Re: Between Buhari and Buratai
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