly realized that they had a boss who got dizzy when confronted with figures. So, they dazzled him; got him to sign on contracts and smiled all the way to the bank.  The PTF under Buhari ended up spending about seventy per cent of its funds on the North and thirty on the South which produced eighty per cent of the revenue at the time.

Buhari went into political self-exile until 2003 – when he sought to run for the presidency. He failed then and failed again in 2007. But, he did not leave the first decade of the new millennium without making a typical Buhari impression. In 2008, on the tenth anniversary of Abacha’s divinely induced death, Buhari, IBB and Abubakar went to visit Mrs Maryam Abacha, the late dictator’s wife. Emerging from the mercy mission, Buhari announced on behalf of others, to a startled press group, that “Abacha was not a looter”. Standing by him was Abubakar who had published the last decree on May 28, 1999, detailing some of the items recovered from Abacha – before the international community revealed more Abacha loot and after Obasanjo and Okonjo-Iweala had received some of the repatriated loot. Buhari was either not being detailed in all materials particular, or was just defending another northerner. Today, his government is negotiating for return of money he said was never stolen.

Let us move fast forward. But, we will from time to time go backwards to recall examples of the man’s strong belief that Fulanis are the overlords of Nigeria and are entitled to anything they claim – even if it is your ancestral land on which you have laboured to establish a farm. As far as he is concerned, your crop are just so much cattle fodder and can be consumed at will by the cattle driven across the country by herdsmen. And, it is your fault if you protest the injustice done to you by the lords of Nigeria. He demonstrated that when he went to Oyo State to confront late Governor Lam Adesina after a clash between farmers and the ubiquitous herdsmen…

To be continued.




“The ineffectiveness of the anti-corruption war is seen in the loss of crucial corruption cases. For instance, in April 2017 the Federal government lost four high profile corruption cases in 96 hours” – Pastor Tunde Bakare.

Pastor Tunde Bakare, like me, was a die-hard Buhari fan in 2011 and 2015. The man of God was even his running mate in 2011. I was happy to work for both of them. Today, nothing can get me to work for Buhari.  And, if he must know the truth, his fight against corruption has been a colossal failure. One of the reasons he is not succeeding is the man in charge of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr Magu.

Last week, at the Fountain University, Osogbo, Magu repeated an allegation which was first made by the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed – who, in my opinion, may be challenged about the truth.

Magu said “Take for instance, the money stolen by just 55 people between 2006 and 2013 is well over N1.3tn”. If it is true, the President should sack the man immediately. Obviously, if he knows that 55 people committed a crime, he must know who they are. He failed to disclose to his audience how many of them are being prosecuted or the names of the criminals. Is this the sort of law-enforcement officer Nigeria needs? More to the point, do we need a President who retains such a security officer?



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