Why Buhari will never be president of Nigeria, By Femi Aribisala

Femi Aribisala, Ph.D
Femi Aribisala

The worst thing that can happen to Northern presidential aspirations in 2015 is for Buhari to be on the APC ballot.

On Friday, 23rd August, 1985, the military government of Major-General Mohammadu Buhari decided to place me under arrest. My crime was that I wrote, among others, an article entitled: “Counter-trading Nigeria’s Future” in the National Concord, exposing the government’s scam of diverting public funds into private coffers through barter-trade with Brazil. A man by the name of Benson Norman was sent from the State Security Services (SSS) to my office to get me. Not finding me, he left a note that I must present myself unfailingly at the SSS office at 15 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi Lagos the next Monday morning.

However, on Sunday, 25th August, 1985, Lateef Aminu came first thing in the morning to my house to inform me that the government of Buhari/Idiagbon had been overthrown. For this reason, I am fond of telling people that God brought about a change of government in Nigeria just because of me.


Under the Buhari/Idiagbon regime, once you ended up at 15 Awolowo Road, you may never be heard of again. Decree Number 2 of 1984 empowered Tunde Idiagbon to arrest and detain anybody indefinitely without trial and without legal reprieve. After Buhari was overthrown, Mohammadu Gambo opened the prison doors of 15 Awolowo Road on public television, revealing people in various stages of undress and malnutrition that had been kept in the dungeons without trial by Buhari’s hound-dogs.

As self-imposed Head of State, Buhari had no regard for human rights. Immediately he seized power, he announced that he would “tamper with” the press. Soon, the infamous Decree Number 4 was promulgated which made even the publication of the truth a punishable offence. Under this cover, Buhari jailed innocent journalists, including Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabo. He abolished civil liberties, promulgated retroactive decrees enabling him to kill Nigerians through jungle justice, proscribed civil society organizations and professional groups and exercised “absolute” power.

This same Buhari would now have us believe that he has gone through some metamorphosis and has become a democrat. I am sure you will forgive me if people like me don’t believe him. Buhari is not, has never been, and will never be, a democrat. Only in Nigeria would a man with his track record, who came to power through a military coup that illegally overthrew a democratic government, now be acclaimed as a democrat. It is on record that Buhari’s military regime is the only one in Nigeria’s history that failed to promulgate a program for return to civilian rule.

Facts and fiction

So what exactly qualifies Bihari as a democrat today? Precious little! There is nothing democratic about forming and joining political parties just in order to be the presidential candidate. Little wonder then that Buhari’s parties have a short shelf-life. Buhari would like to be Nigeria’s head of state once again. He can no longer achieve this through the barrel of a gun. The only route now open to him is through the democratic process. That is the reason why he now conveniently fashions himself as a democrat. It is merely a means to an end; no more, no less.

Buhari’s reputation as an anti-corruption crusader is also a myth. As head of state, he did not make any dent in Nigerian corruption. All we got was a cosmetic “war against indiscipline.” The counter-trade scam happened under his watch. Rather than deal with it, he sent his hound-dogs after nonentities like me who dared to expose it. That scam was no different, in scope and scale, from the petroleum subsidy and other corruption scandals that have since plagued Nigeria. The Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) that Buhari headed under Abacha was also a citadel of corruption. While Buhari himself might not have enriched himself, his cronies and those who worked under him did so handsomely.

On three different occasions, Buhari has run for the presidency. On three different occasions he has failed. That should really be enough. If, as seems likely, he were to run for the presidency a fourth time in 2015, there is no question that he would fail yet again. Try as he might again and again, Mohammadu Buhari can never be President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Buhari’s sectarianism

There is a fundamental reason behind this. Buhari is a lousy politician. He is an unbending former military dictator and not a democratic consensus-builder. Like his new ally, Bola Tinubu, Buhari is a regional, sectional politician. Such politicians are practically impossible to package and market nationally in the ethnically-delicate Nigeria of today.

Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Nasir El’Rufai, one of those Northerners who deserve to be serious contenders for the presidency of Nigeria, observed that Buhari remains “perpetually unelectable” as a result of his “insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus.” This is an elegant way of saying that politically, Buhari has an uncanny tendency to put his foot in his mouth. He talks before thinking of the political implications of his words. He shoots from the hip.

The strength of Obasanjo, which enabled him to capture the presidency on two different occasions, was that he was perceived as a broadminded politician, not overly partial to his people in the South-West. As a matter of fact, in his first election, his people did not want him. The strength of Goodluck Jonathan, which propelled him to win the presidency, was that he was able to string together a coalition that stretched both north and south of the Niger. The weakness of Buhari is that he is totally unacceptable to people outside his region.

Buhari is a Northern regional champion. As head of state in the 1980’s, his government was unapologetically Northern. No attempt was made to balance the ticket at the top. It was the only regime in Nigeria’s history headed by two Northerners. When he seized power, Buhari put Shagari, the Northern head of state he overthrew, under house arrest. But then he jailed Alex Ekwueme, the Southern vice-president. You may well ask what makes Shagari less culpable for the misdeeds of the Second Republic than his number-two man. The simple fact was that Buhari was Fulani as was Shagari; but Ekwueme was Igbo.

Impolitic words

At the height of the Sharia debate during the Obasanjo administration, Buhari declared that Muslims should vote only for fellow Muslims. This was politically suicidal for a man seeking national office. He became an advocate for implementation of Sharia all over Nigeria. He protested to the Oyo State governor, in the context of a dispute between Fulani herdsmen and indigenous farmers in the state, that “your people are killing my people.” This turned out to be unfounded and perhaps the reverse.

His threats during the campaign for the 2011 elections incited widespread violence in the North after he lost. His supporters went on a rampage; looting and killing; in spite of the fact that, by all accounts, the elections were adjudged the most free and fair in the history of Nigeria’s current democratic experiment. By the time the mayhem had subsided, over 1000 people had been slaughtered in cold blood and some 65,000 displaced.

Forgetting that a statement made in Hausa would readily be translated into English, Buhari later declared unapologetically in a BBC interview: “If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.” These are the tokens of an irresponsible politician, whose ambitions for power supersede the national interest. Who then are the dogs and baboons that Buhari has in mind to soak in blood if and when he loses yet again come 2015? Are they his children or are they those of others?

With the Boko Haram insurgency in the north, Buhari played to the Northern gallery yet again, calling the Jonathan government “the biggest Boko Haram.” Wole Olaniyi was a fly in the wall at a meeting in Kano Government House designed to persuade PDP rebel governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, to decamp to the APC. Assuming that only Northerners were present, Buhari declared the Boko Haram was a “strategic plan” by the government of Goodluck Jonathan to “destroy the North.” When Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states, Buhari still saw this with Northern goggles, insinuating that the President is waging war on the North.

President of the North

Without a doubt, Buhari has massive support in the North. Indeed, he is the most popular Northern politician in the North today. But that precisely remains his undoing at the centre. The more he has been identified as a Northern champion, the less attractive he has become as a national choice. Even in the North, his support base is limited to the Muslim population. He does not appeal to Northern Christians. Then there is the added factor of the opposition of his implacable opponents among the Northern elite. Men like Babangida and Atiku would rather die than allow Buhari get to Aso Rock.

One thing is certain, the South-South and the South-East will not vote for Buhari in 2015. Not only that; there are no buyers for Buhari’s sectarian politics in the South-West. No matter what Tinubu might be telling him, the people of the South-West will not vote for Buhari in 2015. We already had the template in 2011, when Buhari tried to sell himself, first by balancing his ticket with a Yoruba man; and then by making sure the Yoruba man is a Christian; a pastor no less. But it just did not wash. It will not work in 2015.

The worst thing that can happen to Northern presidential aspirations in 2015 is for Buhari to be on the APC ballot. That is a sure guarantee that the North will not be providing the next president. Buhari would be a shoo-in in an election for president of Northern Nigeria. But in an election encompassing the entire country, the best he can envisage is to be a kingmaker. He cannot be king. The nearest Buhari will get to Aso Rock in 2015 is by attending the Council of State meetings.


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  • koro-koro

    FEmi Aribisila; ds ur lines n salesmanship is outdated. Only criminals re scared of a man like GMB being in power. Power is God’s to giv NOT an Aribisila’s. Neither it is given by an Aribisila’s armchair diatribe!

    Go find work joor!

    Show me one man dt is 100% in xaracter?

    Emvelope Journalists! We kno most of u all better now!

  • Bala R

    Femi, were your parents married before you were born?

    • vrooomo

      I expected u to comment with some degree of grey matter, not finding fault in Femi aribisala’s parentage.
      Femi has a veritable and genuine grounds of complain, personally I feel buhari should work for a trusted ally to become president. At over 80 by 2015, he ought not to contest anymore. APC is certain to field someone from the north, I urge them to cast their net wide to bring out good candidates.
      Buhari will not fly in a pan Nigeria of today.
      The old war horse should painfully rest his presidential comeback bid.

      • Eddy

        Check your fact on Buhari’s age. In 2015, he will be 72.

        • grey Hanale

          they keep reducing GMB’s age. is he growing older or younger?

    • Hateme

      You are a full blown hardhusa foolani nuisance. I avn’t seen anywhere you comment that you didnt either insult d commentator’s personality or his folks. i live in the North and i know your type very well. Once u go into an argument with an Hardhusa foolani man, be sure to get your parents or tribe insulted or even get stabbed with a knife!. Their level of intolerance is so low even if they have one at all. You could see how dat idiotic hardhusa foolani idiotic senator was directly insulting The honorable finance minister in public and on air! No show of dignity or respect for the woman whom the parasitic senator cant even serve as her domestic secretary. Femi Aribisala was right in all his statements, nobody can take away that facts. Buhari is like a God in The North because majority of the masses here are illiterates, so they tend to worship him after being brainwashed. But believe me, the few literate and learned ones dont like him one bit!

  • tunde esan

    Femi. You are very passionate in your submissions. And honestly parts of your concerns are real. But in nation short of heroes and full of criminally corrupt people Buhari stand tall. And the historical fact of the north is that christians there do not always vote for the hausa fulani. That is why in the second republic UPN had two Senators from the present Adamawa. And Chief Solomon Lar won in Plateux under NPP. The place of Buhari in the political history of modern Nigeria wil always be subject to debate but he is trully adored by his people for his integrity. How many Nigerian politician can count on a political base like him regional or otherwise. Contraption for wide appeals are always good but integrity is paramount. Buhari may not be perfect but he is ahead of most of our politicians whose mantra is anything goes.

  • Emma

    Old fool, who told u that ex-military men can never be good democrats, go and investigate why did the poor and the non prevail age in the north didn’t loss any hope in him. He is the only former head of state that live in rented house in Abuja, and own a small house in Kaduna which he got thru loan. “IBB and Atiku will never let him be …” who is IBB and who is Atiku they only got one vote. Did Atiku not try getting votes for him self in the north, how much did he got with all the evil money he spent.

  • Eddy

    Femi Aribisala is still living in the past. His facts and arguments are based on hearsay and collections of over flogged stories. The world and indeed Nigerians have moved away from the past. Yellow journalism.

  • Mohammed Abdullahi Koto

    Yes, Femi you have every right to hate General Buhari. Your opening paragraphs attest to that. So also, do you have every right to deny this patriot your valuable vote. But I may also remind you that your personal opinion CANNOT stop millions of other Nigerians who may have other reasons to vote Buhari or indeed any other person. Your actions are van data. Let the electorate and indeed the Almighty judge as you hold yor peace.

    • Yusuf Lawal

      Chaos Looms
      If not because Aribisala, is a selfish and look like a person that suffered from amnaesia, i would have say that “May God deny Buhari the leadership of Nigeria” so that everybody would continue enjoin the leadership of the PDP.
      Jiki Magayi

  • Abba

    Are you God? not only Buhari is your problem. Your hatred for Hausa Fulani is Real. Only God knows tomorrow !!!!

  • Stephen Baiye

    This does not appear to me to be someone who is living in the past. It’s perhaps the hard truth. If Buhari decides to contest in 2015, he’ll have to confront this reality once again. And if I may add, N10 Million was allocated in the Federal Budget of 1984 to build a presidential lodge for him in his home town of Daura (not Katsina), signifying he had no intention to relinquish power soon. No head of state before him or even after him ever did that. That was impunity as we now know it. Well, unfortunately he was overthrown thereafter. I come from Northern Nigeria, but these are views I also share.

    • Ide4u

      Does GMB’s house in Daura look like a house built with N10m in 1984? Which part of the North do you come from?

  • Yusuf Lawal

    Chaos Looms
    Definately Aribisala had a problem with Buhari before, and may be because he had a criminal case against the ‘most discipline government’. But his selfish opinion can never be shared to millions of people across the country. He said Christians are not happy with Buhari, well, i belive he is among the bad pastors that are campaining in their churches for a christian candidate, who later fund their childrens education and up;load their personal account with stolen money.
    In all his accusation, Aribisala, has never point anything that any reasonable person will take as good reason of hating Buhari.

  • Gezawa

    The arewaphobic Femi, people like femi relish in controversy so as to remain relevant. But please sometimes respect the intelligence of your readers. Your prophecy will fail come 2015 and you will be shame as a false prophet that you are.

  • Tijjani Abdul

    Yes, it is true that so many Journalists were incarcerated during Buhari’s regime in an attempt to sanitize the system. It is also true that mistakes were committed in that regard but I tell you many patriotic Nigerians said we have forgiven the regime because of the honesty in which the said error were committed. But for any person to say Mr. A or B cannot be president or anything simply because one or two persons were hurt is not making sense at all.

  • abraham adesanya

    All of you that is supporting a 70+ man for President should rem Barack Obama was president in his 40s let’s have some young blood please.

    • Tor

      For those who says Buhari is too old to rule. Get this into your head.

      Let me start with our neighbour, Liberia, with its great lady president: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President 2006 at age 70. She was 75 in 2011. She will remain president till 2016. She will be 80 years then.

      President Jacob Zuma, South Africa is 72 years old. He will be president till 2019 at 77 years.

      Nelson Mandela, born July 18, 1918. President of South Africa in 1994 at 76 years. Still president in 1998 (single term) when he voluntarily stepped down for Mbeki. He was 80 years. If he had served his two terms he would have been 84 years.

      President Peter Mutharika, Malawi 74 when he was sworn in on 31 May, 2014. He will be president till 2019 at 79 years.

      President Alpa Conde Guinea. President at 76 years. President in December 2011 at 72 years.President Jose Eduardo Santos, Angola 72 years. He will be president till 2020 at 78 years.

      President Abde Bourtefilka, Algeria 77 years. President till 2020 at 83 years old.

      President Alasanne Quattara, Ivory Coast 72 years in 2012. President till 2016 at 76 years.

      Yoweri Museveni, Uganda, president since 1985 at 70 years won another seven years in 2013 at 77 years, will be president till 2020 at 84.

      President Jose Mujiaga of Uruguay 75 at election; reelected and is now 79 years.

      President Tedoro Oblang Nguema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea; born January 6, 1942 is 72 years and still going on.

      President Michael Sata, Zambia 77 years – president September 23, 2011 at 74; will be president till 2016. He will be 79.

      President Paul Biya of Cameroon (President Jonathan has obvious fancy for him) is 81 years. He will be in office till 2017 at 84.

      President Milos Zeman of Chech Republic is 70 will be in office till 2018 at 74.

      President Ronald Reagan; born February 06, 1911. President USA at 70. Two terms of 4 years in 1989 he was 78.

      For the record:

      Mandela contested at the age of 71,
      Sen. John McCain contested at the age of 72,
      Dick Cheney was US Vice President at the age of 68,
      Joe Bidan at 73 is the US Vice President, President Peter Mutharika became Malawian president this year at the age of 74.

      I hope someone is reading this.

  • grey hanale

    Northerners should not allow a monumental fraud like GMB usurp there opportunity to come to power come 2015. The North should be able to look Buhari in the face and tell him tha he is a a sour sahel nut that cant be sold down South.

  • Oomeko

    I notice all the Gambari commentators here as highly deluded to think that Buhari will become a president in Nigeria. I have got bad new for you. It’s too late for Buhari his ambition to occupy aso rock is a delusion of grandiosity

  • Omoboy

    And you forgot to add that the man Buhari, out of sheer hatred of the south west people,(Yorubas) cancelled the Jakande’s Lagos metro line project, opting to pay fine rather than allowing the project to be.

  • Musa Tanimu Nasidi

    some times those that see themselves as intellectuals speaks like garage boys,if not how can an individual said Buhari was overthrown because of his self acclaimed article? Like some body mentioned, you have every right to hate Buhari ,but the fact remains people like you cannot stop the wide of change that is about to sweep your pay masters. The beauty of this and why some of are not worried about threat coming from people like you is that majority o rumble raisers like you are not register voter,you don’t have voters registration card,some of don’t even know the name of your unt.You are entitle of your opinion, buhari come 2015 would take over from GEJ your types may check out.May the will of God be done

  • ldris A. Abdulsalam

    Demi, you have not told us how much you have collected from GEJ to write this rubish. May Allah save Nigeria from people like u.





  • ABD

    Buhari is the only former leader without a house in Abuja. The only one without a Swiss Bank account. And yes, the only one who can account for every penny earned under him. That is the kind of leader we need now. By the way, who told you he wants to contest in 2015? You are a man of God. You should know that leadership comes only from God!

    • OroGidi

      Where does he get his campaign funds?

    • kwazulu


  • pappy J

    Femi, do not mind the insulting responses of small minds; the truth is a bitter pill to swalow. Thank you for saying the things I have been saying for years in a more objective and detailed form. You left out a few things but i love this write up. Please do more on this man

  • Bimbo

    Yesterday you were writing about apostle Paul and Jesus Christ , today it is politics! You have the right to write anything you want but stop being such a hypocrite, fake man of God who sees good in imbecile, idiotic GEJ! How much did you collect to betray your congregation who are suffering under the mindless looting of Jonathan ? There is no way to collect dirty money and not smell like a swine!

  • babs

    This man called Aribisala is playing God, for swing the future like a soothsayer describing who will vote for who, when and why forgetting that the whole of SS and SE that are behing GEJ are lesser than Lagos and kano in population even saner SE and SS are seeing the damage GEJ has done to naija. Mr Aribisala stop playing God.

  • babs

    The man called Femi is mischievous and still want us to be in Egypt. There is difference between been a military ruler and a civilian leader. This country is not working and we all knows that.

  • Dauda Sawbana

    I always amazed when I see the write-up of Femi Aribisala on the screen of my system . Am wondering day-in-day- out weather he doesn’t` have psychiatric problem ! I see him as enemy of progress who doesn’t want anybody to prosper talk less Nigeria as a nation. My piece of advice for the man : If you don’t beat them join them ; don’t be a jealousy type !

  • Prince Samuel Olakunle’ Araoye

    Oluw’olè pastor as VP-candidate… Panic-heartattack@buharAmPC’s-WURUWURU- would soon be exposed… OLUW’OLè’-CERTIFICATE…OLUW’OLè’ BALLOT PAPERS…OLUW’OLè’ RESULTS = OLUW’OLÈ’-FAILURE…!!!

  • kwazulu