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MAGNUS ONYIBE

Magnus Onyibe is an entrepreneur, public policy analyst, author, development strategist, alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Massachusetts, USA and a former cabinet member of Delta state government. Since the return to multi-party democracy in Nigeria over 21 years ago, Onyibe has written and published over 200 opinion pieces on the Nigerian economy, business, politics, leadership, governance and foreign relations issues.

In a recent article published in the Washington Times, Bruce Fein, a former associate deputy attorney general and general counsel of the United States’ Federal Communications Commission under President Ronald Reagan, tried to portray Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari as an unrepentant dictator who is out to settle old scores with his adversaries.

Mr. Fein gave a distorted account of developments during President Buhari’s brief stint as a military head of state from 1983 to 1985.

Reading through Mr. Fein’s article in the Washington Times titled “Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari dupes the U.S.”, you would be forgiven if you conclude that the legal expert has been hired as a spin doctor to give a distorted account of history and portray Nigeria’s former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) as an innocent man that is being persecuted for his role in the coup that sacked Buhari as military head of state.

Fein accused Buhari of committing atrocities during his military administration and claims that Buhari has “duped the US” into believing that he was a now a converted democrat.

While I do not hold brief for President Muhammadu Buhari or anyone in his government, I believe that we must set the records straight in this matter and deconstruct the false narrative that Col. Dasuki is an innocent man that is being persecuted for his role in a coup that took place three decades ago.

First of all, Col. Sambo Dasuki’s role in the 1985 coup was very remote. He was a junior officer (a Major) in the Nigerian Army at that time and could not have played a key role in the epic event. The key players in that coup were Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Aliyu Gusau, Domkat Bali, Sani Abacha etc. All of these men, with the exception of Abacha, are still living. So why will Buhari ignore these key actors and persecute a junior officer who was only following orders from his commanders?

Despite these facts which are well known to the public, Fein has tried to portray Dasuki as a victim of persecution. In an interview he granted to a Nigerian newspaper, Daily Trust in August, 2015, Col. Abdulmumini Aminu, one of those that arrested Buhari during the coup stated that only he, Majors Lawan Gwadabe and John Madaki arrested the then head of state. Dasuki did not take part in the arrest.

Dasuki himself has publicly acknowledged that he did not part in arresting Buhari. So why should Fein, a credible public figure in America (or so we thought) fall for this gimmick that Dasuki is being persecuted for his role in that coup?

Fein tried to remind the Public about President Buhari’s “atrocities” as a military head of state. However, rather than report the truth and mention genuine cases where Buhari erred, he collates previously existing propaganda against the incorruptible president and cleverly spiced them up with his own set of falsehoods in order to cause disaffection against Buhari in America.

Or how else does one explain the failure of Fein to report that during a recent raid at Dasuki’s Abuja home by Nigerian security officials, loads of unlicensed assault weapons and bullet proof cars were found in the retired colonel’s home. Was he planning to overthrow the government? Or was he stockpiling weapons to supply to the terrorists in order to sustain the reign of terror in Nigeria? We do not know that for now, but Fein should have mentioned these findings which sparked off the investigations against Dasuki.

Fein also failed to mention in his article that a recent report released in Nigeria revealed that the former security adviser awarded contracts for weapons that were never supplied. Yet billions of dollars of public money was paid to the firms belonging to Dasuki’s friends and associates. Dasuki’s defense to these allegations was that his job was to award contracts and make payments. He said it was not part of his job to find out whether the weapons for which he was making payments were supplied or not. What a way to administer public procurement.

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