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Bruce Fein, Washington Times, and Buhari



Bruce Fein

IN a recent article published in the Washington Times, Bruce Fein, a former associate deputy attorney general and general counsel of the United States’ (US) Federal Communications Commission under President Ronald Reagan, tried to portray Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari as an unrepentant dictator, who is out to settle old scores with his adversaries.

Fein gave a distorted account of developments during Buhari’s brief stint as a military head of state from 1983 to 1985.
Reading through Fein’s article in the Washington Times, titled ‘Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari dupes the U.S.,’ you would be forgiven if you conclude that the legal expert has been hired as a spin doctor to give a distorted account of history and portray Nigeria’s former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), as a man that is being persecuted for his role in the coup that sacked Buhari as military head of state.

Fein accused Buhari of committing atrocities during his military administration and claims that Buhari has “duped the U.S.” into believing that he was a now a converted democrat.
While I do not hold brief for Buhari or anyone in his government, I believe we must set the records straight in this matter and deconstruct the false narrative that Dasuki is a man that is being persecuted for his role in a coup that took place three decades ago.

First of all, Dasuki’s role in the 1985 coup was very remote. He was a junior officer (a Major) in the Nigerian Army at that time and could not have played a key role in the epic event. The key players in that coup were Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Aliyu Gusau, Domkat Bali, Sani Abacha, etc. All of these men, with the exception of Abacha, are still living.

So, why will Buhari ignore these key actors and persecute a junior officer, who was only following orders from his commanders?
Despite these facts, which are well known to the public, Fein has tried to portray Dasuki as a victim of persecution.
In an interview he granted to a Nigerian newspaper, Daily Trust, in August, this year, Col. Abdulmumini Aminu, one of those that arrested Buhari during the coup stated that only he, Majors Lawan Gwadabe and John Madaki arrested the then head of state. Dasuki did not take part in the arrest.

Dasuki himself has publicly acknowledged that he did not take part in arresting Buhari. So, why should Fein, a credible public figure in America (or so we
thought) fall for this gimmick that Dasuki is being persecuted for his role in that coup? Fein tried to remind the public about Buhari’s “atrocities” as a military head of state. However, rather than report the truth and mention genuine cases where Buhari erred, he collates previously existing propaganda against the President and cleverly spiced them up with his own set of falsehoods in order to cause disaffection against Buhari in America.

Fein should have mentioned the findings and allegations that sparked off the investigations against Dasuki, whose defence to these allegations was that his job was to award contracts and make payments.  Buhari cannot be all clean and totally free from blame. He must take responsibility for the actions and inactions that occurred in high places under his watch as military head of state.

The septuagenarian has done so several times in the past. He has said publicly that military men don’t seize power to run government, like democrats. When they take over, they run things like soldiers do. As such, he did the same during his time as military head of state. He has taken responsibility for all the excesses that occurred under his watch.

This, however, does not mean that anyone should give legitimacy to fallacious allegations that were cooked up over the past 12 years, just to undermine his integrity and ruin his chances of electoral success.
In the run up to this year’s general election, billions of dollars were spent on media adverts and smear campaigns to portray Buhari as a demon.

The Nigerian people, knowing that these allegations are figments of people’s imaginations, ignored them and voted for a man that is widely seen as a person of integrity. It is a pity that Fein would stumble on these failed smear campaign materials and use them as “facts” to guide his opinion.

We may never know for sure how or why Fein arrived at writing the article. What we do know for sure is that there are allegations of corruption and treason against Dasuki, for which he should prepare to defend himself in court.  If he is indeed in dire need of foreign doctors, the Nigerian government should arrange to fly them into the country to attend to his health.
• Galadima writes from Abuja

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