Mohammadu Buhari: An Inscrutable Leader

by Banjo Odutola

This is the great military general; an officer and a gentleman, whose breed and achievements set him apart in the annals of Nigerian Armed Forces; an incorruptible officer, some say, others doubt. A previous Head of the Nigerian State, who trammelled the media with Decree 4; whose putsch gave a sense that our nation was to be reclaimed from avaricious leaders; the citizens were to learn a new order of public decorum; he cared for this nation when politicians cared less. It is true that he may have considered the country as his military platoon rather than a population of diverse interests and aspirations; his mission to save the country was predicated on military inflexibilities, which translated itself into rigid insincerity at its core.

No matter what position is held about the Buhari government, posterity would have to compare it to subsequent governments, particularly the government of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. I would lay my last dollar on a bet that, had the trajectory of the government of Buhari survived longer, perhaps, as a nation, we would be a much better people. At least, the comparison with the wastrel government of the scapegrace Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida is stark.

It cannot be denied that the intervention of Buhari was germane in the face of the absurd governance of Shehu Shagari. We lived at a time when morality in government was unfashionable and political leaders who were mandated to govern did so with a sheer utter disregard for the people they governed. It was inevitable that the situation in the country could not be allowed to degenerate further. We had leaders who professed a faith in all things money could buy, who were monomaniac in their pursuit of looting the Nigerian State; who flummoxed the electorate with a perverse meaning of governance; palliating their atrocities with bare face falsehoods; they were politicians sempiternally perfidious in their allegiance.

Well, after the tergiversation of the Shagari government, the men of our armed forces considered Buhari, a devout Muslim, a family man that did not keep the company of the vile and perverted; a disciplined operator that was bent on inculcating a true sense of morality in the Nigerian Soul; a leader with a sense of right and wrong; a man who is not like the Babangidas of this world, should lead our nation back from the precipice. Buhari came and set about sanitising the infrastructure of the nation. At first he was welcomed but the enthusiasm and hasty promulgations of draconian decrees aborted his mission. The old Buhari, a true soldier could not politicise his mission through compromise. So, he failed and his “loyal” assistant and “friend” took over power from him. Many Nigerians refer warmly with regards to that period when the Daura born general took over power as a saviour, he was to rescue us from self-destruction; at least, so they thought. How we long for the Old General Mohammadu Buhari to rule this nation again.

But how times have changed. The new Buhari is a lot different from the man of old. What has happened to General Mohammadu Buhari? Why has this puissant darling of our people who seek a return to the days of his governance abandoned the discipline and trademark for which he is affectionately perceived? Why is the new Buhari making a mockery of our perception? Why is he justifying Babangida’s charge, which the Buhari-Idiagbon government was an arrogant one, which was justifiably replaced?

There three areas in which the new Buhari is not an acceptable one. Firstly, his utterances on Sharia are at a variance to his pursuits on the sustenance of this personal law turned into a penal code. Herein, is not an argument of whether he was misquoted on the issues of Sharia. In fact, I wish he did not deny his support in the way that it was reported. However, if in the face of subjecting the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Sharia Law, as a leader, he ought to champion the education of his people and the country at large. The new Buhari knows fully well that no operation of another set of Laws can supersede the constitution of a country. So, what is this dishonesty that the Constitution should not be subjected to Sharia Law? My point should not be mistaken. At least for now, we have a Constitution and the position of the operation of Sharia is quite clear therein.

The operation of Sharia is fast descending to a farce and the new Buhari is inconsistent with his vociferousness. As he said, it is the Moslems in this country that wish to operate a penal code that allows the amputation of their hands and legs. I have no problems with that. However, the reports of embezzlement from Local Authorities such as Sule Tankarkar in Jigawa State and other authorities are now here to expose the proponents of Sharia; so far, Sarimu Barada, Ahmadu and Fatima, who are the weaklings of the society and who the teachings of the Holy Prophet of Blessed Memory require to be protected are the queer examples provided to advance Sharia. The old Buhari was not a respecter of persons. Where he saw moral deprivations, he dragged the culprits through a legal system of sorts. So, why is the new Buhari silent in dragging the malfeasance at Sule Tankarkar through the public space and the courts of Sharia? There seems to be an inconsistency here. Therefore, General Buhari should please note that the public space and Sharia Courts are open to seek justice against purloining Moslems civil servants. The new Buhari must not be known to genuflect to the tawdry actions of Moslem civil servants who have purloined the State, particularly in States where Sharia is in force.

Secondly, albeit, it may well be argued as importunate to deliberate at this time on the conduct of the new Buhari as Chairman of Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF). It is remarkable that when asked about the findings of the Interim Management Committee, the new Buhari expects to be absolved because he did not benefit personally from the Afri-Projects Consortium atrocities. I can only say that the old Mohammadu Buhari would have been too embarrassed to hear this flimsy excuse. What has happened to General Buhari? Would the old Buhari not have jailed all the members of Afri-Projects Consortium? He would. Therefore, General Buhari should not seek to extricate himself; he should breath fire and brimstones on the consortium that has disgraced him and what he is known to stand for. It is now time for the new Buhari to champion the prosecution of officials of the consortium and contractors of the PTF. It is in such action of absolution that we can trust that the new Buhari is not a lamb laying with dogs.

Thirdly, the visit to the Abachas boggles the mind. Would the old Buhari have made that visit? Is this an error of judgment? or the new Buhari was only out to rattle President Obasanjo? Whichever way, the purpose of that trip is explained, it is symbolic for its carelessness and an affront to the Old Mohammadu Buhari. Why would the once champion of decency in public service descend to this level? The visit explains a streak that the new Buhari like the old one cares less of the opinions of reasonable people. He ought to know that the Abacha family is a poster for what is generally believed to be inappropriate bravado and moral decadence in our country. Was it not the old Buhari that deplored politicians for the same errors of Sani Abacha and his family? Why would the new Buhari want to be identified with this family? Could it be that their lucre is desired to finance his political ambitions? Does he believe that the family is unjustly persecuted? If he does, he should visit the family of Ambrose Alli and say it to them. If the new Buhari considers the Abachas are champions of sorts over the Nigerian State, why did the old Buhari not allow Nwobodo the freedom of the courts as it now operates in this country? This newly tinkered Buhari is an abomination to the old one and quite frankly, I do not like it. Give me the Old Buhari, who once made me very proud to be a Nigerian and I will vote feet and limbs for him.

The inscrutability of Buhari is not peculiar to the man; it is commonly found in politics where compromise is commonplace. That is, the brand of politics that advances no noble causes. In fact, it is the politics of personalities as it is prevalent in the country. We need to search our consciences as to where this brand of politics is leading us as a country and a people. The lucre of the Abachas may be adequate to hand over power to the new Buhari. But would the same perversion free his conscience when he faces other public servants who are looting or have looted the State? Would a President Buhari be in a position to deride the evil of our society when he has said sweet nothing against the Abachas and Afri-Consortium? There is never a time like this for Mohammadu Buhari to champion the sincerity in his failed mission as the head of the Nigerian nation; a project that may have succeeded, had it not been for Babangida, who in his lifetime is aware of the intractable judgement of posterity.

In as much as I do not believe that Babangida could ever atone for his rape of the Nigerian State, I believe firmly that Mohammadu Buhari would be adjudged well, but only if he retraces his steps back to the basics and fundamentals of the old Buhari and champion what endears many of us to the greatness in him. Would Buhari respond to a call to condemn what is not forthright in our society? Would the man promise that if elected to office, there would be no hiding place for looters of public funds? I hope so but I am not confident that the way he has compromised his legacy would ever allow him to be effective. This why I believe the streaks and pseudo confidence of the new Buhari are foreboding for this great man and great country; a President Buhari will most certainly end up as lame as the current president in combating corruption in this country.

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Seyi A March 18, 2011 - 1:21 am

While I quite like the start of the article, the main problem I have, especailly with the 3rd point is that the writer has come to a conclusion even before the accused has had a chance to present his case. I doubt you were in the meeting with Abachas or have accurately confirmed that one took place, but still to conclude what the subject of that meeting was and make assumptions based on that it unexpected for such a highly qualified lawyer.

As per the second point and also to the first, Buhari has borne the toga of a dictator which is in contemporary terms anything but a compliment. To ask him to further add fuel to the fire by asking for the prosecution of people over which he has no jurisdiction or take a concrete and opposing stance to what the people of a state have democratically decided for it asking him to summarily hang his current value.

Ralph February 4, 2011 - 9:20 pm

If Buhari Should Be innaugurated today as Nigeria’s president, all flights leaving Nigeria will be filled with thieves and corrupt politicians running away from Nigeria. Give us Buhari.


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