We don’t really know Buhari – Speaking for My Generation and a Few Others. (Coup and Restriction of Press)
Yes, many in my generation where less than 10yrs old when Buhari was Head of State. Many who were old enough to know him, also got to know him not directly, but from the journals of bitter journalists, and from sentiments peddled from neighbour to neighbour. While my father was alive and very educated when Buhari was head of state, he honestly can’t claim to know as much as I do today because not being there to learn form hearsay, I have taken on the task of reading divergent views about Buhari to come with my perspective! I expect those who will learn about me to see me beyond what my enemies say about me, but what they collated from different articles and opinions shared about me. It is against that backdrop that I present you my findings about The man Buhari, his many faces, sins and achievements.
It’s tough to summarize Buhari in one article, it’s taken me about a decade, or learning from a distance, and being one person away to get a good glimpse of the people’s general. I travelled along a few years back and watched him address his followers in different states of Nigeria. I was awed by the honor and respect that greeted him. I was touched by the folklore that trailed him even by 4 year olds whose mothers were probably not born when he was head of state, but who chant “Sai Baba” (Salute our father), and “Sai MaiGaskiya” (Salute the Honest one) with contagious passion! Oh don’t get it wrong, Buhari is not without his faults, but take it from my eye witness report – there is no Nigerian alive or dead, that commands the following, admiration and love as Buhari among common folk. His followership is priceless in cash, and by the people who will normally expect cash to offer it. I know what it feels like to be in the crowd, to hear the chants of “Changi Dole!” (Change by force) and to understand the deep philosophy behind “Gaskiya Dokin Karfe” (Truth is a metal horse, irresistible)
Buhari’s regime as Head of State meant business, and did not have the tact of a smiling yet lethal gap tooth General – Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, in courting the press and media. The created enemies of writers, created enemies of corrupt politicians, enemies of military boys benefiting from wholesale corruption, and has been bedeviled by these enemies ever since. These enemies have worn many masks over the personality of Buhari, making a product that has been hard to sell. When it’s God’s time however, what has been packaged wrongly can be repackaged and packaged right.
Let me start this discussion with two key points and extend it to about 15 key areas in time. I will tell about his strengths and his weaknesses, but everyone of them makes him a by far better candidate than the good one we have currently.
1. Buhari the Coup Plotter. Buhari did not organize a coup. Nigeria was in a state of despair and hopelessness. Politicians were robbing the nation blind and territorial integrity was being breached along the current North East, as we were losing ground to fundamentalist groups, much in the shape of what is going on today. The military boys under a “patriotic zeal” sacked the current government and adjudged themselves unqualified for the work of tackling corruption and rescuing Nigeria like Jerry Rawlings of Ghana just did. They decided to seek for a leader among them, whose records were “clean” and whose values were glaring. Buhari benefited from a coup that he did not lead, he was however patriotic enough to want to ensure that Nigeria began a process that led it to true nationhood. That regime was quickly terminated by the same people who placed him there, as they believed his methodology was quite strict, and did not allow for “chop I chop”. Buhari has since come to realize that if Russia could transform without a gunshot fired, Nigeria had a hope in democratic governance and has subjected himself to the same in seeking an office to serve Nigerians. It’s clear that his values don’t long for our money, that alone is a good start for me.
2. Decree 4 and Press Freedom
Admittedly, Decree 4 seemed to negate some principles of press freedom. Again, it must be stated that the Buhari regime was a military regime. Military regimes are not known to guarantee press freedom as well as democracies. Those jailed under decree 4 included two journalists reporting for a major Newspaper. The newspaper was fined N50,000. Its offence was that it published before the official time the list of Nigeria’s ambassadorial postings. This was invariably a breach of state security. Governments all over the world seek to preserve information that is essential for state security. Even the United States, the chief advocate of press freedom is seeking to arrest the founder of Wikileaks for publishing state secrets. Despite this, the Buhari regime should be applauded because it never closed down or proscribed any newspaper or magazine. Other military regimes, particularly the Obasanjo and Babangida regimes seized and proscribed newspapers and magazines with impunity.
To be continued… and yes He’s too old to be a CEO. I prefer to see him as Nigeria needing a chairman on it’s board. WE can then enrol a team of egg heads and best from the North and the South to run the different units that make up our great nation. This is an arrow head team whose time is around the corner.