Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Behold General Buhari's Contemporaries!

By Dan Amor
They were all members of a departed era, apostles of a dying generation 
 a generation that raped Mother Africa to this pariah and prostrate status. Members of the clan of military dictators in Africa were many but for space management, we may mention just a few who were as brutal as General Muhamadu Buhari was before his regime was halted by General Ibrahim Babangida in August 1985. 
*Gen Buhari
At their commanding height was Gnassingbe Eyadema who in January 1963 organized the first military coup in Africa to overthrow the government of President Sylvanus Olympio. Eyadema assumed full power in 1967 and ruled till 2005 when he died. Before his death, he had groomed his son to assume the mantle of leadership in that tiny West African country like a dynasty. 

There is Paul Biya of Cameroon who came to power since November 6, 1982. There was a Charles Taylor, leader of the rebel group known as National Patriotic Front of Liberia(NPFL), one of the groups that forced erstwhile dictator Samuel Doe out of office. Taylor who committed a lot of war crimes and crimes against humanity over which he was jailed in 2012 by the International Court of Justice at The Hague, ruled Liberia between 1997 and 2003. Also, there is Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, one of the most treacherous dictators in the world today. He has been declared wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity since 2008 having embarked on ethnic cleansing like the late Adolf Hitler of Germany.



*Eyadema (pix:nndb)
One of General Buhari's contemporaries was Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea who hated intellectuals the way Buhari hates journalists. At a point, Mbasogo resorted to the killing of intellectuals so much so that more than a third of the country's population had to flee the country to escape his brutal and sadistic reign. Again, Siad Barre was another senseless dictator and butcher who seized power in Somalia from October 21, 1969 to January 26, 1991. He jailed opposition members on ethnic grounds just as Buhari jailed politicians of Southern Nigeria extraction such as Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu who was not even in government, Jim Nwobodo, Sam Mbakwe, Ambrose Alli, Bisi Onabanjo, Adekunle Ajasin, Bola Ige, etcetera, and created sacred cows by leaving several politicians from the North who were even more corrupt than their Southern counterparts untouched. In fact, Buhari placed President Shehu Shagari under house arrest while he jailed the Vice President Dr. Alex Ekwueme under dehumanizing circumstances. When General Ibrahim Babangida overthrew the Buhari junta in a palace coup on August 27, 1985, the reason he gave as justification for the action was: misuse of power, violations of human rights and Buhari's failure to deal with the country's deepening economic crisis.

Jean-Bedel Bokassa of Central African Republic was Buhari's contemporary. Mobutu Sese Seko who misruled Zaire and stole its resources flat into his private pockets for 32 miserable years until he was chased out by Desire Kabila, a rebel kingpin and died in exile in 1998, was another shameless friend of General Buhari's. Kamuzu Banda of Malawi who murdered thousands of innocent primary school pupils for daring to protest his attempt to centralize the purchase of their school uniforms at exorbitant rates and later died in exile in Nigeria in 1997, was Buhari's contemporary. Also, Hissene Habre of Chad, a rebel who came to power by invading Chad through Libya and killed thousands of people in the process was Buhari's contemporary. General Idi Amin Dada of Uganda, unarguably the most notorious and most sadistic dictator Africa has ever produced, was Buhari's tutor in the art of dictatorship. Lest we forget, Colonel Muammar Gadaffi of Libya who was alleged to have sponsored about eighty per cent of coups in Africa was Buhari's god-father. It was from Gadaffi that Buhari learnt his catechism of religious fanaticism and the praxis of trying to Islamize Nigeria and Africa

*Biya (pix: africaw)
Buhari presided over the most sadistic military regime in the history of Nigeria. In the days of General Buhari as a maximum dictator, a thick satanic cloud shot our land from the sight of the civilized world. And the voice of the media, the hungry and powerless masses was overpowered by the intimidating din of the forces of tyranny. He used Decree 2 and Decree 4 to silence the media and the opposition to his dastardly rule. Not only did Buhari gag the press with his official secret decrees; he banned the Oni of Ife from exercising his freedom of worship by seizing his international passport for traveling to Israel. He used a retroactive decree to murder two accused drug pushers just to prove that his regime was tough. That is to say that the crime Ben Ogedengbe and one other fellow allegedly committed did not carry the death penalty as at when it was committed. Buhari jailed the quintessential educationist and social critic Dr. Tai Solarin and denied him his asthma drug because he campaigned against military rule and for democracy. He raided the Apapa home of the legendary sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and seized his passport so that Baba would not travel out of the country. Buhari jailed the iconic Afrobeat maestro Fela Anikulapo-Kuti in 1984 for daring to sing against the dictatorial tendencies of his military regime. He also jailed Beko Ransom-Kuti for demanding the release of his brother, Fela.

Almost all the leading professional bodies in the country directly had a taste of the bitter pill of Buhari's dictatorship as he banned the Nigerian Medical Association NMA, broke up the press conference being addressed by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and clammed four of their leaders into detention. He also jailed Awwal Ibrahim for criticizing his government. If these and many more are the excesses of Buhari, where and when did he take his induction training for the change mantra his spin doctors are bandying around him? When did a man who presided over the most base and barbaric military dictatorship in our chequered history suddenly become a change agent? We may well find a philosophical explanation as to why Nigeria came to that sorry pass. The task of holding back, by force if necessary, the worst manifestations and most dangerous consequences of passion is entrusted to the state. This was the thought of St. Augustine, which was to be closely echoed in the sixteenth century by Calvin. Indeed, any established social and political order is justified by its very existence. Its possible injustices are just retributions for the sins of Fallen Man.

*Al-Bashir (pix:pbs)
To be sure, some hints of more particular motives for Buhari's actions as a military dictator are every now and then fagged up to why our society created such a monster in the first place. It could be beneficial for literary scholars to embark on a psychoanalytic study of military dictatorship in Africa nay, Nigeria, to try to trace the complex connections between the traumatic memories of that era and certain recurring patterns of the African cum Nigerian question. But, unfortunately, we are still detained in primitive accommodation. If we are not, why, for God's sake are some people still hell-bent on recycling military dictators as leaders in this age and time when democracy has been entrenched with ubiquity and constancy all over the world? If we detest Olusegun Obasanjo's recent civilian dictatorship between 1999 and 2007 as the years of the locusts, why are some Nigerians sheepishly rooting for yet another dictator in 2015? Does a leopard change its spots? 

Whereas in Chile, Bolivia, Haiti, Pakistan, Yemen, etcetera, felons such as Buhari are being tried for crimes against humanity, why are some Nigerians trying to deodorize an iron fist dictator and religious fanatic as a change agent? What manner of change will Buhari who cannot produce his West African School Certificate bring to Nigeria in the second decade of the Twenty First Century when presidents across the world are well schooled with chains of academic degrees? Even as the feudal and religious forces which enjoy playing dice with the collective destiny of the nation are still plotting, many Nigerians have learned nothing and forgotten all. Buhari is certainly not  Dr. Goodluck Jonathan's match in all ramifications. His contemporaries are on the wrong side of history.

*Amor, journalist and writer, contributed this piece to MUST READ from Abuja.


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