By Congress for Progressive Change (CPC)
Our attention has been drawn to the recent call by Pastor Ayodele Oritsejafor, President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN ), for the arrest of General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) – the national leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) – on account of his recent commentaries on national issues. We are aware that this is a rehash of the stance of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor to a previous piece of mendacious writing by Dr Reuben Abati in his Guardian Newspaper column, wherein he alluded to GMB as being responsible for post-election violence in some parts of the North in April, 2011. The subsequent libel suit instituted by GMB revealed that Abati had no shred of evidence for his reckless surmising. Meanwhile, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor had used the platform of CAN to impetuously seek the arrest of GMB based on fiction and orchestrated literary violence by the PDP-led Federal Government. The subsequent appointment of Dr. Reuben Abati as the Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on media and Publicity revealed the fitting reward for that hatchet job. We have also noted the physical presence of President Good-luck Jonathan at the ceremony where Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor was presented a gift of Bombardier Jet on 10th November, 2012.
The kernel of the latest orchestrated distortion of GMB’s recent commentaries was done to blacken him as supporting the insurgency of Boko Haram in Nigeria. In fact, Pastor Oritsejafor impudently asserted:
“He is, therefore, the prime leader of this religious and blood thirsty sect called Boko Haram, a movement that is based on a warped interpretation of a strict adherence to force people of other religions into Islam. This kind of fundamentalism is the driving force behind his failure of each election in the country.”
It is our view that this statement is utterly tendentious and unsupportable by incontrovertible facts. We are aware that, as it was before and after the 2011 elections, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor is keen on helping the electoral fortunes of his friend, President Good-luck Jonathan. We are therefore compelled to re-tell GMB’s uncompromising stand on Boko Haram.
In a recent interview in June 2012, this is what GMB said on Boko Haram:
“When we knew who was Maitatsine, wasn’t he arrested, killed and his corpse shown to everybody? But this Boko Haram, if you could recall somebody recommended me to represent Boko Haram. I told them the honest truth that I didn’t know who their leadership was and I still don’t know who their leaders are. I don’t know their philosophy because no religion advocates hurting the innocent. So, all those people giving it a religious meaning are wrong. You can’t kill a person and say Allahu Akbar (God is great). It is either you don’t know what you are saying or you don’t believe in it. It is one of the two.”
On 25th December, 2012 (Christmas day), bombings took place at the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State; Jos, Plateau State; and Damaturu, Yobe State. This is what GMB said:
“Bombing other human beings to death at any time is callous. It becomes much more reprehensible on a Christmas day and all lovers of peace must condemn these gruesome acts and demand that the perpetrators be fished out and brought to book.”
The amiable General and our National leader continued:
“How on earth would the Vatican and the British authorities speak before the Nigerian government on attacks within Nigeria that have led to the deaths of our citizens? This is clearly a failure of leadership at a time the government needs to assure the people of the capacity to guarantee the safety of lives and property. You can devote the entire budget to security and there won’t be any result if there is no competence in leadership to know what to do at the right time.”
We leave discerning Nigerians to judge and see the incongruity in Pastor Oritsejafor’s reckless call and GMB’s unwavering patriotic stand on Nigeria’s insecurity. Again, Pastor Oritsejafor has proven to be, a willing implement for destabilization in the hands of the Presidency, in the orchestrated heckling of GMB ahead of the 2015 elections.
As we shall prove shortly, the moral rectitude, personal discipline and patriotic love for Nigeria by GMB is head and shoulder above what the current leaders of the Nation possess. GMB is not in the mould of leaders that do not match their words with deeds. In the run to the 2011 election, Dr. Good-luck Jonathan told an unsuspecting Nation: “My ambition is not worth the blood of anybody.” But truly, his electioneering campaign was trailed by blood, tears and woes! As a ruling President, Dr Good-luck Jonathan has caused more destabilization of the polity through his capricious politics than any of his predecessors in office. Under his watch, the Nation state is tottering and statecraft in peril, but he prefers to use negative propaganda against those he perceives as interested in contesting for the Nation’s presidency, to actually evincing enviable leadership of the country.
There are certain incongruities in the Nation state under President Jonathan that GMB has continued to sensitize Nigerians about, and for which the government has continued to distort with its divisive weapon of preying on the ethno-religious fault lines in the Country.
• In 2009, Mohammed Yussuff, the leader of Boko Haram, was arrested by the military and handed over to the Nigeria Police. He was paraded with hand-cuff before Journalists. Barely twenty four hours’ later, Yussuff’s lifeless body was shown to Journalists and still in hand-cuff! In a related development, persons suspected to be Boko Haram members or sympathizers were shot by the Police at point-blank range. The video footage of the incident posted by al-Jazeera showed some of the people on crutches and made to lay face-down before a police man bent over and summarily executed them all. This act of cruel injustice, coupled with the official acquiescence of the PDP-led Federal Government of President Good-luck Jonathan was what GMB said to be the genesis of the bloody insurgency of Boko haram.
• In Baga, a fishing community in Borno State, a Nigerian Soldier was killed. The ensuing reprisal attack by the Military left in excess of 185 persons dead – mostly children and women – and many houses destroyed.
• The previous prosecution of the war on terror in northern Nigeria had been done with such unprofessional ferocity that left tales of human rights abuses and extra-judicial murders. The United States of America (USA) had pilloried the Nigerian military for this. It is on this background that GMB expressed his scepticism about the current declaration of state of emergency in three northern states. With the communication black-out over these states, are we not to expect more abuses in the name of enforcing security?
• In May, 2013, about 60 security men (consisting of police and State security operatives) were allegedly gruesomely murdered in Nasarawa by the Ombatse cult group. In a bizarre twist of the events, the Director-General of Directorate of State Security (DSS), Mr. Ita Ekpeyong, said he had forgiven the killers of the service men and left them to God’s judgment. GMB, in his characteristic candour, lambasted the head of Nigeria’s spy agency for this perfidious statement. These are his exact words: “However, the Nasarawa attack is a cult that infiltrated the police itself. The latest I learnt from you the press is that the number of security personnel killed is 56. The cult group slaughtered 56 security men. The SSS boss or whoever that said he has left everything to God has no right to do that. Constitutionally, Nigerians can practice any religion they want or they can be atheists or anything they want to be, that is constitutional. But nobody should hurt a citizen of Nigeria and then get away with it, not to talk of slaughtering 56 law enforcement agents and then somebody coming out from the system to say such a thing. It is either that person doesn’t know what he was talking about or he shouldn’t even be there.”
In many jurisdictions, notably the advanced democracies, any murderous violence on the service men is viewed with uncompromising severity. In the same vein, there is also a concomitant punishment of the service men for any breach of service codes or rules of engagement. Last March, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, a veteran of four US combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, ran amok and killed sixteen persons in Kandahar province of Afghanistan, while also burning their houses and villages. The United States (US) authority did not go the way of Nigeria. The offending service man was arraigned before the Court by military prosecutors. From latest developments on the case, Bales stands the risk of life imprisonment or death sentence. We have stated this example to show the utter irresponsibility and ineptitude currently pervading the business of governance in the Nigerian state. The Federal Government, under President Good-luck Jonathan, had shown complicity in the exacerbation of security concerns in Nigeria.
As a Party, we know that the Federal Government of President Good-Luck Jonathan, like the previous PDP administration, seems too intimidated by GMB’s sterling qualities and previous meritorious service to Nigeria that no effort is spared to depreciate his status through deliberate distortions and misrepresentation of his statements. We sincerely sympathise with them! For the avoidance of doubt and within the ambit of space/time constraints, we hereby avail discerning Nigerians some aspects of the stellar public service performance of General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB):
In August 1975, as a Lt. Colonel, GMB was appointed military governor of North-Eastern State, an area now comprising the six states of the North East geo-political zone. He governed with such acuity and urbanity that was undoubtedly the basis for the future development of the area.
As Federal Commissioner for Petroleum resources (March 1976-July 1978), two of the Nation’s four refineries, that is, warri and Kaduna, were built. Also, thousands of kms of fuel pipelines and depots were constructed!
In 1983, the patriotic fervour of GMB was rudely put to test when the Chadians, in a mindless expansionist adventure, invaded and occupied 19 Islands in Lake Chad within Nigerian territory. As the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the 3rd Armoured corps, GMB successfully carried out a blockade, forcing the return of the territories -and thereafter pursued the Chadians as far as 50kms into Chadian territory; a feat loudly applauded as forward defence strategy at its best!
As the incoming Head of State on December 31st, 1983, he aroused the Nigerian people into a new wave of Patriotism with his often-quoted statement: “This generation of Nigerians, and indeed future generations, have no country other than Nigeria. We shall remain and salvage it together.” This aptly captured what later defined the conduct of the Buhari administration. The 20-month era of strong leadership espoused what later became known as ‘Buharinomics’, which simply put, is an admixture of frugality, probity, respect for contractual agreements, expunction of all covert or overt attempts at subjugating the Nigerian economy to world powers and above all, the economic policy with Nigeria as the centre-piece. It is therefore without any whiff of equivocation to state that the boldest attempt, in the last thirty years, at alleviating the pains of the teeming masses was during the enactment of Buharinomics. It was not surprising that inflation rate inherited from the ruinous and immediate past civilian regime was lowered by more than 18 points, from 23.2% in 1983 to 5.5% in 1985! The Buhari regime rebuffed all entreaties by IMF and World Bank to devalue the naira, remove subsidies on services and increase pump price on fuel; not even a special envoy from President Ronald Reagan was sufficient to make him rescind his decision!
As Executive Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), hundreds of kms of roads were constructed to hitherto unreached rural communities. He ensured the supply of drugs to the health centres of Educational institutions. The infrastructural development of the Country was massive with his inimitable management of the funds released for PTF operations. It is no wonder that the subsequent scrutiny of the financial dealings of the PTF showed an excellent work done by the agency.
It is against this back-drop that we understand the frustrations of the current leaders and their sympathizers in the heckling expeditions of GMB. As things stand, he poses the greatest challenge to the continued existence of the indignity and incongruity that the Jonathan administration represents. The tottering edifice of the weather-beaten umbrella of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is aptly captured by the well-reasoned words of Othman Dan Fodio: “a kingdom can endure with unbelief but it cannot endure with injustice”.
As GMB once posited, “the battle for social justice is not just for me, or the opposition, but a challenge to all Nigerians. Each and everyone of us has a duty to stand up and speak for justice. The first principle of justice in a democracy is the right of the citizens to freely choose their leaders. This can only happen if elections are free and fair, not according to INEC or a bare majority of the Supreme Court. They must be free and fair by all counts and in all senses.”
In the run to the April 2011elections, GMB saw through the entire gamut of deception of the Jonathan regime and wept. Many jeered, some excoriated him but the discerning ones were also inconsolable. Unfortunately, his tears are drying up but the teeming Nigerian people are now made to weep. Every act of the Jonathan regime is a scripted venture in ruinous adventure. There is confusion in the engine room and the statecraft is on auto-pilot. We are sure that though the situation is sordid, help is on the way! The merger of the opposition parties shall provide the fulcrum for springing the Nation back to life.
Indeed, to wrestle Nigeria from the vice-grip of the current unpatriotic leaders is a task that must be done. Eternal vigilance is still the price for our liberty.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.