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1985: Did you know that Buhari Voted for a Fulani Muslim from Niger Republic instead of an Igbo Man from Nigeria at OAU



“I remember in 1985 in Africa Hall that he was for confirmation of Dr Peter Onu of Nigeria, who was acting Secretary General but Nigeria’s Head of State Gen Muhammadu Buhari was adamant in his support of Niger’s candidate, Idi Omaro, a Fulani Muslim. In a meeting, a handful of Presidents led by Nyerere met with Gen Buhari and Nwalimu begged him: ‘Please give us Peter!’ Buhari refused and forgot even to be courteous to his old peers. What was astonishing, when the vote was in favour of Niger’s candidate, the Nigerian Head rejoiced to such a degree that he was unable to control his emotions. That was a moment I witnessed and was convinced that General Buhari would not last long as a leader.” – The OAU: Reality Or Fiction by Ibrahim Daggash, former Head of Information and Communication, Organization of African Unity (OAU); pg 69; ISBN 1-9044722- 25-3.

It is unheard-of in history that a self-respecting leader of a country would vote against his country’s candidate in international diplomacy. But here, you have it in black and white, in a book, that former Head of State General Muhammadu Buhari would rather have a Fulani Muslim candidate from Niger instead of Nigeria’s own esteemed Dr. Peter Onu. Not even the highly revered then President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere could make Buhari to change his mind. This kind of bizarre shamelessness is why Nigeria is the laughing stock of the civilized world. It is unthinkable that any leader, anywhere would insult his own country by backing an opponent from another country.

The crude tragedy here is that it was the selfsame Buhari who made this patriotic statement: “This generation of Nigerians and indeed future generations have no other country than Nigeria. We must stay here to salvage it together.” How would the late Peter Onu have faith in Nigeria when he could not get the support of his country’s leader? It is as though the so-called leader was more interested in the ethnicity and religion of Peter Onu’s opponent from Niger than any bonds of citizenship with his Nigerian compatriot. Cry, the beloved country, as Alan Paton entitled his sad book. Attaining the great post of Secretary-General of the then OAU was a task most African countries gave their all in raising their diplomatic stakes. In Peter Onu’s case, he even had the other African countries rooting for him because of his undoubted competence only to be abandoned by the very man at the helm of affairs in his own country.

Indeed Chinua Achebe was spot-on when he stated that the trouble with Nigeria stood on leadership in his classic little book The Trouble With Nigeria. A leader that cannot support his countrymen and women can only be aid to be worse than useless. How indeed will Nigerians be motivated to lift up the country? It all means that all the croaking about “One Nigeria” is a huge joke. Buhari’s antecedents can only deal a deathblow to his current attempt at winning the presidency of Nigeria. He is not showing in any sense whatsoever that he has changed from his old ways which made the author to state in the book quoted above at the beginning of this article that “he was convinced that General Buhary (sic) would not last long as a leader.” All over the internet are quotes of Buhari stressing that he would ensure the entrenchment of the controversial Sharia law all over the country. In a plural society such as Nigeria, that is a surefire way to covet trouble. Buhari ought to know that the country is no longer under military where his word was law. Even then, he was even so easily overthrown by his military peers due to his bad politics. Buhari had earlier said quite undiplomatically that Muslims should vote for only Muslims. It goes against the grain for a man who aspires to be the leader of all to sound so parochial.

Buhari obviously has his fawning sycophants, but the larger public remains unimpressed. It is this his latching to the praise songs of his toadies that makes Buhari imagine that he can ride roughshod over simple rules like presenting his school certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Celebrating a man who cannot produce his mandatory school certificate in the contest for the Nigerian presidency aptly sums up the sorry fate of the country where a child from Anambra State, for instance, must score more than 139 marks to be admitted into the so-called Unity Schools while another child from Yobe State is only required to score just 2, as in TWO, marks. Pathetic! A leader who shamelessly helped to defeat his own country as Buhari did in Peter Onu’s contest for the Secretary-General post of the then OAU has no business putting up his head to lead the country yet again. Since he is so desirous of supporting his Fulani mates from Niger, would it not be wiser to aspire to lead Niger Republic instead? Somebody urgently needs to CHANGE himself first!

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