War Against Indiscipline
War Against Indiscipline, sometimes called WAI or disrespectfully, why was a Nigerian legislation enacted in March, 1984 by military decree and supported by President Buhari and General Tunde Idiagbon though it is alleged Tunde Idiagbon was the author. The program's intention was to instill public morality, discipline or social order, civic responsibilities and promoting Nigerian nationalism. (1) This move towards an ethical orientation was part of the major initiatives of the Buhari administration along with financial management. However, some critics allege the project alienated the people from their government as questionable lengths of prison time were leveled against minor crimes and local brigades of WAI were seen as behaving above the law. (2)
Prior to the launch of WAI, some writers and a few others had posited about a growing lack of order in the Nigerian society and also about the rising incidence of crime. The latter which encompasses official corruption was seen as a major problem.
Major General Tunde Idiagbon served as the commander while Emeka Omeruah was the chief of operations. The program was known for the media blitz that followed its launch and the dramatization in media of the objectives of WAI.
One of the visible objectives of WAI was the encouragement of customers and citizens to line up to board buses and mostly line up or queue for high demand services. Other objectives included the encouragement of women to train their wards, as the culture then considered child raising a predominant female skill and proper home training would groom future disciplined adults. A second objective promoting hard work was introduced in May, 1984, this objective like many others was buoyed by the use of government owned media. (4) In July, 1985, the Buhari administration launched environmental sanitation as the fifth phase of the program. WAI's third and fourth phases focused on patriotism and eradicating economic sabotage and corruption.
The program was criticized by some for poor planning and engaging in draconian and unreasonable punishments such as public flogging and long sentences for minor offenses. A student above 17 years of age caught cheating could get close to 21 years in prison while counterfeiting, arson and illegal oil bunkering could lead to the death penalty. (3) Some analysts also allege that some of WAI's patriotic objectives such as reciting the national anthem and national pledge had little do to with order or corruption.