Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Whispering Drums With Maigani

by Musa Ibrahim

Buhari's Kaduna Trip

Major-General Leko Muhammadu Buhari has paid a visit to Kaduna state (his home state) as part of his country-wide tour.

If there was ever any doubt about the difference between a self-imposed leader and one chosen by the people themselves, then it was in the reception that was given the Head of State.

This was the state in which the politicians - not just the National Party of Nigeria members, used to pull crowds of record numbers every time they organised a political rally. When ex-President Shehu Shagari went to Kaduna (not his home state) during the 1983 electioneering campaign, the enthusiastic crowds spoke for themselves. Other party leaders pulled if not equally memorable numbers, at least enough to make people still talk about the crowds.

Very strange therefore that when Buhari was going to Kaduna (the city) an order needed to be given to the people to go and meet him at the race course, the venue chosen for his rally. This was the place where people used to come out in their tens of thousands on their own accord and free will to hear the politicians. Anyway the people paid not the slightest heed to the order. Apart from the VIP stand at the race course which was occupied by Governor Muazu, members of his cabinet and the public officers who did not have a choice, the rest of the course remained empty. The ordinary people had passed their verdict..

For the rest of the journey in the state therefore, Buhari resorted to the use of a helicopter to avoid the embarrassment of the empty streets. In Katsina, Buhari spent only 20 minutes and flew straight to Zaria and landed outside the courtyard of the Emir's palace. He spent fifteen minutes and flew back to Lagos. Even in his own Daura, the welcome was very muted.

One wonders if he is afraid of the people.

I referred to Major General Buhari at the beginning of this piece as 'Leko'. Well, this is not an idle name I have 'christened' him with. 'Leko' is his name, at least was his name until the time of his admission into the Nigerian Army.

The talk is that when Buhari's father migrated from the Niger Republic, his son was named 'Leko' the name of the town in Niger from which they had come. The 'Muhammadu' bit came when he was entering the army.

I do believe that in these days of "aliens must go", some other people too should seek to properly regularize their stay in Nigeria.


I am sticking out my neck to predict that the last word has not been heard on the barter deal that the Federal Military Government of Nigeria has struck with Brazil.

It will be recalled that recently a $1 billion deal was concluded whereby Nigeria will barter her crude oil for goods from Brazil.

Already, rumblings have been heard, and strongman Idiagbon has felt called upon to answer the criticisms, but I'm afraid it won't end it.

Such barter arrangements had been out of bounds entirely to the Shagari people when they were in government, as the constitution expressly forbade the bartering of Nigeria's oil - it had to be sold for hard currency, and there was even clear stipulation as to where the money should be lodged. Some Eastern European countries expressed the very keen desire to have such barter arrangements, not so much for Nigerian oil but to pay with their goods, the debts already owed to Nigeria, but the set down rule was 'No barter arrangements' and if the military in their wisdom had laid down such a rule, the civilians were not about to break it.

Now it looks like the word 'barter' does not stink anymore. But what is causing all the excitement really is the company that is said to have arranged the deal, for this was not a direct government to government deal.

At first the word was that this intermediary company belonged to the powerful behind-the-scenes man Maj- Gen. Y'ar Adua, the former Chief of Staff, but he is said to have told friends privately that the company is not his. The word is that the owner comes from the same village as Nigeria's current number one man.

Nobody is talking about the amount of commission that this company is being paid for having arranged this $1 billion deal but those who know say that the company's owners have joined the ranks of the multi-millionaires.

And you wonder that I still say this will run and run?

Only the best...

It is gradually becoming obvious why the PNDC regime in Ghana has lasted so long in spite of so many attempts to dislodge it.

Future civilian governments might possibly learn from their example. It might seem like stating the obvious but the secret is that they have taken very seriously the "security problem".

Everybody knows about Flight-Lieutenant Rawlings' trusted Cuban bodyguards and select Libyan "military advisers". But just how very seriously the security boss Captain Tsikata takes his job is illustrated by some information that has now reached me. A group of very select military operatives has been sent to Bulgaria for training as part of an elite "Intelligence Corp".

The choice of Bulgaria surprised me and I've been mulling over it until I landed on some strange coincidences. I am thinking of the case of the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II; I am thinking of the case of the poison umbrella which was used to kill a dissident Bulgarian exile on a street in London; I am thinking of the case of the poison pen . . . It does look as though for a certain type of "Intelligence work" the best place to go is Bulgaria.

I am only hoping that there isn't going to be a spate of unexplained accidents among Ghanaian dissidents both at home and abroad very soon...

I wonder if there is any significance in the fact that of all those sent to Bulgaria, not one attended his Military Academy in Ghana.

talking drums 1985-05-27 my vision of independent ghana paa willie - is kojo tsikata emerging from the shadows - wazobia the tale of three nations