Who Made You Our Leader In 1984/5?
By Biola Sobowale
“During my first attempt to fight corruption, corruption fought back successfully. I was removed as the Head of State and detained for three years…”
President Muhammadu Buhari, during the inauguration of the new EFCC office in Abuja, May 2018.
Nigeria is now bedevilled by several pressing problems – security, economy, power, water, health, food security, youth unemployment, growing drug addiction, poor housing, environmental time-bomb, declining education standards, lack of political leadership at all levels etc — which should be engaging the attention of a President – if we have one. But, Nigeria has a Grumbler-In-Chief, a Buck-passer-In-Chief, a False Story Teller In Chief; anything but a real Commander In Chief.
Every time President Buhari finds himself in front of reporters it is either to denounce the youth, to insult his predecessors or to cry once again about how he was deprived of the opportunity to fight corruption in 1984/5, when he was Military Head of State. His latest trip down his own foggy memory lane about the events of 1984/5 occurred at the inauguration of the new office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Our ever self-righteous President once again presented a half truth as the authentic history of that period. It was pathetic and unbecoming of anybody claiming to fight corruption.
It is not clear to me if Buhari has real advisers or if he listens to anyone but his own voice. But, it will be in his own best interest and ours if he addresses us more often on the matters of life and death, which now confront us daily instead of boring us with his faulty recollections of what happened in 1984/5. If nothing else, what follows should warn Buhari to drop the subject and move on to other things.
Buhari became Head of State in January 1, 1984, after a successful coup by the Armed Forces of Nigeria on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1983. Ousted by force of arms was the constitutionally elected government of President Shehu Shagari, who was immediately placed in detention and was in detention for over a year. Hence the question: who made you our leader in 1984? Certainly, it was not the Nigerian people. It was not even the entire Armed Forces of Nigeria. Buhari became our leader because a small clique of soldiers seized control of the arms procured for them by Fellow Nigerians to protect the country against external enemies and internal dismemberment to take power. Buhari was the recipient of the peoples’ power stolen by armed men who held us down at gun point. In any other country, it would have been seen for what it was. It was treason.
So when Buhari goes about grumbling about his removal from office, he sounds like the recipient of stolen goods who lost them to the same robbers who gave them to him in the first place. The first questions to ask the fellow are: are you serious? Was it your property in the first instance? But, more than the questions concerning ownership, there are other more weighty issues which must be addressed to stop this man from his attempt to deceive Nigerians.
The first is the ethical issue. It speaks volumes about the character of a man who is the recipient of stolen goods to still be lamenting the loss thirty-one years after as if he was a legitimate owner. Such a person must have a problem with his conscience. And, it would suggest that his idea of right and wrong must be shocking to the rest of us. Surely, it should terrify us that such an individual is now our leader. The least we should expect of any leader is that he has a conscience. Otherwise anything goes under him. And, indeed, under Buhari in 1984/5 anything went. A few examples will illustrate the point.
Buhari still laments the fact that he was placed in detention; but, he characteristically failed to mention that he also placed several thousand people in detention first and went about searching for evidence afterwards. Shagari, Alex Ekwueme and my own brother were among those who were found innocent but still spent over a year in detention, their accounts frozen, their careers in suspension etc. For them he had no apologies, but he wants Nigerians to pity him for the Law of Retribution which caught up with him in August 1985. That’s not all.
“You are entitled to your own opinions; you are not entitled to your own facts.” US Senator (Prof) Daniel P. Moynihan.
The death of Alhaji Ibrahim Ishiyaku Rabiu, the Kano based billionaire recently, has removed some of the restraint in discussing the corruption pervading the allocation of foreign exchange through the Form M method under Buhari. North Brewery Limited Kano was the largest business in Kano State in 1984; followed by Northern Flour Mills. Rabiu’s Group of Companies could not have amounted to ten per cent of the Flour Mills or one-fifteenth of the brewery. Until 1984, the brewery and flour mills received foreign exchange commensurate with their sizes – both under military and Shagari’s government. All that changed under Buhari. Not only Rabiu but even several unregistered companies in Kano State owned by Northerners received more foreign exchange than all the multi-nationals. I was one of those designated to negotiate with Alhaji to purchase foreign exchange at more than official rates. Millionaires were made overnight in Kano from the bribes we paid to those well-connected with the Buhari/Idiagbon regime in 1984 and 1985. It was totally fraudulent.
“A secret is best kept when it is between two people with one dead.”
A Decree was introduced to change of Nigerian currencies to punish those engaging in smuggling money abroad. At the time, the Naira was not officially convertible. Yet, Naira was readily available outside the country. A short period was allowed for all Nigerian to change to the new notes and the nation’s borders were closed. All luggages were to be searched and currencies found seized. It was then that the Emir of Daura arrived with the infamous 53 suitcases. Openly, a Decree passed for all Nigerians was flouted for one person on “orders from above”.
What was in those boxes? Reliable sources were already revealing the fact that many of them were loaded with Nigerian currencies. I lived in the North then and as a member of all major Clubs, Kano, Kaduna, Jos, Sokoto, Katsina, Maiduguri etc had many highly-connected associates.
Decree 4, passed by the Buhari regime was the Devil’s Decree in every respect. It was the first law known to mankind which made telling the truth a crime. And, it was passed because the media was getting close to the truths about corruption under Buhari. Contrary to Buhari’s statement Decree 4 was meant to protect corrupt public officials and their friends. Space will not permit me to publish it. But, any diligent reader can go and search for it and decide if any honest leader can sign such a monstrous decree. We already knew the content of the bags!!!
Lastly, under Buhari, convicted alleged drug peddlers were lined up at the Bar Beach and shot in broad daylight with NTA televising the event. First, the convicts were tried by a Tribunal whose judgment could not be appealed and the burden of proof of innocence was on the accused. If Buhari has his way, people will still be shot openly today and with no court allowed to review the judgment of the kangaroo tribunals. That was the sort of atrocity Buhari laments he was not allowed to continue by those who mercifully saved us from his barbarity. If he has his way, those are the methods he will re-introduce to Nigeria after 2019.