Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Whispering Drums With Maigani

by Musa Ibrahim

Buhari: beyond the rhetorics

Soldiers the world over are by their nature and inclination (traits acquired through the rigours of military train- ing) anti-social and unruly. In training, it is consistently drummed into their sometimes thick skulls that among all the human species on earth, a soldier has no long-life expectancy. Because of this awareness, a general tendency that can be found among many-a-soldier is that of making hay while the sun shines, i.e., make the best of your life while that life lasts in you. This has often revolved around booze and women. To a soldier, a combat soldier, these are all the essential things in life that he needs. Today, I am not sure if the same thing can still be said of the African soldier's mentality.

Abdicating their traditional roles in society as defenders of the sovereignty of their various countries from external threats and aggression, the African soldier has consistently been the desta- bilizing factor in the political develop- ment and stability of his country through coups and counter coups. Prompted more by their greed for power and lust for materialism rather than by any patriotic sentiments, the continuous intervention of the military in African politics has reached an alarming and frightening limit. When they come, instead of removing and wiping away permanently the sins they had accused the politicians of having committed, they take these sins and add unto their own and the sins become unprecedented. They keep their lecherous and drunken gabardine and wear the gabardine of squandermania and corruption taken from the ousted politicians.

Reflect for an instance on these indirect juxtapositions and incongruities which is now the speciality of the military regime in Lagos.

First, the non-celebration of Nigeria's 24th independent anniversary "because of the economic situation" According to General Buhari: "It is an occasion to count on our blessings and to resolve, with God's help, to remove obstacles in our way to becoming a happy and prosperous nation". Not for merry making. In truth, however, the non-celebration was in keeping with a strong rumour being circulated in Nigeria that there would be a coup on this occasion and on this day. Soldiers, inspite of their guns, are not bullet proof and Buhari was not about to give up the trappings of power for no bloody patriotic or nationalistic reasons. He spent all the day in the mosque praying for long life and prosperity, for himself!

Second, the empty rhetorics in Buhari's speech notwithstanding, three sentences were very striking. Inter alia, the head said: "...we can never go back to the extravagant, carefree days..."; "...we have not taken power in order to accumulate wealth..."; "...the days of easy money and reckless spendings are over...". On these three counts, some of the General's lieutenants proved him wrong. These might not be the moment to accumulate wealth, but it is surely the moment to spend extravagantly the money already accumulated.

A few days to October 1, a high ranking member of the Supreme Military Council left Nigeria for a supposed "official" visit to some Western countries. On his entourage was a retinue (a battalion, to be more militaristic) of army majors. Having been in that hell of a place for nine months without breathing the air of freedom, the men were ecstatic. I don't know how much estacode each of them was given in this period of austerity and belt-tightening and non-availability of foreign exchange, but the grand lifestyle they displayed in London and Geneva showed they must have got a whale of a lot. Or else some of them have come to close their foreign accounts in these places too, and instead of taking such huge sums of money to their posh hotels and risk it being stolen by the coquettish call girls servicing them as happened to Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji, they decided to go on a spending spree. And spend they did, lavishly too.

Yes, who said they too have not arrived?

Dasuki's local government panel

During the Murtala-Obasanjo military rule, and as the day to usher in a civilian democracy draweth nigh, it was decided that certain bureaucratic and traditional institutions had to be reviewed so that their roles in govern- ment and in society can be adequately determined. One of such were the Local Government Councils. A review commission was set up in 1976, and at the Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, a conference was organised to look into the problems and role of the local government in the political develop- ment of Nigeria. In attendance were distinguished members of the academic community and professional experts. In the end, a guideline was drawn and the report submitted. In 1979, and throughout the civilian administration, the report was used and all the recommendations adhered to.


Recently, another panel was appointed by General Buhari to look into the same question of running the local governments. Chairing the panel was Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki - a close associate of Buhari. Ibrahim Dasuki by the way, is the owner of Afro Continental a company that during the civilian regime was the largest buyer and distributor and hoarder of the famous 'Shagari Rice' (some prefer to call it the infamous Dikko rice).

Remember, too, that the main allegation against Umaru Dikko and the reason why he was being crated was that he had reputedly made untold fortune out of his position as Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on the importation of rice. Another distributor of this rice, a German, (second only to Afro Continental) is still wailing behind bars in Kirikiri. Anyway, not to worry, it is the way things work in that God-forsaken country.

Dasuki has submitted his report and I can assure you that there is nothing in it, that is why even the SMC is hesitant to release the report to the public. And for good reasons too, for when did Dasuki leave Afro Continental to start giving lessons on Local Government reforms? How can such a business stuff-head know anything about the people he has persistently denied food from as a result of his company's hoarding policies? Goes to show another irony and incongruity in the Buhari regime. If General Buhari is sincere and wants something good for the local people, he should refer to the 1979 constitution and draw from it instead of relying on people of dubious character, even if these people are relations.

talking drums 1984-10-08 Behind Rawlings' latest executions - Ojukwu released - PNDC drug charges