"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Tragedy of the Abba Kyari Surrogate Presidency

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Premium Times’ February 17 unmasking of National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno’s secret memo, which revealed that Abba Kyari, Buhari’s Chief of Staff, exercises presidential powers on Buhari’s behalf, is only the official confirmation of what I have written in many columns and social media updates in the past two years.

The truth is that Buhari has no cognitive, emotional, physical, not to mention intellectual, capacity to be president. And, since nature abhors a vacuum, Abba Kyari has filled the void that Buhari’s emptiness has created.

 Sometime in the midpoint of last year, a northern retired general told me Abba Kyari said in private that people who vilify him don’t realize that without him Nigeria would be rudderless and descend into chaos.

He is probably right. When a man who fancies himself as “president” is so wracked by dementia and cognitive decline that he can’t hold a meeting for more than 10 minutes, has lost the ability to follow conversations in a meeting, and has zero short-term memory, someone needs to act on his behalf.

That Buhari is almost wholly emotionally and intellectually dependent on Abba Kyari is no secret in Aso Villa, but it came out in the open when Buhari himself publicly told his newly appointed ministers that Abba Kyari is the only way to him. In any case, most of the ministers were appointed by Abba Kyari.

Kyari also made—and continues to make— some of the most consequential appointments of the last five years. For instance, he singlehandedly appointed INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu, DG of DSS Yusuf Magaji Bichi, and CJN Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, among others too numerous to mention.

That was why Kyari could summon INEC chairman Yakubu to the Presidential Villa on October 26, 2018 to instruct him on how to conduct the forthcoming elections. As I wrote in my January 5, 2019 column titled, “INEC’s Troubling Missteps Amid Aso Rock’s Desperation,” what happened on October 26, 2018 had no precedent.

“The Chief of Staff to the President is not a constitutionally recognized position,” I wrote. “He has no legal powers to summon the INEC boss for a meeting.” Of course, I knew that Yakubu was beholden to Kyari because he owes his position to him.

Kyari rode to his current cushy surrogate presidency through Mamman Daura, Buhari’s nephew, who has been Buhari’s link to the northern political mafia and to transnational financial transactions since 1983.

In researching the genealogy and rhetorical techniques of Nigerian crime syndicates for a book I am working on, I came across an insightful 2016 book by Professor Stephen Ellis titled “This Present Darkness: A History of Nigerian Organized Crime,” which spells out the link between Mamman Daura and Buhari.

On page 132 of the book, which was published by Oxford University Press, Ellis writes: “The Kaduna Mafia is said to have ‘dictated to President Shehu Shagari how Nigeria should be managed’ during his tenure from 1979 to 1983….Buhari’s main connection to this group was through his nephew (although slightly older), Mamman Daura.

“Mamman Daura became a director of Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), which set up shop in Nigeria in 1979 and became the favorite bank of the ruling group, performing all manner of illegal transactions on behalf of its elite clients.” Daura became director of the defunct Karachi- and London-based BCCI through his father-in-law, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, who had controlling shares in the bank’s Nigerian branch.

Note that, according Peter Truell and Larry Gurwin in their 1992 book titled “False Profits: The Inside Story of BCCI, The World's Most Corrupt Financial Empire,” BCCI was a sensationally fraudulent bank that engaged in high-profile  transnational money laundering, including for dictators such as Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, and Samuel Doe.

The Washington Monthly magazine, in a September 4, 2004 investigation titled “Follow the Money: How John Kerry busted the terrorists' favorite bank,” also found that BCCI laundered money for such criminal corporations as the Medellin Cartel and Abu Nidal and for terrorist kingpins like Osama bin Laden. In fact, Washington Monthly quoted a senior U.S. investigator to have said, "BCCI was the mother and father of terrorist financing operations."

Of course, there’s no evidence that the Nigerian branch of BCCI was involved in terrorist financing, but the same Mamman Daura who served as the conduit between Buhari, the Kaduna Mafia, and BCCI in the 1980s also introduced Abba Kyari to Buhari much later. Mamman Daura, in addition, facilitated Abba Kyari’s employment at the defunct African International Bank, an offshoot of BCCI, which was forcefully liquidated in 1991.

In other words, Abba Kyari’s connection to Buhari via Mamman Daura possibly follows the money. Relationships nurtured by the kind of money that binds Daura, Kyari, and Buhari are hard to dissolve. It’s particularly difficult when the man who is supposed to be “president” has, due to dementia, lost all sentience and is dependent on a younger, more educated, if unethical and rapacious, Kyari for directions on what remains of Nigeria’s pretense to governance.

In his surrogate presidency, Kyari is redefining the limits of audacious impunity and primitive acquisitiveness. For instance, in an unprecedented move in July 2016, he appointed himself a member of the NNPC Board and got insentient Buhari to sign off on it!

When Air Vice Marshall Mukhtar Muhammed, Buhari’s close friend who died on October 1, 2017, read about Kyari’s appointment to the NNPC Board, he was concerned because there was no precedent for it. So he called Buhari to let him know that the optics of the appointment were bad, but he was shocked when Buhari told him it wasn’t true that he had appointed his Chief of Staff as a member of the NNPC Board, even though he actually signed off on the appointment.

It turned out that Buhari didn’t know what he signed off on. Someone close to the late AVM Mukhtar Mohammed told me this story a few months after it happened. That was the moment I began to suspect that Buhari was held hostage by dementia. No one knows this more than Abba Kyari, who is taking advantage of it to the maximum.

Sahara Reporters reported on September 20, 2016 that “Buhari [was] presented with evidence his Chief of Staff took [a] N500m [bribe] to help MTN reduce fine.” About three months after this exposĂ©, MTN fired its top staffers who facilitated the bribe in order “to avoid scrutiny by the United States government over bribes offered to Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari,” according to Sahara Reporters’ December 23, 2016 story titled, “MTN Fires Amina Oyagbola Over Bribery To Buhari’s Chief Of Staff Abba Kyari.”

Buhari’s mental and cognitive decline, which has severely affected his short-term memory, ensured that the people who reported Abba Kyari to Buhari actually only reported Abba Kyari to himself. 

When a prominent Southwest politician sponsored protests importuning Buhari to not reappoint Abba Kyari as his Chief of Staff, I laughed boisterously. It was akin to asking Abba Kyari to not reappoint himself.

Abba Kyari is now literally a law unto himself. People lose their positions in government only when they fall out of his good graces. Buhari is now totally inconsequential. All the people who matter in this government know Buhari is merely a nominal head with no capacity to exercise actual power.

Power resides with Abba Kyari who is now transmogrifying into a Frankenstein monster that is about to devour even Mamman Daura, its creator.

The only way out of the tragedy of the current surrogate presidency is to impeach and remove Buhari on account of his incapacitation and treasonable abdication of responsibility to an unelected surrogate. 

But that will never happen. Not with the current docile and malleable National Assembly that has fittingly been dubbed the “Rubber-Stamp National Assembly.” Nigeria is stuck!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

True Ethnic Origins of Nigeria’s Past Presidents and Heads of State

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Nigeria’s education system robs Nigerians of basic knowledge about their country and its people. That’s why although ethnic identity is a central part of Nigeria’s national imagination, most Nigerians know awfully little about the ethnic identities of their rulers.

 In the absence of accurate, official information, most people have resorted to assumptions, guesswork, and outright falsehoods on the ethnic origins of their rulers—and on most things about the country, leading me to once characterize Nigeria as a “know-nothing nation” in my August 10, 2013 column.

I have chosen to dedicate today’s column to providing accurate, verifiable information about the ethnic identities of Nigeria’s past presidents and heads of state.

1. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Several people, particularly in the South, have assigned a Hausa, Fulani, or “Hausa-Fulani” ethnic identity to Nigeria’s first Prime Minister. But he was neither ethnically Hausa nor Fulani. Of course, if he was neither Hausa nor Fulani, he couldn’t conceivably be “Hausa-Fulani.”

He came from a small ethnic minority group called the Gere, whom Hausa people call Bagere or Bageri (singular) and Gerawa (plural). Gere is not mutually intelligible with Hausa or Fulfulde. It’s a wholly separate ethnic group that traces distant roots from what is now Chad.

As I pointed out in my January 23, 2016 column titled “Gere:Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa’s Real Ethnic Group,” a 1905 Journal of the Royal African Society article by a G. Merrick titled “Languages in Northern Nigeria” said the Gere are “closely related to the Bolewa [a minority language spoken mostly in Fika Emirate in Yobe State] and living to the west of them.”

2. Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi: There is no question that Aguiyi-Ironsi, who became Head of State after Tafawa Balewa’s assassination, was Igbo from Umuahia in what is now Abia State.

3. Yakubu Gowon: Although he was raised in Wusasa near Zaria, which is home to Fulani Christians, his parents were Angas (also called Ngas) from what is now Plateau State. Angas is an Afro-Asiatic language like Hausa, but it is mutually unintelligible with Hausa.

As I pointed out in my April 3, 2016 column titled “Nigerian Languages are More Closely Related Than You Think,” “Another surprising fact about Nigeria’s language family classification is that Hausa, the most prominent member of the Afro-Asiatic family in Nigeria, shares the same ancestor with the Angas of Plateau State. In fact, just like Hausa, Angas belongs to the Chadic subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Yet two ethnic groups couldn’t be more culturally different than the Hausa and the Angas.”

4. Murtala Mohammed:  Murtala Mohammed's paternal identity is the subject of elaborate, long-standing speculations. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who is now Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, once wrote that Murtala Mohammed was Fulani. A few other people from Kano say the same thing. But several other people say it was only Murtala’s mother that was Fulani from Kano.

His paternal identity is shrouded in controversy. But the most credible clue to his paternal identity, in my opinion, is the assertion that his father was from northern Edo State. A man by the name of Austin Braimoh, who says he is Murtala’s paternal first cousin, wrote in a February 19, 2016 Vanguard article titled “Remembering Murtala Mohammed” that Murtala’s father's name was Dako Mohammed and that he migrated to Kano from the village of Igbe in the Auchi area of Edo State after briefly living in Lagos.

“It is well documented that General Murtala Mohammed made efforts to reach out to his paternal relations before his demise,” he wrote. “Two months into his tenure as Head of State, he was at Auchi to confer with the Otaru of Auchi Alhaji Guruza Momoh. He invited him to join him to that year’s Hajj in Mecca. On his way out of Auchi, he directed that a mosque be erected at Aviele, near Auchi in a predominantly Muslim settlement. The mosque was completed after his death and named after him.”

Given the number of people with “Auchi” ancestry who rose to prominence in the Kano society, including the legendary Isyaku Rabiu, this claim isn't far-fetched.

5. Olusegun Obasanjo: Obasanjo’s Owu ethnicity is well-known. There is nothing to add or take away from it. Of course, the Owu are a subgroup of the Yoruba ethnic group.

6. Shehu Shagari: Shehu Shagari’s Fulani ethnicity is also well-known. Although he also spoke Hausa, he self-identified as Fulani. His great-grandfather founded the town whose name he adopted as his last name.

7. Muhammadu Buhari: Apart from being phenotypically Fulani like Shagari, Buhari also never missed an opportunity to proclaim his Fulani ethnic identity. In fact, at 18, when he applied to enlist in the Nigerian military, he gratuitously mentioned his ethnicity. “I have the honour to apply for regular service in the Royal Nigerian Army,” he wrote on October 18, 1961. “My name is Muhammadu Buhari and I am a Fulani.”

8. Ibrahim Babangida: IBB’s ethnic identity is surprisingly a magnet for controversy and speculations. He has been called Gbagyi (whom Hausa people call Gwari), Nupe, and even Yoruba from Ogbomoso or Osogbo. But he told journalists and his biographers at different times that his immediate ancestors were Hausas from Kano who migrated to what is now Niger State.

I’d rather go with his self-definition of his ethnic identity than the evidence-free claims of others.

9. Abdulsalami Abubakar: Because Minna, where Abubakar was born, was founded by the Gbagyi, people have also assumed that he is Gbagyi. But he told a biographer that he was born to Hausa parents. Since Hausas are not native to Minna, it must mean that, like IBB, his immediate ancestors came to Minna from Nigeria’s northwest.

10. Umaru Musa Yar’adua: Yar’adua has been erroneously called “Fulani” because of his phenotypic features, but his immediate paternal ancestors are actually Tuaregs, possibly from Mauritania. The Tuaregs are a branch of the Berber cluster in North Africa. Many Tuaregs (whom Hausa people call Buzu) in northern Nigeria tend to be mistaken for Fulani because of the similarities in their physical features. I got to know that the Yar’Adua family are Tuaregs when I lived in Katsina town in the late 1990s.

Another prominent Tuareg family in northern Nigeria that people mistake for Fulani is the Baba-Ahmed family in Kaduna State.

11. Goodluck Jonathan: Jonathan is often mistaken for an Ijaw, but he is not. He is from a small ethnic group called the Ogbia (or Ogbinya), which is linguistically and ethnically unrelated to Ijaw. As of 2006, according to records, the Ogbia were a little over 266,000.

As I pointed out in my August 3, 2013 column titled “What’s REALLY President Goodluck Jonathan’s Ethnic Group?” while Ijaw belongs to the Atlantic-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family, Ogbia belongs to the Central Delta subphyla, but historians say the ancestors of the Ogbia people most likely migrated to their present location from present-day Edo State. Ogbia has its own dialects, which are all mutually intelligible, according to Ethnologue. They are Agholo (or Kolo), Oloibiri, and Anyama.

Concluding Thoughts
A distribution of the paternal ethnic identities of Nigeria’s presidents and heads of state shows that the Hausa and the Fulani each had two, and Yoruba, Igbo, Angas, Ogbia, Tuareg, and Etsako (or Afenmai) each had one.

Of course, that’s simplistic. Identity in northern Nigeria is more complex than that. Religion is a more important marker of identity than ethnicity is. For instance, although Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was Gere, he was culturally Hausa and was indistinguishable from a Hausa or Fulani Muslim. 

Nonetheless, in the interest of historical accuracy, it doesn’t hurt to be familiar with the facts about the ethnic identities of Nigeria’s past and present presidents and heads of states.

The omission of Sani Abacha from the list wasn't deliberate; it was an oversight. Abacha was a Kanuri man who was raised in Kano. His prominent Kanuri facial marks were the most visible stamps of his Kanuri ethnic identity.

So I'd rephrase the first paragraph of my concluding thoughts to, "A distribution of the paternal ethnic identities of Nigeria’s presidents and heads of state shows that the Hausa and the Fulani each had two, and Yoruba, Igbo, Gere, Angas, Kanuri, Ogbia, Tuareg, and Etsako (or Afenmai) each had one.

Nnamdi Azikiwe had no executive powers and Ernest Shonekan was an extension of IBB's regime. In any case, the Igbo and Egba/Yoruba identities of Azikiwe and Shonekan are not in doubt.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Unkind Things US Diplomatic Cables Reported Tinubu to Have Said About Buhari

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

On Friday, February 7, Bola Tinubu’s media adviser by the name of Tunde Rahman issued a press release that attempted to impeach the credibility of a viral, reputationally injurious, pre-2015, anti-Buhari quote attributed to Bola Tinubu.

The quote, which has been making the social media rounds in the past few weeks, goes thus: “Muhammadu Buhari is an agent of destabilization, [ an] ethnic bigot, and [a] religious fanatic who if given the chance would ensure the disintegration of the country. His ethnocentrism would jeopardize Nigeria’s national unity.” I have seen slightly different lexical variations of this quote, but the essential sentiment is unchanged.

Nigerian newspapers reported Rahman to have insisted that “the quote is fictitious, describing it as ‘the handiwork of merchants of hate and fake news.’” So what is the truth? The short answer is that the quote is largely accurate.

I’ve never shared the quote even though I’ve been familiar with it since 2011, but since Rahman was bold enough to “challenge those behind it to mention where Tinubu made the remark,” let me offer some help.

Tinubu didn’t say those words at a news conference, as some people have inaccurately claimed. He was quoted to have said them in a confidential diplomatic cable that the United States Consul General to Nigeria sent to his bosses back home on Friday February 21, 2003.

 We got to know this because, in September 2011, WikiLeaks—the insurgent, whistle-blowing, official-secret-spewing site—dumped a trove of 251,000 such confidential, unredacted cables that US embassy officials sent to the US State Department in Washington D.C. from all over the world.

In the February 21, 2003 confidential cable, which can be found here, the US Consul General to Nigeria reported Tinubu to have said Buhari was an ethnocentric agent of destabilization who would strain Nigeria’s unity if he became president.

He also said the Southwest would support Obasanjo against Buhari—which it did—because Tinubu and his group didn’t want the spread of Sharia, which Buhari supported and which Obasanjo countered, and because even though Obasanjo was unlikeable, he was Yoruba and Buhari wasn’t. Looks to me like Tinubu was guilty of the same crime of “ethnocentrism” he accused Buhari of.

The cable reads: “Turning to the presidential contest, Tinubu disclosed that he does not like President Obasanjo because he contributed to the end of democracy in Nigeria during his tenure as a military president and is now benefiting from that history. 

“That said, Tinubu admitted that he and his party, the Alliance for Democracy, must support Obasanjo. Southwest Nigeria is Yoruba land and the President is Yoruba. Tinubu"s [sic] party had no choice since it has not fielded a presidential candidate.  Moreover, Obasanjo is the only candidate who stands a chance of blocking his rival, General Muhammadu Buhari, whose ethnocentrism would jeopardize Nigeria"s [sic] national unity.  Buhari and his ilk are agents of destabilization who would be far worse than Obasanjo.

“Tinubu and many other governors are therefore implementing a strategy to re-elect Obasanjo, partly in an effort to prevent Sharia from spreading. Tinubu predicted that the President will follow his own course, if re-elected, since he will not need as many friends the second time around.”

Incidentally, Tinubu had really kind words to say about Atiku Abubakar throughout his interactions with the Consul General. “Tinubu praised Vice President Atiku Abubakar, whom he has known for many years,” the Consul General wrote. “Elaborating on his knowledge of the VP, Tinubu said he has known and understood the VP even before his entry into politics. Atiku is a detribalized politician who knows where he is going and how to build bridges to get there.”

The Consul General also wrote that, “Tinubu credits his going into politics to Atiku's personal encouragement.” You won’t guess that going by the way they and their agents tore at each other—or at least pretended to— in the last presidential election.

Anyway, my search of WikiLeaks’ archive with the keyword “Bola Tinubu” turned up several other unflattering characterizations Tinubu made of Buhari to Americans.

For instance, in a September 14, 2005 “secret” cable, US Consul General Brian L. Browne wrote that Tinubu wanted to be vice president to either Atiku Abubakar or Muhammadu Buhari but was self-conscious of the perception that either option would present the country with a Muslim-Muslim ticket, and reiterated the sentiment that Buhari’s perception as a “religious zealot” made teaming up with him unviable.

 “While Tinubu did not see this [i.e., being vice presidential candidate] as a big problem with Atiku (due to Atiku's noted religious laxity and his pro-Western outlook), it would be a heavy cross to bear for a Buhari-Tinubu ticket because of the perception in many southern Nigerian minds that Buhari is a religious zealot,” Browne wrote. “Because of this factor, Tinubu asserted he had begun to shift his focus, which had been exclusively on the vice presidency, to see the Senate as a nice place to land upon exiting the governor's mansion.”

Again, in a confidential cable sent on Thursday April 12, 2007, the Consul General reported Tinubu to have described Buhari as a “fascist” during an April 9, 2007 meeting. “Tinubu stressed he had no qualms about PDP presidential candidate Umaru Yar'Adua winning the election,” the Consul General wrote. “Yet, Tinubu was adamantly opposed to ANPP presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari. In a recent news story, Buhari called the PDP government 'fascist'. Tinubu sarcastically mentioned that he would take Buhari's ephitet [sic] as being accurate, for who better to identify a fascist than another one.”

As I wrote in my September 24, 2011 column titled “What the WikiLeaks Controversy Says about Nigeria’s Leaky-mouthed Elite” in the aftermath of WikiLeaks exposes of the diplomatic cables, the willingness of our elites to divulge unsolicited information about the nation to U.S. officials “betrays an infantile thirst for a paternal dictatorship.

“The United States is seen as that all-knowing, all-sufficient father-figure to whom our elites run when they have troubles. We have learned from the US embassy cables that our Supreme Court judges, Central Bank governors, even vice presidents and governors routinely run to the American embassy like terrified little kids when they have quarrels with each other.”

“What I’ve found particularly instructive,” I added, “is that our perpetually lying politicians suddenly become truthful, honest, and straight-talking people when they talk to Americans. You would think they were standing before their Creator—or at least before a stern, omniscient, no-nonsense dad who severely punishes his kids for the minutest lie they tell.”

After the revelations became public knowledge in 2011— and the embarrassment that attended this— Nigerian politicians dismissed them as "WikiLeaks’ beer parlor gossip." Of course, that’s intentionally misleading flapdoodle.

As I pointed out at the time, WikiLeaks was not the author of the embarrassing information about them;  the uncomfortable bits of information about them, which isn’t exclusive to Nigerian politicians, were contained in U.S. diplomats' dispatches, which were intended ONLY for the consumption of the US president, the US Secretary of State, and other high-profile government officials but which WikiLeaks exposed to the rest of the world at the cost of tremendous discomfort and embarrassment to the US government and embassy officials.

I don’t know what exactly Tinubu’s media adviser is denying. The truth is that Buhari’s people are already acutely aware of Tinubu’s honest opinions of Buhari and find his latter-day pandering to them, in a bid to earn their support for his 2023 presidential ambition, both theatrical and entertaining.

For the rest of us, though, his media aide’s forceful denial of that which is already archived in the public domain proves English journalist Francis Claud Cockburn’s famous quip that you should “Never believe anything until it has been officially denied.”

Related Articles:

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Insecurity Will Only Expand and Fester with Buhari

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Buhari’s admission that he was surprised by the growing insecurity in the North, Senator Abaribe’s call for him to resign, and the House of Representatives’ non-binding call for Nigeria’s service chiefs to retire in light of the escalating flow of blood all over the nation recall my April 13, 2019 column titledWhy Buhari Can’t and Won’t Solve the North’s Growing Security Crisis.”

Except for the dates and a few facts, it could well have been written this week. This shows how the more things change in the Buhari regime, the more they remain the same. Enjoy:

The last few days have seen a hypocritical mass awakening to the dire existential torments the people of Nigeria’s northwest face and a dramatic diminution of Buhari’s unearned goodwill in the region. People who had constructed Buhari as an unerring, irreproachable demigod who is worthy only of worship and unquestioned admiration have started to call him insensitive and clueless.

It took the unceasing escalation of kidnappings and the deepening and widening of the oceans of blood in the northwest for Buhari’s erstwhile unthinking worshipers to come to terms with what some of us have known and said since late 2015: that Buhari is an unfeeling wretch who is also irremediably incompetent.

For the first time since Buhari happened on the Nigerian political scene, Imams are now openly preaching against him. Northwestern Nigerian social media, which had functioned as the uncritical fortress for Buhari, is now suddenly viciously censorious of him. Even Daily Trust that plays the role of Buhari’s comforter and afflicter of critics of his ineptitude is allowing critical articles to be published about Buhari on its pages.

Public protesters against government, who are a rare species in the northwest, are sprouting and giving vent to muffled, reluctant, tentative but nonetheless significant anger against Buhari.

There suddenly seems to be an epiphany in the region that Buhari is an inept, uncaring fraud who scammed the people into attributing to him qualities he never possessed— and would never possess in a million lifetimes. Nevertheless, this epiphany is hypocritical and self-centered. Evidence of Buhari’s inattentiveness to and blithe unconcern with the suffering of everyday people has always been there, and some of us have called attention to it countless times.

For instance, amid the tear-jerking humanitarian disasters that the Boko Haram insurgency has inflicted on Nigeria’s northeast, Buhari never commiserated with, let alone visited, the area until he was practically blackmailed into doing so in late 2017. Even so, he only visited soldiers stationed in Maiduguri. When the Nigerian air force bombed scores of internally displaced Boko Haram victims in the northeast in error, Buhari didn’t issue a statement to condole with the people. Nor did he visit them.

In the aftermath of unprecedented bloodletting in Taraba, Benue and other parts of central Nigeria, Buhari was insouciant. It took massive media and social media pressures to get him to visit these states. And when he did visit the places, he exacerbated rather than lessened the crises there by his incendiary,unpresidential utterances. He even chafed at being expected to condole with victims of episodic communal deaths and used the opportunity of these visits to tout his “achievements in security.” I once called that an example of presidential dissociation from reality.

As recently as during the last presidential campaigns, when Buhari visited Zamfara, he didn’t say a word about the intensification of death and violence in the state. Instead, he incited the people to more violence. “Let us pray for rainfall so can we grow food, eat, and then cause trouble,” he told the people of Zamfara in Hausa in February 2019. None of the newfound critics of Buhari’s callousness saw anything wrong in that at the time.

It took the concatenation of widespread kidnapping in all parts of the northwest and the unremitting intensification of bloodletting in Zamfara for erstwhile worshipers of Buhari to admit that he is a crass, cold, heartless prig. This hypocritical moral imagination is similar to the selective outrage some people in Kano expressed when Abdullahi Ganduje rigged himself back to power while being quiet about, even complicit in, Buhari’s own daylight electoral robbery in the same Kano.

To express outrage only when we are personally affected by injustice bespeaks a defective moral conscience. When other parts of the nation were drowning in rivers of blood and Buhari, as is his wont, turned the other way, many of the people who are excoriating him for his cold detachment from the insecurity in the northwest were his fiercest defenders against critics.

That is why some people can’t help but exult in perverse satisfaction that the enablers and defenders of Buhari’s incompetence and heartlessness are today the victims of the presidential vices they defended, excused, and justified. But to gloat over the misfortunes of the people who defended Buhari when he ignored other parts of the country when they writhed in bloodstained agony is to be indistinguishable from and morally equivalent to them.

For one, there are victims of the bloodbath in Zamfara and other parts of the northwest who detest and didn’t vote for Buhari.  Even those who voted for him don’t deserve the unspeakable cruelty that is their lot today. I admit, though, that it’s hard not to see karmic comeuppance in the kidnap of a prominent fanatical Islamic “prayer warrior” of Buhari’s second term by the name of Ahmad Sulaiman who secured his freedom after nearly two weeks of captivity and hundreds of millions of naira in ransom payment.

Nevertheless, in spite of the heightened, unexampled outrage in Buhari’s natal region over his trademark insensitivity to the total collapse of security there, he won’t do anything substantive to attenuate the horrors that threaten the very life of the people there. There are at least two reasons for this.

One, Buhari is an inherently solipsistic narcissist. In other words, he is fundamentally and unalterably self-centered. The only person Buhari cares about is Buhari. That is why he spends billions of naira of the nation’s resources to treat even his littlest ailments in London while hospitals are denuded of basic medicines and ordinary people die of easily treatable illnesses. It is the same solipsistic narcissism that explains why he has not built a single hospital even in Abuja in the last four years he has been president.

When his son had an accident with a multimillionaire-naira motorbike, he flew him to Germany. Yet, although neither he nor his family members use the clinic at the Presidential Villa, he recently said that henceforth no one outside the immediate families of the president and the vice president should use the clinic. It speaks to the depth of his egocentricity and perverse self-love that he would deny workers of the presidential villa use of a clinic that neither he nor his family members use.

The second reason Buhari won’t do anything about the growing insecurity in the northwest is that the perpetrators of the crimes that have held the region hostage have been identified as Fulani. Buhari, as I have pointed out in several previous columns, is a knee-jerk ethnic jingoist. He has a twisted idea of ethnic solidarity that embarrasses even many educated Fulani people.

For instance, the only time he ever visited Zamfara to intervene in the security situation there was to protect what he perceives to be the interests of Fulani herders whose cattle were reportedly being stolen by bandits. He even donned military fatigues for this expedition. Now, he really doesn’t care because the victims aren’t people he self-identifies with.

The president’s puppeteers have caused him to express faux, impotent outrage to mollify the people of the northwest, but the truth is that he doesn’t care. That’s why his administration’s response has been discordant at best. It said the killings in Zamfara are caused by illegal gold miners in the same breath it said they’re caused by traditional rulers.  The absurdity of these claims is the biggest proof that the government Buhari leads can’t and doesn’t want to stem the rising tide of insecurity in the northwest—or anywhere else in Nigeria.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Economic Summits, and Homogenization and Inferiorization of Africa

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

It’s now customary for self-important countries in Europe, North America, and Asia to summon African heads of state to “summits” in their countries’ capitals. The UK-Africa Investment Summit, for example, just ended in London on January 20, 2020.

These summits have now been institutionalized as periodic jamborees to “solve” African problems with African leaders outside Africa. Apart from the UK-Africa Summit, there’s the USA-Africa Summit, Canada-Africa Business Summit, France-Africa Summit, China-Africa Summit, Japan-Africa Summit, Russia-Africa Summit, Turkey-Africa, and even India-Africa Summit.

At this rate, there'll probably be Vietnam-Africa Summit or even Afghanistan-Africa Summit someday! Just about any country that organizes a “summit” with African leaders outside Africa is guaranteed full cooperation and attendance.

Yet we insist that Africa is NOT a country but a continent of more than 50 sovereign, independent, distinct countries with diverse, unique characteristics—like every other continent in the world. My friend Pius Adesanmi even wrote an award-winning book titled, “You're Not A Country, Africa: A Personal History of the African Present.”

If we resent the ignorant, simplistic homogenization of Africa by non-Africans, why do African leaders collectively accept invitations to summits with wealthy and not so wealthy non-African countries as if Africa were a single, monolithic, undifferentiated country?

Why can't there be, for instance, a UK-Nigeria Summit? Or an India-Kenya Summit? Or a South Africa-China Summit? Or, for that matter, a European Union-African Union Summit, an Association of South-East Asian Nations-Economic Community of West African States Summit, a NAFTA-East African Community Summit, etc.?

I get that because African countries are collectively at the bottom of the totem pole in the global economic prosperity index, it’s easy for wealthy nations to infantilize and inferiorize African leaders into attending these humiliating “summits” in non-African capitals. It becomes even more complicated when you add the fact that most African countries haven’t overcome the holdover from colonialism. In fact, Francophone Africa is still almost literally being colonized by France.

Yes, it can’t be denied that colonialism and economic backwardness are implicated as the foundational psychological mechanisms for the internalization of inferiority by African leaders, but how do we account for India-Africa Summit?

India, like Nigeria and other Anglophone African countries, was colonized by Britain and also struggles both with inferiority complex and economic problems, but the fact that India can invite African heads of state to its capital for a summit as if it were equal, or even superior, to all of Africa combined shows there's a gradation in the psychology of colonially inspired internalization of inferiority.

Until Nigeria overtook it in 2018, India used to be the poverty capital of the world. Even so, according The Week, an Indian English-language news magazine, more than 360 million “Indians still cannot afford three square meals a day, which is why the World Bank continues to bracket India with Nicaragua, Honduras, Kenya and Kiribati. On an average, even people in war-torn Libya and sanctions-plagued Cuba continue to earn more than Indians.”

Yet India invites all African heads of state for periodic summits, and they all rush to New Delhi, attired in laughably gawdy Indian clothes specially sewed for them by the Indian Prime Minister, like excited little kids in a candy shop.

To be sure, the sort of inferiority complex that leads people to uncritically valorize the foreign and despise the local, which I have called xenophilia or xenophilic inferiority complex in past articles, isn’t unique to Africans. American sociologists Donald Kent and Robert Burnight called it “xenocentrism” in their 1952 paper in the American Journal of Sociology titled "Group Centrism in Complex Societies."

European Australians, for example, are said to be beset by an inferiority complex that sprouts from their self-consciousness that most of their ancestors were convicts from England. An Australian social commentator by the name of A. A. Phillips coined the term “cultural cringe” in a 1950 essay to capture the tendency for Australians to “dismiss their own culture as inferior to the cultures of other countries.”

Brazilians are also said to suffer a collective inferiority complex called the “mongrel complex,” which supposedly comes from the insecurity that their racial and cultural hybridity activates. The term was neologized in the 1950s by Brazilian writer Nelson Rodrigues, and now means more than the inferiority Brazilians feel for being racially mixed to the point of not having a unique identity; it also encapsulates the inadequacies Brazilians feel when they compare “Brazil and its culture to other parts of the world, primarily the developed world (such as Europe or North America).”

The term “Malinchism” is also used to describe the collective inferiority complex that Mexicans supposedly suffer. It captures the worshipful reverence that Mexicans demonstrate in their attitudes toward things that are foreign and their corresponding contempt toward things that are indigenous. Malinchism comes from La Malinche, the name of an indigenous Mexican woman who helped imperialists from Spain to conquer the Aztec Empire. She later went ahead to marry and have children with one of the Spanish conquistadors.  

Africans’ collective inferiority complex is obviously a consequence of their colonial experience. That complex disposes them to be attracted to and to imitate anything foreign, even if the foreign is not European. That’s why even India, which shares enormous socio-historical experiences with many African countries, can have its own India-Africa Summit.

I call our xenocentrism colonially inspired self-esteem deficit.

If African leaders continue to authorize the simplification and caricature of Africa as one country through their participation in every summit they are invited to, our colonially inspired self-esteem deficit will only balloon, and hopes of salvation will continue to dim.

When African heads of state continue to affirm the misrepresentations of Africa as a geographic and cultural monolith, whenever there’s a problem in any part of Africa, people outside the continent will always continue to assume that it affects all parts of the continent.

For instance, when the Ebola epidemic broke out in 2014, parents in Mississippi withdrew their kids from a school because the school’s principal had visited Zambia that year. The principal’s effort to convince the parents that Zambia is miles away from Liberia did nothing to convince the parents to let their children continue at the school. The principal was forced to resign his job.

Tinubu’s Both-Sides-Of-The-Mouth Statement on Amotekun
Tinubu’s run-with-the-hare-and-hunt-with-the-hounds statement on Amotekun pretended to be statesmanlike and evenhanded but it actually only cleverly concealed its attempt to please the Aso Rock cabal.

Why didn’t he exercise this sort of even temper when he asked “where are the cows?” after Chief Reuben Fasoranti’s daughter was murdered in cold blood by people alleged to be herders? Tinubu might well have been right that the woman wasn’t murdered by herders, but he couldn’t have known that for sure since no investigation had been carried out. And he said it when emotions were still aflame.

Plus, herders who choose to murder don’t take cows to the murder scene, which made his sarcastic question at once pointless, insensitive, and unstatesmanlike. Incidentally, it's the intensification of senseless, unresolved murders such as the one he taunted that inspired the formation of Amotekun.

Tinubu’s neither-here-nor-there statement mirrors the duplicity and opportunism of his symbolic actions on Amotekun. For example, neither Sanwo-Olu nor his deputy, who are both beholden to him, attended the formal launch of Amotekun, and Lagos was the only Southwest state where an Amotekun solidarity rally was disrupted by the police. These actions clearly typify opposition to the security outfit.

At the same time, Tinubu’s minions in the intelligentsia and his battering rams in the news media have come out strongly against the federal government’s—and some northern politicians’—opposition to Amotekun.

In wanting to opportunistically appease both sides in the service of his illusive 2023 presidential bid, Tinubu will appease none in the long run.

The cold, calculating inner circle in Aso Rock is intensely aware that Tinubu’s fence-sitting is an insincere, self-seeking political maneuver to appease them, and the Southwest people who were compelled to embrace Amotekun by the escalating sense of siege that unceasing mass murders by homicidal thugs have activated would be unimpressed by his ambiguity and lack of moral clarity.

People who are neither here nor there end up being nowhere, and, with time, nowhere becomes somewhere untoward.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

#SaveOurJudiary Protests: Medicine After Death

By Farooq Kperogi
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

First shared on my Facebook and Twitter handles on January 20, 2020.

The protests against the unexampled judicial roguery of illegal CJN Tanko’s evidently compromised Supreme Court, which has ruled that the fourth shall be the first, is a classic instantiation of the proverbial closing of the stable door after the horse has bolted.

In other words, the protesters are fighting a battle that has already been lost. If a critical mass of consequential people had demonstrated when Walter Onnoghen was being harassed for an offense Buhari is even guiltier of (no copy of Buhari’s asset declaration form, for instance, can be found at the Code of Conduct Bureau because, being the scammer that he is, he took it away), illiterate and easily malleable Tanko might not have been CJN.

I warned in several social media updates and newspaper columns that Onnoghen was being illegally removed in order to appoint a slavish yes-man as CJN who would give judicial imprimatur to Buhari’s fascistic takeover of the democratic space. But the ever complacent, cowardly, prayer-dependent Nigerian public ignored early warnings of what is now unravelling.

Yes, there’s a precedent for the Supreme Court overturning its previous flawed rulings, but Tanko’s Supreme Court isn’t a conventional Supreme Court; it’s a remote controllable extension of Buhari’s boardroom. Well, good luck with the protests because you’ll need it.

Tinubu’s Both-Sides-Of-The-Mouth Statement on Amotekun

By Farooq Kperogi
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Tinubu’s run-with-the-hare-and-hunt-with-the-hounds statement on Amotekun pretends to be statesmanlike and evenhanded but it actually only cleverly conceals its attempt to please the Aso Rock cabal. Only people with subnormal cognitive capacities will fail to see this.

Why didn’t he exercise this sort of even temper when he asked “where are the cows?” after Chief Reuben Fasoranti’s daughter was murdered in cold blood by people alleged to be herders? Tinubu might well have been right that the woman wasn’t murdered by herders, but he couldn’t have known that for sure since no investigation had been carried out. And he said it when emotions were still aflame.

Plus, herders who choose to murder don’t take cows to the murder scene, which made his sarcastic question at once pointless, insensitive, and unstatesmanlike. Incidentally, it's the intensification of senseless, unresolved murders such as the one he taunted that inspired the formation of Amotekun.

Tinubu’s neither-here-nor-there statement mirrors the duplicity and opportunism of his symbolic actions on Amotekun. For example, neither Sanwo-Olu nor his deputy, who are both beholden to him, attended the formal launch of Amotekun, and Lagos was the only Southwest state where an Amotekun solidarity rally was disrupted by the police. These actions clearly typify opposition to the security outfit.

At the same time, Tinubu’s minions in the intelligentsia and his battering rams in the news media have come out strongly against the federal government’s—and some northern politicians’—opposition to Amotekun.

In wanting to opportunistically appease both sides in the service of his illusive 2023 presidential bid, Tinubu will appease none.

The cold, calculating inner circle in Aso Rock is intensely aware that Tinubu’s fence-sitting is an insincere, self-seeking political maneuver to appease them, and the Southwest people who were compelled to embrace Amotekun by the escalating sense of siege that unceasing mass murders by homicidal thugs have activated would be unimpressed by his ambiguity and lack of moral clarity.

People who are neither here nor there end up being nowhere, and, with time, nowhere becomes somewhere untoward.

Tinubu Has "Spoken" on Amotekun

First shared on my Facebook and Twitter handles on January 21, 2020

Days before Amotekun was declared "illegal," Tinubu was in the Villa. His stooge in Lagos didn't attend the official launch of the outfit.

Today, Lagos became the only Southwest state where an Amotekun solidarity rally was disrupted by the police. Why are people asking Tinubu to speak on Amotekun? He has already spoken. Some silences-- and actions-- speak louder than words.

Tinubu is more in dread of offending the cabal and missing out on his illusory 2023 presidency than he is of the wrath of his own people.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Imo Judicial Abracadabra and Illegalization of Amotekun Are Linked

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

The bewilderingly illogical and indefensible Supreme Court judgement that handed over the governorship of Imo State to APC’s Hope Uzodinma— who came fourth in the actual election— may appear to have no connection with the Federal Government’s January 14 declaration of Amotekun as “illegal.” But they are both parts of a well-rehearsed political choreography.

The Machiavellian political hawks around Muhammadu Buhari are not prepared to allow the presidency to rotate to their informal coalition partners in the Southwest in 2023—contrary to the gentleman’s agreement they reached in 2014. What to do? Dissolve the coalition with the Southwest and build a new one with the Southeast.

Northern politicians who want to retain power in the region are now actively courting Southeast politicians to be junior partners in a 2023 coalition—like the Southwest has been since 2015. The brazenly immoral capture of Imo State for APC using the instrumentality of the Supreme Court, which is now indistinguishable from the Buhari Presidency, is part of this plan.

The judgement was, of course, predetermined. It didn’t even pretend to be fair and just. It was merely the acting of a script that was written in the Presidential Villa. Notice that since Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad was illegally imposed as Chief Justice of Nigeria, most, if not all, Supreme Court and Appeals Court judgments regarding elections have been "unanimous." There're no longer dissenting opinions or minority judgments.  

In his interview with AriseTV in January 2019, Buhari confessed that he rewarded 84-year-old retired Justice of the Court of Appeal Sylvanus Nsofor with appointment as Nigeria’s ambassador to the US because he wrote a “minority report” in his favor when he challenged his loss at the polls in a previous election. Now, Buhari doesn’t want even minority reports or dissenting opinions in favor of his opponents from judges.

We have an unprecedentedly total fascist takeover of the judiciary, the kind that compelled the Supreme Court to award nullified rigged votes to APC’s Hope Uzodinma even if by doing so the Supreme Court created an astonishing numerical incongruity where the Supreme Court’s final vote tally is now greater than the number of people INEC accredited to vote!

Brazenly pre-planned electoral heists are now the new normal, which honchos of the regime had foretold before now.  Recall that Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha had on January 12, 2019 assured his audience in Gombe State during a campaign speech that APC had already “won” the election that hadn’t yet taken place. “We are only waiting for the announcement of the results,” he said.

 That wasn’t rhetorical hyperbole; it was a classic Freudian slip, the type APC chairman Adams Oshiomhole committed when he said, in the aftermath of APC’s INEC-assisted rigging in Osun State, that democracy could only thrive when the opposition is ready to “accept the pain of rigging.”

The Imo Supreme Court judicial rascality was a well-practiced plot by the regime’s henchmen to make incursions into the Southeast in preparation for 2023. And it might well work if Nigeria survives till 2023. People in the Southeast— and in the South-south— are so aroused to deep resentment by the Southwest’s support for Buhari in 2015 and 2019 that they might be willing to be strategic underlings of an opportunistic political partnership with the North if only to spite the Southwest.

And Amotekun has provided an opportune moment for the cabal to dissolve its crisis-plagued political marriage with the Southwest. There are few things into which Southwest politicians and electorates alike have invested enormous emotional energy in recent times as Amotekun. And it’s easy to see why. It’s about life and death. Self-preservation is the first law of nature.

It’s irrelevant if Amotekun is constitutional or unconstitutional. You need to be alive to read the constitution. Only the living debate legality and constitutionality. The seemingly never-ending widening and deepening of the theaters of bloodshed in the country, occasioned by the unrestrained sanguinary fury of homicidal marauders, in the face of the inability or unwillingness of federal security forces to protect lives has made Amotekun an issue on which most people in the Southwest won’t compromise.

The Buhari cabal loves this because heads or tails the Southwest politicians will lose. If they come out strongly to support it, as Governors Fayemi, Akeredolu, and Makinde are doing, they will be framed as regional bigots who can’t be trusted to lead the country (never mind that members of the cabal have themselves elevated retrograde regional chauvinism to an art).

And Southwest politicians who oppose, are indifferent to, or choose to speak from both sides of their mouth about, Amotekun will automatically be cast as traitorous bastards by their people. A Southwest politician who is rejected by his own people can’t be in contention for the presidency in 2023 since Northern Christians, the Igbo, and ethnic minorities from the South are unlikely to support a Yoruba candidate in 2023—if that Yoruba candidate supported Buhari in 2019.

This is different from former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s case in 1999. His rejection by the Southwest actually aggrandized his pan-Nigerian credentials and caused him to be accepted by other parts of the country. A Southwest politician who is seen as a betrayer by his own people and who, in addition, worked to install Buhari, easily the most divisive figure in Nigeria’s history, would be a political burden in ways Obasanjo wasn’t in 1999.

As I pointed out in a December 22, 2019 social media update, the cabal is toying with Bola Tinubu like a yo-yo—and he is naively, if gingerly, playing along— in readiness for his eventual political incineration by or before 2023. And the cabal is being ruthlessly Machiavellian about it.

Tinubu has been given a fake promissory note that he’ll be APC’s presidential torchbearer in 2023. On the strength of this worthless promissory note, they’ve sought his permission to destroy some of his most trusted foot soldiers.

With his consent, they’ve consigned Yemi Osinbajo to symbolic Aso Rock jail. Tinubu endorsed Tunde Fowler’s replacement at the FIRS and is in on his impending trial for corruption. He also stamped his imprimatur to Muiz Banire’s unceremonious ouster from AMCON. He’s giddily approving everything the cabal tells him it wants to do to his “constituents” and foot soldiers.

Also notice that he was summoned to the Presidential Villa just a few days before Abubakar Malami declared Amotekun “illegal” and “unconstitutional.” It won’t surprise me if it emerges that he endorsed Malami’s statement. After all, he once asked “where are the cows?” when a prominent Yoruba politician’s daughter was murdered last year.

He has now fallen out of favor with almost all Southwest governors except his dutiful stooge in Lagos and his nephew in Osun. Of course, he is a bĂȘte noire to Afenifere. At this rate, Tinubu would divorce his wife and disown his children if the cabal tells him to do so—just because he’s told that he’d be president.

This is a strategic, Machiavellian demobilization of his base, but one in which he is a willing participant, using the illusory promise of APC presidential nomination. When he is eventually denied the APC presidential slot, he would have no one of political consequence in his natal region to fall back to for counterattack other than his battering rams in the Lagos media.

Before his eventual political annihilation, he would be thoroughly unpopular in the Southwest. His fate would elicit no mass sympathy from the region when the cabal finally bares its fangs publicly and devours him.

To be sure, Tinubu is sensing danger, as we can tell from the newfound, unaccustomed critical commentaries in his paper, but he is like a moth that is irresistibly and fatally attracted to the flame that will eventually burn it alive. The flame is the promise of the presidency.

Once he is politically crushed, and his opponents are cast as provincial champions who can’t be trusted with the presidency, the cabal would be justified to seek new collaborators from the Southeast—and the South-south. In essence, the cabal would revive the North’s First Republic and Second Republic alliances with the Igbo and Southern ethnic minorities and return the Southwest back to opposition.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Amotekun May Be Nigeria’s Moment of Truth

By Farooq Kperogi
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

The federal government's declaration of Amotekun as "illegal" was predictable. But the declaration may well precipitate unpredictable seismic national tremors that could convulse the very foundation of Nigeria.

For one, it will certainly ignite soul-searching conversations, such as why the federal government has no problems with Hisbahs and so-called civilian JTFs in the North, which are no different from Amotekun, and why people who feel unprotected by evidently compromised and inept federal security agencies shouldn't band together to preserve their lives.

Self-preservation is the first law of nature. No sentient humans voluntarily choose to make themselves defenseless victims of armed, murderous criminals, irrespective of what the law says.

A government that has shown itself, time and again, to be either unwilling or unable to protect lives is taking umbrage at people’s decision to safeguard their lives, to refuse to be collective sitting ducks to homicidal marauders. The cheek!

This may well turn out to be the moment Nigeria has been waiting for. It may be the jolt we need to get out of our accustomed national complacence and self-imposed suspended animation. Or not.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Hanan Buhari and Unprecedented Abuse of Presidential Powers

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

The Presidency said it isn’t a legal violation or even a subversion of convention for Buhari’s daughter to use a publicly funded presidential jet for private purposes. That’s flat-out untrue. But even if it were true, things don’t always have to be illegal for them to be condemnable. Something can be condemnable because it’s unethical or immoral, even if it’s legal.

Making a tax-funded presidential jet available for the private use of Buhari’s daughter is straight-up unethical, even borderline illegal. Of course, it’s entirely defensible, even expected, for Buhari’s family members to get on a presidential jet WITH him. That’s one of the perks of the presidency. But Buhari’s daughter, not being a Vice President, a Senate President, or a Speaker, cannot, on her own, use a presidential jet—certainly not for private purposes.

Plus, there’s no precedent for this in Nigeria. None of Obasanjo’s children ever used a presidential jet for personal vanity trips. We definitely never heard of any Yar’adua children use a presidential jet for private functions. And most people never even knew Jonathan had children. We barely heard of or saw them, and surely never ever read that any of them used a presidential jet without their dad in it.

No one in Nigeria’s history has personalized governance and murdered age-old expectations of basic decency in governance with as much impunity as Buhari has. Most members of his extended family not only hold key positions in his government, his children intrude on our national consciousness in the brashest and crudest ways imaginable.

The “corrupt” Second Republic politicians that Buhari overthrew and jailed in 1983 weren’t nearly as reckless, nepotistic, corrupt, and irresponsible as he has been. Shagari’s wife and children, for instance, were barely seen. None of them ever used the presidential fleet for personal trips. None of Shagari’s family members officially worked in the inner recesses of the Presidency.

The 1999 constitution says, “A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities." Buhari violates this on a regular basis.

Recall that in 2015, Buhari wondered why a Nigerian president would need a fleet of aircraft when even the British Prime Minister used “the same public aircraft like an ordinary Briton.” He said he would sell off the aircraft in the presidential fleet if he became president. When we pressured him to make good his pledge, his spokesman claimed on Oct. 5, 2016 that the government had put two jets up for sale. As usual, it was a lie fabricated to repel scrutiny.

But giving an entire presidential jet to a 20-something-year-old recent graduate to go take photos of an event is a low we had never reached in our entire existence as a nation.

Uberization and Keke NAPEPization of Presidential Jets

Premium Times just reported today January 12, 2020 that Hanan Buhari visited Bauchi with the presidential jet-- at the cost of millions of naira-- "on a study tour... as part of her academic programme" at a London university where she's enrolled for a master's degree!

It also turned out that Hanan had actually used TWO presidential jets in the past to visit Kebbi State for her BA project on the Gwandu emirate.

This is what I call the Uberization or, if you will, the Keke NAPEPization of presidential jets by Buhari's family. Buhari has perfected the art of governance by outrageousness.

Friday, January 10, 2020

If Asset Declaration Isn’t Public, What’s Its Point?

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

In response to the request by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) that all elected public officials publicly declare their assets, presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said on January 7, “The president will do what the law requires of him and I can say for a fact that the president has declared his assets. Declaring that publicly is not in our law but voluntary. Therefore, he cannot be compelled to do so.”

Adesina’s reaction conveniently ignored the fact that it was Buhari who voluntarily said he would publicly declare his assets—like the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua did without prompting from anyone—in 2015.

The Punch of February 20, 2015 reported Buhari to have said: “I pledge to PUBLICLY declare my assets and liabilities, encourage all my appointees to publicly declare their assets and liabilities as a pre-condition for appointment.”

This was the first promise Buhari broke upon his ascension to the presidency. In the early days of the regime, when I still cherished the illusion that his incipient drift was salvageable, I frantically reached out to people in the presidency with whom I had a personal relationship and begged them to prevail upon Buhari to make good his campaign promise.

When they weren’t forthcoming, I wrote a column on June 13, 2015 titled “Mishandling of Asset Declaration May Doom Buhari’s Presidency.” I republished it weeks later.

The very first paragraph of the column, which seems pretty prescient in retrospect, read: “Although many of us still nourish the hope that President Buhari’s administration will represent a substantive departure from the blight of the past, Buhari has so far done little to inspire confidence that he will live up to the hopes we have invested in him. Perhaps the biggest germinal error he has made, which might haunt his administration, is his seeming reluctance to publicly declare his assets, contrary to the promise he made during his campaigns.”

I added: "The social and cultural basis of Buhari’s legitimacy and popularity revolve around the notion of his transparency and incorruptibility. But the secretiveness, disingenuousness and overall informational poverty of the handling of the asset declaration issue is eroding Buhari’s very credibility and giving people cause for what psychologists call post-decision cognitive dissonance. If this issue is not handled artfully and transparently, it will set the tone for his entire presidency."

After the column was published a second time, one close aide of Buhari’s told me in confidence that Buhari would NEVER publicly declare his assets because it would demystify him. I asked why and he said it was because the man was very wealthy and that his base in the North and his supporters down South would feel betrayed if they knew how much he was actually worth.

He said Buhari declared close to a billion naira in his asset declaration form and had choice property all over the country worth billions of naira. What was worse, he said, Buhari didn’t even officially declare everything. That was when it dawned on me that Buhari was a deodorized and carefully packaged scammer.

He was also the sole signatory to the donations that everyday Nigerians made to his campaign through scratch cards between 2014 and 2015. The money was never used for the presidential campaign, and it has not been accounted for up to now. (An old woman in Kebbi State donated her entire life saving of N1 million that she got from selling kosai (bean cake) and died in penury a year later.)

In December 2014, Buhari had said, “I have at least one million naira in my bank, having paid N5.5 million to pick my form from my party APC. I have around 150 cattle because I am never comfortable without cows. I have a house each in Kaduna, Kano, and Daura which I borrowed money to build. I never had a foreign account since I finished my courses in the USA, India and the UK. I never owned any property outside Nigeria. Never.”

They say a liar must have a good memory. But Buhari is a bad liar. After so much pressure from many of us, Buhari’s strategists came up with a plan to deceive Nigerians and deflect attention from Buhari’s asset declaration fraud. His spokesman was told to issue an intentionally vague and incomplete “public asset declaration” that would leave room for plausible deniability in case he is caught.

That was why there were no specifics other than unhelpfully broad claims that the president had a house in Abuja (which he didn’t acknowledge during the campaigns), Kano, Kaduna, Daura, and Port Harcourt; some cattle and livestock; “not less than 30 million naira” (how more deceptively vague can you get than that?)

 Recall that a few months earlier, he said he had “at least one million naira” left in his account. He went from “at least one million” to “no less than 30 million” in less than a year!). The “declaration” also said he had “a number of cars” (we weren’t told how many); and so on. Compare Buhari’s "public asset declaration" with the late President Umaru Musa Yar'adua's or Governor Seyi Makinde’s more transparent, public declaration and the face of Buhari’s fraud will become even more starkly apparent.

Many Nigerians weren’t deceived by the fraud, though. They asked that he make public a copy of his declaration like Yar’adua (and later Makinde) who didn’t even campaign to publicly declare their assets did. In response, the president’s spokesperson said, “As soon as the CCB is through with the process, the documents will be released to the Nigerian public and people can see for themselves.”

 It’s been more than three years, and the asset declaration form still hasn’t been released to the public. To make matters worse, Adesina now says Buhari won’t declare his assets publicly because the law doesn’t require him to do so. Well, we’ve always known that. Even perpetually “unaware” Buhari knew that when he promised he would publicly declare his assets.

This double-dyed fraud becomes even more infuriating when you remember what Buhari says when he is asked to publicly show his asset declaration form as he promised he would. For instance, during the one and only media chat he did as “president,” he challenged journalists to use their skills in “investigative journalism” to find the form.

Well, I used my “investigative journalism” skills to find the form and discovered that there is no paper trail of his asset declaration form at the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Other journalists invoked the Freedom of Information Act and requested the CCB to release Buhari’s asset declaration form to them. On September 21, 2016, Code of Conduct Bureau Chairman Sam Saba said the Bureau couldn’t release Buhari’s asset declaration form because the law that set up the bureau forbids him from making the forms public without Buhari’s consent.

So why did Buhari ask journalists to deploy “investigative journalism” skills to find his form even when he knew only he has access to it? On his own volition, he promised to publicize his asset declaration form. Then he took it away from the only place it’s legally supposed to be, and then he turned around to challenge journalists to use their investigative skills to find it. Did he want reporters to invade his home, hold him at gunpoint, and force him to produce it?

So, get this: Buhari is the ONLY elected public official whose asset declaration form does not exist at the Code of Conduct of Bureau. Of course, it’s because he wants to hide his fraud and intentional lies from public scrutiny.

The Bureau also declined requests to release the asset declaration forms of other higher-ups in the Buhari regime. Now, how did Dennis Aghanya, Buhari’s former media aide and current SA on justice, get access to former CJN Walter Onnoghen’s asset declaration form when the law forbids the public disclosure of public officials’ asset declaration forms without their consent?

Why was Onnoghen isolated for punishment for an offense that everyone, including the people meting out the punishment, is guilty of?

What is the point of asset declaration if it isn’t public, if it can’t be used to determine if public officials have corruptly enriched themselves? Why is Buhari in dread of publicly declaring his assets even when he proclaims to embody “integrity”?