President Mohammadu Buhari’s coursemate in the 1962 set of the Nigeria Army, Juventus Chijioke Ojukwu has opened up on the president.
“I went to Nigeria Military Training College, NMTC in Kaduna in 1962; that was what metamorphosed to Nigeria Defense Academy.
I know President Buhari. We joined the Nigeria army as cadets. We did our school certificate the same year though not the same school. We entered the army the same time, we were commissioned the same year and I know him very well.
I was an athlete as a long distance runner and Buhari was a long distant runner too. We used to do the cross country and he was one of the tough ones. You see him looking as if he is going to die tomorrow but he was a very strong and tough person. I interacted with him like other cadets, northerners, easterners, westerners; he was one of the people I knew very well.
Buhari was a bright chap. All these bogus talk about him not having been to school and not having certificate is all rubbish. By the time we entered the Nigeria Military Training College, letters came from our various principles to attest to our qualifications.
Nobody, and I repeat, nobody asked us to present our certificates. I came from Kings College and nobody asked me of my certificate. Buhari came from one of the very good schools in the north and there was no such thing as present your certificate.
The military is a good development ground for leadership. A good number of world leaders were military people, Kennedy, John Mac chain who would have been President, you can name them. So for the fact that somebody had been in uniform does not make him a dictator.
The Buhari I knew was never a fanatic then and I still don’t see him as one now.
What I can say is that he is a serious religious person. As a Muslim, he is a serious religious person, then and now. There are some of my northern and western friends who say that one of the reasons I am their friend is because they see me as a serious religious person.
In 1982-83 when he was commanding the 3rd armored division in Jos, I was then chairman army subcommittee of Defense in the Federal House of Representatives and we were touring military divisions and in his command somebody complained to me that Buhari as GOC should take it easy on his religious attitude, that if as Christian somebody in his command did not go to church on Sunday Buhari would throw him to guardroom, same thing to a Moslem who didn’t go to mosque on Friday, yet religion is a freedom of choice.
So during dinner I brought it up with him and he got angry. He said JC I am surprised that you as a serious Christian would say such thing. He said he would not work with Godless people and that is Buhari for you. It’s not fanaticism and that has continued, so I don’t think he is a religious bigot, he doesn’t discriminate. People don’t know that a good number of his staff are Christians.
His steward in Kaduna is a member of the Sacred Heart Catholic church. I was informed that during the Christmas seasons he brings people to come and sing Christmas Carol for him.
He is not an Igbo hater. Somebody who is an Igbo hater could not in two occasions had chosen his running mates from Igboland, that is Chuba Okadigbo and Edwin Umezueoke and he believed in these people.
When he was head of state his Attorney General was an Igboman. The present Foreign Affairs Minister who is like Secretary of State is an Igboman but people are looking at plum offices for the sake of making money. So he is not an Igbo hater. Look at his recent appointments, my state, Anambra, has two ministerial appointments, some states have one.
He is not an Igbo hater and I can use this opportunity to tell many of my people that love begets love, he doesn’t hate our people. It’s just that our people play bad politics.
I won’t defend everything but when it comes to security appointments, the Man at the helm of affairs knows who and who to appoint. I don’t think it’s based on ethnic considerations. “
- Culled from Vanguardngr