Even by his own admission, General Mohammedu Buhari’s time in charge of Nigeria is not one to be misty-eyed about.
After seizing power in a coup in 1983, he threw critics in jail, kidnapped enemies off the streets of London, and ordered soldiers to whip Nigerians who did not queue in orderly fashion at bus stops.
By any normal standards, the ageing ex-dictator should now be a relic of the dark days of military rule, when the only way to stop the country falling apart seemed to be an iron fist. Instead, he may be about to voted in again as president.
At an age when other politicians are considering retirement, Mr Buhari, 72, has emerged as the main challenger to President Goodluck Jonathan in Saturday’s vote for the head of Africa’s most populous state. With Boko Haram still running rampant, 200 kidnapped schoolgirls still missing, and poverty and corruption still rampant, many Nigerians feel Mr Jonathan has not proved up to the job.
Hence the nostalgia for a dour ex-strongman like Mr Buhari, who is now running neck-and-neck with the incumbent.