Dapo Olaosebikan’s odyssey to the Presidential Villa
In the last 12, 292 days, President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) has been a recurring figure in Nigeria. The retired major general in the Nigerian Army had entered Nigerians consciousness when he became the nation’s head of state from December 31, 1983 to August 27, 1985, after taking power in a military coup d’état.
Though, he had previously served the nation as the Federal Commissioner (position now called Minister) for Petroleum and Natural Resources and chairman of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation when it was created in 1977, as well General Officer Commanding, 4th Infantry Division, General Officer Commanding, 2nd Mechanised Infantry Division and General Officer Commanding, 3rd Armed Division.
Dapo Olaosebikan, a political scientist, author and journalist, in his 450-page Muhammadu Buhari: Strides In Incorruptible Leadership tries to capture the man, who is the second military head of state to be elected as president.
He is well placed to write a book on Buhari. He was already a student of politics when Buhari came to power in 1983.
It is not another biography or a sort of hagiography of President Buhari. Rather, it’s a huge academic exercise undertaken to re-write Nigerian socio-political history through the prisms of PMB’s visionary, disciplined, nationalistic and incorruptible leadership as a military head of state and, particularly, as the democratically elected president.
In the eight-chapter book, the author establishes that every nation that has made it to the top in world geo-politics has been blessed with some game-changing, change-instituting and forthright leaders at one historical epoch or the other. He expatiates that in modern history, Chairman Mao Tse-Tung was the blessing to China in this regard; Mahatma Gandhi India’s change talisman while in Singapore, it was Lee Kuan Yew that took the erstwhile rural economy to the height of being a world-beater.
He further explains that back home in Africa, beloved Nelson Mandela was the purveyor of change and advancement in South Africa, ever revered Julius Nyerere did it for Tanzania and in Ghana, Nigeria’s twin brother historically, Kwame Nkrumah was the visionary icon of the mission that Jerry J. Rawlings perfected with uncommon courage and patriotism.
He points out that Nigeria had its visionary icons such as, Chief (Dr.) Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Great Zik of Africa, Ahmadu Bello–the administrative genius, Obafemi Awolowo–the sage and Michael Okpara, the governmental managerial titan.
In the book, Olaosebikan elucidates that there is no contesting the fact that while these esteemed Nigerian leaders were in control of governmental apparatus, the country flourished–even with no petrodollars. And, the denominating factor of their celebrated successes and solid foundation they built for the nation remains unforgettable: This was as a result of their commitment to the goal of attaining ‘the greatest good of the greatest number’ with unequalled vision, incorruptibility, discipline and sacrifice. And that since they left the scene, Nigeria has floundered with undisciplined, self-serving and ultra-corrupt leadership, particularly, since 1999.
Divided into eight chapters and another, a photo splash, tagged, The History Maker In Historic Presidential Pictures, which is a 30-page pullout of action colour pictures, showcasing memorable presidential activities of President Buhari inside and outside the country since May 29, 2015.
The first chapter is a narrative of Buhari and His Friend’s Bicycle. This narrative was a pre-2015 general election exaltation of Buhari by Alhaji Bashir Tofa, National Republican Convention (NRC) presidential candidate, who contested against the late Bashorun MKO Abiola’s Social Democratic Party, SDP, in the famed June 12, 1993 presidential election in Nigeria.
There is in-depth presentation of what the author calls two broad pillars of the life and leadership essence of President Buhari: Honesty and discipline.
In this chapter, the author expressly allows many Nigerian and international personalities to talk to the readers who the man is really. He, thus, concludes, Nigerians at home and abroad as well as innumerable citizens of the international community appreciate him as a colossus and rare leader “purely because of his patent character coefficients of which include vision, honesty, sincerity, handwork, discipline and incorruptibility.”
In the second chapter, sub-titled, A Defined Character from Cradle, the book establishes the background of Buhari’s life as a man and leader through his enviable parentage and early encounter and acculturation with the principles of hard-work through training by his parents, guardians and teachers.
In this chapter, the author gives a recap of his life journey through elementary school to his training as a professional infantry soldier home and abroad. The chapter also chronicles his rise as an officer in the Army and details all his promotions, postings as well as all the accompanying duties and his celebrated commitment to professionalism and achievement of goals with unmatchable discipline and nationalistic fervor.
In chapter three, sub-titled, Military Calling–A Career Built On Vision, the book explains why Buhari chose to go to the Army where he became a thorough bred soldier and military leader.
This chapter presents, from his account, how and why, like every young mind created for greatness, he was role-modeled by the late General Hassan Katsina, whose father had a special concern in getting interested school leavers in his Emirate into the military.
Titled, Nigeria, Buhari & His First Rescue Assignment, chapter four presents, both in theoretical and analytical formats, a most positively exhaustive literature on the Buhari Military Administration in Nigeria between December 31, 1983 and August 27, 1985.
The chapter effectively summarises all the negative things ever written in disfavour of Buhari as military Head of State, beginning with the trumped up reasons given by the palace coup that ousted him from power; exorcised his so call dictatorial sins epistemologically and exposes the real reasons for his ouster by those who popular newspaper columnist, Max Siollun, called ‘Soldiers of Fortune’.
Concluding the chapter, Olaosebikan convincingly establishes the fact appreciated inside and outside the country that had PMB continued leading the nation for at least five years in that epoch, Nigeria would have, by now, joined the Asian Tigers in global economic growth and self reliance. This, the author says, is unequivocally true, because his successor reversed all the disciplined and change-inducing policies of the Buhari Military Administration, including a romance with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Chapter five, subtitled, Second Coming of Purveyor of Change, encapsulates the re-launch of Buhari into public service between 1998 and 2007, beginning with his appointment as Chairman of PTF and his foray into party politics as presidential candidate of defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2003.
The author makes a lucid and convincing presentation of PMB’s strides as PTF’s Chairman and how this catalyzed his re-launched into the national focus as the leader Nigeria truly required to take her to her promise land in governance denominated by focused and accountable leadership, genuine discipline and probity in handling the nation’s commonwealth.
The second part of this chapter is dedicated to Buhari’s dogged attempts at the presidential elections of 2003 and 2007.
This part of chapter five is not only an academic beauty in relevant facts, statistics and event by event presentation; it is an exhaustive catalogue of all the judicial battles fought by him against the electoral process of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) era fraught with unbridled rigging and monumental election malpractices.
In chapter six, sub-titled, The Unstoppable Odyssey To The Presidential Villa, Olaosebikan dwells on both 2011 and 2015 elections. It is a continuation of his dogged attempts at winning the presidential elections in Nigeria between 2003 and 2015. The author establishes convincingly that the crowning of his presidential election in 2015 remotely began with the 2011 election.
This chapter establishes that the pre-election atmosphere leading up to the 2011 elections was predominantly shaped by the aftermath of Nigeria’s discredited 2007 elections, which were widely recognized by Nigerians and the international community to be the most poorly organized and fraudulent in the country’s history.
The author lists factors that contributed to the poor 2007 elections. These include, fraudulent voter register; polling stations that opened late or not at all; stuffed ballot boxes; snatched ballot boxes; lack of voting privacy; violence and intimidation at polling stations; falsified results sheets; and, underage voting.
In this chapter also, there is an academic presentation of the acrimonious social situation in Nigeria; especially, the intermittent bombings between March 2010 and January 2011, which largely aggravated general fear of insecurity pervading the land in Nigeria.
This chapter presents and explains why and how the announcement of the results of 2011 presidential election with ex-President Goodluck Jonathan winning with 58.69 per cent to Buhari’s 31.98 per cent, sparked off violent demonstrations in some Northern states of the country.
The seventh chapter is an intellectual encapsulation of the huge and uphill task of repositioning Nigeria for its destined greatness and saving it from the jigsaw of socio-economic destruction by the rapacious mob of politicians.
This chapter also has a huge intellectual presentation of the tasks before the president in repositioning Nigeria along the lines of probity, genuine socio-economic development, adequate security and international good image. The tasks before Buhari at the take off of his administration as listed by the author include, dealing with massive corruption in the system, fixing the economy, power, education, agriculture, industrial development and youth employment.
The last chapter of the book, which is subtitled, Buhari and foundation of a lifetime, is a reflection of his tough stance against massive corruption and impunity.
The chapter is also a huge academic presentation of all the issues involved in putting Nigeria back on track socio-economically by the Buhari Administration. The chapter is an academic cataloguing of why and how his administration has been able to win the war against insurgency, secure Nigeria against criminalities and set a new moral code with his celebrated probity-approach in public service.
The book is an interesting read anywhere and any day for researchers and readers alike. The book is research-based and has a huge theoretical superstructure and it is not about praise-singing President Buhari’s strides in life as a Nigerian and African leader but a critical appraisal of his leadership essence to the Nigerian nation.