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Buhari, Politicians And History By Ebenezer Babatope - Politics - Nairaland

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Buhari, Politicians And History By Ebenezer Babatope by noblezone(m): 7:38pm On Feb 25, 2011
Buhari, Politicians And History


Ebenezer Babatope

I was a Buhari detainee. For nearly 20 months, the General Muhammadu Buhari military regime kept me inside three of Nigeria's prison centres, from 1984 to 1985. There were many of us (politicians) who were caught in the Buhari military web after the New Year eve's coup of December 31, 1983. Some of my colleagues unfortunately were not lucky to survive the ordeal. I am not in anyway writing this piece as a result of bitterness against what General Buhari and his colleagues of the military did to me and other politicians. Ours was a price that had to be paid in the struggle to create a lasting democracy in our dear country.

I write to produce answers to certain verdicts delivered by the former Head of State on men, matters and events in our country since January 15, 1966 when the Khaki boys rolled out the tanks to dismiss the Shagari administration. In a lecture, General Buhari delivered under the auspices of Bayero University Kano Centre For Democracy, he came very hard on politicians describing them as their own worst enemies.

While not dismissing the entire paper as conveying nothing, it is however pertinent to point out to Buhari certain areas where his submissions amount to mere window dressing and a total distortion of the facts of history.

The most contentious areas of General Buhari's lecture are where he said the following on politicians and soldiers in Nigeria: "In 37 years of independence, Nigeria has had four separate successful coups and several other unsuccessful attempts with ten different programmes. While these frequent changes have no doubt been quite disruptive, the political class has no moral right to present this fact as its excuse for failing to learn the ropes. And like all other patriotic Nigerians, members of the Armed Forces have every right to resent the mismanagement of affairs by the politicians, "Nigerian politicians have no one to blame but themselves when they find themselves out in the cold. They are their own worst enemies. They have very little commitment to democracy beyond election day. And as I said elsewhere, many Nigerian politicians are not true democrats; they are democrats of convenience - extolling the virtues of democracy when they campaign, that's the rule of the jungle with the added burden of having to vote for it. Conversely when they lose, politicians refuse to accept the verdicts and invite the military to return."

The above represents the thoughts and ideas of Buhari on politicians. While he clearly sent the politicians to the junkyard of history, he cleverly justified the incursion of the military into politics. One wonders why General Buhari did not discuss the inordinate ambition of some soldiers in seizing power. Neither did the General talk about some soldiers coming into power via military coup as a result of bitterness over some state matters in which they have been active participants and collaborators. We ask General Buhari in all humility whether any politician did invite him and his military colleagues to stage the coup of December 31, 1983. We submit that long before that coup, Buhari and some of his colleagues in the Army had made up their minds to terminate the life of the Second Republic.

General Muhammadu Buhari is fully aware of the speech he made sometime in 1982 calling on Nigerian soldiers to start reading the Nigerian constitution for a future role they (the soldiers) might be called upon to perform. On September 19, 1982, I took him (Buhari) on in my column POLITICAL PANORAMA in the Sunday Tribune for making this statement which was a clear signal for a coup detat against the democratic government.

I concluded my column by stating inter alia:- "If tomorrow Nigerians are woken up once again by the familiar slogan of "GOOD MORNING Fellow Nigerians we would have known that the signal for such had long been given". That column (which Nigerian Tribune republished on January 16, 1984 after the Buhari coup) was to send me to a near twenty month detention by the Buhari regime. Dr. Ibrahim Tahir told me in March 1984 at the Kirikiri prison, Lagos that a young Major who had visited his house after the Buhari coup had inquired about my residence in Lagos.

If General Muhammadu Buhari may want to debunk the idea that his call on soldiers to start reading the Nigerian Constitution represented a call to overthrow the democratic government, I will further wish to humbly submit that moves made by General Buhari within the military between 1982 and 1983 clearly confirmed this interpretation. The story I am about to narrate has been fully told in my book THE STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA (1960-1983).

There is the need to retell the story here: " A soldier in the 3rd division of the Nigerian Army based in Jos had gone to the office of the then civilian Governor of Plateau State, the colourful Chief Solomon Dashep Lar, to report on some strange operations in the barracks. The soldier gave vital information to Solomon Lar that soldiers were being taken for an early morning exercise in the military training grounds in Jos for what the soldier suspected was aimed at overthrowing the civilian regime. The soldier named General Muhammadu Buhari as having participated in the military exercise as the Divisional Commander. This information was given to Chief Solomon Lar about the time that President Shehu Shagari was paying an official visit to Plateau State. Chief Solomon Lar took the opportunity of the President's visit to intimate him of the information he had received about preparations of the military for a possible coup d'etat. "Alhaji Shehu Shagari, instead of passing this crucial information to the security agencies for their investigation, decided on inviting Major-General Muhammadu Buhari to Lagos.

Alhaji Shehu Shagari was said to have told the General what Chief Solomon Lar had told him of preparations by soldiers under the Command of Buhari in Jos for a coup. President Shehu Shagari when pressed by General Buhari to disclose the source of his information, was said to have named Chief Solomon Lar as the main source. "Major General Muhammadu Buhari on reaching Jos went straight to the office of the Governor (Chief Lar) where he was said to have told the Governor (whom he was fond of calling uncle) in no unmistakable terms his displeasure at the information passed to President Shehu Shagari instead of Chief Lar calling him for clarifications on the military exercise programme of his division. "Chief Solomon Lar was rather surprised that such crucial information could have been so lackadaisically treated by Alhaji Shehu Shagari instead of being very discreet in inquiring into it.

Chief Solomon Lar was said to have handled the situation maturely and both parties parted company on friendly terms. Buhari certainly did not forget the incident. "Interesting too was the fact that General Muhammadu Buhari as G.O.C 3rd division of the Nigerian Army was a member of the Plateau State security council presided over by Chief Solomon Lar as Governor of the State at the time of this incident. "The Attorney-General of Plateau State during the second republic, Mr. Gregory Goltona Golu, who was also a member of the state's security council told me in Jos Prison (where we were both detained after the coup) that Major-General Muhammadu Buhari had attended the Plateau Security Council meeting held on 24 December 1983. Golu said General Buhari participated very actively in the deliberations of the meeting. He (Buhari) was however conspicuously absent at the annual Christmas Party of the Governor, Chief Solomon Lar, held in his home town Langtang on 26 December 1983. General Muhammadu Buhari was said to have sent an officer to represent him at the party.

Little did all the participants at Chief Lar's Christmas party know that the country was only a few days away from martial music which a soldier had warned Chief Lar about a couple of weeks before. On the day of the coup, a Nigeria Airways Boeing 737 plane piloted by Captain Gowon flew out of Lagos at about 4 p.m. to Jos. When the plane returned to Lagos that evening, it had on board the army officer that was to be announced by Sani Abacha at midnight of 31 December 1983 as the country's new military head of state. The important passenger was Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, the General Officer commanding the 3rd infantry Division of the Nigerian Army, Jos. "A few days after December 31, 1983, Chief Solomon Lar who had been privileged to be told of the military preparations of the Jos centre of the coup was to later join his other civilian politicians as inmates of Kirikiri Prison. Chief Solomon Lar was subsequently jailed by the Buhari regime for 25 years sometime in 1984".

The imprisonment of Solomon Lar was to let him know that he had opened his teeth too wide by leaking Buhari's preparation for a coup to President Shehu Shagari long before it took place. I will never forget that twenty four hours before the Special Military Tribunal in Jos pronounced a jail term on Solomon Lar, General Hananiya the then Nigeria's high Commissioner to Great Britain had been reported by the BBC to have told the British press of the conviction of Lar by the Tribunal.

Chief Lar and all of us inside the Jos prison were quite peeved by the Hananiya announcement in London. Of course, Lar went to the Tribunal the next day to collect the sentence which had alrady been released in far away London. Though Shagari's NPN regime had prepared the grounds well for its collapse, no politician invited General Buhari and his soldier-politicians to come and take over power. They invited themselves and later turned their guns on themselves. General Buhari cannot dispute the fact that he did a bitterness coup to avenge what he considered wrongs that had been done to him by certain people.

In one of his early press conferences after he had come to power, General Buhari did tell the gentlemen of the press that he would tamper with the freedom of the press. He was particularly bitter with the way the Nigerian press had reported the Justice Irikefe Oil probe of 1980. He (Buhari) felt the press was not fair to him as a former Minister for Petroleum resources of the period the Justice Irikefe panel was to inquire about. Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor of The Guardian newspapers later went to prison as ransom for the rascality of the Nigerian press. Haroun Adamu was incarcerated for once writing a critical essay on the General inside the Kano based Triumph newspaper. Mr. Rafindadi was appointed as the head of the N.S.O and all the Intelligence officers who favoured a fair treatment for detained politicians were weeded out of the organisation. Mr. Ndukwe then the Deputy Director of NSO now (SSS) and Mr. Oshodi, two fine officers, were all retired at the instruction of Mr. Rafindadi.

The last point, I will like to comment on relates to what General Buhari said of his political programme. While talking about the military class, General Buhari had said the following on his regime's political programme: "The regime that took over on 31 December 1983 decided that in the then corrupt atmosphere of 1983 Nigeria, it was virtually impractical to attempt any meaningful political reorganisation without tackling the issues of corruption and indiscipline.

Perhaps, it was a mistake to have put our political transition programme on the back burner since it probably tended to portray us as a sit-tight group. We were nothing of the sort". General Muhammadu Buhari ruled Nigeria for one year and eight months without giving Nigerians an inkling of what would be his political programme. In an interview with the FINANCIAL TIMES of London, General Buhari had said that his (military) regime would hold a referendum before handing over power to politicians.

He never gave the paper what were to be the issue to be decided upon in the referendum by the Nigerian people. The only hint of the possible Buhari political programme was given by respected Dr. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari the then External Affairs Minister while delieving a lecture in America very early in the life of the Buhari administration in 1984. Agboola was quoted too have said that Nigeria might experiment with an indigenous system of government for the next period of civilian rule.

The rest is for Nigerians to decide. General Buhari's observations about politicians in Nigeria by and large are correct. We politicians have allowed selfishness, petty jealousies and unguarded lust for power to becloud our sense of judgement. We are equally too narrow minded to be objective in our stand on various national issues.

Despite all these however, it is my humble opinion that politicians inside military barracks are not the ones to condemn civilian politicians and teach our country men and women about democracy - Certainly not General Buhari. Teacher don't teach us nonsense (apologies to the late Pan Africanist musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti). General Buhari still needs to tell Nigerians more stories about his difficult and tough regime. Like Muffet said, "we must all let the truth be told". God bless Nigeria.

December 2001

Buhari is a gold digger. Nigerians beware.
Re: Buhari, Politicians And History By Ebenezer Babatope by chriswely: 9:12pm On Feb 25, 2011
Re: Buhari, Politicians And History By Ebenezer Babatope by Nsiman(m): 10:30pm On Feb 25, 2011
Imagine venturing into politics he hated. A gold digger indeed!
Re: Buhari, Politicians And History By Ebenezer Babatope by Nsiman(m): 10:33pm On Feb 25, 2011
Imagine venturing into politics he hated. A gold digger indeed!
Re: Buhari, Politicians And History By Ebenezer Babatope by Pharoh: 2:24pm On Apr 03, 2011
This is a very good revelation.
Re: Buhari, Politicians And History By Ebenezer Babatope by LFJ: 3:48pm On Apr 03, 2011

This is a very good revelation.

Good revelation from whom? From a traitor who joined the military government he calmed to hate with passion. Thank God, he was disgraced out of power because of his rebellious roles against the government; he is now a member of Peoples Destruction Party.
Re: Buhari, Politicians And History By Ebenezer Babatope by PeeDaVinci: 4:19pm On Apr 03, 2011
babatope is a fan of agip (any government in power), he was pro shagari, pro-ibb, pro-abacha, pro-obj, pro-yaradua, pro-joe, would have been pro-buhari if not for the fact that he was jailed during the period. yes, he presented the truth, however, it is a lop-sided truth
Re: Buhari, Politicians And History By Ebenezer Babatope by seanet02: 4:23pm On Apr 03, 2011
Buhari is a barbaric ediot
Re: Buhari, Politicians And History By Ebenezer Babatope by otokx(m): 4:52pm On Apr 03, 2011
Very insightful
Re: Buhari, Politicians And History By Ebenezer Babatope by DrummaBoy(m): 7:50pm On Apr 03, 2011
The last I heard of Babatope was that he was running errands for Abacha; now he has the self righteousness to analyse Buhari. Politician sha!

Another thing, he keeps a coloumn with Nigerian Tribune. A proffessing Awoist; who has lost the spirit and life of everything that Awo stood for. He and his paper, that he writes for, The Tribune, are anti-ACN and are fighting to pull down the legacy and pupils that Awo left behind. Pity!!

Now Babatope analyses Buhari. He should thank his stars he is alive to tell these stories. Becuase if Buhari had used the Rawlings Solution, he would be dead and not speaking.

Lets set the record straight: If History were to repeat itself and Nigeria of 1983 was to come up again, I would still pray that a Buhari/Idiagbon regime takes over and sanitize the rot, like we experienced then. The only difference being that IBB coup would not succeed, while Buhari is allowed to run his govt. to a logical conclusion that will pave way for the installing of a democratic enviroment.

And by the way, many years after this enviroment is in the offing: IT IS CALLED BB2011.

Babatope only helped advertise our man: Vote Buhari, Vote Bakare!!!
Re: Buhari, Politicians And History By Ebenezer Babatope by naijaking1: 11:24pm On Apr 03, 2011

Good revelation from whom? From a traitor who joined the military government he calmed to hate with passion. Thank God, he was disgraced out of power because of his rebellious roles against the government; he is now a member of Peoples Destruction Party.

Attack the messanger


babatope is a fan of agip (any government in power), he was pro shagari, pro-ibb, pro-abacha, pro-obj, pro-yaradua, pro-joe, would have been pro-buhari if not for the fact that he was jailed during the period. yes, he presented the truth, however, it is a lop-sided truth

Attack the messanger

Sir, why not raise issues and debunk all the valid points he's made in his write up. Tell us for example that Buhari did not jail Solomon lar out of personal vendata. You couldn't say that, could you sad You damn well know that Babatope was correct no matter how corrupt you think he might be.

Still waiting for Buhari crowd in N/L to line up and try to change the subject from Buhari's personal short comings to Ms GEJ's pronounciation of umbrella undecided
Re: Buhari, Politicians And History By Ebenezer Babatope by noblezone(m): 8:20am On Apr 04, 2011
I am still wondering whether the congregation of the "Sai Buhari" crusade include those who tested the Buhari experience or is it just made up the younger generation who bought the dummy of "Buhari as the best thing to happen to Nigeria" and of course the religious fanatics of who sees him as the symbol of the supremacy of the spirit of "born to rule".

I was an eye witness of how Buhari brought down the prices of goods.

He set up a task force who went round the citites with vans. One of them would enter a shop and ask for an item and the price. If the onwer who bought that item at N350 (for example) says N400, he would be arrested, has his goods taken away and his shop would be locked. Reason, the Govt had announced the price of that thing to be N150. That was buhari's magic economics.

No one could challenge him because he had the gun. He was so clueless on what to do with power and was just tyranical. Yes, we were cueing up and stuffs like that, not because we had become well cultured, but rather because there was gun behind our back.

Nigerians will diappoint Buhari since he won't rule by decrees any more and the old man will inturn disappoint Ngierians becuase they will see that he is not he man they think he is.

Jonathan remains the best option in these dispensation. PDP was the shape OBJ gave it, Jonathan is given the PDP a new shape.

Let us not allow sentiments and emotions to take decisions that will take Nigeria backwards.

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