The critical questions around Mohammadu Buhari, the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress keep mounting by the day and Nigerians deserve answers to these questions as we approach Election Day. One of such is the issue of Buhari being a religious bigot in a multi-religious society like Nigeria. Right now, the APC presidential candidate and his supporters have started silently telling people not to vote for a Christian President. This campaign is ongoing using Hausa and Fulani languages. Buhari should come out and deny this if he is man enough.
Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State’s recent accusation that Buhari had commenced divisive campaigns in the northern and southern parts of the country is also a food for thought.
Lamido noted that a critical look at the situation on the ground exposes people like Buhari as being insincere in both intent and purpose. Elaborating, Lamido alleged that when Buhari talks to the electorate in the North, he usually plays up the religious card, but once he is in the South, he plays it down by harping on the unity of Nigeria.
Lamido wondered why Buhari had gone out of his way to select a Christian as his running mate and what this portends, adding: “Why then are our people vilified and maligned because they refused to vote for a Muslim as their president and have opted for a Christian?
If not, why is it that he chose a Christian as his running mate and shunned the Muslim community, then he turns round to tell the people in the North that his contest is anchored on promoting and guiding their ideological faith.
So long as we want Nigeria to get out of her present predicament, we must be sincere in the way we practise democracy so as to avoid a bloodbath and the rampant killing of Nigerians because of the interest of a few individuals.”
Now, let’s go to the issue of dreaded Maitasine crushed in Nigeria some years ago. Buhari did not kill the terrorist group called Maitasine as being alleged by his supporters. The good thing to note here is that Buhari has never opened his mouth to say that he was the one that exterminated Maitasine in the North. His supporters have been using this to justify his claim that he would route out the terrorist Boko Haram sect if elected President. Rotimi Amaechi, his campaign manager kicked off Buhari’s campaign with this lie in a desperate bid to prove that he is an effective campaign manager.
Here is the truth about Maitasine elimination for those peace-loving Nigerians who wish to know: Buhari was not the President of Nigeria in 1980 when Mohammed Marwa, the leader of the dreaded Maitasine sect was killed. It was the Shagari regime that killed him. In fact, during this period, Buhar was outside the country on official course at the US War College and upon his return in 1981, he was made the GOC of the 4th infantry Division, Enugu. The new leader of the Maitasine who emerged after the death of Marwa was Mai Makaniki and they continued to instigate religious violence in the North, even when Buhari was briefly Head of State. Makaniki was captured in 2004. It is a shame that Buhari has not dissociated himself from this false claim. In desperation to capture power, the keep telling us lies.
In order to deceive Nigerians that Buhari is capable of taming Boko Haram, his supporters have been distorting history. The false claims and distortion of history is a continuation of the distortions in which APC and their cohorts are hoping to airbrush Buhari to look different from his historical realities. These realities include the detention of late Tai Solarin for 17 months by using an illegal warrant of arrest. There was also the illegal detention of Fela Kuti for 18 months. In both cases, Buhari truncated the process of justice and perpetuated the denial of individual liberty – two issues that are bedrocks of democracy.
The only thing Buhari has in common with Maitasine is a common belief in governance through sharia, a strictness which manifested in the retroactive execution of Decree 20, which led to the untimely execution three Nigerian youths – Bernard Ogedengbe (29), Barthlomew Leon (26) and Lawal Ojuolape (30) from a crime they committed. This was different from the law by which they were executed
Now to the ability of Buhari to crush corruption, the recent report on his failures as chairman of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund should perish talks that the APC presidential candidate is capable of killing corruption in Nigeria. In the face of deepening world economic crisis, the report calls to question Buhari’s ability of the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari to manage the Nigerian economy and fight corruption, if elected president.
Nigerians must take a critical look at the original copy of a report by the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF) Interim Management Committee, instituted on July 7, 1999 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Based on this report, the PTF under Buhari’s supervision was mismanaged. The report was however neither made public nor was it acted upon by Obasanjo. Nigerians must know that Buhari squandered the N182 billion that accrued to the PTF during his tenure.
In its summary, the committee advised Obasanjo to “set up a high powered judicial panel to recover the huge public fund and to take necessary action against any officer, consultant or contractor whose negligence resulted in this colossal loss of public funds.”
According to the report, the sum of N25,758,532,448 was mismanaged by the Afri-Project Consortium (APC), a company contracted by the PTF as management and project consultant. Buhari as PTF chairman was said to have also “delegated to them the power of Engineer in all appropriate project requiring such power,” which made them assume absolute powers to initiate, approve and execute all projects by the PTF.
The mismanagement that took place in the PTF under Buhari’s watch was said to have been carried out by the APC (the company) in their capacity as management and project consultants. Both their management services fee and budget for several projects carried out during the existence of the PTF were greatly overpriced.
While carrying out its obligations, the Committee made up of Dr. Haroun Adam as Chairman, and Alhaji Abdu Abdurrahim, Mr Achana Gaius Yaro, Edward Eguavoen, Mr. T. Andrew Adegboro and Mr. Baba Goni Machina as members, engaged three management consulting firms to verify all payments made to PTF from inception to September 30, 1999.
On verification, according to the Committee, “it was found that they (the consulting firms) had overcharged PTF for their services to the tune of N2,057,550,062”. Also, while intervening on behalf of the PTF in the road and waterways, education, food, health, and other sectors, the APC, according to the report, inflated all the prices.
For instance, intervention in the health sector, was said to have totaled N9 billion. Projects in this sector were said to have been executed by the APC and PTF in-house staff, and loss of billions of naira were recorded due to price inflation of products and services.
To purchase spectacle frames, which could have been done locally at a price between N80 to N880, the APC, under the watch of the PTF chairman, bought them at an inflated price of N1,900 each. Ambulances were said to have been purchased at N13 million per unit, instead of N3 million. And then price inflation of drugs was done to the tune of N1.5 billion.
The report also said that the PTF lost money to the tune of N3.5 billion from its bank account operations. The PTF operated its bank accounts under three different categories: Administration, Project and Treasury accounts, and the loss of money to these accounts were said to have been due to “overcharge on Cost of Turnover (CoT), non-payment of interest on current account balances as stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), short payment of interest on deposited funds, and other various discrepancies.”
While discharging their duties, the Committee discovered that an average income of N182 billion accrued to the PTF from its inception to the date of filing their report. According to the Committee’s report, the PTF used about 70 per cent of that income on highways and urban road projects.
The report stated further that, “In this project sector there was total variation of contract sums of N68 billion. These variations were not done with properly priced bills of quantities and approved civil contracts procedure as stipulated by government regulations.
“Taking the experience of what has been discovered after verification of various contracts awarded by PTF the minimum potential recovery will be about 15%. This estimated percentage will be about N10 billion. The verification of this project sector was about to take off when the committee members were replaced.”
I am still waiting for the APC Presidential candidate to respond to these allegations of fraud at the defunct PTF when he was chairman. If Buhari has any conscience at all, I expect him to pull out of this race and apologise to Nigerians. Obasanjo covered him and refused to implement the recommendations of the probe panel. This is the same Obasanjo that has been going around talking about fighting corruption. Now, they have been exposed. Nigerians now know the truth about the man that wants to fight corruption. How long will these hypocrites continue to deceive Nigerians.
• Tureta is an Abuja-based public affairs analyst