Open Letter To Former Junta Muhammadu Buhari Concerning Governance In A Democracy

Muhammadu Buhari. Image: Youtube via BBC

My dear Muhammadu Buhari,

I am not a usual letter writer, and I must admit, I barely complain for many reasons. It would make no sense to complain since nobody likely would listen, especially you, Buhari, knowing you for your extreme views and the preservation of Islamic fundamentalism, and your utmost desire to silence the press from around which you have a track record as a junta, remember?

It's not that you're so powerful and tough as permanently battered Nigerian citizens may seem to believe; it's just that you've taken advantage of what made you a junta, in the first place, when your colleague of juntas wrestled power and dissolved the 2nd Republic, positioning you as "head-of-state", a figure head, and besides, Tunde Idiagbon, who sat as your side kick and made draconian laws which covered you up and saved you the embarrassments of a weakling soldier from the public eye, and only if they had known you were nothing but a wimp. It did not take much sweat to erase you from its roster inside the Dodan Barracks commands, just like that; remember?

You only lasted as a junta because Idiagbon was there on your side, and protected you, and covered your weaknesses until another junta, Ibrahim Babangida, took care of you. Upon Idiagbon's trip to Mecca, so dumb of an admired junta who lost his sense of purpose, in its critical time, Babangida getting rid of you was like a rat, and it was done quietly, without any form of resistance, and locked you up, indefinitely; remember?

Of all the ugly decrees that your junta lead promulgated, you clamped on the press, and also murdered folks who did not commit any crime, save for what you did, all of a sudden, backdating the said draconian law to reflect time of crime on folks who only were trying to do their best out of bad situations, which shouldn't be justified, though, in a country you and your junta league hijacked. Do you remember?

I agree those you killed on drug charges committed crimes on moral grounds not on existing laws to be murdered the way you did, and despite the world's outcry, the international community, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other causes, worthy of note, you went ahead and ignored that, and executed them by firing squad. Their blood is in your hands.

The case of Nduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson and a list of journalists you had targeted to silence and proscribe its newspaper outlets is still very fresh in our minds, and it's only in an avalanche of insanity like Nigeria that the citizens can be permanently disabled, because you had barrels of the gun in your possession and could always use it to harass and intimidate the citizens you were assigned to protect its territories as a soldier.

On April 17, 1984, your retroactive decree was out there for all to see, sorting out media organizations you found detrimental to your brutal regime. You closed down the Imo Statesman, leaving it in a state of coma, never to be fully up again, and sent the journalists in that little statement the unique state had, packing, for the fact that its view had questioned the imprisonment of Alex Ekwueme while Shehu Shagari was under house arrest. You detained Niyi Onigoro, Idowu Odeyemi, Haroun Adamu and others, under Decree 4, crafted by the "Idiagbon-Buhari tandem", putting deep scars to the fourth estate and conquering the panicking press that admired the junta in the name of reform. You had no conscience, and despite all the atrocities under your handle, you still had the guts to run the country aground, again.

A little step back to reflect your past deeds, I have been compelled to drop you this missive as I felt disturbed on the happenings in that troubled country under your leadership, in mufti, since you discarded your khaki uniform, for the flowing robe and confessed to Nigerians that you have reformed yourself, and now a good man for the better, and a would be democrat to respect the rule of law, and uphold democracy; and that you have been destined to build bridges and make the country safe, and a better place for all with a thorough system based on the constitutional prescription of separation of powers; though there's none that exists at the moment, because, what you have is a fabricated document concocted by your colleagues of juntas who hijacked the peoples mandate over thirty years ago, and declined to let the civilian structure run a full course of its administrative duties as required without interference by your men in khaki uniform.

The military and guns consists of everything that is wrong with Nigeria. They beat up and arrest civilians on the streets. They mount road blocks and collect bribes before motorists can get their way and continue with a journey another roadblock stands a mile or so away, staged by uniformed men in the name of enforcing a law that is made up. They invade citizens' homes as armed robbers and take away all their belongings, and in some cases, kill them in the most brutal of circumstances. They gang up with their civilian counterparts and collect unnecessary levies, then share the proceeds as the cycle continues. Under your watch, the citizens now live in a state of empire and anarchy, even when you were so desperate and had begged to be allowed another chance to implement your ideals that would revive the country. The country is disappointed in you because you ate up your own words. You had vowed to make corruption a thing of the past the moment you step into Aso Rock. You also said you will stamp out Boko Haram and terrorism, while I have the hunch you're one of the kingpins, if not, why is Boko Haram still very much around? You completed your first term and Boko Haram was still out there causing all kinds of havoc. What explains that? Now the country is trapped with all the accumulated mess upon your assuming the mantle of leadership.

Remember you had promised Nigerians of a fair deal in governance when in 2003 Presidential election you lost on a very wide margin to your fellow junta Olusegun Obasanjo, whose administration then was the worst any could imagine? You did not take it lightly, and it kept bothering you since your enemies had always been your target whenever the opportunity knocks.

 In 2007, you surfaced again, in your second attempt for the presidency and lost to Shehu Yar'Adua who was handpicked by Obasanjo to continue with his 3rd Term agenda, and you complained about being rigged out, and blamed everything on those you claimed were enemies of the state who didn't want the country to move forward. As if you'll give up from the frustration and run around involving the presidential campaigns and its dubious nature, you picked up courage and never gave up, switching political parties, leaving the All Nigeria Peoples Party, the ANPP, for the Congress for Progressive Change, the CPC, under a platform you had vowed to wipe out corruption in its entirety, and delete the immunity clause your fellow junta had included in a fabricated constitution. You lost that election to Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, the PDP, which erupted violence and wanton killings incited by your inflammatory remarks in which scores of Southern Christians and members of the National Youth Service Corps on election assignments were massacred by the Northern Islamic Jihadists. After the mayhem of a post election following your threat, Nigerians did not learn from the danger of electing you president.

However, nobody took you serious when you started your campaign to be president, switching parties and soliciting for funds to help boost your presidential campaign drive, which frustrated your efforts after three attempts until Bola Tinubu, another desperate politician who also wants to be president,  formed a new party from parts of other existing parties, and gave you the torch to take the lead. Actually, nobody knew that Tinubu himself was setting you as a front to propel his desire for the throne at Aso Rock, which he figured you in particular must be used in order to achieve his dreams. Tinubu, himself, would find out, eventually.

I am not short of memory to recount your trails of a bad military combat as transport officer, an ineffectual military governor, an embezzling petroleum minister, and as the list goes on, your first instance of joining politics and your quest for president. And, I'm pretty sure you recall what had generated the move for you to come back in disguise, in the form of an ordinary civilian. But, with all said and done, you got the ticket, finally, and nobody cried wolf about rigging. Your opponent conceded and called immediately to congratulate you for victory to respect the foundations of democracy, something you patently declined to acknowledge when you lost in the three previous presidential elections.

Nigerians still did not learn the danger upon all that. They reelected you again.

And here, we are.

But you must bear in mind that you are no longer a dictator, You are not an absolute ruler. It doesn't exist in a democracy. In order to run the affairs of state in a democratic fabric, the legislative organ of a country makes the laws, and not you, Buhari, and I'm not sure if you have been told that. You must recognize and defend democracy which you vowed to uphold when you took the oath of office. It is a fundamental value and a universal human right where it is practiced.

Be well and I hope you can revise your mindset, and become effective in what the people had demanded.


Ambrose Ehirim,
Development and Editorial Board,
Igbo Journal Review