A critique of Muhammadu Buhari by Segun Sanni

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There are obvious exaggerations and inaccuracies in the credentials ascribed to Buhari below. I’ve not had the time prior to now to give it the necessary attention in order to set the records straight. Please see below:

 

  1. Buhari birthed and supervised the establishment of our existing refineries.

 

Not true: There are four (4) refineries in Nigeria. The Port-Harcourt I refinery was built by Shell in 1965 and partly nationalised (Federal Government taking 60% ownership) in 1977.

Construction of the Warrri refinery started in 1975 though completed in 1978 during the time of Buhari as Oil Minister (1976 to 1978).

The Kaduna refi‎nery decision was taken under the Gowon administration in 1974 with the feasibility report completed in 1975. The Federal Government dragged its feet due partly to loud opposition to the project because its Kaduna location was seen to be economically unviable. After the death of Murtala Mohammed in 1976,  Obasanjo took the bold decision to go ahead with the Kaduna refinery despite its visible economic disadvantages. That was the time that Obasanjo was accused by many Southerners of trying too hard to please the North. The contract was awarded in 1977 during the ministerial tenure of Buhari but wasn’t commissioned until 1980 by which time Obasanjo had handed over power to Shagari and Buhari was no longer Oil Minister.

The Port-Harcourt II refinery was commissioned in 1989 after four years of construction work.

Buhari was Oil Minister from March 1976 (appointed by Obasanjo after the death of Murtala Mohammed) to June 1978. He was in office for two years when the minimum timeframe for the construction of each of the Nigerian refineries was three years. The only refinery (Warri) that was completed in Buhari’s tenure was not started under his leadership of the Oil Ministry. The only one that was started under him (Kaduna), he wasn’t the one that completed it.

And to put it in proper context, the period 1972 to 1978 represents the golden age in the infrastructural development of Lagos and Nigeria. It was the Udoji award era. It also witnessed th‎e construction of the National Stadium and Games Village, Surulere, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Tin-Can Island Port, Snake Island, FESTAC Town, National Theatre, Trade Fair Complex, various car assembly plants (Peugeot Automobile in Kaduna. Volkswagen in Lagos, Steyr in Bauchi, Leyland in Ibadan, Anambra Motor Company in Enugu), 1004 Flats in Victoria Island, Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Ikorodu Road, Carter Bridge, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Benin-Sagamu expressway, etc.

The three refineries built in that period were all in the spirit of the prosperity and fast administrative pace of that era. They were not a Buhari thing though he could claim part of the gl‎ory for two of them.

 

  1. There were no religious crisis while Buhari was in power:

 

In proper context, Buhari ruled for 20 months while Shagari, his predecessor ruled for 51 months and Babangida, his successor ruled for 96 months.

There were four (4 ) religious riots in Shagari’s time: May 1980 religious riots in Zaria, December 1980 Maitatsine riots in Kano, September. 1982 religious disturbances in Kaduna (many churches burnt and about 50 people dead) and October 1982 further Maitatsine riots in Maiduguri. Thousands of people were so killed in Shagari’s time. The records are there.

During Buhari’s time, two religious disturbances happened: February 1984 Maitatsine riots in Yola (then Gongola State)‎. Over 500 people died. And the April 1985 Maitatsine riots in Gombe (Bauchi State). Over 100 died.

Babangida had his own fair share.

It’s absolutely inaccurate to suggest tha‎t there were no religious riots during the time of Buhari as head of state.

 

  1. Buhari reduced inflation from 23% to 4% through fiscal discipline.

 

Below is the trend of inflation figures at year-end in the years surrounding the rulership of Buhari as Head of State of Nigeria:

 

1983: 22.22%

1984: 40.9%

1985: 3.2%

1986: 6.25%

 

For most of the Buhari era, Nigeria witnessed ‎untold scarcity of the basic necessities (soap, detergent, sugar, milk, rice, etc) of life. Buhari had inherited a comatose economy from Shehu Shagari and was facing huge problems from the creditor nations (Paris Club, London Club, etc) because he refused to accept the terms of debt rescheduling. Nigeria’s letters of credit were not being honoured in the international market due to the deadlock and he then resorted to trading Nigeria’s oil for needed essential imports in a trade-by-barter fashion called Countertrade. This led to a prolonged crushing scarcity and rationing of essential goods in Nigeria. For the first and only time in our history, Nigerians queued to buy rationed basic provisions then called Essential Commodities (Essenco for short). This situation led to an environment of biting inflation leading to perhaps, the highest recorded inflationary figure (40.9%) in Nigeria’s history in 1984, the only full year in which Buhari ran the budget as head of state. He ruled from 1st Jan 1984 to 27th August 1985. Ironically, Nigeria also recorded perhaps the lowest inflation figure (3.2%) in history in 1985 but Buhari ran the budget from January to August while Babangida ran it from September to December, so he’d have to share whatever glory results from that figure with Babangida.

 

  1. He didn’t kill corrupt politicians, unlike J.J Rawlings of Ghana, but sentenced them to long terms of imprisonment.

 

No other government in Nigeria has executed corrupt government officials. Unfortunately, in all of the twenty months that Buhari spent in power, less than five Federal Government officials were brought to trial while dozens of State Government officials (governors, commissioners, advisers, etc) were tried and jailed.

 

 

  1. Under his watch as PTF Chairman, what he did in road construction in that short period hasn’t been matched by 12yrs of the PDP.

 

 

That would sound very true. While the PDP and this political era have not exactly been a model in good governance, brilliance and commitment to leadership ethos, the slight exception/explanation I’d wish to make here is for the Obasanjo years (1999 to 2007).

Obasanjo instituted the principle of transparency and openness in governance by signing into law, the Fiscal Responsibility Act which made it mandatory for all government contracts to be advertised and awarded by open tender and taken through the process of negotiation through the Due Process Office. And as another effect of that law, Obasanjo would not release money to officials or contractors unless they fully accounted for the last disbursement they took. This led to severe bottlenecks that led to many of the contracts not being implemented but he would have to take the flak for his failure in the area of infrastructure.

Yes, Obasanjo failed on infrastructure but, the funds he didn’t spend were left in the treasury, unlike the perceived experience since after him.

Obasanjo spent $3bn on power plants, and $12bn to pay off our foreign debts.  ‎After that, he left about $42bn in our foreign reserves and another $20bn in the Excess Crude account. Since after him, we can’t see many projects, yet no money. That Excess Crude account has been decimated today and we have about $40bn in reserves.

Buhari’s PTF operated in an army regime (Abacha’s). Governance was not the best under Buhari’s PTF. Contracts were not always awarded by open tender/competitive bidding and only one project consultant (the Late Ahmed Sali Hidjo, Buhari’s in-law) was responsible for ALL PTF projects, whether it was to construct a road or a dam or a school or a hospital or to supply drugs anywhere and everywhere in Nigeria. If Sali Hidjo (his company was called Afri Projects) did not endorse your paper, you couldn’t get paid a cent for any project, and so it was for all the billions of dollars that PTF spent across Nigeria in the 5yrs that Buhari ran PTF.

 

 

  1. Hospitals and universities around the country never witnessed as much benefits as they got from the PTF from any government after or before his time.

 

This sounds like a political statement. How do we measure that? ‎The question should be posed to the average Nigerian: Did you get better healthcare during Abacha’s government under which Buhari served as PTF Chairman?

 

‎7. Despite serving in senior capacity in the oil sector, first as Minister for Petroleum and then Petroleum Trust Fund, Buhari has no petrol station, much less a rig, refinery or an oil block like so many of our leaders.

 

How many petrol stations or oil rigs or oil blocks does Shagari or Babangida or Obasanjo have despite that they served as head of state for longer than Buhari did?

 

 

‎8. He could have retired into nauseating opulence like an IBB or Danjuma or even OBJ but didn’t.

 

Is Buhari retired into poverty? ‎By the way, who has been financing Buhari’s political organisations/parties and the repeated presidential campaigns/contests since 2003? If you want to know how ‘cheap’ it is to contest an election, try to go for a political contest, no matter how small. Think of campaign vehicles, fuelling, hotels, security, allowances for polling agents all over the country, billboards, posters, newspaper advertisements, PR consultants, etc. I’ve not mentioned bribes and allowances to party officials and supporters o.

‎I know some people would say it’s the governors who finance his campaigns but is the money from their legitimate earnings? Buhari is surrounded and supported by those that Nigerians acknowledge are corrupt. He’s comfortable with them and they are with him.

Buhari may not be as corrupt or as greedy as some of our leaders (corruption and greed have degrees) but I’m not sure he himself can be said to be an angel.

 

 

 

  1. ·Instead of hobnobbing with the high and mighty, he has cast his lot with the ordinary man most of who follow him out of hope and belief in his values. People who know him have said of him… “All I need from Buhari is his word, I can take it to the bank”.

 

 

Buhari hobnobs with the ordinary man? Where? When? What about the governors and the various party bigwigs always with and around him? Those are the Low and ‎Midgety?

 

 

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

 

 

Where does he stay during his many visits to Abuja? ‎In any case, as a Nigerian, he’s entitled to own property in Abuja if he wishes. His right hand man, El-Rufai, not only allocated Abuja land to himself as Minister, he also allocated to his two wives. He said they’re Nigerians and were entitled to it, how much more Buhari if he wished.

And, by the way, the cost of his political activities would be more than enough to build scores of property in Abuja if he wishes. ‎Building a home in Abuja wouldn’t in any way put a dent on the resources from which the campaigns are financed.

 

 

  1. ·Every attempt to rubbish him through probes in time past eneded up him! The man who was asked by OBJ to take over the running of PTF before it was scrapped with the aim of probing and indicting Buhari, was the one who ended up being prosecuted for misappropriating $100m of PTF funds! Buhari again, was vindicated

 

 

Obasanjo never attempted to probe Buhari, and he never gave anyone the mandate to go and probe him. If you’d probe an organisation as massive as the PTF, you wouldn’t appoint just an individual to do the job. The history of probes in our country would serve as a good reference guide here.

On Obasanjo’s first day in office (May 29 1999), one of the very first policy pronouncements he made was that he didn’t want a parallel government and that all the projects of the PTF should, instead be handled by the relevant ministries. He thus scrapped the PTF unceremoniously ‎at a banquet event to usher him into office on that May evening in 1999. Buhari was then not in politics and was not an Obasanjo opponent, so why the desire to probe him?

The man that was appointed to the PTF at the time, was only given the job to ascertain the assets and liabilities of the PTF and close its books accordingly. Unfortunately, he reportedly attempted to steal ‎without knowing that security agents had also been told to watch him while he did the job. His mission was certainly not to probe Buhari.

 

 

  1. He has OPENLY challenged those who

accuse him of religious fundamentalism to come out and show proof. No one has till today, taken up the challenge. His personal driver of many years is a Christian from Plateau State!

 

He may not have proven the charge ‎of fundamentalism levelled at him by his opponents but his few political gaffes of sectional political and religious statements do not rhyme well with his desire to rule the whole country.

Buhari openly supported the application of Sharia which allowed the amputation of people’s limbs and the stoning to death of women on the charges of adultery. That Sharia almost tore our country apart but for Obasanjo’s deft political handling. He said the Sharia ‎was political and would blow away if the promoters were left alone. Today, that Sharia is as good as dead and it would be interesting to know Buhari’s opinion now that the thing has died a natural death.

 

 

All told, the information put forward above is only meant to set the records straight for posterity and to put the truth, the undiluted truth, before Nigerians ‎as they contemplate their choices for 2015.

Note: This blog or its owner does not take responsibility for the accuracy or otherwise of this piece.

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