General Muhammadu Buhari is a man revered for his honesty, transparency, integrity and desire for justice for the common man. The idea of a Buhari Presidency is dreaded by some Nigerians who have looted the nation to stupor.
These selfish politicians who want to keep Nigerians in poverty often embark on a campaign of calumny by framing up accusations against Buhari in order to prevent Nigerians from voting for a leader who loves the masses and has the mind to change the fortunes of Nigeria for the better. Other anti-Buhari commentators have admitted that they are prejudiced against him (for no just cause). Some do not even know the truths about the allegations. Some misunderstand the man because of his straight forward and disciplined approach to life. Below is a compilation of the so called sins of Buhari obtained mainly from The Sixteen Sins of Buhari, written by Professor Tam David West, a man who worked closely with Buhari as Minister for Petroleum when General Buhari was Head of State. Facts have also been sourced from a few other sources to help Nigerians know the truth about this man whose presidency will undoubtedly change Nigeria for the better. Going by his unassuming nature, Buhari will not fight to protect his own name. This is why concerned Nigerians have decided to take up this fight. We must no longer let mischief makers who do not want the good of the average Nigerian deceive the Nigerian public.
Human Rights Abuse
Human rights must be protected and must not be abused. However, those who single out the military rule of Buhari for human rights violations are biased. The Buhari regime was a military regime. Military regimes have not been known to uphold the same standards of human rights as democracies. There was hardly any military regime in Nigeria that was not characterized by dictatorship and violation of fundamental rights. Military Heads of States gave orders that violated human rights. Some have accused Buhari of ordering executions. However, unlike other military Heads of States who single handedly ordered executions, Buhari never took decisions unilaterally. He practiced democracy even as a military Head of State. Decisions were taken by the Supreme Military Council (SMC). President Buhari will not order the execution of accused persons because it is the responsibility of the judiciary to pass sentences. President Buhari will not be a dictator because he has matured into a democrat and has participated actively in the democratic process since 1999. President Buhari cannot be a dictator because the democratic environment is different from the military environment. General Buhari has shown his faith in the democratic process by contesting for the presidency twice. When he lost under controversial circumstances, he demonstrated his faith in the judiciary by challenging the results through the laid down procedures of the court system. Therefore Nigerians should welcome whole heartedly Muhammadu Buhari, the democrat.
General Buhari has been attacked for making retroactive laws by which he targeted corrupt practices which robbed Nigeria of vital income. Decree Number 20 of 1984 on bunkering and illegal oil deals was aimed at stopping the theft of oil which at the time cost Nigeria over $2 million per day. Again that was the only way a patriotic and zealous military Head of State could have saved Nigeria from the clutches of corruption. That retroactive law put an end to the theft of oil. Other Nigerian military Heads of States also made retroactive laws. The United Nations tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo which tried perpetrators of World War II atrocities operated based on retroactive laws. Retroactive laws simply fulfilled the maxim, "desperate diseases require desperate remedies". A democratic government will be different at least because it is characterized by separation of powers. As such, President Buhari cannot and will not make retroactive decrees as it is the duty of the National Assembly to make laws in a democracy.
Buhari has been accused by mischief makers of religious fundamentalism. He was quoted out-of-context as saying that muslims should vote for only muslims. If this were true, can he be hanged for it when Christian clerics have also been known to advocate that Christians should vote only for Christians? But Buhari’s rebuttal of this charge, "I am not a religious fundamentalist …" was published on Saturday Sun on 3 July 2004. Do you know that as Head of State, General Buhari bulldozed mosques that were constructed illegally? Do you know that he arrested and detained a number of Islamic preachers for violent sermons? Do you know that as an army commander, most of Buhari’s men from platoon to division were Christians? Do you know that it was Obasanjo, not Buhari who took Nigeria into the membership of the Islamic Bank? Do you know that it was Babangida, not Buhari who sought to secretly take Nigeria into membership of the Organization of Islamic Countries? How then can Buhari be said to be an Islam fundamentalist? Buhari is simply a devout muslim who is committed to his faith without trying to impose it on anyone.
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.
Decree 3 and Shagari Regime Politicians
The Buhari regime passed the Recovery of Public Property (Special Military Tribunal’s Decree No. 3 of 1984) to try the corrupt politicians in Shagari’s government. Admittedly, the sentences handed over to the culprits may have been outrageous but this was again characteristic of military regimes, not just Buhari’s regime. Some military regimes were known to hand down life sentences to persons against whom they framed up accusations. Did Buhari frame up accusations against anyone? Certainly not! Even Buhari’s critics have admitted that the Shagari’s government was outrageously corrupt. In the process, Buhari saved Nigeria hundreds of millions of naira. Again in a democracy, President Buhari will not hand down sentences on anyone because it is the responsibility of the courts to do so. Other governments including civilian administrations have been known to manipulate anti-corruption agencies because they had something to hide or someone to protect. Not so for Buhari. He has nothing to hide and no one to protect.
The 53 Suit Cases Saga
Below is an excerpt of a profile of Muhammadu Buhari written by Oluwarotimi Fashakin and published on Elombah.com: 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 currency 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 (Alhaji Atiku Abubakar) 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." It is believed that these false allegations were cooked up by persons who secretly sought to discredit Buhari in order to overthrow him. Let him that have eyes read between the lines. Let those who falsely accuse an honest man have a rethink for it is the height of injustice.
The N2.8 Billion ‘Missing’ Oil Money Poppycock
In 1980, during the administration of President Shagari, a case arose of some N2.8 billion allegedly missing from the NNPC in the previous administration of General Obasanjo when General Buhari was the Minister for Petroleum. A Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by a Supreme Court Judge, Honourable Mr. Justice Ayo Irekefe, was set up to examine the allegations. The MD/CEO of NNPC, Chief Festus Marinho, an oil technocrat was temporarily moved out of the NNPC to allow for investigations. From its findings, the Commission, satisfied that no such money ever got missing, dismissed the scandal. It is interesting to note that even before the allegations were dismissed by the Commission, Buhari’s name was not mentioned among those suspected. This was reiterated by General Obasanjo in 1990 in his book "Not My Will" in which Obasanjo praised Buhari’s "honesty", "moral probity and rectitude". Those prejudiced against Buhari later sought to revive these allegations and, failing to justify their claims, alleged that the sum was $3.4 billion reviewed to $4.1 billion even though all government records state clearly that the allegedly missing sum was N2.8 billion and that the allegations were found to be untrue and subsequently dismissed. They falsely claim that the coup against Shagari’s governemnt was because of the investigations. How could Buhari have staged a coup in revenge for an investigation into a case in which he was not even accused and which was eventually dismissed as baseless? The Buhari led coup was to clean up the polity which was deep in corruption during the administration of Shagari. Nigerians took to the streets in jubilation when the Shagari administration was toppled as it marked an end to a reign of corruption which had caused severe damage to the economy. One year later, the missionary zeal of the Buhari-Idiagbon regime had begun to transform the nation to the extent that Buhari was almost christened "Nigeria’s Jesus" by enthusiastic Nigerians but for the fact that that would mean a "muslim Jesus".
Rejection of National Award
When "national award is patronisingly made as if it is personal favour, and with some odour of condescension, proving or scoring some political points, all decent and honourable persons should feel constrained to reject it"- Professor Tam David West. Buhari, by honourably rejecting Obasanjo’s national award, joined the league of Chinua Achebe who will not compromise principles for gain. Buhari should be crowned with the people’s support for refusing to be stained by the favour of a government whose election victory was criticized by international observers. Indeed Buhari is an honourable man!
The Siege on Chief Awolowo’s House
Buhari has stated clearly his innocence in the raid on the houses of Chief Awolowo, Alhaji Gumi and Shehu Musa by security operatives. He was not told about the incidents. It was masterminded by a fifth columnist (a secret group whose agenda was to discredit and overthrow Buhari’s government).
The Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF)
In spite of the widely acknowledged success of the PTF, some anti-Buhari advocates claim that the PTF was created for Buhari and that it was a parallel government. This is nonsense. The PTF was set up as a child of necessity by Abacha’s government when complaints trailed the increase in fuel pump price. The fears were that as it was on previous occasions when fuel price was increased, the increase would not bring any benefit to Nigerians. The PTF was then set up to use the proceeds from fuel sales for development. By Decree 1 of 1995 which established the PTF, the body was to be bound by the principles of prudence, transparency and integrity. No other person suited the administration of this body than General Buhari who was begged to run the organization. It has been said that the PTF did more in 3 years for the development of Nigerians than the PDP government has done in 12 years. Buhari’s integrity and dedication to duty made the PTF a "Model for Development". "Its Annual Audited Accounts were always on time up till 1998, audited by their External Auditors, Messrs KPMG" – Professor Tam David West. Buhari challenged President Obasanjo to probe his tenure as PTF Chairman (The Anchor, 31 May 2006). Obasanjo could not find anything against him.
Buhari and Counter-Trade
Before the Shagari-administration was overthrown, the economy was almost crippled. When Buhari took over, in order to revive the economy, he refused to adopt IMF conditionalities. As a strategy for national survival, the Buhari-regime adopted the Counter-Trade policy which in simple terms means "using what we have to get what we need", that is, exchanging oil for the goods needed in the national economy. Under strict conditions, specified barrels of oil were allocated to qualified merchants nominated by the goods supplier. The proceeds from oil sales were lodged in Escow Account in a foreign bank selected by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Goods needed by the Nigerian economy were purchased from this account. It is sad to note that the Escow Account established by Buhari’s government was depleted by Babangida’s government just as the current administration has depleted Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account set up by Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as Minister of Finance during Obasanjo’s regime. When Babangida sought to probe Buhari’s Counter-Trade policy, no case could be made against the Buhari regime because it had nothing to hide and the policy served the good of the national economy.
The War Against Indiscipline (WAI)
It is unfortunate that what has been hailed as the era of a culture of discipline is being peddled as a sin of Buhari by some. WAI was instituted to instill discipline in the Nigerian character. The result of this is that Nigerians began to keep their environment clean. The queuing culture became "an integral part of the national culture". Today, there are many law enforcement agencies on the streets and highways. In spite of this, indiscipline has become the order of the day. Some law enforcement agents are easily compromised and there appears to be inadequate political will to enforce the laws. What the WAI crusade brought to Nigeria was that political will. Admittedly, its methods were strict. After all, it was the project of a military regime. Nigeria today needs disciplined leadership that can lead by example and demonstrate proper public conduct. Because the man Buhari has matured into a democrat, his discipline and integrity makes him the president Nigeria needs at this time.
Buhari and the Oputa Commission
The Human Rights Violation and Investigation Commission (HRVIC) headed by Honourable Justice Chukwudifu Oputa an eminent jurist and supported by respected Nigerians like Rev Father Matthew Coker may have had good intentions. But why a mere ceremonial, or at best, administrative panel without any mechanism of enforcement or even of compelling people to appear before it. What has happened to its report? Even Babangida successfully defended in court his right not to appear before the panel. Many lawyers called it a toothless bulldog. In a governmental order that lacks the political will to enforce unbiased findings, where such reports as the Pius Okigbo Report can be alleged to be missing as an excuse not to implement it, what serious minded Nigerian will expect anything to come from what Wole Soyinka described as "Portraits in Infamy and Criminal Impunity"? Could it be that General Buhari, in his characteristic honest and serious approach to life had seen beforehand that the government of the day had no intention to take that panel seriously even though it had respected Nigerians in its committee?