In May 2015, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) was inaugurated as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria after beating then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in what was seen as a watershed of democracy in Africa and the developing world where incumbent leaders employ every paraphernalia of state including brazen tyranny, brutish force and high profile assassinations to ensure that they remain in power.
Ironically, it was the same General Buhari who, about thirty two (32) years ago, in connivance with some other overzealous power hungry military officers, fantastically deceived and then overthrew their boss, the then democratically elected President Shehu Shagari in a coup d’état that eventually put Nigeria through 16 dark years of military rule, subsequent coup attempts, execution and killings of suspected or failed coup plotters, political assassinations of high profile Nigerians, etc.
The punishment for a failed coup d’état in Nigeria is death by firing squad, the same as that for an armed robber who was unfortunate to be caught.
As head of state, Buhari threw many political leaders into jail on account of corruption in a process that was driven by shoddily assembled tribunals that were guided not by the rule of law but by the dictates of a power feverish head of state.
Interestingly, about twenty years before then, it was the same misadventure by groups of grossly misguided, incurably overzealous, mentally ill-equipped and inexperienced young military officers that eventually put Nigeria through horrifying years of a Civil War which resulted in the death of millions of innocent Nigerians mostly from the Southeastern part of Nigeria.
One of the most ambitious anti-corruption campaigns was carried out by the General Sani Abacha regime.
Interestingly, in a show of epic hypocrisy, while General Abacha launched his anti-corruption campaign which saw bank officials and their cronies thrown into jail, more than five billion pounds (£5 billion) was stolen from the coffers of the Nigerian state by Abacha and his cronies and wired off to various accounts in the United States, The United Kingdom, Switzerland and some other Western and Europe countries.
Just before his death on 8 June 1998, he had begun preparations to exchange the garment of a military ruler and tyrant for that of a democrat and political leader in a process that was fully orchestrated by him.
In 2015, thanks to his win in the presidential elections, General Buhari, a retired General and former despot has now successfully donned the garb of a democrat and political leader.
His anti-corruption campaign has begun in earnest.
Leading members of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) especially its spokes-people and others who have been vocally critical of the Buhari regime, have all been rounded up and thrown into detention centers owned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Directorate for State Security (DSS), most times, in flagrant disregard of the Rule of Law.
Ibrahim Magu and Lawan Daura, who are both Muslims, hail from Northern Nigeria, man the agencies, EFCC and DSS respectively.
There is great reason to believe that tyranny, reminiscent of the dark years of military rule in Nigeria, has returned.
In those dark years, innocent Nigerians were thrown into jail on trumped up charges.
Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni-9 were savagely executed.
Dele Giwa, a vocal journalist and outspoken critic was assassinated through a letter bomb delivered to his residence.
Many others such as Kudirat Abiola, Pa Rewane and many others were murdered in cold blood.
The Buhari presidential campaign was largely funded by state Governors who diverted funds from the coffers of their state to sponsor the presidential campaign of the retired General who was sold to Nigerians as an ascetic, austere and poor former head of state who did not own a home and could not afford to rent an accommodation in the very expensive Nigerian capital city of Abuja and so was consigned to high village of Daura where he own a Spartan bungalow and reared a herd of about a 100 cows.
In fact the All Progressive Congress (APC) sold its presidential candidate to Nigerians as the only former President who did not own a house in Abuja.
Months after his inauguration as President, it was revealed to bewildered Nigerians that General Buhari was not just the proud owner of a sprawling residential estate located at the high brow Asokoro district of Abuja, but also the owner of homes in Kano, Kaduna as well as two mud houses he says he inherited from his late sisters.
It is unsure whether the sprawling Abuja estate is also built with mud.
George Kerley writes from Abuja.