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Monday, 26 August 2013

GENERAL MUHHAMADU BUHARI

Born on Thursday the 17th December, 1942 in Daura, Katsina state, to a Fulani Chief, Ardo Adamu of Dumurkol,  a village near Daura, and Hajiya Zulaihatu, a Hausa woman. He was a Gambo or Leko, as he arrived after the death of his older twin siblings. It is what the Yorubas would refer to as Idowu. That is the story of the parenthood of  Major General Muhammadu Yassim Yinusa Buhari, the officer gentleman who , at three critical times, was well positioned to amass wealth for himself illegally but did not.
After attending primary schools at Daura and Mai’adua between 1948 and 1952, followed by a year stint at Katsina  model school in 1953 and Katsina Provincial secondary school (now Government college Katsina)  between 1956 and 1961; Buhari had a choice of training as a teacher, studying agriculture or joining the Army. He chose the profession of the arms. As a cadet, he was made a sergeant which was an early recognition of his leadership qualities by his superiors.
It was in August 1975 that Muhammadu Buhari first came into national visibility when he was appointed Military Governor of the North Eastern by the Murtala Muhammed’s regime. After the death of the General Murtala Muhammed, the new Lt. General Olusegun Obasanjo government appointed him as the Federal Commissioner for Petroleum resources (March 1976-July 1978) and later, Chairman of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, June 1978-July 1978. It was during his stewardship at the Petroleum ministry that two of the nation’s refineries (Warri and Kaduna) were built.
In 1983, the patriotic fervor of Buhari was rudely put to test when the Chadians, in a mindless expansionist adventure, invaded and occupied 19 islands in Lake Chad within Nigerian territory. As the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the 3rd armored corps, the then Brigadier Muhammadu Buhari successfully carried out a blockade forcing the return of the territories and thereafter pursued the Chadians as far as 50kms into Chadian territory. On an Internet discourse, Major-General (retired) Ishola Williams commented on this military feat thus: “He applied forward defense strategy at its best.”
Major-General Muhammadu Buhari bestrode the nation’s governance when he led the military putsch that overthrew the civilian regime of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Prior to the take-over, the four-year-incursion of the civilian government had been horrific for Nigerians. The economy had been recklessly mismanaged to the extent that a chieftain of the ruling National Party of Nigeria, Alhaji Umaru Dikko, once asserted that there was no poverty in Nigeria because he had not seen any Nigerian feeding from the baggage dump!
In his maiden speech, General Muhammadu Buhari left no one under any illusion that his regime came on a rescue mission from the executive brigandage of the civilian regime. As a last line, he opined: “This generation of Nigerians, and indeed future generations, have no country other than Nigeria. We shall remain here and salvage it together.”
The 20-month era of strong leadership espoused what later became known as ‘Buharinomics’, which simply put is an admixture of frugality, probity, respect for contractual agreements, expunction of  all covert or overt attempts at subjugating the Nigerian economy to world powers and above all, economic policy with Nigeria as the center-piece. It is therefore, without any whiff of equivocation to state that the boldest attempt in the last thirty years at alleviating the pains of the teeming masses was during the enactment of Buharinomics. It was not surprising that the inflation rate was lowered by more than 18 points, from 23.2% in 1983 to 5.5% in 1985! The Buhari regime rebuffed all entreaties by IMF and World Bank to devalue the naira, remove subsidies on services and increase pump price on fuel.
It was arduous for the regime to cleanse the mess of the Shagari regime, which was characterized by unprecedented indiscipline –fiscal, institutional and governmental. With the mantra of War Against Indiscipline (WAI), a new direction was charted for Nigerians in ethical behavior in Public places.
With a persona that is hinged on self-abnegation, it was possible to insist on transparency within the polity. A military governor was relieved of his appointment for awarding N163,000 (one hundred and sixty three thousand naira) contract without  due consultation with the state executive council. The preceding politicians that corruptly enriched themselves were prosecuted and given long prison sentences. The former Director of NYSC, Col Peter Obasa and his accountant, Folorunsho Kila were found guilty and sentenced to 21years.
Owing to the damaging effect of currency trafficking outside the Nation’s shores, the Buhari administration decided to change the colors of the currency notes in April 1984. This yielded the desired result as N5Billion excess liquidity was mopped off! As a back-lash on this exercise, there was insidious story from a section of the media that the Buhari regime allowed the Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Jokolo to bring in 53 suitcases during the currecy change, thereby insinuating a case of double-standard. Let it be said from the onset, the opinion tenaciously held on to about this incident was what was sold to the unsuspecting Nigerian public by a section of the press. So much hoodwinked that Buhari's explanation had never been heard!
This is what Buhari said about this:
 
"This is a typical case of the press believing what they want to believe. I hope it is not a reflection of the Nigerian society. I hope one day you will find the time to interview the Vice President on this. I understand he was the Customs officer in charge of the Murtala Mohammed airport, perhaps he knows more about it than myself. I have explained this so many times but the press write what they want to write and not what is factual."
Going down the memory lane, he added: "I recall the day in question. We were playing squash with my ADC when his father, the late Emir was returning to the country. He was a well-respected person. I prompted Jokolo to go and receive him even when he had no intention of doing so. By some coincidence his father was returning with my late chief of protocol who was an ambassador in Libya. He returned with his three wives and about 16 children. Everything about him including the handbag of his wives was counted as a suitcase. I explained this myself but nobody believed me."
The Vice-President referred to is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the man that is now desperately fighting for PDP nomination.
Some months ago when he Alhaji Atiku Abubakar gave inkling into his interest in the nation's presidency, anxious journalists wanted to know from him how he would manage the formidable competition from IBB. He smiled and calmly told them, "You people do not know that my friendship with General Babangida had been for at least ten years before i knew the late General Shehu Musa-Yar'adua."
As an undergraduate, I did a little bit of mathematical induction. Without doubt, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was very friendly with General IBB (the serving Chief of Army staff) at the time of this 53-suitcase saga. We cannot infer anything yet, it is necessary to delve a little into IBB's subterfuge and fifth-columnist-posturing during the Buhari regime.
During the infamous Nigerian Medical Association (NMA)-induced doctors' strike of 1984/85 , Dr Fashakin (a former NMA President in Ife zone) had in an internet discourse, graciously acknowledged the 'logistics' support extended to the 'fleeing'  NMA executive members by the same Gen. IBB.
Col.Halilu Akilu (as Director military Intelligence) was reporting to Gen
IBB as the Chief of Army staff. For inexplicable reason (except for sheer idiocy), Akilu ordered soldiers to invade the 2-park-lane-Apapa residence of the late Sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Sometime ago, General Buhari was cornered and asked specifically about this incident. He said, "I did not order anybody to do this. It was the handiwork of the fifth columnist in our midst."
The Newsprints ordered by Concord Press (owned by Chief MKO Abiola) were seized by the Buhari regime because of infraction of the subsisting importation regulation. On the day (27th August, 1985) the Buhari regime was toppled, an airplane owned by Concord airline ferried General IBB from Minna to Lagos to assume leadership of the Nation. Did that suggest a friendship that facilitated the successful removal of the regime?
Was there a possibility of an alliance by General IBB and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to embarrass the Buhari regime? I strongly believe so! I therefore make bold to declare that the 53-suitcase issue was a hoax! You are at liberty to hold on to your impression.

Buhari may have his foibles (as all humans do) but what his detractors cannot take away from him is his personal discipline with no avaricious desire for unjust gain. This means he is a man who has succeeded in putting his own self into some form of self -abnegation. Such is the man that can usher in a fresh air from the fouled political atmosphere within the polity. I challenge anyone to point to any assassination or assassination attempt (with the imprimatur of the state) during the Buhari regime. But what happened after his removal? All the succeeding regimes have been guilty of clandestinely eliminating voices of dissent within the polity.
Though Gen IBB came smiling at everyone, including the Press; but before 15 months of his reign, a notable journalist had already been ‘parcel-bombed’!  We virtually lost count of unresolved state-organized murders during the infamous civilian regime of Baba Iyabo the imperial president. The explanation for the unresolved assassination Chief Bola Ige SAN, the regime's minister of Justice still leaves much to be desired! This spate of murders to settle political scores has, unwittingly or wittingly, been replicated by the state governors. It is a rarity to find a state governor without murderous squads roaming freely for the next assignment to satisfy their sponsors.
It is against this backdrop that Nigerians, I mean concerned Nigerians believe that the next leadership is critical in moving the nation to the next level. It is clearly important that we can no longer operate the culture of government by settlement whereby less than 600 individuals collectively consume 25% of the nation's budget; according to the recent startling statistics by the CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
Buhari had said he intends to extend the work-hours of Nigerians to 24-7; which means the people should be free to move about at whatever time of the day as they choose. Who is able to do this? It is not what someone reads to us from a speech prepared by a consultant; but from someone whose antecedents bespeak of refusal to pander to the antics of the Breton Woods' institutions to further impoverish our people.
It was a clear attestation of his Spartan lifestyle that the Abacha military regime entrusted the management of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) under his watch. There is no gain saying that PTF literally became the project arm of the government: Drugs supply to hospitals (especially Universities’ medical centers), road projects to hitherto unexplored rural areas clearly attest to his scrupulous assiduity.
What is the state of the republic as we speak? The parlous state of the economy is aptly captured in the fact that for the past eight months, the foreign reserves have been depleted by $8Billion, with the inflation rate as high as 14% and still rising. More worrisome is the depletion of the excess crude account from $22Billion to $470million with no corresponding economy-impacting capital projects to justify the expenditure.
Newton's second law of Motion states that: "Everybody continues in a state of rest or uniform motion unless compelled by an external force."  If there is no meaningful intervention from a confirmed patriot, our democracy (or demonstration of craze, apology to Fela Anikulapo-Kuti) is doomed for failure.
It is for these reasons and many more that General Muhammadu Buhari has taken up the gauntlet (through the support of Nigerians across the geo-political divide) to save the polity just one more time. The espousal of the new Nigeria would be dependent on the choice we make in April 2011. The Executive Presidents we have had in the last twelve years have not emerged from their visionary desire for the office but as a result of overbearing superimposition by entrenched interests. That would largely account for the rudderless leadership that had, unfortunately, been foisted on us. On the contrary, Muhammadu Buhari, with his antecedents of transparent and impactful governance, has with again shown uncanny indefatigability in offering himself for the needed rescue operation on the nation. Will this third attempt be the defining moment for the Nigerian nation? We stand at the threshold of history as true greatness beckons!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Engr. Rotimi Fashakin…

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