Buhari Recounts – “How I made Nigeria great in 1984”

Nigeria's President, Muhammadu Buhari

The Nigerian president recounts his stewardship as a military head of state in the 1980s

President Muhammadu Buhari has again touted Nigeria’s greatness when he led the country as the head of a military junta in the 1980s.

Mr. Buhari said he used his fight against corruption and indiscipline to reassert Nigeria’s role as a force amongst nations.

“As military head of state, I fought corruption headlong and held public officers who abused their offices or misused public funds to the account,” Mr. Buhari said at an anti-corruption meeting in Abuja on Monday. “I introduced the War Against Indiscipline, one of whose cardinal objectives was to promote ethical conduct, integrity, and hard work.”

In 1984, I recognized, as I do now, that corruption poses a clear danger to Nigeria,” he said. “So we cannot relent in efforts to eradicate it in all its ramifications. As I have often reminded Nigerians that if we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”

Mr. Buhari’s claim to integrity has long been a major selling point of his personality. It was a key campaign strategy that his handlers adopted to secure his victory against an incumbent, the first for the country.

Although Mr. Buhari sees his military days a better era for Nigeria, many Nigerians have spoken extensively of his brutish approach to policymaking.

Citizens were flogged by soldiers and other state agents for not respecting a queue, while a decree saw many journalists and critics jailed for writing stories or passing remarks that embarrassed a government official.

But since assuming office, the president has been dogged by multiple allegations of corruption, nepotism and ineptitude. Several of his top aides have been caught stealing from the country, and in many cases the president failed to take action.

Just earlier today, the Gazette published a detailed account of how the State Security Service has been conducting secret and uneven recruitment.

Nigerians have widely condemned the SSS following the Gazette’s publication, but said they cannot expect the president to take a concrete action this time because secret police was enmeshed in a similar scandal in 2017 and he did not do anything.

Nonetheless, Mr. Buhari insisted that his administration is committed to rebuilding the nation.

“Also in my inaugural speech in 2015, I affirmed my administration’s determination to rebuild and reform the public service to become more effective and serviceable,” the president said. “I charged public servants to apply themselves with integrity to stabilise the system and solicited the cooperation of the legislature to maintain their brief of making laws and carrying out oversight functions.”

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