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“Buhari A Most Distinguished International Fellow”-US War College Commandant Letter To The Nigerian Army In 1980 Reveals

Following recent widespread smear campaigns against the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), over his education, training and qualifications, SaharaReporters has unearthed a letter written by the United States Army War College, Pennsylvania praising Buhari’s intelligence and brilliance throughout his stint as a fellow at the prestigious military academy. 


The letter obtained from a source within the Nigerian military shows that Buhari attended and graduated from the College with the Class of 1980 on June 9 of that year.

In a letter dated 13 June 1980 and addressed to then Chief of Defense Staff, General Alani Akinrinade, the Commandant of the War College, Major-General DeWitt C. Smith Jr described Buhari as “a most distinguished International Fellow” who graduated with the Class of 1980. Lieutenant General, DeWitt C. Smith, Jr, was the longest-serving commandant of the U.S. Army War College, he died in 2005 at the age of 84.

He also informed that while the College has no Class Standings in its grading system, “it should be pointed out that his performance was outstanding in every respect.”

During the ten-month course which was divided into the ‘Common Overview’ and ‘Advanced Courses’, Buhari took the prescribed courses, audited three other courses, and took it upon himself to visit US Army facilities in furtherance of his personal professional understanding of logistics management.

The letter gave profound commendations of Buhari for being “a man of extraordinary aptitude who demonstrated a broad knowledge of current international problems. His keen interest, sense of responsibility and solid grasp of the strategic implications of the important global issues marked him as a key member of any student seminar. Infact, he was at his best in the “give and take” environment of our seminar group discussions where students are encouraged to express their views even though they differ from the group consensus.”

The former Nigerian military ruler turned civil democrat was also credited for his thorough understanding of the major issues in American and global affairs as a result of his “obvious research and analytical facilities far exceeding the majority of his contemporaries.”

Buhari, the War College Commandant continued, also towered over and above his colleagues in written aspects of the Course Work. “his written efforts were “first-rate” and noted for their outstanding quality of research, logic and  communications skills. Brigadier Buhari’s oral presentations consistently reflected those gifts of mind and hearing which are essential in command or group endeavours. His individual presentations were of exceptional value in that he avoided vague generalities and focused on the issues which involved hard, detailed choices.”

Among his class mates, Buhari was described as having the remarkable ability to deal with wide range of issues, no matter their complexities, simultaneously. He also displayed an outstanding “political sensitivity and intimate knowledge of current political-military problems.” He was a key motivator among his course mates as he was able “to effectively contrast his own Army’s command and management philosophies and practices with the United States Army’s in such a way as to be beneficial and educational to all.” He was admired and respected by his colleagues.

Buhari was equally an active participant in extra-curricular activities; he was the Assistant Coach of a junior level soccer team in the local community. Besides, “Muhammadu, his lovely wife Safinatu, and his young family were actively involved in the social life of the College and were a credit to Nigeria.” The Commandant concluded the letter with strong recommendations of Buhari for his exceptional potentials that qualify him to be worthy of the trust of the Nigerian Army and Government.

Following his emergence as the Presidential Candidate of the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) in a presidential primary that was widely acclaimed as most democratically transparent, General Buhari’s educational training and credentials had been queried in public by key members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).  It was speculated that he had no requisite qualifications for the office of President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Nigerian Army authorities also joined the fray by claiming it was not in possession of Buhari’s certificates.