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Before Voting Buhari: Twenty Things History Teaches US By Kennedy Emetulu

January 15, 2015

History is harsh, because it hides nothing from honest and discerning people. For those who are dancing at the prospect of voting in Muhammadu Buhari, please consider the following historical facts. Interpret them however you choose, but think about them deeply:


(1) Think of the kind of nation the colonial masters bequeathed to us before leaving. They instituted different political, social and legal system in the North and South, but still ran the country as one and left us without any attempt at righting the wrongs they’ve instituted.

(2) Think of the pogroms in the North against the Igbo and Southerners. What were the reasons for this? There was no reason more than that the Igbo and Southerners were seen as taking over the economy and geographical space of the Northerner in a supposed one, free Nigeria.

(3) Think of the First Republic and the issues that led to its demise. These issues ranged from the obvious injustices perpetrated at the centre by a majoritarian oligarchy, which then led to electoral violence in the West and national distrust in the Niger-Delta.

(4) Think of beginning of military intervention in politics and the cost to the nation:

(a) The First Coup of January 1966 and the real motivation of the chaps behind it.

(b) The coming of Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi and the counter-coup that saw his death and the mass killing of Igbo officers within the army, including the pogrom that followed up North.

(c) The Civil War and the cost in human and material resources to the nation. Was it necessary? Why the waste? What have we learnt? Think of the Asaba and Owerri massacres (Buhari was part of the latter)? Were they necessary? What have we learnt from that war?

(5) Think of the whole nine years of General Yakubu Gowon, the seven months of General Murtala Muhammed, the four years of Shehu Shagari. The almost two years of Buhari, the eight years of General Ibrahim Babangida, the five years of General Sani Abacha, the one year of Abdulsalami Abubakar and the two years of Umaru Yar’Adua. For almost 40 years of the 54 that we have had flag independence, the North has ruled the nation, but what did their leadership do for Nigeria? Why is the Northern elite now hell-bent on taking back power at the top? How long have they been out of it that they now want it back? What did they do with it for their people when they had it?

(6) Think about June 12 and the murder of MKO Abiola. Imagine the opportunity our country had at that juncture in our history and who truncated it. Who are the beneficiaries of the truncation of June 12, but Buhari and the industrial-military complex that backs him now as members of the APC?

(7) For the Yoruba, think about the power you have now and how to use it responsibly. When Obafemi Awolowo had it, he used it responsibly and this nation is grateful for it. For those who are hailing Bola Tinubu as some kind of political genius, do they think Tinubu is safe under a Buhari presidency as he has been under Jonathan? Do they not see how easy it would be for Buhari to pluck out Tinubu in a power tussle over control of the APC under the guise of fighting corruption? Do they think there is anything a Vice President Yemi Osibajo can do in the circumstances? What would be the fate of the Yoruba at that point?

(8)  Think about the National Question and what this false change would mean for the Southern minorities and the nation. Since the Willink Commission of 1958, their troubles have been in the front burner of national discussion and we have shouted ourselves hoarse for a Sovereign National Conference (SNC). Whether we want to believe it or not, Jonathan’s presidency sort of doused the raging fire, so what would his ouster do? Think about the Orkar Coup of 1992 and what motivated those young men now lost to the firing squad.

(9) For the Yoruba, think about those who today mostly populate the highest and middle level echelon of the oil industry. They are not Niger-Deltans; they are young Yoruba professionals and Tinubu who worked with Mobil knows this. Are you prepared to sacrifice them and their career to install a Buhari who, from his actions and utterances, look bent on dipping the Koran in the sea in the form of establishing Sharia all over Nigeria? Does anyone think the South-South will sit down and share the oil wealth with a nation of the sort Buhari has in mind? Does anyone really think Buhari has the temperament to hold a complex Nigeria together?

(10) To the Northerners, think about what we are already seeing about Buhari on the campaign trail. Does he look like a healthy person? His gaunt, austere look is not just about his stature. The man is old and ill and this campaign will take a lot from him. If, God forbid, he does not survive this campaign or his first term where would that put this country? Does anyone think that the power-mongers of the North will simply stand by and let the Vice President take over constitutionally? Are we prepared to go through the Yar’Adiua experience again, especially this time when they are likely to be more desperate? What would it mean for those in the North who think it’s their turn to take over, rather than wait till 2019 when they are likely to have a more vibrant candidate with real national appeal contesting for the presidency and with a chance to win and govern in peace?

(11) Think of Buhari as the head of state and how he ran the nation. The day he was overthrown, I was at the parade ground at the Orientation Camp in Toro, Bauchi where I was serving my NYSC. I remember that the chap who was our Commandant was a young Captain said to be a cousin to Brigadier Joshua Dongoyaro who announced the overthrow. His second-in-command was then Lieutenant Ugo Buzugbe who is today a Major General. Once word reached us of the overthrow, the whole camp went agog with jubilation! On the day, I was delegated by my friends to go to Jos to buy some things for a party we were planning. I got there and the whole city was jubilating! We heard of spontaneous jubilation all over the country. Today, some brilliant, but devious spin-doctors are painting Buhari as a great leader who is now making us feel nostalgia for his time! Only fools who would want to be treated like animals and butchered without reason would look at Buhari and say he is the change we need. Yes, we might need change, but not Buhari! We are not a cursed people! We should never go back to our national vomit!

(12) Think about his manifesto and what he offers. Is there anything there that he can do better than Jonathan? He talks about fighting corruption, but Buhari is a corrupt man being shielded by spin-doctors! The facts of his corruption are there! How can anyone believe the lies about his poverty? What poor man contests every presidential election since 2003 in such a grandiose manner? Can’t we see the corrupt people he consorts with and those interested in sending him to Aso Rock? Does that add up?

(13) Think about this fellow who has been a recurrent name in Nigerian politics since his overthrow by his military colleagues, but who cannot tell us one good cause he has put his name or his money in. Where are the charities he supports? What business is he involved in? What has he been doing with almost N30 million he receives monthly as gratuity? How has he improved himself since leaving office? Why can he not just tender his First School Leaving Certificate, rather than lying and getting others to lie for him? How many scholarships has he awarded, even as we know that his daughter lives the high life in a UK university where she pays more than £16,000 as school fees? How many university chairs has he endowed? How many professional bodies does he support? How many international missions has he helped with? All we have seen him do since is go to BBC Hausa, say some inciting and divisive things and when called out, he proclaims innocence and accuses journalists of misinterpreting him.

(14) Think about his support for Boko Haram and the group nominating him as their representative in negotiation with the Federal Government. Why did he cowardly refuse to be part of the negotiation when he’s spent the whole time attacking the Nigerian Army and the Federal Government over Boko Haram? Does anyone think the present Nigerian Army would accept this type of untrustworthy and divisive figure as Commander-in-Chief? After all, following the annulment of the June 12 election, one of the reasons Babangida said they couldn’t hand over to MKO Abiola was because he wouldn’t have been accepted as Commander-in-Chief. Buhari was one of the beneficiaries of that annulment. I can’t see him being a good Commander-in-Chief. As bad as it sounds, he will do the same mistakes he did the first time and worse and Nigerians would be reduced to jubilating again when a coup topples him. Egypt after the electoral victory of the Muslim Brotherhood comes to mind. And that would be the least terrible of all choices we can get.

(15) Think of Buhari who has no idea of modern governance. Only dishonest people will believe otherwise. Listen to him and see how vacuous he is. No matter how they try to hide his illiteracy, it’s glaring. He has now joined Twitter, because of election, but what does he really know about modern communication? His best phrase is “I will fight….” No, governance is not about fighting; it’s about governing. I don’t want to hear people tell me he would surround himself with the best brains, because anyone without a brain ruling Nigeria will not know the best brains and even when they are there, a man with the ignorant stubbornness of Buhari will not listen to them or know how to use them.

(16) Think of the world we live in and the kind of leadership driving developments in other lands. Think of us in 2015 celebrating a Buhari as our President! The country of Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo celebrating a Buhari in 2015? Some may say Jonathan is not better, but that would be unfair. Jonathan is far better, even if he is not the best we can offer as a nation. Forget the propaganda that he has not done anything, he has. His administration has achieved a lot and those who are honest know this. Indeed, his administration has achieved more for the North than any Northern leader in our history. His problem is that he does not have good marketers. Whatever minuses we think Jonathan has, Buhari will triple them. 

(17) Think of the Boko Haram menace and understand that it is not a question of Jonathan failing on national security, but a huge sabotage against our nation by elements looking to benefit from his ouster. One of the worst things done to our nation by that buffoon, Olusegun Obasanjo was the emasculation of our armed forces. He did it when he came into power in 1999 under the pretext that he was professionalizing the army and stopping them from planning coups. His Ministers of Defence, Theophilus Danjuma and Rabiu Kwankwaso oversaw the destruction of the army, even as massive money was voted in the defence budget. Of course, we had no threat. By the time that threat came in the form of Boko Haram, Yar’Adua dealt with it with overwhelming force. But that was the problem. Yar’Adua ordered the killing of Boko Haram activists extra-judicially, but that only earned them international recognition from Global Jihad. With external money and training, they were transformed and under Jonathan, they became the Nigerian franchise of Global Jihad. Then in collaboration with Northern power-mongers they began a process of blackmailing Jonathan. He asked for negotiation, they would not budge; he promised them amnesty, they would not budge. They simply continue to kill defenseless citizens at will, because they know that will undermine Jonathan and the state. They support this with propaganda, inflating number of casualties and working with their political partners to undermine the state and state response at all levels.  Meanwhile, when the nation had the OPC problem in the West, Yoruba leaders went out there to sort it out. When we had problems with Bakassi Boys in the East, Igbo leaders rose to the challenge and when we had the militancy in the Niger-Delta, South-South leaders, including Goodluck Jonathan went into the creeks to talk the boys into disarming. Now, what have the Northern leaders done about Boko Haram since it started its rampage? Some wring their hands helplessly, while others like Buhari make political capital out of it! Of course, all Boko Haram wants now is a Northern president who would establish Sharia all over Nigeria and Buhari will give them that. But what that means is that they used the power of their guns to impose on us a national leadership that would take us back to the Middle Ages. I have no scruples with Buhari and his kith and kin that want criminal Sharia, but they cannot impose it on the rest of the nation above our Constitution. I will not vote for my own death! I will not vote for my people’s death!  I will not vote to take Nigeria through the darkness that I know a Buhari presidency represents!

(18) Think about the fact that we lost more people to communal, ethnic and sectarian violence under Obasanjo, including deaths by political assassinations, yet everyone is conveniently forgetting this fact and proclaiming Jonathan a weakling. Would we prefer that Jonathan and the military give communities the Odi and Zaki Biam treatment in the name of fighting Boko Haram?

(19) Think about the National Youth Service Corps members and the almost 1000 people that lost their lives up North after the last presidential election simply because Buhari did not win. Did Buhari’s reaction at the time show him as a statesman? Did it show him as someone who cares for the life of Southerners? Is that not the same man who has promised that dogs and baboons would be soaked in blood if the election is rigged this time, which in fact is a code word for massive violence if he loses? 

(20) Think Nigerians! Those of you North and South who love this country and who know what we have sacrificed to get here should think of the future. It’s okay to think it’s great removing an incumbent, but think what will replace that incumbent. It’s okay to preach change, but please interrogate that change. Is it really the change we need or a pretence to change that would impose a worse future on us? If the potential for trouble in that new future is worse than the present, stick to what you know. The devil you know is always better than the angel that you don’t know! Those who say if Buhari fails, we will vote him out in four years should remember that we might not have that luxury, because there has to be a living, viable nation before we can talk elections. A word is enough for the patriot!