The President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari
I would like to congratulate you on your victory in the March 28 presidential election. Nigeria indeed has been waiting for a long time for a man with your credentials; she has been waiting for the man who would remove her from the bowels of economic and political decadence, and make her indeed be the true giant of Africa and the envy of the world.
Sir, what is the problem of Africa? Is it the rigid and dangerous form of autocracy that has plagued the African continent for over 50 years? I do not think so – Asian tigers give credence to this. I believe it is the self-interest of the dictatorships that has made Africa the cesspool of economic decadence it is today. And you Sir do not belong to this profile.
In the history of Nigeria you were the only military dictator that truly cared about the people of Nigeria, and making Nigeria a better place. You so far have led a life of humble austerity and only decided on contesting for the nation’s top job again because your people advised it, not because of wanton political power-grabbing ambition like your counterparts. Thus far you have shown yourself to be the People’s General – a paradoxical moniker only reserved for great men.
Here is why I believe you are the man Nigeria needs to be delivered from the behemoth of economic depravity and decrepitude.
1. Your political Will: So far, many Nigerian leaders at different levels of government have shown themselves to be powerless against the waves of inefficient bureaucracy and vested interest. They all lacked the political will to say NO, when NO needed to be said – especially to sponsors and godfathers. You are a rare gem sir; you owe no one allegiance any have shown yourself to be rightly positioned to do what it takes – when it comes to doing the right thing. An example is your government going so far as trying to kidnap Umaru Dikko – an alleged criminal ex-government official – and bring him back to answer for his crimes.
2. Your Anti-Corruption crusades: This has been talked about a lot by many Nigerians. Especially your detractors who painted you as a monster the last time you ruled the country – evident by the denigrating documentary aired several times by the Africa Independent Television (AIT) as propaganda against your candidacy. It is common knowledge that with hindsight one can put things into perspective and look at events as they happened within the context of the socio-political landscapes of that time; and avoid being sanctimonious in their description of events.
In December 1983, after you came to power in the coup – that toppled the Shagari Administration – which involved the General Ibrahim Babangida, Ibrahim Bako, Sambo Dasuki, Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, Tunde Idiagbon and a host of other military personnel, the major reason given by you and your men was to stop the corrupt excessed of the Shagari government and the National Party of Nigeria, NPN.
You began by instituting a Military Tribunal to handle the corruption charges levelled against many members of the Shagari government – this led to the arrest and convictions of hundreds of politicians and officials of the previous federal and state governments.
You also created the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) launched on March 20 1984, to deal with the social and civic decadence ravaging the country. This to a certain level made Nigerians more conscious about community hygiene and common public etiquettes.
Indeed your intentions were good, but it was clear that the methods you used to enforce your policies were draconian and somewhat misguided. You used the military which you controlled to chair the tribunals and the only right of appeal was to the Supreme Military Council (SMC) which exclusively comprised of military officers. In short, the military was the prosecutor, judge and jury – giving the accused little or no chance to defend themselves. It was so bad that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) barred its members from getting involved in the tribunals – in effect making the tribunals lose legitimacy. For the WAI campaign you let soldiers go unsupervised while they filled the hearts of many Nigerians with fear, even Wole Soyinka said the campaign was carried to “sadistic levels, glorying in the humiliation of a people” – in essence along the way the main purpose of the campaign was bastardized.
I have no intention to revel in the pitfalls of your past as the country’s head of state; you yourself have accepted responsibility for all that happened and stated that you have become a converted democrat – more than enough placation for me. My intention is to draw your attention to a unique part of your history. I therefore stand in tandem with Max Siollun a historian when he said “Although the harsh sentences and nature of the tribunals were criticised, it is arguable that Nigeria needed these Nuremberg style trials in order to free itself from its corrupt past. 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. The trials would have had more legitimacy if they had been held in civilian courts, presided over by civilian legal officers, and open to the public.”
I also want to bring to the forefront – as evidence of your political will – the fact that you were willing to deal with the corrupt entities with your government as a military leader, even though they were responsible for putting you in power. They got wind of this, and immediately set the machinations in place that led to your usurpation. So it is of no doubt that you would be more than willing to deal squarely and effectively with the men – if they turn out to be corrupt – that may have been responsible for guaranteeing your victory in the March 28 polls.
Since the devastating accident of the Dana Airline McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft on Sunday June 3, 2012 in Iju-Ishaga Lagos, many say that the present fleet of the Airliner are the safest in the country – in effect they have learnt from the mistakes of their past. This I believe, sir, is what your second chance at the helm of Affairs of the Nigerian State would be.
Please Sir Do us proud and return Nigeria to the glory it once possessed in the community of Nations.