Let me state ab initio that I am not a politician (although I am not apolitical). I hold no membership card of any party. I write this because of millions of Nigerians who are below 35 and who constitute a significant chunk of our voting population. This is the ICT generation that is largely ignorant about the events of the Buhari era (1983-85) and so is misinformed and misled by needless propaganda. I have had discussions with many in the under-35 bracket and those slightly above who only have faint recollections of that era. The level of ignorance is amazing.

I don’t have the General’s mandate to hold brief for him, but I am passionate about my nation. So it pains me when people stand facts on their heads to sway the minds of a naive generation for cheap advantage. Of all the present contenders for the office of Presidency, none has been as maligned as General Buhari. He has been variously labelled “rigid”, “fundamentalist”, “dictatorial” etc. I was already a university graduate when he presided over the affairs of this country; so I can still clearly remember some things about that government. His achievements in only two years dwarf those of all who came after him.

I respect anyone’s opinion and political choices but I abhor misrepresentation of facts about anyone.
Before being military Head of State, Buhari had been Governor of one of the Northern States as well as Minister for Petroleum. He later served as Chairman of PTF under Abacha.

He birthed and supervised the establishment of our existing refineries. Today, we import 70% of the fuel we use because those after him have literally crippled the refineries.

Under his regime, there was no religious crisis. It started under his successor!

Buhari’s government reduced inflation from 23% under Shagari to 4%, by fiscal discipline and a homegrown economic team. Nigeria didn’t borrow and yet met all her financial obligations.

He only jailed corrupt leaders. In Ghana, Rawlings killed them and was celebrated for that!

As PTF Chairman, what Buhari did in road construction in that short period hasn’t been matched by any government thereafter. Hospitals and universities around the country never witnessed as much benefits as they got from the PTF from any government after or before that time.

Despite serving in senior capacity in the oil sector, first as Minister for Petroleum and then Petroleum Trust Fund Chairman, Buhari has no petrol station, much less a rig, refinery or an oil block like so many of his contemporaries. He could have retired into nauseating opulence like them but didn’t.

Instead of hobnobbing with the high and mighty, he has cast his lot with the common man most of whom follow him out of hope and belief in his values. He is the only politician in the North today who fills rallies without renting a crowd.

He refused to collect an allowance while serving as Chairman of the PTF because he said since he was already drawing a pension from government, his conscience would not allow him to draw another salary from the purse of the same government from which he was already drawing a pension.

He is the only former head of state that does not own property or land in Abuja.

The man who took over the running of PTF with the aim of probing and indicting Buhari before it was scrapped, was the one who ended up being prosecuted for misappropriating $100m of PTF funds! Every attempt to rubbish Buhari through probes in time past had ended up vindicating him.

He has OPENLY challenged those who accuse him of religious fundamentalism to come out and show proof. I am surprised that no one has till today, taken up the challenge. I HONESTLY wish someone would! His personal driver of many years is a Christian from Plateau State!

Buhari’s government initiated the War Against Indiscipline that has made environmental cleanliness, queuing up, not urinating by the roadside etc, features of our national life even till today. With WAI, Nigerians began to understand basic elements of social responsibility.

For the records, IBB took us into full membership of OIC. Prof Omoruyi, one of Babangida’s hatchet men wrote in 2001, “The period of General Babangida (1985-1993) represented the beginning of unmitigated Islamization of Nigeria. … General Babangida took the fateful decision in 1986 to face the Nigerian Christians in particular and Nigerians in general with the plan of Muslims. He without the approval of the governing organs of the Federal Military Government organized a mission led by a non-member of the Government, the Sultan of Sokoto to formally admit Nigeria into the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). When the Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe complained that he knew nothing about it and definitely said that he could not remember the matter coming to the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC), he was shown his way out.”

Was Buhari flawless? If he was, he wouldn’t be human. Tough? Yes. But corrupt? No. Fundamentalist? No proof. Take positions based on facts, not cheap propaganda.

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!

Written by Tope Popoola Tuesday, 08 March 2011.


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