Where is Ibrahim Salisu Buhari? | Dailytrust

Where is Ibrahim Salisu Buhari?

Ibrahim Salisu Buhari, the first Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives upon the return of the country to democratic system of government in the Fourth Republic in 1999, needs no introduction, at least to followers of Nigeria’s politics for about two decades now.

The young Ibrahim is the son of Kano-based First Republic politician, Malam Salisu Buhari. A businessman who dealt in computers and made appreciable fortune at a very young age, Salisu Buhari joined politics sometime in April, 1998, when Nigeria, under the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, was preparing to usher in democracy after about two decades of military interregnum.

In less than a year, Buhari joined the race for the seat of Nasarawa Federal Constituency of Kano State under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He won the seat without much hassle.

In the build-up to the swearing-in of the 360 members-elect of the 4th House of Reps, Buhari, with the backing of powers-that-be at the time, moved from pillar to pole, campaigning to occupy the Number 4 Citizen’s seat.

His ambition was facilitated by the fact that his party, the PDP, which had the majority in both chambers of the National Assembly at the time, zoned the speaker’s seat to the North West where he hailed from. He was only waiting for his coronation.

Thus, when the House was inaugurated on June 3, 1999, Salisu Buhari, as he is fondly called, easily clinched the coveted seat, defeating his main challenger, Abubakar Sadiq Yar’Adua from Katsina State, a journalist who later became a senator.

But Salisu Buhari’s victory soon became an albatross of a sort, exposing him to public scrutiny when two major allegations of certificate forgery and age falsification against him were raised.

According to The News Magazine, which followed the Salisu Buhari saga carefully, the Kano-born politician claimed that he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Toronto, Canada in 1990; a diploma in accountancy from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, in 1988, and that he served under the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in 1991. Again, Buhari was said to have been born on 3 January 1963.

But it later emerged that Salisu Buhari was actually born on January 3, 1970, making him 29 years at the time he contested and won election to the House, whereas the constitution pegs the age limit for a member of the House at 30. It was also revealed that he actually got admission into ABU but that he was withdrawn because he falsified his credentials.

Again, available records at the time showed that he never went to the University of Toronto in Canada and did not take part in NYSC, according to The News Magazine.

At the initial stage, Buhari denied all the allegations, but as the heat continued, he had no choice than to open up and resign his position as speaker and member of the House.

Before his resignation, however, an investigation was instituted by the presidency under the office of the then National Security Adviser (NSA), General Aliyu Muhammad Gusau.

The Executive arm was at the verge of prosecuting Buhari based on the facts obtained on the matter. But some top national figures intervened, and he was advised to resign his position, which he eventually did.

On July 22, 1999, exactly 49 days after his election, Salisu Buhari threw in the towel on the floor of the House.

Below is the speech he read to his 259 colleagues on that august occasion:

“Since the hand-over of the military and the subsequent inauguration of the House of Representatives, the House has focused on meeting the hopes and aspirations of the Nigerian people.

“I must thank you for the great honour you conferred upon me when you elected me Speaker of this august Assembly. Since electing me, you have been virtually unanimous in your support for me. Consider therefore how sad and distressed I was, when this House and the nation was scandalized when questions were raised relating to my qualification to be a member of this House.

“The controversy generated by that issue, has greatly undermined my authority and prestige, making it difficult for me to continue in office as Speaker and member of this Honourable House. I therefore have no alternative but to resign my membership of the House which, I hereby do.

“I am bound, under all circumstances, to live above suspicion. It was wrong therefore for my conduct to be open to justifiable suspicion as it has been. I apologise to you. I apologise to the nation, I apologise to my family, and friends for all the distress I have caused them.

“I was led to error by the zeal to serve the nation. I trust therefore, that the nation will forgive me and give me another opportunity to serve. I still have faith in the nation and my commitment to her is greater now, seeing that I have wronged it. I have consequently advised my lawyer Chief Rotimi Williams SAN, CFR to withdraw my libel action against ‘The News’ magazine.

“Everything in life is for a purpose and my prayers is that my humiliation will illustrate that in our new democracy, no body, no matter how highly placed, will be above the law. As I look up from the ground following my fall from grace, I solemnly ask you for your forgiveness for as they say ‘The human soul is strongest when it forgoes revenge and forgives injury.’ I hope that in your own time, you will be able to offer me a helping hand.

“Permit me to seize this opportunity to express my regrets and offer my unreserved apologies to all Nigerians at home and abroad for the embarrassment this controversy has generated.

“As I leave you today, I urge you all to remember that this House has always been known for order and for positive change. It is true that we must progress from hence, but it must not be a chaotic progress, for the art of progress is to preserve order amidst change. I have no doubt therefore, that you, my brothers and sisters are equal to the task ahead.

“Finally, I wish to emphasize that the sweet memory of our short but useful time together will forever be cherished in my heart. For now, I bid you farewell and divine guidance for the rest of your tenure. I also wish you success as you labour in the cause of our country and nation building. I shall never forget your kindness to me. Please remember me in your prayers.”

He was then replaced by Alhaji Ibrahim Inuwa. But things took a dramatic turn when Inuwa resigned his position as member of the House on June 8, 2000. It was allegedly to pave the way for Salisu Buhari’s return to the House, but that was not to be.

After his apology, the administration of former president Olusegun Obasanjo reportedly granted him pardon. Another Kano politician, Ghali Umar Na’Abba, replaced him as speaker.

Since that inauspicious scenario, Salisu Buhari went into political oblivion and nothing was heard about him again. He later established a firm, Rumbu Nigeria Limited, headquartered in Bompai, Kano. The firm is known for woven sacks and mats. He remains the chairman of the company to date.

He remained relatively oblivious until 2007 when he became the secretary of the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua campaign council in Kano State. He reportedly made the late president to get large number of votes.

Then came 2011 when Salisu Buhari became the director general of the Goodluck Jonathan 25-member campaign council in Kano State.

In 2013, Jonathan’s administration made Salisu Buhari a member of the Governing Council of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN).

The appointment had drawn public condemnation, but the then Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, defended the action, saying Buhari was fit to be so appointed as he had been pardoned.

In May last year, then acting president Yemi Osinbajo inaugurated the board of the Nigerian Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council of which Salisu Buhari was a member.

Doing his woven sacks and mats business quietly in Kano, it is not clear if Salisu Buhari, who is now 48 (going by his date of birth of 1970), will vie for any political office any time soon. Could he be on a political hiatus? Only time will tell.

 

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