Mr. Mohamed is a spoilt, unfulfilled, angry and spiteful old man. He throws temper tantrums like a spoilt brat from an indulging upper class family. He is incapable of controlling his temper. He is impermeable to learning. At 70 years he still behaves as a teenage son denied a car to take his girl friend to class party. Although he has been a head of state he still acts if he does not know that words have meaning and impact. Mr. Mohamed Buhari has a lot of growing up to do. My fear is that he may not have a lot of time.
Mr. Buhari has had a lot of successes in his life and that is why it is hard to understand why he is so unfulfilled. He was a military governor of North Eastern state of Nigeria, Chairman NNPC, Minister of Oil and energy for Nigeria. He had successfully shot his way to the presidency. And among the military presidents his presidency stood in sharp contrast to that of Abacha and Babangida and a few others. He was a benevolent ruler who did not bring the full weight of his powers to bear on the citizens as some military rulers were wont to do. He tried with some degree of success to inculcate on Nigeria some discipline in daily living. He did not institute or rehabilitate death squads and by many measures he did not amass unfathomable riches for himself and for the children of a greater God.
Mr. Buhari should be more contended. But he is not.
When Mr. Buhari starts preaching about the value of the ballot box; about free and fair elections; about the sanctity of the constitution; about listening to the voice of the people, I usually take my challenge posture; my disdain look; my “look at who is talking posture”; my “how dare you speak” posture; my scornful posture; my lookdown stance and wonder in deed “HOW DARE YOU MR. BUHARI OPEN YOUR MOUTH.”
For Mr. Buhari violated every one of the topics in his sermon. Nigeria spoke, no matter how incoherently, when they elected Mr. Shehu Shagari as the president. But the then general Muhammadu Buhari ignored the voice of the people; ignored the constitution and ignored the sanctity of the ballot box and shoved Mr. Shagari aside and threw his Vice President into the maximum security jail at Kiri-Kiri in Lagos. When you recall his decrees curbing the freedom of the press or detention without charge for upwards of three months; his banning strikes and locking out workers and his founding of Nigeria’s first secret police (all these are from Wikipedia) you have to ask who are you Mr. Buhari? And don’t forget his treatment of Fela Ransom Kuti or the drugging of his administration’s minister for transportation and crating him so that he could be shipped as a cargo.
Those combined acts would constitute critical incidents that should preclude him from ever uttering the word democracy, sanctity of the ballot box, election rigging.
He has no credibility on those subjects.
When such subjects come up for discussion Mr. Buhari should plead the fifth.
It can be said that 2 years in office (1983 -1985) did not give him enough time in office to accomplish his vision, but this must be balanced by the fact that he was not elected to any term of office. He was not the people’s choice (Shagari was) so he went just the way he came (by the sword). It can also be said that he failed to understand how Mr. Obasanjo could be both a military Head of State and a civilian one and he Buhari could not accomplish such a feat. But he should recognize that he did not have OBJ’s political skills or smarts, and luck.
If Mr. Buhari is indeed in search of how to improve the lots of the lowly Nigerians and humanity he has examples to emulate. If he is seeking power for the purpose of inspecting the honor guards and sitting with other heads of nations he is welcome to continue in his present direction.
Examples to emulate in the service of the down trodden include Mr. Jimmy Carter. The former US president’s career, like that of Buhari, was cut short before he had had a fair chance to bring his dreams to fruition. He settled in and started various humanitarian projects such as Habitat for Humanity and with donations from individuals and using his immense personality he built what must now be thousands of houses for the homeless, the impoverished in all parts of the world. Mr. Buhari could start in Nigeria. Because he loves democracy Mr. Carter started a monitoring group and with advising world leaders in the need for a free and fair elections. Mr. Buhari could start with local governments in northern Nigeria. Mr. Carter embarked on writing on public affairs; in speaking out against inhuman practices everywhere and in joining the oppressed in the fight against oppression. He never issued war words or threatened blood or promised making any place ungovernable.
He never incited the uneducated into making bombs or killing and maiming innocent by standers.
Mother Theresa was never a head of anything. She was not even high ranking Roman Catholic personnel. She was a mere nun in an impoverished Calcutta a city as far from Rome as one could get. From her small quarters she reached out to millions of poor and under nourished humanity and influenced powerful governments. Until she died she could ask for audience with the Pope, with ANY Head of State and would be received in dignity. In fact she was much more respected than the Holy Father. Mr. Buhari should go and do likewise
Mr. Nelson Mandela was in jail for 27 years and was head of state for a mere four years. He, like Mr. Buhari, did not have enough time to accomplish all that he would have liked to accomplish, but he realized that good things could be done without the title of head of state or government. He bowed out and started molding his country from outside of government. He also started influencing governments outside South Africa. Today he is one of the most powerful men in the world.
Closer to home is General Ishola Williams. He never held the Head of State position but he is today involved in a few NGO’s activities seeking ways to help Nigeria improve; he is involved in discussions and debates, offering suggestions receiving abuses in the process. Mr. Williams believes that he could influence Nigeria in the direction he would like to see the country move. He does not need the title of President to be helpful. The same can be said of the likes of Mr. Shagari whose career was rudely interrupted by Mr. Buhari. Mr. Ekwueme who Mr. Buhari incarcerated in Kiri-Kiri is quietly making his contributions to the nation as are thousands of other Nigerians.
Mr. Buhari ought to learn some lessons. His statement before the 2011 elections has been cited as one of the causes of the violent events claiming hundreds of live of Nigerians. He ought to back down from such utterances, but in his spoilt brat mode he has repeated his threat for 2015. For him unless he wins the result of elections it must be due to rigging. The only free and fair election in Nigeria would be the one that Mr. Buhari would win even though he has nor machinery in place to win. He has no candidates for LG elections in Achi/Oji River, in Burutu, in Ajegunle, in Oturkpo or Okitipupa, not in Mile 2 Diobu.
Mr. Buhari has no presence in 70% of Nigeria. How could he win? If he likes political power this is the time to get to the grass roots and build it from the ground up not from Abuja pulpit. If he does not like the heavy lifting that grass roots organizing involves he should reorganize his rifle men and shoot his way back to Aso rock like he did before. He made a success of it before. It may work for him again.
And Nigeria would survive him this second time also.
Or he should live up his 70 years and put puerile temper tantrums behind him. Words have meaning.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
May 17, 2012