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Date Published: 11/19/09

Gen Buhari Needs Help To Democratise By Idris Alazua


Recent pronouncements credited to the former military head of state, General Mohammadu Buhari clearly show that he urgently needs debriefing from his military and authouritarian mindset to enable him function effectively as a born-again democrat.

For sure, the Buhari-Idiagbon administration tried a different style of governance which was an obvious deviation from the status quo of successive military juntas but for sure equally, his life in government and government services after he was dethroned ran very contrary to the very- trumpeted gospel of his administration. But let’s leave it at that.

Except the former head of state was misquoted by The Sun Newspaper of Tuesday November, 2009, his declaration that “1983 coup has vindicated me” was an insultive reminder of the gross abuses of our collective destiny by the military cabal that laid the rotten foundation of where we are today as a nation.

In what appeared like a repeat of his 1983 coup speech as was rightly described by the media report, General Buhari was quoted as haven said that infrastructural decay that characterized the country 26 years ago has gone worse than before and that the only dividends of democracy in 10 years so far were absence of railway lines, good motorable roads, and poor quality of education, as well as functional industries.

In his words as reported: “I said this 26 years ago, what is the condition of educational institutions, where are the roads, where are the railways, what is the result of exams in our higher institutions, what is the quality of leadership and those of our infrastructures, where are the industries, what is the condition of our hospitals? These are the dividends of 10 years of democracy and Nigeria belongs to all of us.”

Though the former military head of state was very right and frank in his expressed anger on the glaring failure of successive government to do what governments in other sane countries do, must he remind Nigerians of the bitter and dark past of military rascality before he can comment on issues that borders on good and responsive governance?

Buhari clearly set out to play a smart one as a born-again democrat as his criticism on the state of the nation deliberately focused on the ten years of Olusegun Obasanjo and Umaru Yar’adua and tactically dodged his colleagues at arms- the bigger culprits, General Babangida, General Sani Abacha, and General Abdulsalami Abubakar. As the former head of state rightly said at the reported Kaduna event, “This country rightly belongs to all of us” and nobody should think he/she has more rights or stake than any other person.

The former head of state cannot extricate himself in anyway from the rot which the military including himself, visited on this nation and which Obasanjo, another born-again military democrat, built upon and further messed up before handing over to an incumbent who was neither ready nor interested in leading the entire country because of his peculiar problems. Nigerians are obviously becoming very angry over the glaring recklessness and irresponsibility of the people who call themselves leaders of this great nation and none of them can claim self righteousness in this matter, except the first republic team maybe.


Buhari was a former Minister of Petroleum Resources and Chairman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He was a military governor. He was a head of state and commander -in -chief. He was an executive Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). So if he failed to effect any meaningful change in the nation while holding all the sensitive public offices, how is he going to convince Nigerians now that he has fresh and better ideas than what he had in time past?

Truth be told, the only thing Nigerians remember of the Buhari-Idiagbo administration was the war against indiscipline (WAI). Nothing else! No tangible infrastructural development could be traced to that administration maybe because it was short-lived. And interestingly, Buhari should be told that WAI in the form he instituted it cannot even work in this dispensation because you cannot flog anybody in the marketplace and get away with it just because you are a soldier/police or just wearing a green and white uniform. The courts are there now. So we need other things as workable achievements to associate the former head of state with and regrettably, there is none.

Also, Buhari as the executive chairman of PTF may claim not to have personally aggrandized himself but this is subject to debate because there were obvious and recorded rots in Buhari’s PTF. This is the truth. More so, Buhari’s PTF which remains the only open credential he parades as the transparent non-military public service to the nation was criminally skewed towards favouring some sections of the country at the expense of others. This is also on record.

Though I totally disagree with President Yar’adua’s near-zero tolerance to criticisms and personalizing smear attacks on the former military head of state, Buhari should be thought that his comments/criticisms should be delivered as those of an elder statesman and a former head of state. These credentials are well enough qualifications for any serious –minded government in power to listen to him rather than reminding us of his 1983 coup speech every now and then. He should equally be helped to forget and completely abandon his military past and take lectures in the language of democratic politics as this will boost his born-again profile.

This advice has become very necessary particularly now that the former military head of state has agreed for the first time in his life to work with other people on a democratic platform and to be a critical part of the National Democratic Movement (NDM). He should not jeopardize the obvious and rare opportunity to unseat Yar’adua as the northern candidate and the PDP come 2011.

Buhari should be debriefed of this idea that if it is not him, no other person can do it better. Nigeria is a project that requires informed contribution and participation of everybody including the fools and thieves as these group would obviously help the clean guys package a more effective law and measures to treat fools and catch thieves.

IDRIS ALAZUA, a lawyer, wrote from 10 BELLO CRESCENT, GRA EXTENSION, KADUNA (alazua3000@yahoo.com)                                                      

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