Muhammadu Buhari is the elected president of Nigeria, but younger people may not know that he also led the country in 1983 after taking control in a military coup. Buhari’s first period in charge was famous around the world; in particular, for his War Against Indiscipline, which was a series of five policies that tried correct the people’s moral code. But with his return more than thirty years later, where are these ideas now?
THE WAR AGAINST INDISCIPLINE
The War Against Indiscipline came in five stages. First, Orderliness – where uniformed officers were employed to ensure there was no pushing in queues or jumping lines. Next: Work Ethic, to manage lateness and laziness at work with advertisements about the benefits of working hard. Third came Patriotism, where citizens were encouraged to give up local cultures and embrace national symbols like the Nigerian flag. Fourth came Anti-Corruption, where the government encouraged the police to prevent fraud, smuggling, and selling drugs. Finally, the War Against Filth introduced a sanitation programme to clean the streets.
Certainly, policy in Nigeria has changed with the times. There are no officers today to enforce orderliness in queues, and traditional cultures like Hausa culture in Nigeria are still strong today. The government’s policy may be different in the places where they achieved their goals. The streets of Abuja are certainly cleaner, and rates of diseases from bad hygiene are going down. The percentage of Nigerians working 40 hour weeks is also rising, indicating that people are working harder.
Many more modern policies may still be similar to the WAI. In 2017, it became illegal to fly a damaged Nigerian flag with a fine of N10,000 per day, showing that Nigerian governments are starting to restrict unpatriotic acts once again. The government has announced that they plan to increase police numbers from the current 370,000 officers to 650,000, which could be a return to the kind of law enforcement used in the War Against Indiscipline. Since 1990, the Nigerian Natforce has been used to crack down on smugglers and those who commit fraud. Could this be a return to the Buharism of the 1980s, or just as ordinary policies to keep Nigeria’s citizens safe?