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Opinion: Muhammadu Buhari, The Myths Of Change



In the wee hours of the night on January 4th, 1984, heavily armed men of the special ops department of the Nigerian Army known as strike force stormed the residence of Chief Olu Awotesu in Lagos to effect an arrest based on an order from above. Chief Olu Awotesu had travelled to his home town in Iperu, Ogun State and on realising that their target was not around, the soldiers descended on his family. Chief’s wife was dragged from the bedroom down through the staircases to the lower floor, while interrogation of where Chief was, was ongoing the men in khaki spiced it up with varying degrees of resounding slaps and kick-booting. They laughed while she screamed and begged for mercy, the more she cried the more they tortured her. The children weren’t spared from the ‘dinner party’. As if they had a direct order to have no mercy, the men took turn to dehumanize the helpless kids and even ordered the wife to clean up the blood of her kids every time an atomic blow cuts through their veins.

The torture lasted over three hours and having satisfied their lust for blood left fulfilled. Chief Awotesu returned to Lagos with news of a hunt for him, he drove straight to Dodan barracks with no knowledge of the havoc that has befell his family. Chief Awotesu wasn’t only arrested but detained without trial for almost two years. It was while in detention he was told about the assault and near assassination of his family. He was released in 1985 having found no evidence of crime against him.

The man who ordered that inhuman assault alongside numerous others which included but not limited to the hunt for Chief Olabisi Onabanjo (a gory tale best recounted by his daughter) is no other than the now rebranded General Muhammadu Buhari. Before the world got to know the new Buhari in suit and tie giving kids ‘high five’, many, who were truly innocent and law abiding Nigerians have had their lives bashed right in front of their eyes as a result of his total disrespect for human rights. My friend, Elnathan John, a renowned satirist and writer said recently, ‘I refuse to choose between human rights and good governance. Any good governance that disrespects human rights is not good’. As the new Buhari preaches good governance, steps must be taken to ensure that fundamental human rights are not only respected but given total right of way. The Buhari must also be man enough to reach out to families of individuals who were victims of his brutish past and seek genuine resistitution.

For a while now, Nigerians have been fed with tales of General Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign and distaste for graft activities, the merchants of this gospel are hoping such public relations job will brush up his goodwill and acceptability to all Nigerians but the fact remains that no amount of image marketing by his campaign organization will change the real him as perceived by the public, after all, clothing a pig in the best of tuxedo doesn’t stop it from finding dirt pleasant.

Many analysts and commentators who seems to be spreading the gospel of a revolutionary war against corruption if Buhari gets elected basing such assumption on Buhari’s previous mode of governance are either being economical with the truth, caught in the frenzy of the possibilities for a changed government or just unconsciously drifted into the realm of those who lack adequate knowledge of how a democratic system works. It is nothing other than a grand-illusion to believe that General Buhari if elected will solely curb corruption, which many has attributed as the major bane of our country. Buhari if elected will be operating under set constitutional rules and guidelines which includes that he or any agency setup can not arbitrarily arrest, investigate, and pass judgement on alleged criminals. General Buhari may be able to identify either directly or through an agency corrupt individuals but the task of serving justice remains the prerogative of the judiciary which unfortunately isn’t free of the same corruption. Those preaching the message of Buhari fighting corruption are merely selling a contaminated milk known to all as stale. The reality of war against corruption in Nigeria shows that it supersedes the power of the presidency alone under a democratic system. In the light of this, a new Buhari will move far away from the ‘I will fight corruption’ slogan as what makes corruption works in Nigeria isn’t just a weak president but conglomerates of corruption laden institutions who constitutionally are independent and free from the shackle-hold of executive powers.

In the quest of curbing corruption will General Buhari be able to clean his house first? As a man who is now surrounded by a gang of think-tank who siphoned and warehoused the economy, social and human sector of Lagos state, given such individuals the key to Aso rock and Nigeria economy will create an upscale of monarchical control over the affairs of the country.

What will General Buhari do to Tinubu (who is allegedly a notorious signature for corruption) who personally supervised his emergence at the primaries and on whose back he rode to become a presidential candidate against all odds? What will Buhari do to Rotimi Amaechi a man engulfed in series of financial misappropriations which includes but not limited to the monorail project scam, bogus international stadium project, local government allocations grabbing among numerous others but stood as the financial war chest of General Buhari marching former vice-president, Abubakar Atiku dollars for dollars, pounds for pounds during the primaries. A man who turned the acclaimed state owned private jet to Buhari’s campaign flight? What will Buhari do to Ibikunle Amosun, acknowledged by many as one of the most corrupt Governors in the South West with hyper-inflated contracts and total centralization of local government allocations but was responsible for the gift of a brand new bullet proof SUV to Buhari and also played a major role by delivering his delegates during the primary?

The ability of General Buhari to lead is something that demands clinical view, the War Against Indiscipline (WAI), which is now the poser child of Buhari’s campaign and being celebrated today was more of Tunde Idiagbon than Buhari. It was Brigadier General Tunde Idiagbon who supervised and monitor the clamp down against social nuisance and indiscipline. If Nigerians are so keen on bringing back the good old days, then we should be demanding for the come back of the late brigadier. For a new Buhari to fully work effectively as advertised, a new Tunde Idiagbon must be found. Unfortunately Prof. Osinbajo is a man whose autobiography shows taste for ‘non-justice’. The role the professor now addressed as Pastor played in covering down the Tinubu certificate scandal is still fresh in one’s memory not to talk of his antecedents while serving in the inglorious regime of General Badamosi Babangida where his legal drafts were used in clamping down numerous media houses and students union organizations. Away from all these, Mr. Osinbajo in deeds and acts seems to have dedicated more time serving the King of Bourdillon than the gospel of the Lord. Will Osinbajo input in government be that of his opinion or the opinion of some certain cabals in Lagos?

The alternative option approach as being devised by the Buhari camp has clearly shown it is not prepared for the job. It is high time Buhari, APC and sympathizers left the convenient corridors of insults, condemnation and abuses and begin a campaign based on issues, policy formations and economic blueprints. Anybody can abuse, insult and pass blames. It is easier to stand in front of teeming crowds, wave to the admiration of supporters and pledge to stop insecurity, make power supply better, create jobs but it only takes few individuals with sound and true passion for a better Nigeria to say how such promises will be implemented.


Adekoya Boladale wrote via [email protected]. Please engage on twitter @adekoyabee and Facebook Adekoya Boladale is a political scientist and scholar on good governance, a social commentator and consultant on political and intra governmental affairs. He is the Convener, Advocacy for Better Leadership (ABEL), Nigeria.


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