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Olanrewaju Oguntoyibo: Buba Marwa – The man, his past and his options


Olanrewaju Oguntoyibo: Buba Marwa – The man, his past and his options

by Olanrewaju Oguntoyinbo

I cried on the evening of Tuesday 23rd of April when I stumbled on a set of pictures from Baga, Borno State, North-East Nigeria. A total of 185 people were killed according to African Press and majority of those killed were women and children.

My thinking was: Is this what our military has become? I had military friends as a young secondary school boy when Brigadier-General Buba Marwa was the Governor of Lagos state. In fact, Boniface and Mohammed (my Army friends) told me those days in Badagry of Lagos State how interesting the military camp was. I was so close to them that I begged my Dad that I too would love to go to military school, which made me to write the Command entrance exam. If not for my mom’s refusal, I probably would have become an officer of the Nigerian army.

I loved the military then because they were protective, as far as Boniface was at Ebute (waterside) you dare not beat Asumo (name for Ismael) or else my military friends will use their Koboko on you.

I remember Mohammed told me then that in the Nigerian military, the best man in handling aircraft was Colonel Buba Marwa. This leads me to my Road to 2015 series, in which I would be discussing General Buba Marwa of Adanmawa State (North-East). I would be suspending this series after this current piece until later in the year.

Mohammed Buba Marwa was former military Governor of Borno State (1990-1992) and Lagos State (1996-1999). The Kaduna born politician was born September 9, 1953. He attended the Nigerian Military School, Zaria and Nigeria Defense Academy both in Kaduna State. While in The Nigerian Army, he studied at Pittsburgh University where he obtained a master’s degree in International Relations and also obtained a Masters degree in Public Administration from Harvard.

Buba Marwa was ADC (Aide-de-Camp) to Northern rich man and oil block owner Theophilus  Danjuma when he was Chief of Army Staff, Academy Registrar of the Nigerian Defense Academy and Deputy Defence Adviser in the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, DC. He was also one time Defence Adviser to the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the United States.

As Governor of Lagos State, General Buba Marwa will be remembered for his “Operation 250 Roads” which he used to improve Lagos roads. Also, mosquito nets were shared to pregnant women during his era as Lagos Governor and public health care centers were built in virtually all LGAs of Lagos State. He stopped the “Jankara” methods of evicting tenant and made an edict to regulate rents, ensuring that due process is followed.

Many Lagosians will remember Marwa’s “Operation sweep” (a joint police and military venture) that protected our lives and properties. The military outfit “Operation sweep” was a memorable one. As a young boy then, I remember how “Operation Sweep” will be engaging thieves at night. Gun shots were heard on almost every night and I remember my uncle saying they loved engaging criminals.

The “Operation sweep” was never defeated in gun duels. And they were all over Lagos state. From Surulere to Ikotun, Abule-Egba to Badagry. They arrested Agberos (members of NURTW) and cleared them off our streets. Area Boys behaved themselves as they were roundly beaten when caught in illegal and immoral acts. They loved kids as on several occasions they bought us (children) sweet and “OK Biscuit” whenever we scored above 5/10 in the spelling competition they organized while drinking at a nearby beer parlour on our street in Surulere area of Lagos.

Also Marwa imposed fuel rationing in Lagos to tackle petrol shortages and reduce chronic queuing at petrol station. Before the rationing many Lagosians out of ignorance were storing petrol in their rooms and offices which resulted many times in explosions and the consequent loss of lives and properties.

Buba Marwa who succeeded Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as Governor of Lagos state was on several occasions a victim of bomb-blast. Activist were of the opinion that it was Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola who was planning to kill him so as to cover up what he (Oyinlola) did while in office, as during Oyinlola’s tenure as Governor of Lagos State, bomb blasts was a norm in Lagos and letter bombs came into Nigeria’s polity.

Marwa was accused in October 1986 by the lawyer of the founder and editor of “Newswatch newspaper” Dele Giwa of delivering the letter-bomb that killed his client. Though, the Personal Assistant to Colonel Buba Marwa then claimed that Marwa was involved in the annual battalion test exercise in Bauchi when Dele Giwa was killed.

After handing power to Governor-elect of Lagos Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999, Buba Marwa retired from the military and founded Albarka Arlines. He resigned as the Chairman of the Airline in 2005 and not long after, the Aviation authority grounded the airline for none maintenance of their fleets.  2years after the grounding, the Nigerian Government withdrew the license of his airline, Albarka Airline for not meeting the recapitalization requirements. Nigerian Central Bank in 2009 listed Albarka as one of the debtors’ of Nigeria’s troubled banks owing over one billion naira and Marwa denied any responsibility of the debt.

In 2001, Marwa was accused of assisting Sani Abacha to loot Nigeria’s treasury. In fact some money was traced to his account which he transferred to another account in Nairobi, Kenya. He denied the money was looted as he claimed the money was used for clandestine operations in East Africa. In 2005, he was arrested by anti-graft agency EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) because of the money on suspicion that he used the money to set up Albarka Airline but the investigation was dropped mysteriously.

Buba Marwa declared he’ll be contesting the People’s Democracy party (PDP)’s presidential primaries for 2007 general election but lost to the eventual winner and governor of Kastina State Late Umaru Musa Yar’dua who after winning the primaries and general election appointed him (Marwa) as Nigeria High Commissioner to South Africa.

In 2011, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa declared his intention to unseat the incumbent Governor of Adanmawa State, Murtala Nyako but lost the PDP primary election to Nyako. He decamped to opposition party Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and lost as well, coming a distant 3rd.

With the recent proposed merger with opposition parties of Nigeria comprising of his party Congress for Progressive Change(CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN), All Nigerian People’s Party(ANPP), a faction of All Progressive Grand Alliance(APGA) led by the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha  and other small parties to form All Progressive Congress (APC), it would be difficult for Marwa to pick the APC ticket in 2015 if the merger succeeds as he came third in the last election.

Opinions are that Engineer Markus Natina Gundiri will pick the APC ticket instead, because he’s more popular than Marwa. The Hong LGA politician Markus Gundiri came second with 241,023, the incumbent won the election with 302,953 while Marwa scored 107,546.

With those developments, what’s next for Brigadier-General Mohammed Buba Marwa as 2015 election year get close?

Will Marwa run for president under the APC?

Another Option is for Marwa to be a Vice Presidential candidate to Tunde Fashola or Owelle Rochas Okorocha; that’s if APC will be zoning the Presidency to the South. Or better still, since Marwa was a professional soldier whom at one time wasallegedly  the best aircraft fighter Nigeria had, he can be made Minister of Defence if his party APC is able to defeat the ruling party in 2015. I wouldn’t know the depth of his intelligence, but I think if he’s very intelligent he could also be explored as Nigeria’s National Security Adviser(NSA).

But sincerely, I personally admire Brigadier-General Buba Marwa. I like his fine “boy” face and his wife too, who is a beauty to behold. But do we really need someone like Marwa as Nigeria’s leader in 2015? Choosing a leader in 2015 wouldn’t be with religious, tribal or charisma sentiment but someone whose antecedents can solve the current political imbroglios of present Nigeria. Marwa’s antecedents in the handling of Albarka airline disqualifies him to manage our economy properly. A Marwa corruption case with EFCC regarding the looted Abacha funds is a point that he might not be able to fight corruption which is one of the agents affecting Nigeria’s progression.

At this juncture, if Brigadier-Buba Marwa is entertaining any thought of leading this country, I’ll advise him to drop such as Nigerians  are not looking for a trial leader from 2015, but a leader who has the fore-knowledge of  our problems and knows how to solve them.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @lanreneville

Most people who know Olanrewaju Oguntoyinbo know him as lanreneville. He analyses and comments on politics, critiques social issues and believes in #ProjectNewNigeria. Twitter: @lanreneville

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