Ahmadu Dogo: Buhari is Battling With His Past

Ahmadu Dogo highlights on the major flaws of the All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential aspirant,General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) as a military head of state from 31st December to 2th August 1985. Published on Opinions.ng, Dogo advises Nigerian youths not to be cajoled by the Daura-born retired general and his promises. Read below…

From 31 December 1983 until 27 August 1985 when his regime was thrown out of power, General Muhammadu Buhari, military head of state during the period, ruled the country with impunity and gross abuse of human rights.

For those who do not know, the hallmark of Gen. Buhari’s regime was blatant disregard for human lives and the rule of law. Members of the public found it difficult to conduct their daily business without the fear of the boys in khaki looming over their heads.

Journalists and media houses in Nigeria could not live up to the calling of their profession due to the fear of being arrested, detained, and tortured even when disseminating truthful information was in the interest of the country. Buhari, by virtue of the promulgation of Decree No. 4 of 1984, used two newspaper reporters – Nduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson – as scapegoats. The two journalists had written a report that was, in all points and essence, truthful and factual, but the military junta headed by Gen. Buhari said that the report was an insult to his regime, hence the jailing of the reporters.

The major instrument of Buhari’s war against his own countrymen and women was the NSO (National Security Organization of Nigeria) which he used to strike fear into the hearts of the people. Anyone who dared to question Buhari’s high-handedness could be assured of a “knock at the door”, and many experienced the painful reality of arbitrary arrest and detention by the NSO, under Buhari’s Military Rule. Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the late Afro beat maestro was one of such people that spent time in prison without justification for merely criticizing Buhari’s abuse of power and human rights.

Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo created the dreaded NSO under Decree number 27 of 1976, just after the unsuccessful Dimka coup which killed Murtala Mohammed. The NSO continued after Obasanjo, under elected President ShehuShagari. But of course Shagari’s elected government was overthrown by this same Muhammadu Buhari in a military coup on December 31st 1983. It would take nearly 17 years for Nigeria to return to the path of democracy after this coup!

Under Buhari, the NSO became one of the most feared organisations in Nigeria’s history. Buhari’s hatchet-man at the NSO was his fellow Katsina native, Mohammed Rafindadi. The so called “war on corruption” by Buhari was carried out with untold cruelty and brutality on Nigerians and foreigners alike. In 1984 alone, Buhari’s military government sentenced over 100 people to death. Buhari promulgated the callous State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree Number 2 of 1984, which allowed anyone at all to simply be detained without access to legal representation.

It was apparent that Buhari’s motivation for seizing power from the civilian administration of Shagari was borne out of love for power and never to sanitize the country as he made people to believe as there was no plan to set up a return to civilian rule. Nigerians never had it so bad. Anyone who dared mention “civilian rule” was threatened or arrested. Nobody, whether Nigerian or foreigner, was safe from Buhari and the NSO. Fear became everybody’s closest companion.An American,Marie McBroom, was arrested by the NSO and held for nine months without charge. The elderly Michael Adekunle Ajasin was constantly re-arrested and detained repeatedly under Decree 2. Each time Ajasin was acquitted by the High Court, Buhari arrested him again.Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Ambrose Alli, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, and the late educationist, Tai Solarin were also detained under the Buhari regime. Pa Awolowo said of Buhari, “During the period of my house arrest ordered by Major General Buhari when he ousted Shagari’s administration, I had a restriction within my room for 24 hours a day, and for somebody who has tried to give others liberty all their adult life, that was absolutely intolerable.”

Ambrose Alli was sentenced to “100 years in prison” for corruption by Buhari but was freed after his fine was paid. He died shortly after release from jail. Bernard Ogedengbe Lawal Ojuolape, and Bartholomew Owoh, were sentenced to death by Buhari under Decree 20; a law which did not exist at the time of the crime they were accused of. Buhari merely made the law retroactive just to ensure that those three young men were killed in their prime.

Nduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson, two journalists with Guardian Newspapers were arrested by the NSO and jailed under “Decree 4” which Buhari introduced specifically to gag the media. The editor of the Sunday Tribune Folu Olamiti, was also detained under that decree.

The NSO became the weapon of destruction of Buhari’s real and imagined enemies. Some Nigerians that were unfortunate recipients of the wrath of Buhari included Audu Ogbeh, Bisi Onabanjo, Bola Ige, and Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Others who suffered untold humiliations were Femi Aribisala, Femi Falana, Gbenga Ogunniya and Sam Mbakwe. We should also remember Lateef Jakande, Jim Nwobodo and Emeka Ojukwu were all arrested and imprisoned. Buhari even tried to intimidate Chief Obafemi Awolowo with a team of soldiers turning up to search that elder statesman’s house without a court order to do so.

Buhari’s tribalistic nature and penchant for nepotism reflected in the inhumane treatment he meted out to politicians that were not of the same ethnic and religious background as he. Particularly, after overthrowing President Shehu Shagari through and unpopular coup, Buhari merely placed President Shagari under house arrest, while Dr. Alex Ekwueme, the vice president to Shagari, was detained at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons in Lagos. Other Northern politicians from the Shagari government including Adamu Ciroma, Aliyu Gusau, Awwal Ibrahim, Barkin Zuwo, Lawal Kaita, Shehu Kangiwa and Suleiman Takuma, were allowed to go free, some to mysteriously “escape” from the country.

Under Buhari’s dictatorship, a structured social system that had been built by previous administrations of Obasanjo and Shagari was effectively destroyed. Government officials had their phones and other communications monitored. Over 50,000 civil servants were forced out of their jobs under Buhari. Spending on social services and health care was drastically cut by him. School fees were increased, scholarships and free school meals were cancelled, and some educational institutions shut. Contracts for infrastructure were also arbitrarily cancelled without any due process, including the Lagos Metro line Railway Project. Buhari’s economic policies led to a massive shortage of basic food items and other staples needed by common people. Long queues formed each day as Nigerians endured horsewhipping by uniformed men, just to buy their allocated ration of essential commodities, basic things their children and household needed – that was our life under Buhari!

However, corruption continued as Nigerians suffered beneath the boots of Dictator Buhari; and even became worse. The NSO chief Rafindadi claimed that the famous 53 Suitcases (supposedly full of money) reported to have been cleared through the airport in Lagos by Buhari’s ADC, were actually cleared by him (Rafindadi) and did not contain any money at all!

The dreaded regime of Gen. Buhari was even reputed to be second only to that of late Gen. Sanni Abacha in corruption and brutality. Even though Buhari has managed to hide this undesirable aspect of his nature from Nigerians as he goes about the country campaigning for votes, it was evident that he endorsed the brutality meted out to Nigerians under Gen. Abacha’s regime as he has consistently said that the late Gen. Abacha’s regime was not corrupt. Buhari should know better the level of corruption in Abacha’s regime, having served as the Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund during Abacha’s reign of terror and public embezzlement that smeared Nigeria’s image both at home and on the international scene. If Gen. Buhari indeed believed that Gen. Abacha’s regime was not corrupt, then those Nigerians that are supporting Buhari on the grounds that he is the man to wipe out corrupt should have more to worry about.

It is baffling to the sane mind that Buhari is seeking to return to the state house as the head of state after overthrowing a democratically elected administration and without regret for doing so. The single fact that Buhari terminated a democratic government is enough grounds for his ineligibility to vie for office. Any moral man would not as much as criticize recent civilian administrations as he has been doing, but morality and dictatorship have never been known to coexist. It is thus a slap in the face for Nigerians that regard a two-faced military dictator as the only man capable of leading Nigeria.

It is the absolute height of deception for Buhari to now claim to be the champion of democracy and good governance. Any Nigerian over 30 years of age would have experienced or have learned of Buhari’s past litany of wickedness against his fellow Nigerians. May be his memory is fading with age, but Nigerians will not forget what Buhari did to their country. Perhaps that is why Buhari, in his latest desperate quest to rule Nigeria again; is reaching out so much to the Nigerian youth. He seeks to browbeat, bamboozle and befuddle Nigerians into accepting his “new image”, believing many are now too young to remember him and what he really did to Nigeria.

Someone needs to tell them, who this Buhari really is!

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