Biography Of President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR)
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Muhammadu Buhari GCFR (born 17 December 1942) is a Nigerian politician currently serving as the President of Nigeria, in office since 2015. He is a retired major general in the Nigerian Army and previously served as the nation’s head of state from 31 December 1983 to 27 August 1985, after taking power in a military coup d’état. The term Buharism is ascribed to the Buhari military government.
He unsuccessfully ran for the office of president of Nigeria in the 2003, 2007, and 2011 general elections. In December 2014, he emerged as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the March 2015 general elections. Buhari won the election, defeating the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. This marked the first time in the history of Nigeria that an incumbent president lost to an opposition candidate in a general election. He was sworn in on 29 May 2015.
Buhari has stated that he takes responsibility for anything over which he presided during his military rule, and that he cannot change the past. He has described himself as a “converted democrat”.
Muhammadu Buhari was born to a Fulani family on 17 December 1942, in Daura, Katsina State, to his father Hardo Adamu, a Fulani chief, and mother Zulaihat. He is the twenty-third child of his father. Buhari was raised by his mother, after his father died when he was about four years old.
Early military career
Buhari enrolled at age 19 in the Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC) in 1962. In February 1964, the college was upgraded to an officer commissioning unit of the Nigerian Army and renamed the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) (prior to 1964, the Nigerian government sent cadets who had completed their NMTC preliminary training to mostly Commonwealth military academies for officer cadet training). From 1962 to 1963, Buhari underwent officer cadet training at Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot in England.
In January 1963, at age 20, Buhari was commissioned a second lieutenant and appointed Platoon Commander of the Second Infantry Battalion in Abeokuta, Nigeria. From November 1963 to January 1964, Buhari attended the Platoon Commanders’ Course at the Nigerian Military Training College, Kaduna. In 1964, he facilitated his military training by attending the Mechanical Transport Officer’s Course at the Army Mechanical Transport School in Borden, United Kingdom.
From 1965 to 1967, Buhari served as commander of the Second Infantry Battalion and appointed brigade major, Second Sector, First Infantry Division, April 1967 to July 1967.
Northern counter-coup of 28 July 1966
In July 1966 Lieutenant Muhammadu Buhari was one of the participants in the “July Rematch” or so called “Counter-Coup”, led by Lt-Col Murtala Muhammed, that overthrew and assassinated Nigeria’s first self-appointed military Head of State General Aguiyi Ironsi, who had assumed leadership of the Nigerian government after a failed coup attempt on 15 January 1966, which overthrew the elected parliamentary government of Nigeria (also known as first republic). Other participants in the coup on 28 July 1966 included 2nd Lieutenant Sani Abacha, Lieutenant Ibrahim Babangida, Major Theophilus Danjuma, Lieutenant Ibrahim Bako among others. The coup was a reaction to the January coup where a group of mostly Igbo officers led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu overthrew the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Many Northern soldiers were aggrieved by the murder of senior politicians, Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, northern regional premier, Ahmadu Bello, and four senior officers from northern Nigeria: Brigadier Zakariya Maimalari, Colonel Kur Mohammed, Lt-Cols Abogo Largema and James Pam. The counter-coup was very bloody leading to the murder of mostly Igbo officers. Among the casualties were the first military head of state General Aguiyi Ironsi and Lt Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, the military governor of the Western Region.
Buhari was assigned to the 1st Division under the command of Lt. Col Mohammed Shuwa, the division had temporarily moved from Kaduna to Makurdi at the onset of the Nigerian Civil War. The 1st division was divided into sectors and then battalions with Shuwa assisted by sector commanders Martin Adamu and Sule Apollo who was later replaced by Theophilus Danjuma. Buhari’s initial assignment was as Adjutant and Company Commander 2 battalion unit, Second Sector Infantry of the 1st Division. The 2 battalion was one of the units that participated in the first actions of the war, they started from Gakem near Afikpo and moved towards Ogoja with support from Gado Nasko’s artillery squad. They reached and captured Ogoja within a week with the intention of advancing through the flanks to Enugu, the rebel capital. Buhari was briefly the 2 battalion’s Commander and led the battalion to Afikpo to link with the 3rd Marine Commando and advance towards Enugu through Nkalagu and Abakaliki. However, before the move to Enugu, he was posted to Nsukka as Brigade Major of the 3rd Infantry Brigade under Joshua Gin who would later become battle fatigued and replaced by Isa Bukar. Buhari stayed with the infantry for a few months as the Nigerian army began to adjust tactics learnt from early battle experiences. Instead of swift advances, the new tactics involved securing and holding on to the lines of communications and using captured towns as training ground to train new recruits brought in from the army depots in Abeokuta and Zaria. In 1968, he was posted to the 4 Sector also called the Awka sector which was charged to take over the capture of Onitsha from Division 2. The sector’s operations was within the Awka-Abagana-Onitsha region which was important to Biafran forces because it was a major source of food supply. It was in the sector that Buhari’s group suffered a lot of casualties trying to protect food supplies route of the rebels along Oji River and Abagana.
After the war
From 1970 to 1971, Buhari was Brigade Major/Commandant, Thirty-first Infantry Brigade. He then served as the Assistant Adjutant-General, First Infantry Division Headquarters, from 1971 to 1972. He also attended the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, India, in 1973.
From 1974 to 1975 Buhari was Acting Director of Transport and Supply at the Nigerian Army Corps of Supply and Transport Headquarters.
Buhari’s participation in July 1975 coup
Then Lieutenant Colonel Buhari was among a group of officers (led by Colonels Ibrahim Taiwo, Joseph Garba, Abdulahi Mohammed, Anthony Ochefu, Lieutenant Colonels Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Ibrahim Babangida and Alfred Aduloju) who overthrew the Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon.
In 1971, Buhari married his first wife, Safinatu (née Yusuf) Buhari (First lady of Nigeria December 1983 – August 1985). They had five children together, four girls and one boy. Their first daughter, Zulaihat (Zulai) was named after Buhari’s mother. Their other children are Fatima, Musa (deceased son), Hadiza, and Safinatu.
In 1988, Buhari and his first wife Safinatu divorced. In December 1989, Buhari married his second and current wife Aisha Buhari (née Halilu). They also had five children together, a boy and four girls: Aisha, Halima, Yusuf, Zahra and Amina.
On 14 January 2006, Safinatu Buhari, the former first lady, died from complications of diabetes. She was buried at Unguwar Rimi cemetery in accordance with Islamic rites.
In November 2012, Buhari’s first daughter, Zulaihat (née Buhari) Junaid died from sickle cell anaemia, two days after having a baby at a hospital in Kaduna.
In 2012, Buhari’s name was included on a list published by Boko Haram of individuals it would trust to mediate between the group and the Federal Government. However, Buhari strongly objected and declined to mediate between the government and Boko Haram. In 2013, Muhammadu Buhari made a series of statements, when he asked the Federal Government to stop the killing of Boko Haram members and blamed the rise of the terrorist group on the prevalence of Niger Delta militants in the South. Buhari stated that “what is responsible for the security situation in the country is caused by the activities of Niger Delta militants […] The Niger Delta militants started it all”. He also questioned the special treatment including close to $500 million a year paid to 30,000 militants under the amnesty programme since 2013 by the Federal Government and deplored the fact that Boko Haram members were killed and their houses destroyed.
In May 2014, in the wake of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping, Buhari strongly denounced the Boko Haram insurgency. He “urged Nigerians to put aside religion, politics and all other divisions to crush the insurgency he said is fanned by mindless bigots masquerading as Muslims”.
In July 2014, Buhari escaped a bomb attack on his life by Boko Haram in Kaduna, 82 people were killed.
In December 2014, Buhari pledged to enhance security in Nigeria, if he wins the general elections on 14 February 2015, which were later rescheduled for 28 March 2015. Since this announcement, Buhari’s approval ratings reportedly have skyrocketed amongst the Nigerian people (largely due to the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan’s apparent inability to fight Boko Haram’s brutal insurgency). Buhari made internal security and wiping out the militant group one of the key pillars of his campaigning.
2019 Re-election bid
On 24 January 2018, former president Obasanjo wrote a letter to president Buhari accusing his government of nepotism, while commending his war against corruption and lauding his achievements on Boko Haram. Obasanjo’s letter also included an appeal to president Buhari not to contest re-election in 2019 but to instead “join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom, and outreach can be deployed on the sideline for the good of the country”.
Shrugging off opposition from a previous president, during a national executive council meeting on the morning of April, 9th 2018, President Buhari declared his intention to re-enter the presidential race in 2019 and seek a second term in office as a democratic leader. This came after much speculation by political players and members of the public about whether or not he was going to run, especially considering his rather late timing. Reactions to his announcement have been mixed, as many observers think this put a question to his integrity. Buhari said during the 2011 presidential campaigns under the CPC banner that he would never seek a re-election bid should he ever become president.
In May 2016, Buhari cancelled a two-day visit to Lagos to inaugurate projects in the state but he was represented by the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo after citing an “ear infection” suspected to be Ménière’s disease. On 6 June, Buhari travelled to the United Kingdom to seek medical attention. This happened days after the Presidential Spokesman Femi Adesina was quoted as saying Buhari was “as fit as fiddle” and “hale and hearty”, to much discontent and criticism from political analysts and followers. In February 2017, following what were described as “routine medical check-ups” in the UK, Buhari asked parliament to extend his medical leave to await test results. His office did not give any further details on his health condition nor the expected date of his return. On 8 February, President Buhari personally signed a letter addressed to the President of the Senate of Nigeria alerting him of a further extension to his annual leave, leaving his Vice President in charge. Following an absence of 51 days from office, President Buhari returned to Nigeria. He arrived at Kaduna Airport in the morning of March 10. Although information was limited during his stay in London, he was pictured on March 9 meeting the most senior cleric of the world Anglican congregation, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Vice President Yemi Osibanjo remained in charge as acting President, while the President continued to recover in Abuja. The President has missed major official and public appearances just two months following his return to office from England. Most recently he was absent from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, the worker’s day event held at the Eagle Square in Abuja on May Day 2017. Speculations about the President’s health circulated in the public sphere in the days following President Buhari’s wishes to “work from home”. Some prominent Nigerian figures urged the President to take a long-term medical leave, citing his failure to make any public appearances over a two-week period.
President Buhari again left Nigeria for a reported health check-up in London on 7 May 2017. President Buhari returned to Nigeria from his medical leave in the United Kingdom 104 days after leaving, on August 19, 2017. On 8 May, Buhari left Nigeria to London for medical check up, upon arrival from USA; and he returned on Friday 11 May 2018.
In September 2016 President Buhari came under heavy criticism after a newspaper report found him using plagiarized speech during launching of a national re-orientation campaign tagged “Change begins with me”. The speech was later found to be lifted from the 2008 inaugural speech of former US President Barack Obama. The presidency later apologized and says the blunder was caused by “overzealous staff” and “Those responsible” will be sanctioned. However, week later a deputy director in the State House linked to the speech was redeployed and presidency assured Nigerian public that it has taken steps to avoid a repeat of such an embarrassing occurrence by providing digital tools in the State House that detect plagiarism, similar to those used by editors and academics around the world
Boko Haram and Chibok girls
In October 2016, the government negotiated a deal with the terrorist group, Boko Haram which secured the release of 21 Chibok girls. By December 2016, the government had recovered much of the territories previously held by Boko Haram and after the capture of Sambisa Forest, Buhari announced that Boko Haram has been technically defeated. The insurgency displaced about 2 million people from their homes and the recapture of the towns now present humanitarian challenges in health, education and nutrition. On 6 May 2017, Buhari’s government secured a further release of 82 out of 276 girls kidnapped in 2014, in exchange of five Boko Haram leaders. On 7 May 2017, President Buhari met with the 82 released Chibok girls, before departing to London, UK, for a follow up treatment for an undisclosed illness.
In spite of roles played by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Amnesty programme led by Usani Uguru Usani and Paul Boroh respectively, to ameliorate the conditions of the people’s lives and settle militant activities, they are still intermittent attacks on oil facilities by groups such as the Niger Delta Avengers. This has significantly affected oil production leading to cuts in exports and government revenue. The Avengers are waging conflict for greater economic and political autonomy.