The Nigerian Civil War ended on January 15, 1970. Naturally, Nigerian soldiers occupied every part of Igbo land and used school premises as their make-shift barracks. Less malnourished young men were suspected to be defunct Biafran soldiers and some ladies suffered at the hands of the rampaging soldiers.
My village, Umueleke, in Ehime Mbano of Imo State, was one of the communities occupied by the Nigerian soldiers with their natural provocative utterances. The village shares a common boundary with Mbaise in Imo State, where we assumed to be the operational headquarters of the Nigerian soldiers within our area during that period.
On a certain day in March 1970, one of our brothers that fled Lagos to Biafra with his new car, but could not use same during the war for fear of being confiscated by Biafran Soldiers, perfectly concealed same throughout the period of the Civil War. He brought out the car in March of the same year and drove same to our market square where the soldiers were stationed.
Unfortunately, the soldiers harassed him out of the car and confiscated same, luckily for him there was a divine intervention as the crowd of onlookers saw a convoy coming from the Mbaise axis of our community and suddenly a young and slim officer alighted from the military jeep. He enquired why the crowd gathered and why the man was weeping; the man informed him of how the soldiers had beaten him up and confiscated his car.
The slim officer was a captain with his name-tag Buhari. The officer reminded the people that the war had ended and such thing should not happen. He quickly ordered for the release of the car and also reprimanded the soldiers and as a result, our community enjoyed the usual freedom.
When he became the Head of State, I discovered from his facial appearance that it was the same Buhari that showed human concern to our brother.
But since Buhari indicated interest in ruling the country once again, I have read many commentaries on the pages of newspapers and electronic media that are very uncomplimentary about his life and I wonder whether it is the same Buhari I met in 1970 who was full of passion for people.
However, from my encounter with GMB then, I came to the conclusion that he is not only humane, but a stickler for justice as demonstrated by his insistence that my brother’s car is returned immediately and which the soldiers did. That he ordered that the car be returned and the soldiers involved in such act be detained for stepping beyond their bounds depicted Buhari as a compassionate man and a disciplinarian who abhors maltreating innocent civilians. After all, Buhari could have joined forces with his men to confiscate the car, but he did not because he believed that the war had ended and people should be set free form bondage and discrimination. But he said “mbanau ooo!”
Of course, the lessons learnt from the above are: that a leader must stand for justice at all times; that a leader must take a decision when necessary; that a leader must instil discipline in his lieutenants; that not all Northern soldiers were wicked after the war and that GMB is misrepresented by many Nigerians who see him as evil and tribalistic.
Indeed, from the lessons, one can deduce that GMB is far better than our South-South brothers who confiscated our property immediately after the war and nicknamed it ‘abondoned property’ particularly in Rivers and Bayelsa. Many Igbos died while in pursuit of their legitimate rights over their property. My family members were victims and I nearly lost my life.. Again, I think some Igbos are still at war with Buhari, 45 years after the war ended. So, if by divine act, Buhari wins, what will be the fate of Igbos.?