President Muhammadu Buhari, who ruled Nigeria as a ham-fisted military dictator from 1983 until the coup plotters came calling in 1985, says democracy has been slowing him down a lot.
Buhari, who refers to himself these days as a “converted democrat,” contested 2003, 2007 and 2011 presidential elections without success, before beating then-incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan to emerge winner of the 2015 vote.
Buhari carved a reputation for being tough on corruption in his days as a military head of state, with persons accused of graft, hounded into jail before they had a chance to defend themselves.
Accusations of being a dictator in a democracy
The president has recently been accused of human rights violations, disobeying court orders and an attempt to re-enact a tough military past in his stint as a ‘democratic’ leader.
The nation’s most-read newspaper, Punch, recently resolved to prefix Buhari with his former title of ‘Major General’ and refer to his administration as a ‘regime’ “until they purge themselves of their insufferable contempt for the rule of law.”
On the occasion of his 77th birthday celebration at the presidential villa, Buhari admitted that it’s been tough trying to put up with all the nuances and processes that come with democratic governance.
“I have learned the hard way. When I came in (military) uniform, I collected those who were leading, took them to Kirikiri (prison) and told them that they were guilty until they could prove themselves innocent. Based on all geopolitical zones, I put up committees to investigate them.
“Those who were found to have lived beyond their means, the balance was taken away from them and given to the state. I have arrested myself, detained and the looters were given back what they had stolen.
“Under this (democratic) system which is supposed to be more accountable…but…it’s too slow for my liking..,” the president said.
Buhari has often lamented how tough it’s been to jail allegedly corrupt persons as a democratic president.