Buhari is a damaged brand ~ Ibrahim Sanyi-Sanyi and Aliyu Bala Aliyu (REJOINDER)


We make bold to say that Buhari is indeed the best brand any Nigerian alive today can wish for. After the exit of Nigeria’s great founding fathers; Buhari remains the one who still stands tall today throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria


Buhari4An article appeared on the backpage of Daily Trust Friday 10th May titled “Buhari is a damaged brand”; written by Bamidele Ademola-Olateju. While we acknowledge from the central theme of the article that the writer’s heart is with Gen Muhammadu Buhari, and the salvation of Nigeria, a number of issues raised were not completely correct. We therefore consider it necessary to make those corrections.

The writer said:
Enemies of Nigeria damaged Buhari’s brand by using religion against him. Buhari is a good brand because of the qualities I listed earlier, his enemies and enemies of Nigeria knows it. Actually, most Nigerians know it. How did they do it? During his regime, counter trade and restricted imports gave rise to unprecedented inflation. Purchasing power nosedived and Nigerians became despondent. In despondency, they embraced religion than never before. Pentecostalism and its posterity now doctrine gained ascendancy in Christendom and Salafism and Shia Islam gained currency among Muslims. The Universities embraced both with zeal. Money flowed into Christianity from the United States. Saudi Arabia and Iran struggled for the minds of young Muslims on University campuses. The Nigerian religious extremism hitherto unknown by previous generations was born, brewed fresh from the stables of academia and the elite; potently aided by the Iran/Iraq war. Inciting leaflets and literature saturated the campuses and the government as usual took no notice. A Christian America was seeing as aiding the decimation of Iran by Iraq. A symbol of the times, was the controversy of the cross and crescent at the University of Ibadan. A non-issue that dragged on for years.”

On the contrary, historical data points in a different direction.

1. Did the austerity measures, counter trade and restricted imports of Buhari give rise to unprecedented inflation? It is true that inflation rose to 40.91% in 1984 – the first year of Buhari’s regime – from 22.22 % in 1983. However, it was quickly brought down to one of its lowest levels in Nigeria’s history, 3.21 % in 1985. When Buhari’s government was overthrown, inflation went up to 6.25, 11.76, 34.21 and 49.02 % in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989 respectively. Read LINK

2. Did Nigerians become despondent as a result of the country’s purchasing power dip during Buhari’s regime? We don’t think so! Nigeria’s GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) was $875.662 in 1983. It dropped to $866.54 in 1984 before it soared to $940.74 in 1985. It then plunged to $852.865 and $761.044 in 1986 and 1987 respectively, during the reign of IBB. Read LINK

3. Despondency amongst Nigerians and their resort to religious bigotry and extremism could be attributed to so many factors chiefly amongst them was the Nigeria’s economic crises which was driven by the global economic meltdown of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Shagari’s government, which was sandwiched between consumption/import and oil-export dependent economy, was forced to introduce economic stability policies. Buhari inherited the economic woes from Shagari and his government did a lot to stabilize the macro economy as inflation rate and Nigeria’s purchasing power improved in 1985.

4. How does Buhari’s regime got to be indicted for creating the enabling environment for the growth of pentecostal churches in Nigeria? The history of these Churches tells a very different story. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life documents the following:
Origins and Growth

1910s-1920s: Around 1910, an Anglican deacon launches an indigenous prophetic movement that later becomes the Christ Army Church. Following an influenza epidemic in 1918, revivals flare within the mission churches and the Christ Army Church. Spirit-filled groups also expand, including those known by the Yoruba word Aladura (“praying people”). Early Aladura churches include the Eternal Sacred Order of the Cherubim and Seraphim Society, founded in 1925, and the Church of the Lord (Aladura), founded in 1930. Around 1918, an Anglican forms a prayer group known as the Precious Stone (Diamond) Society to heal influenza victims. The group leaves the Anglican Church in the early 1920s and affiliates with Faith Tabernacle, a church based in Philadelphia (Anderson 2001: 80-82; Gaiya 2002: 5).

1930s-1940s: During the 1930s, Joseph Babalola of Faith Tabernacle leads a revival that converts thousands. In 1932, his movement initiates ties with the pentecostal Apostolic Church of Great Britain after coming into conflict with colonial authorities, but the association dissolves over the use of modern medicine. In 1941, Babalola founds the independent Christ Apostolic Church, which is estimated to have over a million members by 1990 (Anderson 2001: 86-87). Foreign pentecostal denominations such as the Welsh Apostolic Church (1931), the Assemblies of God (1939) and the Foursquare Gospel Church (1954) are also introduced during this period.

1950s: In the 1950s the Celestial Church of Christ arrives in western Nigeria from Benin. The church rapidly expands into northern Nigeria and becomes one of Africa’s largest Aladura churches. In 1952, a former member of the Cherubim and Seraphim society, Pa Josiah Akindayomi, founds the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Under Enoch Adejare Adeboye, the church becomes increasingly pentecostal in theology and practice and grows from an estimated 42 congregations in 1980 to around 7,000 in 2004, with followers in more than 90 countries, including the U.S. (Anderson 2001: 85: Murphy, March 25, 2006; Mahtani, April 26, 2005; Ojo 2004: 4).

1960s-1970s: Originating in evangelical student revivals, a wave of pentecostal expansion spawns new churches in the 1960s and 1970s. A leader of this expansion is Benson Idahosa, one of Africa’s most influential pentecostal preachers. Idahosa establishes the Church of God Mission International in 1972. In 1974, the pentecostal umbrella organization Grace of God ministry is founded in eastern Nigeria. The Deeper Life Bible Church is founded in 1975, and soon becomes one of Nigeria’s largest neo-pentecostal churches, with an estimated 350,000 members by 1993 (Ojo 2004: 3; Olupona 2003: 16; Gaiya 2002: 15).

1980s – present: New charismatic churches grow throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 1986, David Oyedepo founds Living Faith Outreach Worldwide, popularly known as “Winners’ Chapel.” It opens a “Faith Tabernacle” in the suburbs of Lagos in 1999 that seats 50,000 people (Phillips, Nov. 30, 1999; Ojo 2004: 4).
The Forum’s 2006 pentecostal survey suggests that renewalists – including charismatics and pentecostals – account for approximately three-in-ten Nigerians. The survey also finds that roughly six-in-ten Protestants in Nigeria are either pentecostal or charismatic, and three-in-ten Nigerian Catholics surveyed can be classified as charismatic.

Moving further, the Iran-Iraq war started in 1980 and raged till 1988. Thus, it is unfathomable how Muslim students across Nigeria’s Universities learnt extremism on that account thereof in between 1984 and 1986 – the 4th and 5th year of the war when Buhari was the Head of State!
The Jama’at-ul-Izalat-ul-Bid’a wa Iqamat-us- Sunnah (Society for the removal of innovation and re-establishment of the Sunnah), generally known as Izala, a salafist movement, was established in 1978 in Jos by Sheikh Ismaila Idris (1937-2000). The movement was very much shaped by the teachings of Sheikh Abubakar Gumi (1922-1992), a leading Islamist pioneer of reform in 20th-century Nigeria. The Islamic Movement in Nigeria, the fore bearer of the Shia sect, was started by Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zazzaky and others in the late 1970s, during his days as a key figure in the MSSN (Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria) circle of the time.

The writer continues thus:  “Buhari’s tarnish project began immediately Obasanjo was elected. The schism that began with ascendant pentecostalism and fundamental Islam was carefully exploited to Buhari’s detriment. He was labeled an unrepentant and fiery fanatic on religion and nomadic education. We were reminded about purported Islamization of Nigeria and membership of the OIC.”

Contrary to the writer’s claim of ‘purported Islamization of Nigeria and membership of Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)’ by Buhari-led Federal Military Government, the country became a member of OIC in 1986, under General Babangida.

The suggestion by the writer for the supporters of Buhari to begin the hunt for a fresh mind doesn’t even arise as far as Nigeria’s march towards 2015 general elections is concerned. It is a matter to be marked as ‘keep-in-view’. General Muhammadu Buhari in a recent interview he granted to The Sun, took personal responsibility for all decisions and actions taken by the Military Government he headed as chairman of the Supreme Military Council, Head of State and Commander of the Armed Forces.

We make bold to say that Buhari is indeed the best brand any Nigerian alive today can wish for. After the exit of Nigeria’s great founding fathers; Buhari remains the one who still stands tall today throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria; holding his head high as a beacon of hope for the masses and the salvation of our dear country- Nigeria. Which Nigerian alive today do people see and break down in tears out of sheer love, admiration and the realization that he is of the elite class but with a masses-mind and interest? Buhari it is who does not need to rent crowds for campaigns and conventions like the mammoth crowd that was gathered at the Eagle Square for the National Convention of CPC on Saturday, May 11 2013.

True, there have been missteps in the past but Buhari has shown maturity flexibility and statesmanship. He has gone all out to show to Nigerians that he has nothing to hide and that he’s a true democrat. This is attested in his protracted recourse to the courts to seek redress in face of monumental electoral over the years. Similarly, the various concessions he has made to actualize the establishment of APC is a pointer to this fact. Sadly, those who have allowed the wool of religion and ethnicity to be pulled over their eyes are the losers. It will surprise those that have been conditioned thus to know that Buhari is surrounded by a coterie of domestic staff who are Christians, chief among them his driver and cook. In 20111 he chose a pastor to be his running mate.

The question every Nigerian should be asking himself and herself is “what do I want?”. “Do I want a better life for myself and my children (both born and unborn) or do I want to remain in bondage till eternity?”.

Ibrahim Sanyi-Sanyi ( Abuja

Aliyu Bala Aliyu ( Lagos


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