The Difference Between Obasanjo And Buhari
By: Paul I. Adujie
New York, USA
April 13, 2003
In this final week before the general elections in Nigeria, the voters should be mindful of the distinction between the stellar democratic credentials of Mr. Obasanjo and the strangulating and unrepentant arrogance of Mr. Buhari
The similarities in both men ends in having been in the same military establishment in Nigeria, the disparity in their attitude is night and day contrasted
Mr. Obasanjo did not plan any coups that overthrew any democratically elected government in Nigeria, Mr. Obasanjo�s first coming as the nation�s leader was bestowed on him by fate, subsequent to the assassination of his brother patriot General Murtala Mohammed and this have in the past led Obasanjo�s detractors to label him the reluctant one, He acted positively at once, eminent Nigerians were gathered together to constitute the Constituent Assembly Constitution Drafting Committee and democratic elections was followed with the inauguration of President Shagari in 1979.
Mr. Obasanjo did not try self-succession in 1976 as did Mr. Babangida in 1992 as did late Mr. Abacha in 1997, only General Abubakar in handing over in 1999 acted in a manner similar to Mr. Obasanjo�s in 1976, and it was clearly in certain very peculiar circumstances, to say the least.
Again, fate led Obasanjo to the helms of steering the state�s stern in 1999 as General Abubakar handed over to civilians and a democratically elected government; Whereas, Mr. Buhari on the other hand overthrew the democratic government that Mr. Obasanjo had installed, this was coup plotting and an illegal act against the constitution, an expression of his hunger for power by any and all means!
Mr. Buhari�s painful legacy is current history in Nigeria, and it is there for all to see, Many Nigerians voiced their opinions against his government at the time i.e. 193-83 to 1985 and in 1984 I wrote an article that appeared in the Nigerian Tribune and it was titled �Which Way Nigeria?� And then as now, I feel compelled to remind Nigerians of Mr. Buhari�s attributes, particularly now, because, it is clear that he has not changed.
Mr.Buhari refused to attend the Justice Oputa panel that was established to help reconciliation in the land and the Oputa panel was considered as efforts towards the entrenchment of democracy and the rule of law in Nigeria and prominent Nigerians who have had leadership roles were invited; Mr. Obasanjo attended the proceedings and testified, even though Mr. Obasanjo is the sitting president, and he could have feigned being too busy to attend, he could have decided to hide behind presidential immunity, but instead, he magnanimously attended the hearings and cooperated, as mark for respect for the commission, as mark of respect for democracy and the entrenchment of law and law and order, if prominent citizen do not show good examples of obeying duly constituted commission, authorities and the law of he land? What examples are set for the average citizens?
But the undemocratic Mr. Buhari flagrantly disregarded his invitation to the Justice Oputa panel, he arrogantly behaved as if he was above all Nigerian laws and above criticisms or reproach, and now he is saying that he will obey the laws and be the symbol of law and order and now says he will not behave like he was still a General in the army who is not accountable to a commission or anyone, he is now seeking votes too!
Whereas Mr. Obasanjo has repeatedly explained and in some circumstances justified his record of active service to Nigeria, on some occasions, Mr. Obasanjo has even apologized for federal actions that were necessitated by the circumstances, no doubt, but Mr. Obasanjo in order to assuage the feelings of the aggrieved, apologizes for past actions, Mr. Buhari is on the exact opposite side of the spectrum!
Mr. Buhari has again and again behaved as if he is infallible! He never has apologized for Decree Two and Decree Four! Buhari has not apologized for trying to put Mr. Umaru Dikko in a crate and barrel, Mr. Buhari has not apologized for jailing countless Nigerians during his tenure as head of state from 1983 to 1985, His stubbornness clearly indicates his strong opinion of himself as an infallible person, can Nigerians afford a leader that think himself infallible?
All human being make mistakes, hence all pencils are manufactured with erasers attached, so that we can clean up our mistakes when they occur, but Mr. Buhari and his handlers seem to think him saintly and infallible, therefore having nothing in his past or present to apologize for? Whew!
It is a remarkable how some of Mr. Buhari�s defenders like Mr. Sani Mohammed attempts to revise history and turn logic on its head, in Mr. Mohammed�s piece that featured in the Vanguard on April 7, 2003, Mr. Mohammed argued straight-aced that General Buhari�s coup making in 1983 was a patriotic act, when he said �Certainly that coup remains the greatest testimonial to Buhari�s patriotism� Some of us used to believe that coups are undemocratic, nay unpatriotic! But thanks to Mr. Mohammed, we all now know that coup plotters are patriots! Did the national assembly not recently prescribe life imprisonments for these sorts of patriotism? These sorts of defense of Mr. Buhari are laughably pathetic!
Mr. Buhari has had many opportunities to express himself and attempt to sell himself as a reformed person, with some pretensions, at least to some democratic credentials, but at each opportunity, he shirks from chances to attempt a repair of his unpopular and undemocratic records arising from his participation at the helms of Nigeria�s leadership in the past!
Mr. Buhari�s arrogance is pervasive, or how else can one explain his attitude and public utterances? He is the challenger and an underdog in the general elections, and yet he has had the audacity to skip major public debate opportunity with the incumbent! Most candidates in Mr. Buhari�s position would have leaped and jumped at such singular opportunity to explain himself and try to look good standing and debating with a current president, Everywhere else, it is usually the incumbent candidate that does not want to debate and confer prominence on a challenger!
Mr. Buhari has instead been committing lots of gaffes and goofing-offs on serious issues and he has been committing further blunder against his own unpleasant image with the electorate, with his careless pronouncements on major issues like the National Identity Card Project, the Onshore and Offshore Dichotomy issues etc.
He keeps displaying his famed penchant for parochial and limited vision of Nigeria, instead of trying to convince and persuade the voters, that he is reformed and that he is national and broadened in his thinking and outlook!
Mr. Buhari and his handlers are not working hard to canvass for votes, but instead, they are working to frustrate those who are working so hard to win the elections fair and square! The ANPP instead of campaigning seriously, are seeking a change or shift in the election dates or to terminate democracy altogether by their subterranean activities!
Those who are not adept at persuading, canvassing and convincing others in a democratic setting and with democratic means, are resorting to threats, blackmail, frivolous lawsuits and calls for interim government etc! And accusing others of political murders etc!
Mr. Buhari and his cohorts have been accusing others of plans to rig the general elections, they are engaging in these false allegations without a scintilla of evidence; So that when Buhari and the ANPP loose the elections, they will have recourse to this oft-repeated trumped-up-charges of rigging.
The truth is that Mr. Buhari is not a good candidate, he did not enter the presidential race in time or early enough, ANPP have not made enough efforts in its campaigning and they do not deserve to win the presidency or dog-catcher position; And presently, they are busy setting up all kinds of excuses for their eventual and certain loss! Blaming others for their poor choice of candidate, timing, ineptitude and poor strategy.
What is Mr. Buhari afraid of? The truth! How does anyone explain the draconian Decree Two or Decree Four or the crating of Mr. Dikko or the jailing of so many Nigerians without justification? How does anyone explain jailing Mr. Shagari? A man well known or perceived as a gentle, religious and kind, well known as a meticulously incorruptible gentleman from Sokoto; Mr. Buhari is unlike the late General Yar Adua a spotless and unblemished character, who was active in enthroning democracy in Nigeria.
The choice is therefore clear on April 19, 2003! Mr. Obasanjo admits fallibility of the human specie, he has even apologized where he felt the necessity or need to do so, he has expressed desires to reform some of his policies needing reform, Admits mistakes!
In contrast, Mr. Buhari boycotts debates, Mr. Buhari avoids and neglects and disregard summons or invitations from duly constituted Justice Oputa panel, Mr. Buhari is known to have expressed his disdain and impatience with the democratic processes, Mr. Buhari has an overwhelming arrogance that enables him to disrespect and disregard everything constitutional and democratic!
Do Nigerians really want any person with this inflated sense of self? Nigerians must show Mr. Buhari and his ANPP that we have been paying keen attention to his public conduct; Nigeria�s history should compel the electorate to a quick rejection of Mr. Buhari on April 19 and such a resounding rejection response, will send a specific message to Mr. Buhari and those other persons who are anti-freedoms and anti-democratic, the message that Nigeria has positively changed!
Paul I. Adujie is a Nigerian Lawyer and an Information Technology Professional