One of the three army majors who arrested Major-General Muhammadu Buhari in the 1985 coup, Colonel Abubakar Umar has described his civilian administration between 2015 and 2023 as the most corrupt in the history of Nigeria.
Umar, a former military governor of Old Kaduna State, said that Buhari was not ignorant of the corruption around him noting that his aides and appointees greased him by siting over 20 major projects in Daura, his hometown.
Umar spoke in an interview with Sunday Sun.
Speaking on why Buhari ran the most corrupt government in the history of Nigeria, Umar said:
“Well, it was former British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill who jokingly said: “History will be kind to me because I intend to write it.” When he wrote that history, he did not engage in self-adulation and spurious claims. Many actually believe that Churchill was unkind to himself.
“President Buhari had the opportunity to declare his assets publicly before and after his Presidency as he promised to do while campaigning for the office. He failed to do so. His assets declaration to the Katsina farmers is meaningless and doesn’t meet the legal requirements and expectations of the general public. It also does not matter if he left the Presidency poorer.
“Truth is that he presided over the most corrupt administration in the history of this country. His appointment as AU chairman of anti-corruption, if true, and whatever it means, appears misplaced and amounts to dressing him in borrowed robes.
“The former president must begin to understand that the measure of a leader’s piety and integrity is in deeds and conduct and not in his claims and rhetoric.
“It is these kinds of claims in the past which led to the mistaken apotheosis of General Buhari and the building of the myth of his unequalled competence and other leadership traits which unfortunately have not come to the fore.
“As is the norm here, he is not expected to be called to account, but he has to prepare to account to God Almighty. He will be called to render an account to Him on how he governed.
“God already knows what he, his immediate and extended family are worth, both before and after his Presidency. There is the day of judgment and all of us will be present. In the assessment of President Buhari’s fight against corruption, I call on the respected Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah and Chief Femi Falana as witnesses. Bishop Kukah opined that “Buhari’s government amplified corruption morally and financially,” while Chief Femi Falana said “Corruption waxed stronger under Buhari.
“These views are shared by most Nigerians. The moral corruption Bishop Kukah must be referring to is President Buhari’s elevation of personal interest over national interest. Consider, for example, the siting of over 20 major Federal Government projects in the President’s hometown, Daura. Senior members, including ministers and military Service Chiefs, engaged in very embarrassing and unethical acts to appease and ingratiate themselves with the president by gifting him projects from their ministries, departments, agencies and services.
Giving more details on why he believed Buhari ran the most corrupt government in the history of Nigeria, Umar continued:
“These were accepted with gratitude. Someone correctly observed that Daura is sinking under the weight of democratic dividends. It was at the height of ethical and moral corruption that the president accepted a gift of an Air Force Reference Hospital from his Chief of Air Staff when Daura did not even have a landing strip.
“The rail line from Kano to Maradi was only approved because it passes through Daura and not for any socio-economic value. It ranks lowest in the nation’s infrastructural priorities. Less so that it is being financed with a $1.9 billion Chinese loan.
“This project must be discontinued. Work so far done should remain a monument of corruption. The two federal roads leading to Daura from Kano and Katsina are being dualised, while all roads leading to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, are yet to be completed.
“The Lagos-Ibadan expressway connecting the North with the two South Western ports is still under construction. Construction of the East-West Coastal highway has been abandoned.
“The second Niger Bridge remains uncompleted even though it was commissioned by the Buhari administration. General Buhari’s decision to relocate to Daura from Kaduna must be on account of Daura being more urbanised and secure than Kaduna.
“Not a few Nigerians were shocked when an Army University was cited in Biu, the local government headquarters of General Buhari’s Chief of Army Staff. The officer was simply emulating or to use military parlance, taking dressing from his C-in-C. The question is, why does the Nigerian Army need a university when the Nigerian Defence Academy is a degree-awarding institution and its rank and file are being accommodated in civil institutions? Buhari’s high level of nepotism ensured that appointments, particularly in the sensitive area of security, were skewed in favour of his section of the country, leading to unprecedented polarization, discontent and separatist agitations.”