Title: Buhari: A New Beginning
Author: Bayo Omoboriowo
Publisher: John Tripod Media
Reviewer: Henry Akubuiro
In the wee hours of January 1, 1984, a metallic voice cut through the balmy New Year air. The military had struck, toppling the Shehu Shagari-led democratic government. The coup was welcomed in many quarters because of ratcheting corruption, among other democratic misnomers. It was in that season of anomie that Buhari assumed the leadership of Nigeria. He was to worm himself into the hearts of many as a man of integrity and a great disciplinarian before he was removed by a counter coup. Hence, his return in 2015 as a democratically elected government was greeted with hurrahs.
Buhari: A New Beginning, a book by Bayo Omoboriowo, chronicles his journey, like no one has ever done, through life, from childhood to his military career and the presidency, with historical pictures that drive home the message
A photographer of repute, Omoboriowo’s glossy package serves more than the purpose of using pictures to tell an inspiring story of leadership; it also brings us to reality the busy world of a leader, whose schedules teem with numerous activities aimed at bettering the lives of the populace, who may be unaware of the sacrifices being made behind closed doors.
The emphasis of this book is Buhari’s second coming as a president, but Omoboriowo offers the reader snippets of his past life as a military leader. Thus, in the first chapter entitled “The Beginnings”, you get all the facts about the ramrod straight man from Daura, Katsina State, who rose from zero to hero.
The telltale sign of Buhari as a leader, narrates the author, was evident in Class 2 in primary school, where he became the school monitor, a house captain, a school prefect and the head boy of the school. In 1961, Buhari was awarded the sole Northern Region slot for an all-expenses-paid educational trip to the UK by Elder Demster, a shipping line.
“The Beginnings” contains many interesting pictures of Buhari as a soldier during a parade in the Nigerian Military Training College in 1962 and as a brigade commander kicking football in 1970) during the Nigerian Civil war. We also have pictures of him receiving a plague from the College Commandant at the United States Army College in 1980 following his graduation from the college.
In the 1970s, Buhari served in the governments of Generals Murtala Mohammed and Olusegun Obasanjo as the Federal Commissioner of Petroleum. Some highpoints of those moments were captured in vivid pictures, including visits to Poland, Philippines and the UK. His sojourn as a military head of state comes alive in detailed pictures, too.
His 2014/15 presidential campaign is chronicled in the second chapter. Having lost out to three former presidents –Obasanjo, Yar’ Adua and Goodluck Jonathan –Buhari returned for the fourth time stronger in 2015 to clinch the presidential election. The flavour and fervour of that epoch-making campaign are relived in fabulous pictures of a broom-waving Buhari and his supporters.
From the pictures taken at different campaign grounds across the nation, Omoboriowo’s book captures the colourful dresses of Nigerian ethnic groups, for, wherever the campaign train berthed in Nigeria, he identified and bonded with the people by wearing their traditional dresses.
The transition period after his victory in the election is equally captures in Buhari: A New Beginning. Omoboriowo writes: “The 2015 transition from the Goodluck Jonathan presidency to that of Muhammadu Buhari was remarkably smooth, making it an indelible testimony of Nigeria’s political maturity and progress in sustaining democracy.”
Some of the pictures on parade here include those of the president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, being received by the SGF, Senator Pius Anyim; him shaking hands with former presidents, Shehu Shagari and Ibrahim Babangida; and him taking his oat of office.
If you missed his inauguration speech on April 1, 2015, you have a second chance of reading it again in this book on pages 118-123. Among others, he said: “Today, history has been made, and change has finally come. Your votes have changed our national destiny for the good of all Nigerians.” In attendance was American Secretary of State, John Terry, seen in one of the pictures in this section, congratulating President Buhari, as the Ambassador of USA to Nigeria, James Entwistle, looks on.
While the fourth chapter shows a workaholic President Buhari engrossed in moments of decision making at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, and elsewhere in the country, we see him as a statesman in the fifth chapter working in concert with former Nigerian presidents and other eminent Nigerians from different walks of life for the betterment of the country. There are also interesting pictorial chronicles of him with other world leaders, including President Obama, Queen Elizabeth of England, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Paul Biya of Cameroon, among others, on the international stage. Omoboriowo’s Buhari: A New Beginning is history in colours.
War, juvenile delinquency and youthful exuberance
Title: Yesterday, my Worst Enemy
Author: Ugochukwu Asiegbu
Publisher: Seaburn Publishing Group, Nigeria
Reviewer: Olamide Babatunde
For someone who studied biochemistry and management at Abia State University, Uturu, and Imo State University, Owerri, respectively, veering off into literature and producing a novel like Yesterday My Worst Enemy can be forgiven.
The book introduces us to a family, who, despite the father’s disciplinarian tendencies, has a last child, Sandra, who, in her prime, becomes the black sheep of the family when she gets initiated into the Red Bra cult in her university. Throwing caution to the winds, she becomes a lesbian, alcoholic, and embraced bad vice. Her reckless living has an adverse effect on her academic performance, which jolts her back to her senses for sometime. When she decides to renounce association with the evil sect it turns out the way she doesn’t expect and her life is almost cut short.
The plot thickens from this point, but it isn’t anything different from the usual. It feels too much like something out of the old Nollywood scripts that can be predicted and so correctly from the beginning to the end. To have endeavoured to engage in such literariness, the author, though, deserves some credit. While the story isn’t actually breathtaking, it points at the anomalies in a war-ravaged country, the burdens of a single parent, peer pressure and its attendant effects.
Readers are treated to a detailed account of the Biafran war beginning from the counter coup of 1966 to the assassination of Major-General Aguiyi Ironsi. Determined to jog the reader’s memory and keep the up to date, Asiegbu goes on with history and finally kills it with the lieutenant-Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu’s speech termed Ahiara Declaration.
Thoughts then move to Chief Daniels’s second son who is featured to probably cue in other characters. As soon as the heroine – Sandra is successfully brought into the picture fully (Leonard) fades out for the most part leaving the story to revolve around her. Along the way, there are scenarios that aren’t totally necessary like Joseph and Leonard’s quarrel, Leonard getting inaebriated and being rescued by his father’s friend.
By the time Sandra realises she in too deep, she plots for freedom. Narrowly, she misses getting lynched by other members of the deadly female sect. Fortunately, she graduates with a second-class lower division and manages to secure a job.
The publication is marred by series of abrupt stops and pagination errors. On page 66, there is an incomplete sentence trying to describe Leonard’s actions when he is jolted back to life from his terrifying dream. The pagination discord is noticeable from page 58 after which the next page is numbered 75. A repeat occurs on other pages, which means the reader has to go back and forth trying to fit the pieces of the story back together.
As expected, Sandra‘s life takes a slide when Nduka, the man she loves dumps her just after a mad woman give her a chase down the road. Actions that ripple through afterwards and the reasons behind it are left to the reader’s imagination.
Juvenile delinquency and youthful exuberance in this book are explored in layers of unrelenting shortcomings, vengeful thirst and blinding passion. For instance:
The lights glimmered. The ceiling fans whirred speedily.
The young people were dancing and having fun. Sandra saw a lady Smoking a cigarette and her eyes widened in surprise.
“Is that lady smoking? She asked Chioma.
“It is not strange, Chioma responded. Don’t look so surprised. I smoke cigarettes sometimes. I will teach you hoe to smoke.” (p. 73).
This isn’t too difficult for anyone to relate with who has seen a lot of Nigerian scripts acted out. At the beginning, there is a meeting and, at the end, there is a bigger meeting; but it is not certain if the reader’s desire to read through this story will be met.