Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Whispering Drums With Maigani

by Musa Ibrahim

Retired Generals in London

"Allah Akbar!" This is a very heavy sentence. In case you do not speak Arabic, it means "God is Great". True this is. His Greatness is shown in so many ways and in so many forms for us mortals to observe and learn. And yet we keep on blundering as though we are incapable of drawing lessons from history.

Last year this time who would have thought that freedom of speech, of association etc. would ever return to Nigeria? Who would have imagined that the lean and hungry looking General would be a prisoner? Who would have dreamed that the thug who was number two to the tyrant would also be in prison. and to crown it all, the Gestapo Chief would be the occupant of a Kiri Kiri cell?

There is no doubt they themselves would not have believed it if an angel had told them that their hour was drawing near. But sure it was! Today Nigerians are free and their jailers are in jail. This can only be the work of God and it ought to make believers of us all.

Last year this time, people like Magoro were throwing their weights around in Lagos as both Major-General and Internal Affairs Minister, the Major-General who had private dinner with Buhari almost daily to plan their next move. This time last year, people like Muktar were busy passing sentences that sent some people into 'a coma. Today Muhammadu Magoro from Zuru is back to his plain Magoro, no more Major-General, no more Honourable Minister. He is now a tired, and prematurely retired man and showing all the signs of a man in a state of shock.

Similarly, the once Air Vice-Marshal Muktar is also no more this, no more that. He has been sentenced to retirement and may be, he will return to Dutse in Kano since he has had experience as Chairman in one of the Buhari-Idiagbon kangeroo Tribunals! Without the military trappings, his true worth will undoubtedly be seen quite soon.

One thing is sure, with the wave of interrogations on the coup plotters, going back may not be an easy option.

And now to the most interesting part of all! Two weeks or so ago, Rtd. Major General Magoro and Rtd. Air Vice- Marshal Muktar were in London. The story goes that they were seen drinking at a disco night club in the West End of London. A friend of mine had an encoun- ter with them in the private flat of a Nigerian girl with initials S.B. My friend had gone there by chance and bumped into these two Generals on the run! The ex-Air Vice Marshal was dressed in tight jeans and open neck short sleeve shirt, typical of a night club guy! There they sat bragging that they would be back in power one day and moaning that they had been betrayed! Obviously the irony of it all was lost on them. My friend looked at retired Magoro and said "Allah Akbar, Magoro, so today you have joined us in exile, likewise you Muktar."

It was Magoro who answered back by saying that he brought himself to London voluntarily and that he was not 'wanted'. My friend said, "all of us who are in exile brought ourselves to London voluntarily, none of us was brought here in a crate. As to whether or not both of you are wanted, you should not be so sure." And, my friend added: "You know what I mean!"

Well, maybe the running Generals have now gone back or they are still around

One thing is sure, with the wave of interrogations on the coup plotters, going back may not be an easy option.

The story is that a full year's rent for the girl's flat has been paid and she has been urged to close her door to all other Nigerians in London so that they, the retired Generals, could come and relax there as often as possible. Whether she will stick to the bargain is left to be seen. for she is very popular and very sociable. Of course, she is a student and nothing else. It is important to make the distinc- tion between the Lagos girls who run in and out of London pushing cocaine on behalf of the big drug barons and those girls who are innocent, simple, straight- forward students, only acting at times as contact points and resting places for our retired Generals abroad!

talking drums 1986-02-03 Demonstrations in Accra against Rawlings's economic measures