The attention of the Presidency has been drawn to unfortunate statements in the media made by former Head of State and presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) in which he allegedly predicted bloodshed in 2015 and labelled the Federal Government led by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, as “the biggest Boko Haram”.
But perhaps the most unfortunate part of the statement was the portion in which Buhari said that, “Since the leaders now don’t listen to anybody but do whatever they wish, there is nothing the north can do.”
We find it very sad that an elder statesman who once presided over the entirety of Nigeria can reduce himself to a regional leader who speaks for only a part of Nigeria. We now understand what his protégé and former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Nasir El’Rufai, meant when he wrote in a public letter in October of 2010, telling Nigerians that Buhari remains “perpetually unelectable” and that Buhari’s “insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus are already well-known.” Who can know Buhari better than his own political associate?
Come to think of it, as the CPC presidential candidate in the 2011 election, how many states in the Federation did he visit to campaign for votes? Buhari never bothered to campaign in the southern part of the country and consistently played up the North-South divide to the chagrin of patriotic and well-meaning Nigerians. As the results revealed, Nigerians will never vote for anyone who wants to divide the country. Is Buhari going to continue to be a sectional leader?
The Federal Government led by President Jonathan is not Boko Haram. Boko Haram means Western Education is sin. That being the case, one wonders how a government that devoted the largest sectoral allocation in the 2012 budget to education could be said to be Boko Haram. Between 1983, when Buhari forcefully seized power from the democratically elected administration of President Shehu Usman Shagari, and 2012, no other administration has committed the same quantum of resources as the Jonathan administration to education in the part of Nigeria that has witnessed the most Boko Haram-related insecurity.
Only on April 10, 2012, President Jonathan commissioned the first of 400 Federal Government Model Almajiri Schools, equipped with modern facilities such as a Language Laboratory, Qur’an Recitation Hall, classrooms and dormitories as well as a clinic, vocational workshop, dining hall and quarters for the Mallams. As Nigerians read this, more of such schools have been completed.
We now challenge Major General Buhari (rtd) to tell Nigerians what he has done, whether in his capacity as the head of a military junta or in his private capacity, to bring education to vulnerable children. If he cannot live up to this challenge, perhaps he has to reassess who really is Boko Haram.
Buhari claims that the Federal Government does not listen. Such an accusation ought not to emanate from a man overthrown by his own hand- picked colleagues in the military for refusing to listen to advice and behaving as if he had a monopoly of knowledge.
It is on record that the Federal Government led by President Jonathan is a listening administration hence its decision to pursue all means of resolving the Boko Haram insurgency including through dialogue.
When Buhari says that “if what happens in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, ‘the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood”, we hereby state that it is Buhari himself who does not listen. He has obviously refused to listen to the Nigerian People, the European Union, the Commonwealth Monitoring Group, the African Union and a multitude of independent electoral monitors who testified that the 2011 elections were free and fair and “the best elections since Nigeria returned to civil rule.”
Indeed, such a reaction from Buhari is not totally unexpected since he has become a serial election loser who has never taken his past election defeats graciously even when such elections were generally acknowledged to be free and fair.
Still on the issue of Boko Haram, we wonder what locus a man whose party’s Secretary General, Buba Galadima, told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in December, 2010, that the Federal Government is underestimating the support base of Boko Haram, has to accuse a government that has been threatened on camera by the leaders of Boko Haram of itself being Boko Haram?
Major General Buhari (rtd) also boasts of his knowledge of the Petroleum Industry because of his time as Federal Commissioner for Petroleum. We wonder why he did not boast of the infamous scandal that occurred in that ministry where under his watch billions of Naira (in the 1970s) were reported stolen, a matter which led to the setting up of the Justice Ayo Irikefe panel.
Finally, we wish to make it known to Buhari that given his reference to “dogs and baboons”, perhaps his best course of action would be to travel to the zoo of his imagination because President Goodluck Jonathan was elected by human beings to preside over human beings and it is human beings who will determine what happens in Nigeria at any material time not “dogs and baboons”.
Special Adviser (Media & Publicity) to the President
May 15, 2012.