NB: This piece was written and published initially by Abiyamo on the 3rd of July 2013, long before Buhari became the President of Nigeria. Enjoy the piece.
He is bamboo-rod straight, his body frame is slenderized, he is of a meager weight, he is fair and in terms of height, he towers as one of the tallest of Nigerian leaders, if not the tallest. His milky voice evokes no fear but do not be deceived, his uncompromising stance on issues stands him out. Millions of Nigerians adore and practically worship him as the only Saviour of the Nation, while millions despise him and see him as nothing but a reincarnation of the Devil. This man is held in great esteem by a vast swathe of the Nigerian population while some others seethe with scary bitterness and violent hatred at the mere mention of his name. But hate him or love him, you will agree that Major-General MUHAMMADU ‘Leko’ BUHARI, Dogo Dan Daura, is the strictest Nigerian leader.
His regime was one of an unprecedented clampdown on indiscipline, corruption and corrupt people. Even his sworn foes agree he has an extremely inflexible stand and an incorrigible will against corruption – which ironically led to his overthrow. Today, Abiyamo’s lenses will zoom in on the life of this Daura-born Fulani general, a man many love with fanatical zeal, many hate with unspeakable fervour while many are not too sure whether to spew caustic hatred on him or shower him with benevolent adoration. Ladies and Gentlemen, General Muhammadu ‘Leko’ Buhari, GCFR.
BIRTH AND EARLY DAYS
He was born on a Thursday, the 17th of December, 1942, (that makes him 70 years even though he doesn’t look it). Unlike many other northerners who were born into aristocratic backgrounds and climbed up using the prestige of their families and the influence of their fathers, Buhari was born into a humble family, what we call pako in my area. He lost his father at a very tender age (he was just four), both parents pampered him like a pet as he was their last child but he had about 20 other siblings whom his father sired with other women in previous marriages. His mum had given birth to a set of twins before Buhari but they both died shortly after birth. That explains one of his nicknames ‘Leko’ which means ‘someone born after twins who died’, something like ‘Idowu’ in Yorubaland.
His father was Alhaji Hardo Adamu and Hajiya Zulhatu (nee Musa) was his mother, the daughter of the Sarkin Dogarai, what can be translated as the head of the infantry who was in turn the son of the Kauran Daura Lawal, head of the Daura military forces. His paternal grandfather was a typical Fulani who lived the nomadic life but later settled for a life of farming in Daura, Katsina State. His mother would later die on the 14th of December, 1988, a few days to his birthday. Buhari, who had just been released from prison, got to Daura a few hours after the burial of his mother. He was not fortunate enough to witness her being interred. Please note that Buhari’s mother was not Fulani but Hausa (Habe) and she was already a widow with seven children when she married Buhari’s father who was the Fulani chief of the Dumurkol Village, near Daura.
As a child, he played round the dusty roads of the town and remembers clearly, the time he fell off a horse during one of his recreational periods.
GROWING UP AND EDUCATION
A proper Katsina boy, he attended the Katsina Middle School (Daura & Maidua, 1948-1952) and later proceeded to the Katsina Provincial Secondary School (now Government College, Katsina) for his high education from 1956-1961. From there, he went off to start his military education, like many boys of the north at that time.
IN THE MILITARY
In becoming a soldier, he attended the following institutions:
-Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC), 1962
-Mons Officer Cadet School, Aldershot, United Kingdom (1962-1963). Generals Sani Abacha and Obasanjo also attended this academy. In Aldershot, Buhari was described as ‘an only pebble in the beach, a star in his calm and calculating disposition.’
-Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington, Tamil Nadu, India (1973), Obasanjo also attended this college (see picture) below.
-US Army War College (1979-1980) where he was described as “a gentleman, a soft-spoken soldier, who preserved the ethics of the profession almost as a Quarter-Master-General. He would touch the tip of his cap in greeting for a lady, would never enter a room with his beret on. Always careful with his language, would smile at every joke and would never do anything to rock the boat.”
In the year 1962, he joined the Nigerian Army and rose steadily through the ranks.
- -Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, 1963
- -Platoon Commander, United Nations Peacekeeping Force, Congo, early 1960s.
- -Platoon Commander, 2nd Infantry Battalion, Abeokuta, Ogun State, 1963.
- -Mechanical Transport Officer, Lagos Garrison, 1964 – 1965.
- -Transport Company Commander, 2nd Infantry Brigade 1965 – 1966.
- -Battalion Adjutant / Commander, 2nd Infantry Brigade/Battalion 1966 – 1967 (during the Nigerian Civil War).
- -Appointed Brigade Major, 2 Sector, 1st Infantry Division, April -July 1967.
- Brigade Major, 3rd Infantry Brigade, August 1967 – October 1968;
- Acting Commander, 4th Sector, 1st Division November 1968 – February 1970;
- Commander, 31st Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, February 1970 – June 1971;
- Assistant Adjutant-General, 1st Infantry Division Hqrs., July 1971 – Dec. 1972;
- Colonel, General Staff, 3rd Infantry Div. Hqrs. Jan. 1974 – Sept. 1974.
- Acting Director, Supply and Transport, Nigeria Army Corps of Supply and Transport, September 1974 – July 1975;
- Military Governor, North Eastern State of Nigeria, August 1975 – March 1976;
- Federal Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, March 1976 to June 1978;
- Chairman, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, June 1978 – July 1978;
- Military Secretary, Army Headquarters July 1978 – June 1979;
- Member Supreme Military Council, March 1976 – June 1979;
- General Officer Commanding, 4th Infantry Division, Aug. 1980 – Jan. 1981;
- General Officer Commanding, 2nd Mechanised Infantry Division, Jan. 1981 – October 1981;
- General Officer Commanding 3rd Armed Division Nigerian Army, October 1981 – December 1983.
- Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, December 1983 – August 1985
From July 1975 to February 1976, he served as the Governor of the newly-created North-Eastern State under the regime of the late General Murtala Muhammed. The North-Eastern State is what we now know as Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba States. Mehn, that’s huge! See the picture below.
Later, after the assassination of Murtala Muhammed, he served as the Federal Commissioner (now Minister) for Petroleum, Energy and Natural Resources under General Olusegun Obasanjo. He was appointed to that post in 1976 and was there till 1978.
On the 1st of April, 1977, the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel and the Nigerian National Oil Corporation were both merged together to form what is now the ultimate ATM machine for Nigerian leaders -the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Buhari was appointed as the head of the NNPC in 1978 and was there till 1979. Under Buhari, who wasthe Pioneer Chairman of the NNPC, great achievements were recorded: 20 depots of oil involving over 3,200 kilometres of pipeline were constructed all over the nation, in addition to the construction of petroleum refineries in Kaduna and Warri (subsequent governments have wrecked these refineries and there is obviously no plan in their skulls to build new ones, I do not know of any other oil-producing nation and OPEC member that buys refined fuel from others. The largest refinery in the world is in India, a country that produces no crude oil. I see our importing refined petroleum as one of the most glaring stupidities of the Nigerian nation, the supposed giant of Africa).
(The NNPC states that it’s vision is to become a world-class oil and gas company driven by shared commitment to excellence while its mission as an integrated Oil and Gas Company is to be engaged in adding value to the nation’s hydrocarbon resources for the benefit of all Nigerians and other stakeholders. I think that ‘all Nigerians’ should be rewritten as ‘some Nigerians’ while the ‘other stakeholders’ should be edited and become ‘the cabal’. As an ‘ordinary Nigerian’, ayam yet to feel the full benefit o. Sorry for the ‘digreson’, e dey pain me for body ni, we were on Buhari shey….lol! )
THE COUP & BECOMING HEAD OF STATE
On the last day of the year 1983, a coup was in operation to overthrow the democratically-elected government of President Shehu Shagari. The most interesting thing about the coup was that even though it was neatly orchestrated by middle-cadre and top brass in the military, Buhari was not initially the person to become the Head of State. The person that was expected to become the new HOS after the coup was Brigadier Ibrahim Bako. Bako and his boys stormed the President’s residence to overthrow him. Shagari was woken up by his security team and alerted that Bako and his men were on their way to the State House to arrest him.
Quickly, President Shagari was evacuated to a safer location and the stage was set for one of the most dramatic gunfights in Nigeria’s political history. To guard, protect and defend the Nigerian President then was the Brigade of Guards, headed by Captain Augustine A. Anyogo, an elite presidential bodyguard made up of some of the best-trained hands in the Armed Forces. They fought to the last and in the ensuing battle and under circumstances that are still not very clear, Bako, who was supposed to be the new Head of State was hit (IBB denies that Bako was to be the new HOS but agreed he was a chief plotter). He died. On Bako’s death, IBB would later say that maybe it was due to an accidental discharge. Hear him:
Question:“…What really happened to General Bako?”
Babangida: “..….when they went to Abuja for that operation, ….this thing happened in the night… you see, from the experiences we had from the civil war, we found out that soldiers sometimes panic and when they panic, there are dire consequences. So, it was in the night and there was what you could call accidental discharge and the first reaction of the soldiers was that they were being attacked and in situations like that, you could shoot anyway. It happened to us I remember, during the civil war. You get shot at in the front and the sound reverberates behind so the soldiers at the back believes that the person shooting is right there then they forgot that some 500 meters away are what we refer to as own troops, your own forces. Because of no adequate training, a soldier would just cock his rifle and start shooting only to discover that he is shooting his own people. During the civil war, we sustained lots of casualties as a result of this situation. So, my suspicion is that a similar situation must have played out during that operation in Abuja and a bullet hit the late Ibrahim (Bako).”
Question: “So, claims that General Tunde Ogbeha may have pulled the trigger on Bako are not correct after all?”
Babangida: “I would not like to say he did it, no. It was the situation they found themselves; it was dark and everybody was shooting anyhow.”
In short, no one really knows exactly how Bako died.
As at the time of the coup and following Bako’s death, General Buhari was commanding the Third Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army in Jos, Plateau State and he was far from the center of action in Lagos State. An agreement was reached and Buhari was selected to become the head. A jet was on to Jos to later bring Buhari who was not in the meeting. But during one of the meetings to choose him, a mild drama played itself out.
Some of the military officers wanted to select IBB as the new head of state but in a fit of fury, Mustapha Jokolo drew out his gun and said no one would leave that place alive if Buhari was not crowned the head of state, that IBB would become the Head of State over his dead body. Jokolo would later become the aide-de-camp (ADC) of Buhari and later the Emir of Gwandu in Kebbi State before he was deposed and banished from his own kingdom (Jokolo and Colonel Sabo Aliyu, who was heading the Brigade of Guard were captured the day Buhari was overthrown and were beaten to a state of stupor, the beating was so intense that rumours initially flew out that Jokolo was dead).
To cut long story short…lol, Buhari was ‘elected’ as the Head of State and the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces and his appointment was formalized on the 1st of January, 1984. It would last until the 27th of August, 1985 when Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and his cohorts like Abacha dem took over. The Supreme Military Council (SMC) was formed (see the full cabinet list below).
HISTORY: BUHARI’S FIRST SPEECH AFTER THE MILITARY COUP OF 31ST DECEMBER 1983
In pursuance of the primary objective of saving our great nation from total collapse, I, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari of the Nigerian army have, after due consultation amongst the services of the armed forces, been formally invested with the authority of the Head of the Federal Military Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is with humility and a deep sense of responsibility that I accept this challenge and call to national duty.
As you must have heard in the previous announcement, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1979) has been suspended, except those sections of it which are exempted in the constitution. The change became necessary in order to put an end to the serious economic predicament and the crisis of confidence now afflicting our nation. Consequently, the Nigerian armed forces have constituted themselves into a Federal Military Government comprising of a Supreme Military Council, a National Council of States, a Federal Executive Council at the centre and State Executive Councils to be presided over by military governors in each of the states of the federation. Members of these councils will be announced soon. The last Federal Military Government drew up a programme with the aim of handing over political power to the civilians in 1979. This programme as you all know, was implemented to the letter. The 1979 constitution was promulgated.
However, little did the military realise that the political leadership of the second republic will circumvent most of the checks and balances in the constitution and bring the present state of general insecurity. The premium on political power became so exceedingly high that political contestants regarded victory at elections as a matter of life and death struggle and were determined to capture or retain power by all means. It is true that there is a worldwide economic recession.
However, in the case of Nigeria, its impact was aggravated by mismanagement. We believe the appropriate government agencies have good advice but the leadership disregarded their advice. The situation could have been avoided if the legislators were alive to their constitutional responsibilities; Instead, the legislators were preoccupied with determining their salary scales, fringe benefit and unnecessary foreign travels, et al, which took no account of the state of the economy and the welfare of the people they represented.
As a result of our inability to cultivate financial discipline and prudent management of the economy, we have come to depend largely on internal and external borrowing to execute government projects with attendant domestic pressure and soaring external debts, thus aggravating the propensity of the outgoing civilian administration to mismanaged our financial resources. Nigeria was already condemned perpetually with the twin problem of heavy budget deficits and weak balance of payments position, with the prospect of building a virile and viable economy.
The last general election was anything but free and fair. The only political parties that could complain of election rigging are those parties that lacked the resources to rig. There is ample evidence that rigging and thuggery were relative to the resources available to the parties. This conclusively proved to us that the parties have not developed confidence in the presidential system of government on which the nation invested so much material and human resources. While corruption and indiscipline have been associated with our state of under-development, these two evils in our body politics have attained unprecedented height in the past few years. The corrupt, inept and insensitive leadership in the last four years has been the source of immorality and impropriety in our society.
Since what happens in any society is largely a reflection of the leadership of that society, we deplore corruption in all its facets. This government will not tolerate kick-backs, inflation of contracts and over-invoicing of imports etc. Nor will it condone forgery, fraud, embezzlement, misuse and abuse of office and illegal dealings in foreign exchange and smuggling. Arson has been used to cover up fraudulent acts in public institutions. I am referring to the fire incidents that gutted the P&T buildings in Lagos, the Anambra State Broadcasting Corporation, the Republic Building at Marina, the Federal Ministry of Education, the Federal Capital Development Authority Accounts at Abuja and the NET Building. Most of these fire incidents occurred at a time when Nigerians were being apprehensive of the frequency of fraud scandals and the government incapacity to deal with them. Corruption has become so pervasive and intractable that a whole ministry has been created to stem it.
Fellow Nigerians, this indeed is the moment of truth. My colleagues and I – the Supreme Military Council, must be frank enough to acknowledge the fact that at the moment, an accurate picture of the financial position is yet to be determined. We have no doubt that the situation is bad enough. In spite of all this, every effort will be made to ensure that the difficult and degrading conditions under which we are living are eliminated. Let no one however be deceived that workers who have not received their salaries in the past eight or so months will receive such salaries within today or tomorrow or that hospitals which have been without drugs for months will be provided with enough immediately. We are determined that with the help of God we shall do our best to settle genuine payments to which government is committed, including backlog of workers’ salaries after scrutiny.
We are confident and we assure you that even in the face of the global recession, and the seemingly gloomy financial future, given prudent management of Nigeria’s existing financial resources and our determination to substantially reduce and eventually nail down rises in budgetary deficits and weak balance of payments position. The Federal Military Government will reappraise policies with a view to paying greater attention to the following areas: The economy will be given a new impetus and better sense of direction. Corrupt officials and their agents will be brought to book.
In view of the drought that affected most parts of the country, the federal government will, with the available resources, import food stuffs to supplement the shortfalls suffered in the last harvest. Our foreign policy will both be dynamic and realistic. Africa will of course continue to be the centre piece of our foreign policy. The morale and combat readiness of the armed forces will be given high priority. Officers and men with high personal and professional integrity will have nothing to fear.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria and all other holders of judiciary appointments within the federation can continue in their appointments and the judiciary shall continue to function under existing laws subject to such exceptions as may be decreed from time to time by the Federal Military Government. All holders of appointments in the civil service, the police and the National Security Organisation shall continue to exercise their functions in the normal way subject to changes that may be introduced by the Federal Military Government.
All those chairmen and members of statutory corporations, parastatals and other executive departments are hereby relieved of their appointments with immediate effect.
The Federal Military Government will maintain and strengthen existing diplomatic relations with other states and with international organisations and institutions such as the Organisation of African Unity, the United Nations and its organs, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, ECOWAS and the Commonwealth etc. The Federal Military Government will honour and respect all treaties and obligations entered into by the previous government and we hope that such nations and bodies will reciprocate this gesture by respecting our country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Fellow Nigerians, finally, we have dutifully intervened to save this nation from imminent collapse. We therefore expect all Nigerians, including those who participated directly or indirectly in bringing the nation to this present predicament, to cooperate with us. This generation of Nigerians, and indeed future generations, have no country other than Nigeria. We shall remain here and salvage it together. May God bless us all. Good morning.
Upon coming to office, Buhari suspended some parts of the 1979 Constitution. That was not all o. All the democratic institutions like the Presidency, National Assembly and State Houses of Asembly were all dissolved like salt in water.
-The Buhari/Idiagbon regime maintained cordial relationship with various nations across the globe. One of these included the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in February 1984, the Saudi Oil Minister, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani was on a visit to Lagos, and not long after that, the Buhari regime reciprocated with Idiagbon visiting the Saudi King in Riyadh on a three-day official visit with a special message from General Buhari. This relationship would later work in Nigeria’s favour when the nation was seeking to increase its petroleum production quota in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), of which Saudi Arabia was the most influential member. Idiagbon was received by the Saudi King, the Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal and the Saudi Petroleum and Minerals Minister, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani.
-With Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, the Buhari regime had a tenuous relationship. In 1984, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Dr. Ado Abdullahi Bayero and the Ooni of Ife, Alayeluwa Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II (both are very good friends) where both banned by the Buhari government from travelling out of their royal domains. Why? They travelled to Israel on business without government approval, and at that time, the Nigerian government was yet to restore diplomatic ties with Israel. Professor Wole Soyinka cites this as one of the ‘crimes’ of the Buhari regime.
CHIEF OF AIR STAFF: Air Marshal IBRAHIM MAHMUD ALFA (Born in Garkida, Adamawa, he was the first NAF officer to attain the rank of an Air Marshal. He was retained by IBB).
Head of State and Commander-in-Chief – GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI
Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters (de facto Vice President) – MAJOR-GENERAL TUNDE IDIAGBON, also known for his stern attitude, the Ilorin-born General died in March 1999.
Minister of Defence – GENERAL DOMKAT YAH BALI
Agriculture Minister – DR. BUKAR SHUAIB
Abuja (Federal Capital Territory) – MAJOR-GENERAL MAMMAN JIYA VATSA
Trade – MAHMUD TUKUR
Communications – BRIGADIER-GENERAL AHMED ABOKI ABDULLAHI
Education – YARIMA IBRAHIM ABDULLAHI
Finance – ONAOLAPO SOLEYE
Health – EMMANUEL NSAN, Vice Admiral PATRICK SEBO KOSHONI
Internal Affairs – MOHAMMED MAGORO
Foreign Affairs (External Affairs)– IBRAHIM AGBOOLA GAMBARI
Information – SAMSON EMEKA OMERUAH
Transportation – ABDULLAHI IBRAHIM
Petroleum and Energy – PROFESSOR TAMUNOEMI SOKARI DAVID-WEST
Justice – CHIKE OFFODILE
National Security Organization (NSO) – ALHAJI LAWAL RAFINDADI
CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF: General IBRAHIM BADAMASI BABANGIDA
CHIEF OF NAVAL STAFF: Rear Admiral AUGUSTUS AKHABUE AIKHOMU (He was retained and promoted by IBB).
EVENTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS AS HEAD OF STATE
-Buhari made it very clear he would not be doing any business with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and had no need of their bogey loans which are in reality, booby traps (IBB would later gladly take them). Buhari instead, advocated for barter and direct countertrade with Brazil and other nations of the Third World. He was more interested in bartering oil for technology, spare parts and raw materials. Naturally, that pitched him against the West even if that meant good news for the economy of the world’s most populous black nation. However, this move was severely criticized by people like General Olusegun Obasanjo and Major-General James Oluleye.
-Clamping down on the press: It was not funny at all for journalists during the Buhari regime. Decrees upon decrees ensured that if your pen danced too much, you will go and sing the rest of your Awilo in jail. The Guardian, which was one of the most liberal newspapers at that time had many of their writers imprisoned. Some of the decrees (like the obnoxious Decree 4 of 1984, called the Public Officials (Protection Against False Accusation Decree)) were quite ridiculous in the sense that you will go to jail if you write and publish a story that was embarrassing to the government, even if that story was true, as it was in the case of Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor of The Guardian when they wrote article about military officers sent to diplomatic posts overseas. For me, that is excessive, you don’t need to put stew on jollof rice na…lol!
-Restriction of freedom and deprivation of fundamental human rights: According to the Decree Number 2 (1984), the State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree, the Chief of Staff (Idiagbon) had the power to detain, without formal charges, anyone deemed to be a security risk for up to three months. Ha! When we are not living in Pyongyang…lol! But please note that this decree has been existing since the time of Ironsi. Using the instrumentality of this decree, journalists were hounded and jailed while about a dozen press houses were closed down (Beko Ransome-Kuti, Tai Solarin and Haroun Adamu were all jailed under this decree).
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) were proscribed. Lobatan! Also, industrial actions were banned, demonstrations were not allowed and if you organize public protests, you will sing ohun oju mi ri l’Alagbon more than Orlando Owoh. But how was the dictatorial regime of Buhari able to do this? There was the National Security Organization (NSO), Nigeria’s first secret police service, which was on hand to intimidate, harass, detain, punish protesters/demonstrators, students, lecturers, critics, activists and civil servants who dared embark on strikes. It was so bad that by October 1984, about 200,000 civil servants had been retrenched.
-Corrupt civilian governors and ministers under the Shagari government were all rounded up by Buhari and jailed but without trial. IBB would later release them in droves…lol! Funny kontiri. President Shagari himself and his vice, Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme were slammed with corruption charges.
-Expulsion of foreigners: About 700,000 foreigners, especially from Ghana and other West African nations were expelled from Nigeria following an announcement on the 15th of April 1985. The Internal Affairs Minister dropped the bombshell and illegal immigrants had to scurry to meet the deadline of 10th May. The exodus was massive but it was not the first time it would occur.
-Death sentence for drug mules: The Buhari regime is also notorious for sentencing to death those convicted of drug trafficking with Decree 20. However, nothing caused more uproar than the retroactive application of the laws even though this has been disputed. Bartholomew Owoh, Bernard Ogedengbe and Lawal Ojulope were made to face the firing squad. Some argue that Owoh was the only one arrested BEFORE the promulgation of the decree. In April 1985, six Nigerians were convicted by a Special Military Tribunal headed by Justice Adebayo Adesalu and condemned to death for drug trafficking: Mrs. Sidikatu Tairi, Miss Sola Oguntayo, Oladele Omosebi, Lasunkanmi Awolola, Jimi Adebayo and Gladys Iyamah.
I remember clearly one of the women fainting upon hearing the death sentence and prison officials had to come to her rescue. Gladys Iyamah, locked up at the Federal Maximum Security Prisons in Kirikiri, Lagos, was a crippled mother of two and was the first woman in the history of Nigeria to be sentenced to death. The Federal Military Government knew the implication of executing a paralysed mother of two and the sentence was secretly approved. But thankfully, it was never carried out.
-War Against Indiscipline (WAI): On the 20th of March 1984, the Buhari/Idiagbon regime launched this programme that many Nigerians will remember biting their fingers and desperately preventing a tear from dropping ….lmao! Not a few will forget the koboko (horse whip) lashes that lacerated their backs when they became unruly at bus-stops or littered the environment. And if you fail to do the environmental sanitation activities at that time, you don enter one chance be dat. Just pray that a miracle will occur and Idiagbon’s WAI Brigades (set up in each state under the Ministry of Information and Culture) do not catch you.
The essence of WAI was to instill discipline and order in a society that has now all but broken down as far as morality and etiquette were concerned. Today, indiscipline and entropy reign in the Nigerian society. Even while outside the country, quite a lot of Nigerians are thoroughly indisciplined, shouting at airports, making noise inside the aircraft (or refusing to switch off phones or use seat belts), fighting over things that will leave you smh..ing, not obeying simple instructions in their host countries and all sorts of abanilojuje behaviour.
Nigeria surely needs a new version of WAI, with vigorous implementation from the Presidency downwards because the level of entropy today is alarming. Soldiers beat up policemen, civilians are regularly harassed by uniformed men to the point that many ‘bloody civilians’ think it is a normal thing…and so on, and so on. WAI was first launched in Kano by the late Major General Tunde Idiagbon.
As far as the Buhari regime was concerned, indiscipline was the major obstacle to Nigeria’s social, political and economic development and that if national development was to be made, then Nigerians must (whether they like it or not) accept discipline as a way of life ‘at a personal, government, corporate and institutional levels’. Even if they made some mistakes, they were right about that one, and today, our society still stinks to the high heavens with indiscipline. Yes, and a megadose of corruption. The WAI programme was executed under five phases:
-Queue culture (it really annoys me when I get to an ATM and we cannot form just a single line. We just crowd round the whole machine and start saying ‘Ehs, Aunty, Ayudilastpesinondilayn? Please ayam at your back‘ then you go sit down or hang somewhere and have yeye gist with a friend, wasting precious time of national productivity. I am yet to get to an ATM and see Nigerians queue up neatly in a line, not to talk of campus bus-stops, iyen tie worse or filling stations. So much chaos everywhere).
-Work ethic (unless you threaten civil servants with query and sack, many will not arrive punctually or prefer to sell all sorts of things in the office, from Tianshi herbal tea to GNLD vitamins. But honestly, can you really blame them?)
-Nationalism and patriotism (for where? Nbo? Pa kini? Kilonjebe?) If a slave ship berths today at Apapa and the sailor calls that it is a slave ship going to America, it will be full in less than 30 minutes.
-Corruption and economic sabotage (dat one na one a per-second basis)
-Environmental sanitation (go and tell that one to Governor Theodore Ahamefule Orji, the Ochendu Ibeku, the Ohazurume of Abia South and the Utuagbaigwe of Ngwaland (our leaders and megalomania of pathological proportions sha). Just make sure that tourists do not see those mountains of dirt and refuse in Aba. Ariaria ‘International’ Market nko? Make I no talk sef). Same goes for Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State. This one that they haff opened Soprait and many pipu will go and do som sopin, I just hope that the Mount Kilimanjaro of refuse in Ibadan do not become an Everest overnight. Ajumodoti o kin shey inkan toda o…lol! #JustSaying…lol! Not that other states are extremely neat too o…lol!
Buhari and Idiagbon focused on these five areas with their WAI policy. They no doubt had good intentions to instil a cultural revolution and value reorientation into the psyche of the Nigerian but it was not to be. And it remains so, as you read this.
-Also, General Buhari dealt mercilessly with religious fundamentalists during his era. In February and March 1984, the Maitatsine sect under the leadership of Musa Makaniki unleashed terror on the populace in Yola, Adamawa State and about 1,000 lives were lost. Buhari had to send in federal troops to crush the extremists. A similar event would occur in 1985 under Buhari.
-On the 3rd of February, 1984, members of the National Security Organization (NSO) arrested an American businesswoman, Mrs. Marie McBroom at gunpoint. The lady was on Nigerian soil during the December coup and decided to stay behind and finish her business deals involving food material and petroleum for her import-export enterprise that she just opened. She was not the only one arrested, there was another female tycoon, Dorothy Davies and both of them were accused of trying to buy crude oil without getting a licence for export. Both were bundled to an interrogation unit at the NSO headquarters before being flung into the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prisons. Davies spent 40 days and 40 nights…lol in jail before she was released while the American woman languished in jail for nine good months before she was arraigned before a military panel made up of four members on the 30th of November, 1984. Probably more than any other body in the nation, the NSO was granted incredibly wide powers of arrest and detention and decrees were handed out to back this.
There was the State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree Number 2 of 1984, under which the NSO could detain anyone they feel is a security risk. Under this obnoxious and tyrannical decree, one can be detained for three straight months in two tranches which could be renewed. There was also the authoritarian Decree 4 under which it was a punishable offence for anyone to publish any material that was deemed as embarrassing to any government official. On the 11th of April, 1984, operatives of the NSO arrested two journalists: Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor, of the Guardian newspaper and before you could spell KAI, they were brought before a Special Military Tribunal led by Justice Olalere Ayinde and accused of falsely accusing public officials even if what the journalists wrote was on point. on the 2nd of June, 1984, a summon from the tribunal was sent to the accused and it read:
Form 2 Public Officers (Protection Against False Accusation) Decree No. 4 of 1984 summon to accused. “That you Tunde Thompson and Nduka Iraboh of The Guardian Newspaper, Limited, Rutam House, Isolo on April 1, 1984 at Rutam House, Isolo in Lagos, did publish “False statement contrary to section 1(1) of the Decree No. 4 of 1984. You are therefore summoned to appear before the Tribunal mentioned above sitting at Federal High Court on the 4th day of June at the hour of 9.00 a.m in the forenoon to answer the said complaint”. Their employer, Guardian Newspapers Limited was also accused.
-The Umaru Dikko Affair: On the 5th of July, 1984, a team of Nigerian security operatives (led by Major Mohammed Yusufu) and Israeli katsas (field intelligence officers from the MOSSAD, Israel’s national intelligence agency, also called the world’s most efficient killing machine) were on hand to kidnap and bundle back to Nigeria, a former minister of transportation during the Shagari era (as Shagari’s in-law, he also had extreme influence in the government). His name is Alhaji Umar Dikko. After Shagari was overthrown, Dikko vanished into the thin air only to resurface in the United Kingdom where he stayed in exile. Dikko is shown in photos below:
Then came Buhari and his anti-corruption goons, and they were bent on getting their hands on people like Dikko, who was accused of stealing $1 billion before negotiating with his legs. Thus, he was drugged, put into a crate and labelled as ‘Diplomatic Baggage’. An empty Nigerian Airways Boeing 707 plane was already waiting at the Stansted Airport waiting for him to be ‘extradited’ back to Nigeria (I laugh so hard each time I remember this story, sounds like a comedy-filled drama). Just at the last moment, one of the eagle-eyed British officers at the airport noticed some unusual activity and demanded a thorough search. The Nigerian team of ‘kidnappers’ had rented an apartment and actually posed as refugees seeking asylum from Buhari’s regime while the Israeli guys disguised as anti-apartheid activists and tourists from Africa…lol!
Later on, the team combed all the high-brow areas of London, sifted through the registries but saw no trace of Dikko until one day when one of the Israelis sighted him while driving. He parked and trailed Dikko to his home. The Director of MOSSAD, Nahum Admoni was immediately contacted and an Israeli consultant anaesthetist was hired to administer anaesthetic agents to Dikko and fit in an endotracheal tube to prevent him from choking to death in his own saliva.
The next day, Dikko was abducted right in front of his home and put in a van driven by Yusufu. And off to the airport, where he was passed off as ‘diplomatic luggage’ from the Nigerian embassy. Dikko said in an interview with the BBC in 1985:
“I remember the very violent way in which I was grabbed and hurled into a van, with a huge fellow sitting on my head – and the way in which they immediately put on me handcuffs and chains on my legs.”
Unfortunately for them, Dikko’s secretary, Elizabeth Hayes, had witnessed the abduction and she alerted the authorities thinking it was an act by criminals, even the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was informed. And again, they failed to actually label the crate as diplomatic baggage and as the airport officials were clearing the ‘cargo’, a list arrived alerting them of a kidnap. That was how the plan was foiled. The crate was opened just minutes before the plane was to take off and inside it was Dikko, without shoes, socks or shirt but with a heart monitor placed on his chest and handcuffs on his ankles, lying on his back and the Israeli doctor, who was inside with his kit of anaesthetics to ensure that the poor dude does not die in flight. The cargo manager, narrated that the cargo was not labelled and did not have the proper documentation and they had to opened and do the accreditation in the presence of a Nigerian diplomat, who was already present, he said to the BBC:
…the cargo manager, hit the lid on the bottom and lifted it. And as he lifted it, the Nigerian diplomat, who was standing next to me, took off like a startled rabbit across the tarmac,” Mr Morrow said.
“You have to remember we are on an airfield which is square miles of nothing. He ran about five yards (4.5m), realised no-one was chasing him and then stopped.
“Peter looked into the crate and said: ‘There’s bodies inside!’
Even after that, the kidnappers insisted that Dikko was the biggest crook in the world…lol!
If not, Dikko would have opened his eyes only to meet himself under the bright shiny sun of Ikeja and he go do him like dream……e for sweet die….lolololol! He was later taken to a clinic and he sustained no injuries and later lived in Britain for more than 10 years before returning to Nigeria. In an interview in November 2012 with the BBC, Dikko said he has not forgiven his kidnappers:
”Those that orchestrated my kidnapping are still alive; it was just wickedness and blatant lies against me. They are still alive and why would I forgive them? Why would I forgive such inhuman and barbaric act against human being, without them asking for forgiveness? This is the lies we face in Nigeria and the truth is clear, I haven’t forgiven them, it is just propaganda that they used through the media. Have they repented? Before you forgive a person, he must repent and say it is a mistake or intentional, but have they repented? This is my stand, if some agreed that they made a mistake then you forgive them; but they have not and I haven’t forgiven them. What have they found after all these plots?
Nigeria, the land of very funny people…lmao!
Diplomatic relations between Britain was broken off for two years and even when a formal application was made to the British government by Buhari’s junta, it was turned down. Omo, e no funny o…lol! The drama did not end there.
The Nigerian Airways crew was detained (Buhari also responded by ordering a British Caledonian plane that was already in the air flying from Lagos to London via Kano be returned back to Lagos where it was also detained by the Nigerian authorities. Immediately the United Kingdom released the Nigerian Airways crew, Buhari also freed the British plane to fly to London…lol) and total of 17 men were arrested and four of them were later sentenced to 10-14 years, these included the anaesthestist, two MOSSAD agents who hid in the second crate and Yusufu. All of them were released after spending 6-8.5 years in jail and were silently deported. Nigeria retaliated too buy promptly picking up two British engineers (for stealing aircraft….rotflmao!!!) in Nigeria and slamming 14-year prison sentences on them. Do me I do you, man no go vex…lol!
Interestingly, both the Nigerian and Israeli governments denied any responsibility in the saga. However, Nigerians were overwhelmingly in support of Buhari at this time and even called for diplomatic relationship with Britain severed. Even the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) commended Buhari for the way he handled the affair.
NB: I must state that this operation was covert and was carried out despite the fact that both countries were yet to normalize diplomatic relations. Israel was still getting a huge chunk of her oil from Nigeria while Israel was a major supplier of arms to Nigeria. Both nations still had underground relations. Even till today, Israeli forces are involved in providing security for the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.
-His regime also managed to reduce inflation, rejected all IMF’s conditionalities, such as the devaluing the naira, sharply reduced unnecessary imports, minimized oil bunkering and when bunkered oil was seized, he used it to get relevant commodities, equipment and machinery using the counter trade policy. The latter measure ensured that Nigeria was exporting even above the OPEC quota. Today, what happens? An entire tanker full of bunkered oil disappears right under the nose of the Nigerian Navy…lol!
-There was also a sudden creation of new notes to halt currency smuggling and there was considerable refinancing of trade debt arrears.
LOVE, ROMANCE AND MARRIAGE
General Buhari’s first wife was the late Hajiya Safinatu (nee Yusuf) Buhari. He courted her when she was fourteen and married her at the age of eighteen. A very shy and conservative Muslim woman, she was not too visible on the social radar. They married in 1971 and the marriage was blessed with four children, all girls (Zulaiha Magajiya (the first daughter, and she was named after Buhari’s mother) Fatima, Hadizatu Nana, and Safinatu Lami). Buhari was so focused on salvaging Nigeria that he preferred to remain single throughout the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) and it was not until the war ended that he got married to his sweetheart, Safinatu. Although he was so passionate about his job that he was said to have being ‘married to the Army’, he always called his wife on the phone on a regular basis. As the First Lady of Nigeria, Hajiya Safinatu was not in the spotlight. Actually, she avoided the limelight for religious and cultural reasons, and coupled with the fact that her husband led a life free of ostentation, Nigerians do not know much about her.
The late Hajia Safinatu Buhari was born in Jos, Plateau State to the family of the late Alhaji Yusuf Mani (a descendant of the Fulani scholar-warrior, Shehu Usman Dan Fodio) and the late Hajia Hadizatu Mani on the 11th of December, 1952. An indigene of Mani Local Government in Katsina State of Northern Nigeria, she attended the Tudun Wada Primary School in Kaduna from 1959-1960 and later the Nasarawa Primary School, Katsina (now Dikko Memorial Primary School) owing to her father’s transfer to Lagos to work as the Private Secretary to the late Alhaji Musa Yar’adua, the Commissioner for Lagos Affairs in the Federal Cabinet of the First Republic.
Following her primary school education, she attended the Women Teachers’ College in Katsina and bagged her Grade II Teachers Certificate in 1971. When she finished from the same college at the age of 18, she married General Buhari just two days after her graduation. The marriage produced five kids: Zulaiha (now late), Fatima, Musa (now late), Hadiza and Safinatu. In the year 1998, she was diagnosed to have diabetes mellitus in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and for eight years, she battled the condition until she breatheed her last on the 14th of January, 2006. A foundation, the Hajia Safinatu Buhari Foundation (HSB) was formed by her late daughter, Zulaiha, in her honour.
After Buhari was released from jail, he divorced Safinatu for reportedly receiving financial assistance from IBB while he was in prison. Later in December 1989, he got married to Hajiya Aisha Halilu, a Fulani lady from Adamawa State.
Hajiya Safinatu later died in February 2006 from the complications of diabetes. The Hajiya Safinatu Buhari Foundation (HSB) was created by her late daughter, Zulaiha, in her honour. The foundation caters for destitutes suffering from diabetes (now, that’s a noble idea).
FAMILY AND CHILDREN
General Buhari’s children – Fatima, Hadiza, Zulaiha, Aisha, Safina, Halima, Yusuf and Zarah.
-On Friday, the 30th of November, 2012, the death was announced of Zulaiha, Buhari’s eldest daughter. Described as a most humble and gentle person by her friends, she was born on the 5th of December, 1972 and had her nursery school education in the United States where her parents were based then. Later, she attended the Air Force Primary School (AFPS) in Lagos and then to the prestigious Queens College, Lagos. In 1985, she continued in the second year at the Federal Government College, Kaduna and finished in 1990. For her university education, she attended the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where she bagged a degree in economics.
Later, she finished her postgraduate studies in management in the same school and got a diploma. She worked at the Ministry of Solid Minerals and Steel in Kaduna until her demise shortly after delivery. Before her death, she was also the Treasurer of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM). An active community worker, she worked without making any noise in other non-governmental organizations in the country despite the fact that she had a long-running battle with sickle cell anaemia. Her sisters fondly called her ‘Yaya Babba’ and she is survived by her husband, Captain Junaid Abdullahi, three kids: Halima, Muhammad Buhari and the baby girl after whose delivery breathed her last at a private clinic in Kaduna.
PERSONAL STYLE AND FUN THINGS ABOUT HIM
-He is said to be the only Nigerian leader who did not touch the prices of petroleum products from Gowon’s regime.
-Buhari can be strong-headed atimes. At a time, he actually went against the orders of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Aliyu Usman Shehu Shagari. It was in the year 1983 and some Chadian forces invaded Nigeria via Borno State. Without wasting time, Buhari deployed the troops under his command to the border to repel the Chadians. As he was chasing them, he actually got into the Chadian territory. President Shagari had to order that the Nigerian troops be withdrawn but Buhari flatly refused the Presidential Order. His argument was that doing so would compromise Nigeria’s security and territorial integrity. It was not until the Chief of Army Staff, General Inuwa Wushishi intervened that Buhari decided to calm down and back off from the Chadians. But note that he was not the only one who felt that Shagari was unnecessarily interfering with the duties of the military and when Shagari was finally overthrown and replaced with Buhari, it did not come as a surprise to keen observers.
-Buhari was also seen as just too iron-fisted, the Nigerian version of a Saparmurat Niyazov. For example, there was the Miscellaneous Offences Decree, under this decree, cheating in examinations, stealing or vandalizing public property such as those of the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) or the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) means you will be promptly arrested, made to face military tribunals and people were jailed for up to 20 years for these offences. Some felt this was too harsh a punitive measure. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was sentenced to ten years in prison in what the Amnesty International called trumped up charges.
-IBB and Abacha were very terrified of the Buhari/Idiagbon regime and had to orchestrate a coup of survival. According to the former Minister of Defence during Buhari’s era, General Domkat Bali: “Babangida and Abacha were really very frightened under Buhari. Nobody knew the reason but they were really hysterically jittery and desperate.” Buhari and Idiagbon were hinted about the plot to overthrow them but he underestimated the capacity of IBB and his gang. The coup to overthrow Buhari has been described as a coup of survival by IBB and his clique. IBB was implicated in a scandal and Buhari and Idiagbon had him slated for retirement and possible prosecution. IBB knew that the game was up for him unless he did something desperate to save his neck. And you know, desperate men do desperate things. IBB’s survival instinct kicked in. According to Femi Segun, who worked as a Protocol Officer and Interpreter at the State House: “…IBB was asked to step out of the meeting which was going on because they wanted to discuss about him. For about three hours, IBB, as the then chief of army staff was just walking up and down outside without shoes and cap thinking seriously. We didn’t know what was going on but it was clear that he was asked to step out of the meeting. A few days later, he staged a palace coup.”
-However, it must be said that Buhari was not blindly punitive. When 250 politicians from all over the country were declared by investigators not have any case to answer, he ordered all of them released. These included Adamu Ciroma, the late Ikemba of Nnewi, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, Audu Innocent Ogbeh, Alhaji Aliyu Maitama Yusuf, Dr. Bode Olowoporoku, Mrs. Mobolaji Osomo, Chief Michael Koleoso and many others.
Buhari’s overthrow is one of the most dramatic in the history of Nigeria. He was eased out by the same set of officers who propped him into power (a historical parallel with Gowon). The ring leaders of the coup that toppled Buhari included the dudes you know like your Facebook account password: General Ibrahim Babangida (also known as the Phoenix, Maradona and of course, the Evil Genius) and his brother-in-mischief, the late General Sani Abacha (also known as the Khalifa or the Successor). The two had paranoid fear of Buhari and Idiagbon and the rumour mill has it (I hope one day the government will declassify certain documents so we get to know more) that both generals had been implicated in some scandals. IBB on his own, was linked to some drug trafficking and IMF-related loan plundering, and as a general in Buhari/Idiagbon’s regime, if you are found guilty of these charges, your own don set be that -summary dismissal from the army plus maybe 700 years imprisonment…lol! If you are lucky enough not to have faced the firing squad.
According to the analysis done by Naiwu Osahon, IBB and his clique had to get Buhari and his rigid boys out of the way. They had to shift back their planned day of the coup to August 1985 when news started filtering out that they IBB and co were already pencilled for retirement. They would wait for an inauspicious moment and grab Buhari by the jugular. On the 27th of August 1985, millions of Muslim faithfuls in Nigeria were celebrating the Odun Ileya (Eid el Kabir) and the stern Idiagbon was safely away in Saudi Arabia on Lesser Pilgrimage (Umrah). There was a public holiday and the national mood was festive. No one expected IBB and his boys, or anyone for that matter to stage an ouster at such a period. They were wrong. Instead of IBB to be enjoying fried agbo (mutton) with his beautiful wife and kids at home, he summoned his boys at their various formations all over the country -it was time to make history.
David Bonaventure Mark, now the third most powerful man in the nation by virtue of his office as the Senate President of the Federal Republic was the military governor of IBB’s Niger State at that time and he provided enough cover for IBB during the coup plotting. As the army chief, IBB would visit Niger State on ‘routine inspection tours’, and later, he and other generals would meet clandestinely to hatch their plot on how to remove Buhari. Osahon would also state that IBB and co planned the coup that brought IBB in so as to destroy the evidence of the NNPC’s $2.8 billion that suddenly developed wings and transformed into a peregrine falcon (and punish the whistleblowers). At a point, when Buhari hinted at stepping down and Idiagbon insisted he would take over, IBB disagreed saying the throne was his, citing experience in plotting coups amongst other things. The SMC was divided. To worsen matters, when IBB proposed that Haliru Akilu, just returning from a course from India be made the new head of the Secret Service, Idiagbon spurned his proposal and even went ahead to select a new head for the agency without consulting IBB, who was the Chief of Army Staff. The stage was set for a showdown.
Then the Gloria Okon issue came up, she was arrested at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport with cocaine, and upon being interrogated, she pointed at two top-ranking members of the SMC. Trouble was brewing. While that was on, the late Chief MKO Abiola imported a massive consignment of newsprint (a contraband) into the nation, and Idiagbon had no option but to impound the newsprint worth millions. Again, the Buhari/Idiagbon regime had just made another very powerful enemy (some reports indicate that MKO dropped millions of dollars to fund the Buhari overthrow). As if the turn of events was not bad enough, one Ikuomola was caught while attempting to fly out with a huge batch of cocaine. He was interrogated and in the process, implicated one of the Dantatas, one of Nigeria’s most influential families. Both of them were sentenced to death. Immense pressure was then put upon the SMC by the Dantatas that the sentence be commuted to at least a life sentence.
As you might have expected, the two high-ranking officials of the SMC implicated in the Gloria Okon saga sympathized with the Dantatas. But Buhari and Idiagbon would hear none of that. Idiagbon queried that if the poor could be sentenced to death for drug trafficking, why should the wealthy and affluent be spared? The enemy camp of Buhari/Idiagbon swelled by the day and it got so bad that the SMC was a point completely divided into two camps and Idiagbon had to impose a compulsory leave on IBB, who was also placed under close surveillance. But never underestimate a man with the ways of the wily fox. IBB would later remove the rug under their feet, despite all the close surveillance and wiretapping.
Later on, the King of Saudi Arabia, Fahd ibn Abdulaziz ibn Al Saud would invite Idiagbon as a Special Guest (MKO, Shehu Yar’adua and the Dantatas were said to have arranged the whole thing using their immense influence to convince King Saud to invite Idiagbon, hope you get the whole plan? IBB baited MKO with the promise of his contesting for the presidency in a little while) to the Kingdom. Idiagbon, a man of integrity, was deeply honoured by the invitation, and he would leave for the KSA with a team of his supporters in the SMC, and that included the late soldier-poet, Major General Mamman Jiya Vatsa. With Idiagbon out of the country on Umrah, with his supporters, the coast was clear for the gap-toothed General IBB. It was time to strike. And they struck.
It was the evening of the 26th of August, 1985, a Monday, and the Head of State Buhari had some four interesting visitors. These were Majors Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (Harvard graduate and former ADC to General Hassan Usman Katsina, former governor of the Northern Region and Chief of Army Staff), Lawan Gwadabe, Sambo Dasuki (son of the deposed Sultan of Sokoto, Ibrahim Dasuki and later the National Security Adviser to President Jonathan) and Abdulmumuni Aminu. The five of them watched the nightly news together and after that, they brought out their guns and placed General Buhari under arrest. The next day, 6am, Brigadier Joshua Dogonyaro went on air to list all the evils of the Buhari regime but he did not state that he had been overthrown. It was Abacha who would later do that -in a cold voice.
Later, the putschists would celebrate their success and later met at Bonny Camp on how they would go about selecting a new leader. The meeting was a very colourful one as all the guests arrived in their full combat attire, kitted from head to toe. You can guess those present:
– General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida
Major-General Sani Abacha
Brigadier-General Joshua Dogonyaro
Brigadier-General Aliyu Mohammed (Head of the Military Intelligence)
Navy Commodore Murtala Hamman-Yero Nyako (later Governor of Adamawa State, former Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and owner of one of the largest dairy and mango farms in Nigeria)
Lt. Col. Tanko Ayuba (Commander, Nigerian Army Signal Corps)
– Lt. Col. Ahmed Abdullahi (Communications Minister)
Lt. Col John Nanzip Shagaya (Commander, 9th Mechanized Brigade, Ikeja, Lagos, later Senator representing Plateau North Senatorial District)
Major Abubakar Umar (Administrator, Federal Housing Authority)
Lt. Col. Anthony Ukpo
NB: Other IBB ‘boys’ included Mohammed Buba Marwa, Chris Garuba, Lawan Gwadabe, Joshua Madaki, John Mark Inienger, Tunde Ogbeha and Ndong Essiet Nkanga. IBB had taught them as an instructor back in the Nigerian Defence Academy or was their superior when he was in charge of the armoured tanks.
Idiagbon, far away in the desert kingdom of Arabia was livid with rage. Against all advice (not even an offer of a lifetime retirement in a posh mansion in the oil-rich nation could convince the Kwara General to stay back), he thanked his hosts and headed back to Nigeria where he was hailed as a hero and courageous soldier. But trust the IBB clique, Idiagbon was immediately arrested at the airport and put under house arrest. Vatsa, who was part of the Idiagbon team to Saudi Arabia came back to meet his friend and old classmate as the new Head of State. Vatsa pledged his loyalty to the new government then tendered his resignation. IBB rejected his resignation and appointed Vatsa the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. You know the rest of the story.
Immediately after IBB overthrew his chief, he knew the danger of letting him loose or walk around freely. So, without wasting time, IBB’s boys surrounded Dodan Barracks, arrested Buhari and flung him into jail (his personal property was looted), promptly locking him up the very same day he deposed him. His ADC, Jokolo, whom he had sent to the Ikeja Cantonment to act as a sentry got the beating of his life. From the 27th of August, 1985 till the 14th of December, 1988, Buhari would languish in jail in Benin City, Edo State. His marriage would not survive his 40 months of incarceration.
CRITICISM AND CONTROVERSY
Buhari’s high school certificate was a major source of controversy during the 2015 presidential election campaigns.
ON ISLAMISING NIGERIA:
In an interview with Kayode Ogundamisi of Sahara Reporters, he replied to claims that he was bent on Islamizing Nigeria should he become the President:
That is ridiculous. There is nobody that will aspire for the leadership of Nigeria and base his manifesto, let me put it that way (chuckles), campaign on religious or even tribal basis. Somebody wants to be a councillor in a local government, then he can afford to do that as a form of a little persuasion. But not when you aspire to represent other constituencies like the House of Representatives, the Senate, Governorship (coughs) or especially the Presidency, you cannot base that on tribalism or religion because once you do that, you have already lost from the beginning.
Some Nigerians feel that General Buhari is too advanced in age to lead the nation. When asked about nations like Britain and USA where their leaders are in their 40s, General Buhari said: As far as I am concerned, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that citizens from the age of 18 and above, no upper limit, can vote and be voted for. To me, that is the most important thing. The Constitution has defined who should run for office and why should anybody start restricting people outside the context of what the Constitution has provided…then if we take a look, many of those who ruled Nigeria were not up to 50, that includes me, IBB, even Gowon, Murtala and even Shagari, Maitama Sule and so on were not up to 30 when they became ministers. Why should the nation be denied people with experience? Let Nigerians decide. By the way, how old is Dimeji Bankole? Just asking ni o #coughs!
-ON ABACHA’S INNOCENCE AND WORKING WITH ABACHA
One thing that has pitched him against many Nigerians is his stating that the late General Sani Abacha remains innocent. On the 22nd of March, 2012, he uttered the following words:
Abacha is innocent because ten years after Abacha, those allegations remain unproven because of lack of facts.
He also said that accusations of Abacha’s looting are ‘baseless’. In 1996, the late General Sani Abacha appointed Buhari to head the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF) and he was the head until 1999. Although no one can accuse him of stealing petrodollars, there are still those who criticize him for working with a brutal dictator like Abacha and not condemning his government.
-COLLABO WITH ASIWAJU BOLA TINUBU
As far as many Nigerians are concerned, that Buhari is associating himself with the former Governor of Lagos State and the chief opposition figure in Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu negates all that he stands for. Why? Because they believe that the Jagaban(k) of Lagos has gotten his hands soiled in numerous deals and allegations of certificate forgery and corruption.
Nigeria’s first Nobel Laureate is one of the most outspoken critics of Buhari, especially over his attempts to rule Nigeria again. In 2007, the erudite scholar wrote a piece entitled ‘The Crimes of Buhari’ and in it he spelt out many of his grievances with the Katsina general:
The grounds on which General Buhari is being promoted as the alternative choice are not only shaky, but pitifully naive. History matters. Records are not kept simply to assist the weakness of memory, but to operate as guides to the future. Of course, we know that human beings change. What the claims of personality change or transformation impose on us is a rigorous inspection of the evidence, not wishful speculation or behind-the-scenes assurances. Public offence, crimes against a polity, must be answered in the public space, not in caucuses of bargaining. In Buhari, we have been offered no evidence of the sheerest prospect of change. On the contrary, all evident suggests that this is one individual who remains convinced that this is one ex-ruler that the nation cannot call to order.
Buhari – need one remind anyone – was one of the generals who treated a Commission of Enquiry, the Oputa Panel, with unconcealed disdain. Like Babangida and Abdusalami, he refused to put in appearance even though complaints that were tabled against him involved a career of gross abuses of power and blatant assault on the fundamental human rights of the Nigerian citizenry.
Prominent against these charges was an act that amounted to nothing less than judicial murder, the execution of a citizen under a retroactive decree. Does Decree 20 ring a bell? If not, then, perhaps the names of three youths – Lawal Ojuolape(30), Bernard Ogedengbe (29) and Bartholomew Owoh (26) do. To put it quite plainly, one of those three – Ogedengbe – was executed for a crime that did not carry a capital forfeit at the time it was committed. This was an unconscionable crime, carried out in defiance of the pleas and protests of nearly every sector of the Nigerian and international community – religious, civil rights, political, trade unions etc. Buhari and his sidekick and his partner-in-crime, Tunde Idiagbon persisted in this inhuman act for one reason and one reason only: to place Nigerians on notice that they were now under an iron, inflexible rule, under governance by fear.
The execution of that youthful innocent – for so he was, since the punishment did not exist at the time of commission – was nothing short of premeditated murder, for which the perpetrators should normally stand trial upon their loss of immunity. Are we truly expected to forget this violation of our entitlement to security as provided under existing laws? And even if our sensibilities have become blunted by succeeding seasons of cruelty and brutality, if power itself had so coarsened the sensibilities also of rulers and corrupted their judgment, what should one rightly expect after they have been rescued from the snare of power” At the very least, a revaluation, leading hopefully to remorse, and its expression to a wronged society. At the very least, such a revaluation should engender reticence, silence. In the case of Buhari, it was the opposite. Since leaving office he has declared in the most categorical terms that he had no regrets over this murder and would do so again.
-THE 53 SUITCASES
There is also the story of the 53 suitcases owned by the Emir of Gwandu coming from Saudi Arabia, and the father of Buhari’s ADC, and that custom officers at the airport, then headed by a custom officer named Atiku Abubakar, the Customs Area Administrator (later the Vice President) were passed through without inspection despite the stringent policies of the new government. This set tongues wagging that if you are close to power or those in power, the laws do not apply to you. However, Buhari has denied this saying that Jokolo did not even want to go to the airport at first. He said in the first interview he granted after he was released from jail:
“I said, Mustapha,” Buhari told The News, (July 5, 1993) “your father is coming back today, would you not go and meet him, he said no sir. I said you have to go and meet your father, he is your father, and he went. Unfortunately there was a misunderstanding between the customs officers and the soldiers there. These people never refused their bags to be checked.”
Some other investigators dismiss the case as a figment of imagination, citing that there were no 53 suitcases stating emphatically that the suitcases that were not actually searched were those that belonged to Ambassador Dahiru Waziri, and that is normal as a diplomat. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has been challenged to confirm the veracity of this claim while records are also said to be at the National Archives for anyone willing to confirm. In short, the Emir of Gwandu did not have any 53 cases and his luggage was checked. Jokolo himself later stated in an interview:
Rather, I will like to remind you of what recently happened. I have thrown enough light that the sun itself will be extinguished by the light that has been thrown on this issue. If you believe it, you believe it. If you don’t, you don’t. No matter what I say it will not change anything. But I will like to say just one thing. That thing happened when Buhari was the Head of State and the people who were involved in it were the people close to him. I was his aide-de-camp. The next persons were his Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Dahiru Waziri who is late; the Director General NSO Rafin Dadi who is also late and Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, the former Vice President. Atiku was the one who fired the salvo. After they said it was 35, he said 53. The man who brought these 53 suitcases was Dahiru Waziri. He was from Adamawa State.
–No nation can survive without a decent judiciary and effective law enforcement agencies. (2nd September, 2011).
-On why he did not promote himself General, retiring with the rank of a Major-General:
“It was the conviction of our regime that, being the Head of State and Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, does not mean that you are the overall General. My ultimate goal as at then was to ensure integrity, justice, equity, accountability and transparency in the system. That was why I did away with unnecessarily promoting myself to General.” At the launching of two books: “Nigerian Military in Politics: 1966-2011 and Politics of Transition to Civil Rule in Nigeria” in Zaria, Kaduna State, 5th July 2013.
WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT HIM
-Truth, like cork, cannot sink. It cannot be sunk. It always floats. Time will vindicate him. -Professor Tam David-West, Buhari’s minister of petroleum and energy.
After Buhari came out of detention, he told Babangida to tell the world about his corruption. The records are there. The same thing happened with the PTF. He told Obasanjo to publish the report of the panel, but Obasanjo could not publish it because it was a certificate of honour for Buhari. If that Haroun’s report had any page in it that indicted Buhari, Obasanjo would have used that to disqualify Buhari from contesting against him. Buhari is clean. He is not corrupt. To show how Buhari loves Nigeria, he doesn’t like spending Nigerian money frivolously. When he overthrew Shehu Shagari, Buhari never changed any chair or curtain in Dodan Barracks. Buhari used what Shagari was using until he left. As minister, our total pocket money under Buhari was N200 per month. You could
spend less than N200 without accounting for it, but anything above N200, you must account for it.When he increased the money to N250, we clapped for him at the executive council. Now, as a former governor of the defunct north- eastern state, former minister of petroleum, former head of state, former executive chairman of PTF, Buhari has no house in Abuja. If he goes to Abuja, he stays in a private hotel. He has no house either uphill or downhill, apart from his house in Kaduna.”- -Professor Tam David-West, Buhari’s minister of petroleum and energy.
-Buhari is a very likeable and honest person. You can always know where you stand with him on any issues, he is very straightforward. He is a man who adheres to principle. -General DOMKAT BALI.
A former military dictator, General Buhari has molded himself into a democrat and remains one of the most dominant figures in Nigerian politics. He has contested for the nation’s highest office three times -1999, 2003 and 2011 but lost even though the facts be stated, these elections were marred by all sorts of irregularities, and sure, that includes all the political parties involved in the race. So maybe, it is a matter of one outrigging the other. But, worefa…lolz! General Buhari is now of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and from all indications, he will be pitching his tent against the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan come 2015.
As for me, I really don’t care who wins (okay, don’t let me lie, I actually do care and I will say let the best and most progressive team win even if I am yet to see one), all I want is for the politicians not to set the entire nation ablaze because one party has decided to fakekori and reject the results. This one that we are hearing all sorts of threats from the north to the south (is it Professor Ango Abdullahi’s own venomous vituperations now or Mujahid Asari-Dokubo’s obese statements?). We don’t want another civil war and it will be in everybody’s interest that these politicians give themselves brain. Ki won fun ra won lopolo gidi. Nigeria is greater than the aspiration of any single man, and that applies to all of them, including the incumbent and all those who will be doing the Presidential Olympic Games with him.
HONOURS, AWARDS AND LEGACIES
In 2003, after the presidential elections were conducted, which Buhari has lost to General Obasanjo, Buhari was awarded the highest national honour, the Grand Commander of the the Federal Republic (GCFR) but he did not show up at the award ceremony and he stated that the Obasanjo government was an illegitimate one and it would be improper for him to accept an award from such a regime.
- CFR Commander of the Federal Republic
- DSM Defence Service Medal
- NSM National Service Medal
- GSM General Service Medal
- LSGCM Loyal Service and Good Conduct Medal
- FSS Force Service Staff
- CD The Congo Medal
- -Doctor of Laws, (Honoris causa), University of Calabar, Cross River State.
- -Doctor of Laws, (Honoris causa) Benue State University
- -Doctor of Laws, (Honoris causa) Enugu State University
- -Doctor of Letters (Honoris causa) (D.Litt), University of Ilorin
- -Doctor of Science (Honoris causa), Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi
BUHARI TODAY & CONCLUSION
Today, the stage is set for a final showdown in 2015 between the old warhorse General Buhari and incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari is generally perceived as a honest leader capable of stemming the tide of nonsense in Nigeria but some people are afraid and are not really sure if Nigeria will retain its secularity under a Buhari presidency. Some analysts also feel that his base is mainly in the North and he has to do his homework well in penetrating the south if he is to win. As for the other camp of GEJ, whether the Sun likes, it can rise in the west and set in the east, Jonathan will still win. They count on various factors like his achievements while others harp on his power of incumbency and others. But whatever will happen, I have just one prayer: may the Federal Republic of Nigeria survive 2015 and beyond -onto greater heights.