Profile of Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari was born on December 17, 1942. He is a retired Major General in the Nigerian Army and a former military ruler of Nigeria from December 31, 1983 to August 27, 1985. He also ran unsuccessfully for the office of the President of Nigeria in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections but won the 2015 election with landslide victory. His ethnic background is Fulani, and his faith is Islam; he is a native of Daura in Katsina State of Nigeria.
Buhari joined the army in 1962 and came to widespread public attention in 1976 when he became the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources under then Head of State General Olusegun Obasanjo. Before then he served as Governor of the newly created North-Eastern State during the regime of Murtala Mohammed. He later became head of the newly created Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in 1977.
How Buhari Became Head of State
Major-General Buhari was 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 31, 1983. At the time, Buhari was head of the Third Armored Division of Jos. Buhari was appointed Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces with Tunde Idiagbon being Chief of General Staff. Buhari justified the military’s seizure of power by castigating the civilian government as hopelessly corrupt, and his administration subsequently initiated a public campaign against indiscipline known as “War Against Indiscipline” (WAI). Aspects of this campaign included public humiliation of civil servants who arrived late for work whilst guards were armed with whips to ensure orderly queues at bus stops.
He also moved to silence critics of his administration, passing decrees curbing press freedoms and allowing for opponents to be detained up to three months without formal charges. He also banned strikes and lockouts by workers and founded Nigeria’s first-secret police force, the National Security Organization. In another high-profile incident that sparked a diplomatic incident with Britain, British officials found Buhari’s former transportation minister drugged in a crate marked for shipment to Lagos.
According to the BBC, “Buhari’s attempts to re-balance public finances by curbing imports led to many job losses and the closure of businesses. These losses were accompanied by a rise in prices and a decline in living standards. Some may hold contrary view to this assertion but then Buhari was admired by many for his uprightness and stand against corruption. His government is revered for its ability to keep the country afloat by making progress through sheer economic ingenuity even when it rejected IMF loan and refused to adopt IMF conditionalities to devalue the Naira. His government is praised for its gain in reducing inflation by refusing to devalue the nation’s currency, the Nigerian Naira, curbing imports of needless goods, curtailing oil theft and using counter trade policy to barter seized illegally bunkered crude oil for needful goods like machineries, enabling it to export above its OPEC quota. The economic principles and political ideology of the Buhari military government is called Buharism by some political and economic writers and speakers.
Buhari’s government brought justice to many areas. His policies began to yield tangible dividends in terms of public discipline, curbing corruption, lowering inflation, enhancing workforce and improving productivity. But most people believed that the austerity measures was too severe coupled with worsening economic conditions on Nigerians and continued widespread corruption behind scene. Buhari was himself overthrown in a coup led by General Ibrahim Babangida and other members of the ruling Supreme Military Council (SMC) on August 27, 1985. Babangida brought many of Buhari’s most vocal critics into his administration, including Fela Kuti’s brother Olukoye Ransome-Kuti, a doctor who had led a strike against Buhari to protest declining health care services. Buhari was then detained in Benin City until 1988.
Buhari As Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund
Buhari served as the Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), a body created by the government of General Abacha, and funded from the revenue generated by the increase in price of petroleum products, to pursue developmental projects around the country. A 1998 report in New African praised the PTF under Buhari for its transparency, calling it a rare “success story”. However, the same report also noted that critics had questioned the PTF’s allocation of 20% of its resources to the military, which the critics feared would not be accountable for the revenue.
In 2003, Buhari contested the presidential election as the candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). He was defeated by the People’s Democratic Party nominee, President Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ, On 18 December 2006, Gen. Buhari was nominated as the consensus candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party. His main challenger in the April 2007 polls was the ruling PDP candidate, Umaru Yar’Adua, who hailed from the same home state of Katsina. In the election, Buhari officially took 18% of the vote against 70% for Yar’Adua. In March 2010, Buhari left the ANPP for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a party that he had helped to found. He said that he had supported foundation of the CPC “as a solution to the debilitating, ethical and ideological conflicts in my former party the ANPP”.
Buhari was the CPC Presidential candidate in the 16 April 2011 general election, running against incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and was further defeated. He refused to give up the fight for what he believes on. He persisted, fought a good battle and won the 2015 election with landslide victory to become a democratically elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.