Re: Be­tween Buhari and Bu­ratai

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Gabriel Ameh

Ihave im­mense re­spect for Son­ala Olumhense as a so­cial com­men­ta­tor whose writ­ings have of­ten helped me com­pre­hend and make sense out of the murk­i­ness that events in Nige­ria are. So en­thralled am I with his elu­ci­da­tion that I of­ten wait for his take on cru­cial na­tional is­sues be­fore I take po­si­tion on them.

It was thus with ea­ger­ness I read his col­umn “Be­tween Buhari and Bu­ratai”. The col­umn kicked off with ac­knowl­edge­ment of the achieve­ments and en­vi­able per­son­al­ity of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tukur Yusufu Bu­ratai, which left me won­der­ing if Olumhense was go­ing to do im­age laun­dry for the Gen­eral, which I knew was not nec­es­sary. Bu­ratai’s record speaks for it­self here in Nige­ria and be­yond.

Much as I am not a big fan of praise singing, I also ab­hor me­dia trial and con­vic­tion, par­tic­u­larly when such is en­dorsed by re­spected so­cial crit­ics and writ­ers that I look up to. My re­spected writer sadly fell into the trap that sev­eral other emi­nent per­sons have fallen into since the prop­erty owned by Gen­eral Bu­ratai and his fam­ily got into the news.

The new per­spec­tive I had an­tic­i­pated was nowhere to be seen (more like nowhere to be read). In­stead what my es­teemed so­cial critic left for me was a re­hash of what many other an­a­lysts, so­cial com­men­ta­tors, ac­tivists or what­ever other names paid job­bers have used to push a pre­de­ter­mined po­si­tion against Bu­ratai. This poses a great dan­ger to the in­tegrity of Olumhense be­cause Nige­ria, be­ing a coun­try where the truth even­tu­ally comes out no mat­ter how long, it would be dev­as­tat­ing if it is even­tu­ally proven that this trial in the me­dia was spon­sored and paid for by those that do not want a re­vived Nige­rian Army as some other writ­ers have claimed.

I mean no dis­re­spect, but Olumhense’s an­gle of ty­ing the Bu­ratai me­dia trial to the cred­i­bil­ity of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari’s anti-cor­rup­tion cru­sade echoes too loudly the clam­our that has been dom­i­nant from per­sons whose pur­pose of writ­ing or tak­ing po­si­tions have al­ways been tied to mon­e­tary or ma­te­rial re­wards. The write up was out rightly dis­mis­sive of women as equal hu­mans with their male coun­ter­parts. It cre­ated the im­pres­sion that Bu­ratai’s wives are in­ca­pable of mak­ing mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tions to their fam­ily or that they lack the ca­pac­ity to jointly owned prop­erty with their spouse. In a coun­try where the Supreme Court has ruled on the right of fe­males to in­herit prop­erty this line of rea­son­ing can fur­ther in­grained it on peo­ple’s psy­che that it is okay for women to be treated like sec­ond class be­ings.

My choice writer stopped short of ask­ing the Bu­ratais to jus­tify their con­ju­gal ar­range­ment with the way he ques­tioned why prop­erty was held in the name of the Gen­eral’s wife. All the house­hold elec­tronic my fam­ily has were bought in my wife’s name, ditto the fam­ily car. This is Nige­ria and we know what can fol­low with the demise of a man, his fam­ily can rub­bish even the legally drawn up will and leave his widow un­der strain while con­tes­ta­tion of the will lasts. Is it then right that we be­gin to in­ter­ro­gate peo­ple’s fam­ily ar­range­ments sim­ply be­cause the head of the fam­ily is serv­ing the coun­try?

I see Women Gen­der Groups com­ing af­ter this Olumhense over this ar­ti­cle. His case would not be helped by his ig­no­rance of the Bu­ratai’s fam­ily en­ter­prise ex­cept of course he de­lib­er­ately tin­kered with the facts. The well known Bu­ratai Farm and the Sana’armu Mi­cro Fi­nance So­cial Scheme, for in­stance, are fam­ily busi­nesses, run by both women, who pur­sue their own en­ter­prise while their hus­band is pre­oc­cu­pied with sol­dier­ing. My thoughts are that there is ask­ing prob­ing ques­tion and there is voyeurism, which has no place in this age.

I had also not ex­pected that a write up com­ing from a sta­ble I am fa­mil­iar with would fall for the faulty logic that be­cause Lt.-Gen. O.A. Ihe­jirika (rtd) and Lt.-Gen. K.T.J. Min­imah (rtd) as COAS be­fore Bu­ratai were in­dicted then the in­cum­bent must also be in­dicted. If he avoided the pit­fall that is prov­ing to be their ru­ins of his pre­de­ces­sors must he be hounded sim­ply be­cause we have il­log­i­cally con­cluded that all top mil­i­tary brasses are cor­rupt? It seems even the law courts may not be able to over­rule pub­lic opin­ion on this one as some priv­i­leged Nige­ri­ans are res­o­lute on see­ing their cor­rupt selves re­flected in any high fly­ing pub­lic of­fi­cer.

My big­gest worry about the im­port of Olumhense’s ar­ti­cle is that it joined the cho­rus of those that want to rub­bish Pres­i­dent Buhari’s an­ti­cor­rup­tion fight with­out know­ing it. The in­ten­tions of the write up are good no doubt but some cir­cum­spec­tion might have just helped in adding a push to the ef­forts of those that have Nige­ria on the precipice. I am sure they are en­joy­ing it in their cir­cles right now that they are re­cruit­ing us to fight their war with­out us know­ing it.

I don’t have the magic as to how the Dubai prop­erty is­sue should be re­solved but the faintest idea I see as ac­cept­able was can­vassed by a lawyer I re­spect for his le­gal views the way I re­spect Olumhense for his writ­ings. Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) had said Bu­ratai should be re­moved only if found guilty in court. The court Chief Ozekhome re­ferred to here, as I un­der­stand it, is not the me­dia court nei­ther is it the court of pub­lic opin­ion; it is the law court.

In con­clu­sion, the prose­cu­tor in this case is the Code of Con­duct Bureau (CCB) and based on the ex­ist­ing laws it has given the man a clean bill of health. This must not be a re­peat of the case of Pon­tius Pi­late and Je­sus Christ where even af­ter be­ing tried and found guilt­less, his tra­duc­ers had in­sisted for his head. This is what we should pon­der.

Ameh is a pub­lic af­fairs com­men­ta­tor and con­trib­uted this piece from Abuja

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