By Terfa Naswem
When Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) made his intention known of contesting for the February 14, 2015 Presidential election on the Platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which was postponed to March 28, 2015, a lot was said about Buhari before and after the presidential election which I paid very close attention to and scrutinized every propaganda with my “Psycho-microscopic lens” and found out that although Buhari is not the best leader Nigeria needs, but with the gross incompetence and failure of Jonathan to fight corruption effectively which has worsen Nigeria’s many problems including insecurity, Buhari appears to be more than an angel to many Nigerians when compared with Jonathan.
President Jonathan is the one who has made Buhari to shine in darkness. If Jonathan had led exceptionally well, Buhari won’t have been in the picture. In fact I won’t have advocated for Buhari and I would have written enormous articles for Jonathan and also would have been on the frontline for his reelection. And he would have won his reelection effortlessly. But the truth is that failed the nation.
Just like Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka Said that only four sets of people voted for Jonathan: (1) Those who are intellectually blind, (2) those who are blinded by ethnicity, (3) those who are blinded by corruption and therefore afraid of the unknown, should power change hands, & (4) those who are suffering from a combination of the above terminal sicknesses.
Buhari’s leadership and development ideas and strategies are not coterminous with that of Jonathan so the gap is very wide. Buhari also has his own achievements and flaws that characterize him.
He is a Nigerian Politician and a retired Major General in the Army who ruled Nigeria from 31 December 1983 to 27 August 1985, after taking power in a military coup d’état. The term Buharism is ascribed to the Buhari Military government.
According to Hon. Lawal Garba (a member of the House of Representatives) an appraisal of General Buhari’s leadership qualities, would not be complete without mention of his contribution in the onerous task of keeping Nigeria one and united both before and after the Civil War, his stewardship of the defunct North Eastern State where he served as Military Governor, his role as Minister of Petroleum and Energy and Chairman of the NNPC during the Obasanjo military regime was commended by Obasanjo and many Nigerians. Buhari reached the pinnacle of his carrier in Decembr 1983 when he became Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed forces. He was to serve his country once more as Chairman of the defunct Petroleum (special) Trust Fund, PTF (between 1995 and 1999). Buhari is a patriot to the core. He has discharged all his assignments with a sense of mission.
He served in various military formations across the country as a Commanding Officer and was reputed in the military circles as energetic and disciplined Officer. In the wake of the extremist Maitatsine religious uprising in the early 1980s in several Northern states, it was Buhari, who some political distractors now call an extremist that crushed the uprising and saved multi culturalism and religious freedom in that part of the country.
In the face of the crises generated by the 1983 Presidential election, which the opposition parties accused the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN) of rigging, coupled with the massive corruption and fraud, the military had to return back to power in December 1983 to save the polity from virtual collapse. The Military regime headed by General Buhari, and Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon (of the blessed memory), who himself a discipline Military Officer, embarked on National cleansing and transformation.
Through the War Against Indiscipline (WAI), the regime contributed to efforts geared towards encouraging behavioral and attitudinal change among Nigerians. In essence, the Buhari regime embarked on an ethical revolution that was directed against bribery and corruption, general indiscipline, drug pushing and other acts that cast the country in bad light and caused national retrogression.
The track record of achievements left by Buhari during his tenure as the Executive Chairman of the defunct PTF, between 1995 and 1999, has made many Nigerians of goodwill who are yearning for a national leadership that would show unreserved commitment for the transformation of the country’s infrastructure and social services system to root for his Presidency. Hon. Garba notes that with only about N60billions, he was able to excellently utilize the funds on accelerated projects of road construction/rehabilitation, food security, water supply, provision of drugs and medical equipment and ambulances to hospitals, refurbishment of educational institution at all levels and empowering them with educational materials and other logistic and so no. the projects which the PTF executed nationwide under Buhari have impacted positively on the common man and have remained so in many places. In comparison to the projects being pursued by the present regime in the country, those executed by the fund were qualitative, cost effective and timely delivered.
The Era of Buhari and Idiagbon was the first and only time that Nigerian public officials were tried and held accountable for their actions in office. In spite of the achievement of Buhari, his military regime indulged in some acts that were not citizen-friendly and one of them was his stand against press freedom.
The regime attempted to stifle criticism. Journalists were harassed, and many critics were arrested. The government of Muhammadu Buhari made no pretence of its intention to censor the media. In an interview with Sunday Concord, Buhari was explicit that he would temper with freedom of the press. According to The Communicator (1985), he was reported to have been particularly Irked by the role the press played in the N2.3 billion oil money controversy when he was the Minister of Petroleum Resources. Shortly after, his administration enacted the Public Officers Protection Against False Accusation Decree No.4, by 1984. In his book Mass Media In Nigeria: Perspective On Growth And Development (2007), Rodney Ciboh writes that the decree came eleven days after two Guardian journalists Messrs Nuduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson were arrested and detained without explanation over a report on ambassadorial appointments carried by The Guardian of April 8, 1984. Tuned Thompson, senior diplomatic correspondent was arrested on April 11, 1984. The arrest of Nduka Irabor, an Assistant News Editor followed six days later on April 17. For ten days no explanation was given for their arrests. On the eleventh day late Tunde Idiagbon, then Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters came out to say that Government was embarrassed by a report on diplomatic missions carried by The Guardian of April 8, 1984. The Guardian reports on April 8 titled: “Haruna Replaces Hannaniya As New Uk Envoy” had speculated that then major General Haruna may replace Hannaniya as new U.K envoy. Two previous editions of the paper had also carried stories on diplomatic missions.
The Guardian Journalists were later arraigned on June 4,1984, two months after their arrest, before the Public Officers Protection Against False Accusation Tribual on charges of publishing false statements contrary to Decree 4 of 1984. Their trial lasted for one month. On July 5, 1984, the Justice Olalere Ayinde tribunal jailed each of them to one year imprisonment and fined The Guardian newspaper N50, 000.00 to be paid within 24 hours of the judgment day without appeal. Harassment of Journalists became frequent and government withdrew advertizing from private newspapers and denied them newsprint. Ciboh says that newsprint imported and duly paid for by Concord group was impounded and distributed free to government owned newspapers.
It is my sincere desire that Buhari should lead us very well and should not temper with the freedom of the press this time. Buhari should know that he cannot fight corruption effectively without a free press. The media should be given the freedom to work for the interest of the nation especially when it comes to investigative journalism and reporting corrupt officials.