Muhammadu Buhari is viewed as honest and straightforward, a novelty in the Nigerian political landscape. His support is based on this reputation, a support which limits his ability to make political compromises. Although he lost three elections, in 2003, 2007 and 2011, amid allegations of widespread irregularities, Buhari was still very popular with the grassroots especially in the Northern part of Nigeria. While his campaigns.
remained below the radar screen and he was hampered by the lack of access to the billions of Naira that classical analysts saw as the lubricant for Nigerian elections, he enjoyed something that few other Nigerians enjoy: genuine spontaneous grassroots support.
Muhammadu Buhari was born on December 17, 1942, in Daura, Katsina State. He is the twenty-third child of his father, Adamu. Buhari was raised by his mother, his father died when he was about three or four. He went to Primary School in Daura and Mai’adua from 1948 – 1952, before proceeding to Katsina middle School in 1953. He attended the Katsina Provincial Secondary School (now Government. College Katsina) from 1956 – 1961. On graduation from Secondary School in 1961, Buhari went to the Nigerian Military Training School, Kaduna in 1963.
In October 1963, he was sent to the officers’ Cadet School in Aldershot in the United Kingdom and was thereafter commissioned Second Lieutenant in 1963 and posted to the 2nd Infantry Battalion, Abeokuta as Platoon Commander in 1963. It was at the Abeokuta Garrison that the real traits of a great soldier were identified in the young man. From 1963 – 1964 he was sent for further training on the Platoon Commanders’ Course at the Nigerian Military College, Kaduna.
In 1965, he went for the Mechanical Transport Officers’ Course at the Army Mechanical Transport School in Borden, England. He went to the Defence Services’ Staff College, Wellington, India in 1973 and to the United States Army War College from June 1979 to June 1980.
In August 1975, after General Murtala Mohammed took power, he appointed Buhari as Governor of the North-Eastern State, to oversee social, economic and political
improvements in the state.
In March 1976, the then Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Buhari as the Federal Commissioner (position now called Minister) for Petroleum and Natural Resources
. When the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was created in 1976, Buhari was also appointed as its Chairman, a position he held until 1978.
The Nigerian Second Republic lasted from 1979 to 1983 under civilian president Shehu Shagari. The weak political coalition government, the end of the oil boom, the strain of recession, and fraud in the 1983 elections.
caused the army to step in again at the end of December 1983. Major-General Buhari and Major-General Tunde Idiagbon were selected to lead the country by middle and high-ranking military officers after a successful military coup d’etat that overthrew civilian President Shehu Shagari on December.
Buhari tried to restore public accountability and to reestablish a dynamic economy without altering the basic power structure of the country. The military had become impatient with the civilian government. Corruption in particular was out of control, and the fraudulent election had been too obvious. Because the civilians in the NPN could not control the situation, the military would try its hand.
The military tried to achieve two aims. First, it attempted to secure public support by reducing the level of corruption; second, it demonstrated its commitment to austerity by trimming the federal budget. As a further attempt to mobilize the country, Buhari launched a War Against Indiscipline in the spring of 1984. This national campaign, which lasted fifteen months, preached the work ethic, emphasized patriotism, decried corruption, and promoted environmental sanitation.
His administration subsequently initiated a public campaign against indiscipline known as “War Against Indiscipline” (WAI). As part of his “War Against Indiscipline”, he ordered Nigerians to form neat queues at bus stops, under the sharp eyes of whip-wielding soldiers. Civil servants who were late for work were publicly humiliated by being forced to do frog jumps.
Unemployment was on the rise as the recession worsened, so that speeches about working hard seemed out of place. The appeal to Nigerian nationalism had the negative effect of restricting the flexibility of the government in international negotiations over the debt. The campaign was enforced haphazardly; some people were executed or given long jail terms while others were allowed off if they were well-connected.
In August 1985, Buhari was himself overthrown in a coup led by General Ibrahim Babangida on August 27th, and other members of the ruling Supreme Military Council (SMC) ostensibly, because he insisted on investigating allegations of fraudulent award of contracts in the Ministry of Defense.Buhari’s regime is remembered for a strict campaign against indiscipline and corruption, and for its human rights abuses.
Buhari was detained in Benin City until 1988. Between 1995 and 1998, Buhari served as the Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), a body created by the government of General Sani Abacha, and funded from the revenue generated by the increase in price of petroleum products, to pursue developmental projects around the country.
Buhari contested the Presidential election as the candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party in April 2003 and lost to Olusegun Obasanjo. ANPP Presidential candidate
Muhammadu Buhari’s court cases against the flawed April elections continued with hearings examining both the election results and the May 2003 decision to go ahead with Obasanjo’s inauguration. At the Appeals Court hearing the case against the election results, Buhari’s attorneys continued to make points with the judges and with the public by presenting evidence of fraud, intimidation and rigging. Obasanjo’s attorneys admitted their defense in this suit would not refute the allegations of rigging, but would rely on the fact that removing Obasanjo and holding another election could be “disruptive.”
Again, he contested under the ANPP banner on 14 April 2007 against Umaru Musa Yar’adua of the PDP and lost. The only rallies allowed to take place unhindered were the ruling PDP rallies. The ANPP and its Presidential candidate
Muhammadu Buhari were banned from holding rallies in many locations, purportedly because the “crowds are too big.” Several of their rallies were broken up by police accompanied by unnamed “hired thugs.”
The new and improved Buhari showed principled positions on anti-corruption and electoral issues which earned him reasonable grassroots support in north during the election. Buhari trie not to make the same mistakes he made in 2003. He had learned that attempting to take his grievances to the courts ended in nothing less than failure. This time around, Buhari appeared much more savvy and apt at understanding the political terrain. By broadening his base of support and actively campaigning in the influential, wealthy diasporic communities of the Igbo in particular, Buhari stemmed the power base of the PDP.
Petitions from aggrieved candidates or political parties, including main opposition presidential candidates
Muhammadu Buhari (ANPP) and Atiku Abubakar (AC), were filed across Nigeria’s thirty-six states and the FCT. Almost three months after INEC announced winners of the April gubernatorial and presidential elections, most election tribunals throughout Nigeria had yet to convene. Buhari blamed Obasanjo, personally, for the electoral problems.
On 24 March 2009, nineteen Nigerian opposition parties agreed to form what they described as a mega-party to challenge the ruling People’s Democratic Party
(PDP) in the 2011 elections. While most were very small, the largest (Buhari) faction of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and the leadership of the Action Congress (AC) were represented in the meeting. The opposition parties accused the PDP of running the country into the ground and acting as if Nigeria were a one-party state.
In March 2010, Buhari left the ANPP for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a party that he had helped to found. Nigerian political parties are largely organized around support for one central Big Man, rather than an ideology. Buhari was the CPC Presidential candidate in the 16 April 2011 general election, in which he lost to incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He was the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the 2015 presidential election.
A practicing Muslim, in 2015 he voiced support for Nigerians to observe the religion of their choice. He ran a campaign in 2015 promising to end Boko Haram’s insurgency and survived a suspected Boko Haram assassination attempt in July, 2014.
In 1971, Buhari got married to his first wife, the former first lady, Safinatu (nee Yusuf) Buhari. They had five children together. In 1988, Buhari and his first wife Safinatu got divorced. In December 1989, Buhari got married to his second and current wife Aisha (nee Halilu) Buhari. They also have five children together.
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Video Credit: TVC, CHANNELS TV