"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta

Monday, March 30, 2020

7 Coronavirus Grammar Lessons

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

I know grammar is the last thing on most people’s minds right now, but for the few people who care (and who have been sending me inquiries in private messages), here are seven coronavirus grammar lessons:

1. People test positive FOR coronavirus, not “TO” it. It is, “El-Rufai tests positive FOR coronavirus,” not “El-Rufai tests positive TO coronavirus.”

2. Quarantine is pronounced KWO-RAN-TEEN, not KWO-RAN-TAIN, in both British and American English. In other words, quarantine rhymes with "canteen," not "valentine."

3. Coronavirus is a single word, although “corona virus” is an acceptable variant.

4. People tend to use (“self-)quarantine” and “(self-)isolation” interchangeably, but they’re different. You (self-)quarantine yourself when you suspect that you may have the disease because you have come in contact with people who have tested positive for it. You go into (self-)isolation when you test positive for the disease.

If you stay home NOT because you came in contact with people who have the disease and NOT because you tested positive for it, but because your government insists you do, or you do so on your own volition just to eliminate or decrease your chances of getting the disease, it’s called “shelter in place.”

5. An epidemic is a disease that temporarily affects a large number of people in a locality while a pandemic is a disease that has spread throughout a country, a continent or the entire world. Coronavirus is obviously a pandemic.

6. You don't "contact" a disease; you "contract" it. So people can only "contract" coronavirus, not "contact" it.

7. Finally, the other name for coronavirus is COVID-19, not COVIK 1, 9.😂Don’t be misled by what a certain physically quarantined and mentally isolated “president,” now infamously known as “President COVIK” on social media, said a few days ago.😀

Nor should you call COVID-19 “Code 19,” as Nigeria’s notoriously pliant rubber-stamp Senate President by the name of Ahmed Lawan did two days ago. Well, this same man told the world of a woman who “killed her husband to death”! Go figure.

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Politics of Grammar Column

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Buhari’s Only Job is to Prove He Isn’t Dead

By Farooq A. Kperogi
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Buhari has by far the cushiest job anyone can ever have in the world. He enjoys all the perks and privileges of being “president” but disappears from public view even in moments of national strife, which causes panic-stricken citizens ask to see him or hear from him.

He routinely ignores them, which causes morbid rumors about him to fester and circulate on social media. When darkly ill-natured chatter about his very life emerges, escalates, and takes roots, his handlers will post photos of him on social media to show that he’s alive, which inflames even more ghoulish speculations.

Then he finally appears or addresses the nation after hours and hours of rehearsals, which nonetheless unmasks his declining cognitive faculties, and mentally low-wattage citizens, who are the victims of his ineptitude and presidency by absenteeism, gyrate wildly in futile, impotent exultation. They even mock people who had suggested that Buhari was sick, dead, or dying.

It has been the same script since 2016. In other words, Buhari’s highest achievement is to periodically prove that he is alive after which he goes back to his habitual self-isolation and insouciance.

This well-practiced melodrama is designed to anesthetize distraught citizens in light of the progressively horrid conditions they live with and help to conceal or excuse Buhari’s incompetence for a while, and life goes on.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Yar’aduaization and Politics of Compassion in the Age of Coronavirus

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

News that Abba Kyari has contracted the novel coronavirus, and that Muhammadu Buhari might also be infected with it in spite of denials by his handlers, has centralized conversations about the propriety or lack thereof of compassion for unfeeling and soulless leaders who are ensnared by personal tragedies.  

The vast majority of Nigerians that I’ve encountered on social media seem to be enraptured by news that Kyari and Buhari—and possibly many others in the circles of political power and influence in Nigeria—have fallen victims to COVID-19. But their joy, as I understand it, doesn’t stem from a perverse delight from the misfortunes of others.

It stems, instead, from their perception of coronavirus as a social leveler, which has forced their leaders to experience the health care sector they have abandoned for years since foreign medical tourism is no longer an option at least in the foreseeable future. In other words, they see coronavirus as the karmic payback to their leaders for their enduringly criminal neglect of the health of the nation.

The overwhelming attitude of celebratory acclamation of the personal catastrophes of Kyari and possibly Buhari and others has also been met with calls for compassion from many people. Gloating and taunting over the tragedies of people, however terrible they may be, bespeaks a diminished, stunted humanity, they seem to suggest.

But here’s the deal. First, testing positive to coronavirus is not a death sentence. More than 90 percent of people who contract it recover.

Second, our compassion or ill will are totally immaterial to the resolution of the infections that afflict Nigeria’s oppressors now. Nature is insensitive to our emotions and sense of righteousness. That’s why horrible things happen to pious people and why malevolent people can be triumphant.

Coincidences are not iron-clad rules of nature. Sani Abacha’s death wasn’t a consequence of his malevolence. If that were so, to what would you attribute the death of MKO Abiola about the same time that Abacha died? The notion of karmic retribution is humanity’s quest to impose simplistic order to the chaos that is nature.

So what people wish and don’t wish their leaders—and others— is wholly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Plus, however hard you try, you simply can’t legislate people’s emotion or determine for them how they should feel about people and events.

In any case, everyday Nigerians increasingly realize that the compassion they feel for their leaders when they are afflicted with personal catastrophes is hardly requited. For instance, in April 2017, then governor of Zamfara, Abdul’aziz Yari, said the meningitis that devastated thousands of people in his state was “divine” punishment for their moral transgressions.

And in the aftermath of the horrendous mass massacre of poor people in Borno by Boko Haram early this year, Buhari, as always, was unconcerned. When he was, as is now customary, compelled by deafening public outcry to visit Borno, he showed zero empathy for the people.

He never uttered a single word of comfort to the people and never even visited the real theater of bloodshed in the town of Auno. Instead, he blamed the people, as he has done elsewhere whenever he is forced to pay visits, for their sorrows. “This Boko Haram or whoever they are, cannot come up to Maiduguri or its environs to attack without the local leadership knowing,” he said on February 13, 2020.

While he blames the poor for their personal tragedies and does absolutely nothing to attenuate their hurt, he goes to London to treat his illnesses, including even mere ear infections.

Abba Kyari was reported to have gone to London on December 2, 2016 to treat “breathing problems” at taxpayers’ expense, and Punch reported on March 25, 2020 that “Doctors attending to the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, have obtained his medical records from Wellington Hospital, St. John’s Wood, London,” suggesting that none of Kyari’s medical records exist in any Nigerian hospital.

And while northern Nigerian Muslim masses were slaughtering rams and getting rapturous in prayers for Buhari’s recovery when he fell critically ill in 2017, the man was receiving modern, world-class treatment in London at the cost of millions of dollars from the public treasury. He didn’t attribute his sickness to divine affliction. In fact, when he returned home, he rhapsodized over the medical advances in UK hospitals, as if to mock everyday Nigerians who couldn’t afford to go to London to treat their illnesses.

In Nigeria, before coronavirus, when the rich were sick, they sought the best medical treatment abroad while the poor at home prayed for them to recover, but when the poor are sick, the rich tell them they are suffering divine punishment for their moral failings.

Why should ordinary people who are the victims of the callous ineptitude and lack of empathy of their leaders be invited to show compassion to their leaders now in their moment of helplessness? Why shouldn’t the poor celebrate that the rich are also crying and have nowhere to go but the same hospitals they allowed to rot for years?

At the same time, hate and other kinds of toxic emotions do more violence to the people who harbor them than they do to people to whom they are directed.  While I won’t tell anyone to love people who hate them, I’d only counsel that hate is both ineffective and self-annihilating.

Nonetheless, there is an additional reason why people are antsy about Buhari’s health, particularly in light of his suspicious seclusion from the public: it uncannily evokes memories of how the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s health was managed.

This is not the first time this is being done. In my June 11, 2016 column titled “The Yar’aduaization of Buhari’s Health by His Media Adviser,” I pointed out that, “In more ways than one, the media handling of [Buhari’s] health eerily recalls how former presidential spokesman Segun Adeniyi and what infamously came to be known as ‘the Yar’adua cabal’ managed the late President Yar’adua’s health and robbed him of the sympathy he deserved from Nigerians.

“Everything about his health was cloaked in secrecy and doublespeak. The truth and the Nigerian nation also became casualties of the president’s sickness. (I’m not by any means implying that the same fate that befell Yar’adua would befall Buhari; I am only comparing the media handling of the health of the two leaders).

“There is nothing to be ashamed of in sickness. It’s a garment we all must periodically wear in the course of our ephemeral earthly existence.”

The exact same thing is happening again. Nigerians suspect that Buhari has contracted coronavirus and is probably in a bad shape now, made even worse by the fact that he can’t go abroad, as he always does, for medical treatment. Wildly morbid rumors and disconcerting conspiracy theories are being spun daily on social media.

Instead of telling the truth, or getting Buhari to address the nation in a live broadcast, his media team posted a still photo of him looking blankly at a piece of paper on social media as evidence that he is strong, healthy, and working hard in his office. Never mind that they had said the entire presidential villa had been evacuated and was being fumigated.

The current senseless, unintelligent lies and propaganda are a replay of the Yar’adua saga. But when government information managers lie this shamelessly, they rob their principals of compassion from the governed when tragedy befalls them.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Buhari’s “Kovik One Nine” Pronunciational Mishap Proves My Saturday Column

By Farooq A. Kperogi
Twitter:@farooqkperogi

After so much pressure, which my widely shared Saturday Tribune back-page column added to, the Aso Rock cabal finally forced Buhari, a dementia-plagued, insentient old geezer who masquerades as "president," to address the nation today on the new Coronavirus.

Although his speech was pre-recorded, (which means it wasn't live), his handlers couldn't get him to retake the portion where he mispronounced COVID-19 as "Kovik one nine"! And the video clip of the mortifying pronunciational disaster was shared on social media by Buhari's paid social media aide by the name of Bashir Ahmad.

Incompetence is supposed to be the strong suit of the Buhari regime, but they've shown themselves to be incredibly incompetent at even being incompetent!

More crucially, though, the video is powerful, irrefutable evidentiary proof of my assertions (which I repeated in my Saturday Tribune column) that Buhari is too wracked by the ravages of dementia to even know what's happening around him, much less in the world.

There’s no sentient, living being on this earth today— and certainly no world leader—who doesn’t know that there’s a global pandemic tipping over the world that is called the new coronavirus or COVID-19. Watch the video below:

Apparently, his speech writer avoided “coronavirus” because Buhari’s dementia-inspired speech impediment would make him slur the word. COVID-19 is easier to say, yet Buhari bungled it. He obviously had never heard it said anywhere even when it's the most commonly heard word on earth now.

That is all the evidence you need to know that Buhari is practically in the land of the living dead. As I said in my Saturday column, Nigeria is currently presidentless.

Postscript:
Buhari's social media aide, Bashir Ahmad, took down the video clip of Buhari's 27-second broadcast a few hours after this post, which went viral on social media. But the video has already been downloaded and shared by millions of people. As usual, Buhari's handlers chose to close the stable door after the horse has bolted!

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Coronavirus: Why Buhari Won't Address Nigerians

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Coronavirus: Why Buhari Won’t Address Nigerians

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

In most parts of the world, it feels like the world has come to, or is coming to, an end. Routines have been displaced. Familiar reality has been ruptured. Even habitual perceptions of the world around us are being disrupted. And people are gripped by immobilizing panic and anxiety.

In stressful, uncertain moments like this, people look up to their national leaders for assurance, for psychological comfort, for emotional stability, for guidance, for good cheer. Most leaders have lived up to this expectation. They have addressed their compatriots in national broadcasts and become consolers in chief. Well, except Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari.

Amid spiraling apprehension about the new coronavirus and the uptick in the number of infections in the country, there has been unnervingly loud silence from the man who calls himself Nigeria’s “president.”

The quietude from the Presidential Villa in the midst of potentially one of the world’s worst pandemics has been so disturbing that citizens have been literally pleading to hear from the man who claims to be their president.

Even Nigeria’s infamously pliant, “rubber-stamp” Senate, which takes pride in being at the beck and call of the executive, has called on Buhari to address the nation. But one of Buhari’s media aides said such calls from the senate amounted to “populism and cheap politics”!

Why can’t Buhari address the nation? What’s the big deal about a 5-minute (or less) televised address to the nation that someone will write for him? Well, the truth, which I’ve been pointing out since 2018, is that Buhari is too steeped in battles with his own personal demons to care about Nigerians.

Buhari is not well. A televised broadcast, however short, might expose and aggrandize this fact more forcefully than ever before. Notice that in previous broadcasts that his handlers felt compelled to ask him to make, he evinced noticeably low energy and slurred his speech.

On November 23, 2018, I tweeted about my encounter with a doctor who met Buhari in a non-medical context and told me, based on his treatment of and interactions with dementia patients, he was convinced that Buhari has dementia which, as I’ve pointed out before, is often characterized by repetitiveness, unawareness, mental deterioration, impaired memory, diminished quality of thought, slurred speech, and finally complete helplessness.

When I first pointed this out, a few people thought I was being malicious in the service of my opposition to his reelection. Now even close aides of Buhari admit in private that I was right. People who have had a chance to interact with him recently also concede that Buhari appears to be wracked by an irreversible mental decline and loss of control.

He stays no longer than 10 minutes at Federal Executive Council meetings and goes there only for photo ops to deceive Nigerians into thinking that he is in charge when, in fact, he is a sick puppy. It isn’t his fault that he is sick. Anyone, including me, can fall ill. I concede that. But Nigeria is too complex to be governed by a sick, insentient person.

If Buhari had any honor, he would have declined to seek a second term on account of his health and for the love of the people of Nigeria. But his ambition and greed are greater than his patriotism and integrity.

Now, Nigeria is officially “presidentless” not just because Buhari’s current mandate is brazenly rigged and therefore illegitimate but because Buhari has no mental presence to rule. Abba Kyari, his Chief of Staff, no longer conceals the fact that he is the one who calls the shots in the Presidential Villa—and in Nigeria. A March 10, 2020 news report in ThisDay, for instance, said Kyari was in Germany on behalf of Nigeria to hold talks with Siemens “on improved power” in the country.

That’s not the duty of a chief of staff. But anyone who doesn’t know by now that Abba Kyari is Nigeria’s unelected (perhaps unelectable) surrogate president must be living under the rock. But because he isn’t officially the president, not to mention the fact that he has severe speech impediments, he can’t address the nation.

 So the first reason Buhari won’t address the nation is that doing so would expose his state of mental and physical health. A sick, ghostly “president” slurring his speech in a televised national broadcast would probably spook the nation more ominously than coronavirus can.

The second reason is that Buhari is in a grievous bind now. He was supposed to go to London for a medical checkup in February, but the leak of this information on social media and on fringe news websites caused his handlers to postpone it by a few weeks— after, as usual, declaring that the leak was “fake news.”

The halt of all air travel to the UK—and, of course, the fear of contracting coronavirus in London—has ensured that Buhari can’t go to London. This must be one moment when he wished he built at least one state-of-the-art hospital in Abuja.

Given the horrible state of healthcare in Nigeria (which was made even worse by Buhari’s serial neglect of the sector in the time he has been “president”) and the inability to go on medical tourism anywhere else in the world, I would be shocked if Buhari is even remotely in a position to address the nation.

So Nigerians eager to hear from the man who says he is their president will have to contend with dishonest presidential press releases that purport to emanate from Buhari’s words, but which are actually ordered by Abba Kyari. Yemi Osinbajo is of no consequence any more.

Of course, even when Buhari was healthy and mentally alert, empathy, compassion, and fellow feeling were not his strong suits. He is a solipsistic narcissist who has no capacity for vicarious identification with the plight of people who are not directly related to him.

So it’s unfair to implicate only his physiological and mental decline in his insensitivity to the anxieties and dread of everyday people. His ill health only brought his cold detachment from people into bolder, more visible relief.

To be fair to him, though, people who are worshipped by as many stupid people as Buhari has been worshipped most of his adult life tend to suffer compassion deficit. A lot of his worshippers are now realizing that they wasted their emotions on a man who doesn’t care a tinker’s damn about them. But the most hopeless of them persist in their folly.

In Nigeria, the new coronavirus isn’t just threatening people and upending their ways of life, it is also exposing the crying leadership deficit in the country and the fraud that is packaged as the country’s “president.” I hope we all come out of this alive.

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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Ganduje is a Monster, But Sanusi Is Not a Victim

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

Governor Abdullahi “Gandollar” Ganduje is no doubt a contemptibly philistine monster of avarice and debauchery who dethroned Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as Emir of Kano because he couldn’t stomach the former emir’s disapproval of the electoral fraud that brought him to power.

There is also no doubt that Sanusi’s unrelenting public censures of the rotten, if time-honored, cultural quiddities of the Muslim North discomfited many people who are invested in the status quo, and this became one of the convenient bases for his ouster.

But Sanusi isn’t nearly the victim he has been cracked up to be by his admirers and defenders. First, he rode to the Kano emirship in 2014 on the crest of a wave of emotions stirred by partisan politics and came down from it the same way.

Even though he wasn’t initially on the shortlist of Kano’s kingmakers, APC's Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso (who is now in PDP) made Sanusi emir in 2014 to spite PDP’s President Goodluck Jonathan and shield Sanusi from the consequences of his unmasking of multi-billion-dollar corruption at the NNPC. Apart from his unceremonious removal as CBN governor for his whistle blowing, he was going to face other untoward retributions from the Jonathan administration, but his appointment as emir put paid to it.

Now, Sanusi lost his emirship to the same partisan politics that got it for him in the first place. In an ironic twist, he was made emir by an APC government for making privileged revelations that disadvantaged a PDP government, and was removed as an emir by an APC government for his overt and covert acts that could have benefited the PDP in 2019.

In other words, Sanusi’s emirship was molded in the crucible of partisan politics and was dissolved in it.

Nonetheless, Sanusi, given his intellectual sophistication and pretenses to being an advocate of egalitarianism, had no business being an emir. Monarchy is way past its sell-by date not just in Nigeria but everywhere. It’s an anachronistic, vestigial remnant of a primitive past that invests authority on people by mere accident of heredity. Any authority that is inherited and not earned, in my opinion, is beneath contempt.

Emirship isn’t only a primeval anomaly in a modern world, it is, in fact, un-Islamic. In Islam, leadership is derived from knowledge and the consensus of consultative assemblies of communities called the Shura, not from heredity.

 Monarchies in the Muslim North, which have constituted themselves into parasitic, decadent drains on the society but which pretend to be Islamic, are grotesque perversions of the religion they purport to represent. Anyone, not least one who makes pious noises about equality, that is denied the unfair privileges of monarchy is no victim.

Most importantly, though, Sanusi embodies a jarring disconnect between high-minded ideals and lived reality. He rails against child marriage in public but married a teenager upon becoming an emir. When the late Pius Adesanmi called him out, he told him to “grow a brain.” He suddenly became the patron saint of conservative Muslim cultural values.

He expended considerable intellectual energies critiquing polygamy among poor Muslim men, but he is married to four wives. His defense, of course, would be that he can afford it, and poor Muslim men can’t. Fair enough. But transaction-oriented reformists lead by example.

Fidel Castro, for example, stopped smoking when he campaigned against it. It would be nice to say to poor, polygamous Muslim men, “Why are you, a poor man, married to four wives when Sanusi, a wealthy man and an emir, is married to just one wife?”

That would have had a much higher impact than his preachments. In spite of their moral failings, Buhari, Abba Kyari, and Mamman Daura would be much more effective campaigners against disabling polygamy by poor Muslim men than Sanusi can ever be because they are monogamists even when they can afford to marry four wives.

This is a legitimate critique since Sanusi has a choice to not call out poor Muslim men who marry more wives than they can afford since polygamy is animated by libidinal greed, which is insensitive to financial means.

Sanusi habitually fulminates against the enormous and inexorably escalating poverty in the north, but even though he is an immensely affluent person, he has not instituted any systematic mechanism to tackle the scourge of poverty in the region in his own little way.

Instead, he spends hundreds of billions of naira to decorate the emir’s palace, buy exotic horses, and luxuriate in opulent sartorial regality.

And, although, he exposed humongous corruption during Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and dollar racketeering during Buhari’s regime, he is himself an indefensibly corrupt and profligate person. In two well-researched investigative pieces in 2017, Daily Nigeria’s Jaafar Jaafar chronicled Sanusi’s mind-boggling corruption as emir of Kano, which apparently didn’t abate until he was dethroned.

Sanusi was ostensibly a Marxist when he studied economics at ABU, which explains why he exhibits flashes of radicalism in his public oratory, but he is, in reality, an out-of-touch, unfeeling, feudal, neoliberal elitist who is contemptuous, and insensitive to the suffering, of poor people.

He supported Jonathan’s petrol price hike in 2012 and even wondered why poor people were protesting since they had no cars, and generators, according to him, were powered by diesel, not petrol! 

When his attention was brought to the fact that only “subsidized” and privileged “big men” like him use diesel-powered generators, he backed down and apologized. But I found it remarkably telling that until 2012 Sanusi had no clue that the majority of Nigerians used petrol-powered generators to get electricity.

In a September 1, 2012 column titled, "Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s Unwanted 5000 Naira Notes," I noted that Sanusi was "one of the most insensitive, out-of-touch bureaucrats to ever walk Nigeria’s corridors of power."

Again, in my December 10, 2016 article titled, "Dangerous Fine Print in Emir Sanusi's Prescription for Buhari," I wrote: "If you are a poor or economically insecure middle-class person who is writhing in pain amid this economic downturn, don’t be deceived into thinking that Emir Sanusi is on your side. He is not. His disagreements with Buhari have nothing to do with you or your plight. If he has his way, you would be dead by now because the IMF/World Bank neoliberal theology he evangelizes has no care for poor, vulnerable people."

On April 6, 2017, I wrote a Facebook status update that anticipated Sanusi’s dethronement and predicted that he might be president after his dethronement. I wrote:

“Did you pick up on the cryptic but devastating critique of Kano State Governor Ganduje’s government in Emir Sanusi’s wildly trending Kaduna speech? That’s gotta hurt. Remember that the power to appoint and dethrone traditional rulers rests exclusively with state governors. Now, pissing off the federal government AND the state government AND an entire region’s conservative cultural elites with bitter, uncomfortable truth-telling is a lethally combustible mix.

“I make no pretenses to possessing oracular powers (because I don't), but I predict that, like his grandfather, Emir Sanusi II will be deposed. But, unlike his grandfather, he may end up becoming Nigeria’s president after his dethronement. Kano’s loss would then be Nigeria’s gain which, in a strangely circuitous way, would also be Kano’s gain since Kano is part of Nigeria.

“Sanusi shouldn’t be Kano’s emir; he should be Nigeria’s president. I have strong disagreements with the neoliberal orthodoxy he subscribes to, but it would be nice to have a truly informed and educated man as president for once.”

Now, do I still want Sanusi to be Nigeria’s president? I am not too sure anymore. First, I doubt that the forces that got him out of the throne would allow him to become president, but should he decide to run for president in 2023, people who will vote for him should realize that he is neither a saint nor a victim.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Nigerian Trumptards Are the World’s Most Annoying Humans

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

There's nothing more annoying in the world right now than reading intellectually impoverished Nigerian Trump supporters writing puke-inducing, ill-informed garbage on American politics about which they have zero understanding.

Trump is an out-and-out, in-your-face, scorn-worthy racist who thinks black people, including his clueless Nigerian supporters, are subhumans. His immigrant visa ban on Nigeria is simultaneously designed to halt the growing population of black Africans in the United States, which Nigeria leads, and appeal to his xenophobic conservative base.

For instance, “Nigeria had the biggest drop in visitors to the US” in the world in 2019, according to data from National Travel & Tourism Office. This has roots in Trump’s racial animus against Nigerians (and, of course, other non-white people who come to or live in America).

Trump was widely quoted in January 2018 to have said he didn’t want immigration into the US from “shithole countries” like Nigeria and Haiti and instead wanted “more people coming in from places like Norway.” In other words, he wants only white immigrants.

In December 23, 2017, he was reported to have said people from Haiti and Nigeria should be denied visas because “15,000 Haitians who received US visas ‘all have AIDS’ and 40,000 Nigerians [who visited the US on tourist visas that year] would never ‘go back to their huts’ after seeing the US.”

And in 2016, Trump praised and promoted a book titled “Adios America” by American conservative activist Ann Coulter which, among other wild claims, said, “There were almost no Nigerians in the United States until the 1970s. Today there are 380,000,” which she said was a problem because “in Nigeria, every level of society is criminal.”

Trump’s claim that Nigeria was included in the immigrant visa ban because of “security” concerns is asinine at best. More than 90 percent of the terrorists who murdered Americans on September 11, 2001 were from Saudi Arabia. In fact, as recently as December 2019, a Saudi military trainee killed three Americans and wounded eight others in Florida.

No Nigerian has ever killed an American on American soil. Why is Saudi Arabia excluded from the list? Why are Nigerians, whom several surveys have shown as having one of the most favorable views of America in the world, excluded from gaining immigrant visas? Anti-black bigotry. Nothing more.

When you find Africans whose countries Trump, out of undisguised racial animus, called "shitholes" and "huts" and whom he has vowed to shut out of the US, praising and defending him, you know ignorance and internalized self-hatred run deep in the psyche of our people.

The worst part is that Nigerian Trumptards tend to be anti-Buhari. How can you love Trump and hate Buhari when they are more alike than unlike? If you defend Trump and attack Buhari, you need to see a psychiatrist and an educationist because you are both schizophrenic and uneducated.

Re: True Ethnic Origins of Nigeria’s Past Presidents and Heads of State
My February 15, 2020 column with the above title attracted more attention than I thought it would.  First, readers drew my attention to the omission of Sani Abacha’s name from the list of past heads of state. The omission was inadvertent. 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.

Although Nnamdi Azikiwe was Nigeria’s first president, he had no executive powers. It would have been duplicative to list his name along with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa’s as Nigeria’s heads of state between 1960 and 1963.

 I regard Ernest Shonekan as an extension of IBB's regime. He neither won (or even rigged) an election nor staged a coup—the two primary ways people got/get to power in Nigeria—and merely ruled for IBB by proxy. In any case, the Igbo and Egba/Yoruba identities of Azikiwe and Shonekan are not in doubt.

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.

There was also a lot of controversy regarding the paternal identity of Murtala Mohammed. One reader from Kano wrote to say that “Murtala is not from Auchi but rather a Fulani of Gyanawa clan in Kano. You may wish to refer to a biography of the Gyanawa written by Ibrahim Ado Kurawa, titled 'GENEALOGY OF THE GYANAWA.”

Yet another reader from Kano rehabilitated the old myth that Murtala’s father was a Berom from Plateau State. 

And someone sent me a scanned copy of a June 10, 2007 Sun Newspaper interview where the late Major General David Ejoor claimed on page 13 of the paper that Murtala was Urhobo on his paternal side. “When he was head of state, his father came to see him,” he claimed. “Then he told his father, ‘All these years, you did not care for me. Now that I am head of state, you come. Go away. If I come down, I will kill you and I don’t want to commit murder.”

He claimed that Murtala’s father, who was supposedly called Irue, was a railway worker in Kano who married a Kano woman with whom he went to his hometown but whom he later divorced after marrying another woman. Murtala’s mother, he claimed, went back to Kano.

“After Murtala had finished primary school, he left for Kano to meet his mother. From there, he changed his surname to Muhammed, which is his mother’s father’s name,” he claimed. “So Murtala was an Urhobo man and that is why in his coup, he did not do anything against me. He knew we share the same Urhobo blood.”

I had never read this nor heard anyone even remotely suggest that Murtala Mohammed was paternally Urhobo. But it’s highly implausible that a Christian from the south would be allowed to “marry” a Muslim woman from Kano in the 1930s when Murtala was born.

Murtala Mohammed obviously doesn’t have the phenotypical features of a Fulani person, and could easily pass for a member of any of the ethnic groups often attributed to him. What is indisputable, though, is that, having been born and raised in Kano, he was culturally Hausa. I hope a living relative of his can intervene to put the question of his paternal ancestry to rest.

Lastly, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, whose family I referenced tangentially in the article, wrote to say that although the paternal ancestry of the Baba-Ahmed family in Zaria is indeed traceable to Mauritania where Tuaregs (also called Moors or Berbers) are more than half of the population, they are actually Arabs. Read his response below:

My name is Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed. I just read your column in Tribune on the ethnic origins of Nigeria’s past heads of state. You made reference to our family, Baba-Ahmed of Zaria, asserting that it is Tuareg, not Fulani as is mistakenly generally assumed.

I thought I should correct the error, believing that it was a genuine mistake on your part. Our father was Arab from the Talaba Clan and Shingit in Mauritania. Most people familiar with centuries of history of Arabs in Mauritania and their origins in Saudi Arabia will recognize this description.

 It is important to make this correction because, as you are aware, it is wrong in Islam to attribute wrong paternity or identity if the facts to avoid doing this are available. This is an ancestry we are both humbled by, and grateful for, the same way we are proud of our Nigerian nationality and identity.

The Tuaregs are a great people, and we would have been just as proud of a Tuareg ancestry if it was ours. But it is not, and it will be wrong to let go a major mis-classification of our family without an effort to correct it.

I hope you will be kind enough to correct this error, which, on the basis of the limited knowledge I have of you, I am sure was not intended.
 Thank you, and best regards.
Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Supreme Court as Graveyard of Electoral Mandates

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

Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad’s Supreme Court will go down in history as easily Nigeria’s most blatant bastion of supreme injustice. In the last one year, it has shaped up to be the graveyard of electoral mandates.

It either sanctifies transparent electoral heists, such as Buhari’s blazing mandate theft, using the most astonishingly illogical arguments or reverses approximations of people’s choices such as in Zamfara, Imo, and Bayelsa. In inflicting legal violence on people’s choices, the Supreme Court appears to have no care for basic consistency.

In what seems like an attempt to compensate for its disastrously indefensible usurpation of the electoral mandate of former Imo State governor Emeka Ihedioha, the Supreme Court on February 13 overturned the mandate of  former Bayelsa State governor-elect David Lyon and his deputy governor-elect Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo because some names in the credentials the former deputy governor-elect presented to INEC have changed over time and have inconsistent spellings.

I initially thought Degi-Eremieoyo forged his certificates—like many Nigerian politicians do. But he apparently didn’t. He only changed his names—and the spellings of some—in the course of his life, and supported some of the changes with sworn affidavits. But the Supreme Court was persuaded that those changes were sufficient grounds to invalidate the legitimate votes he and his boss earned from Bayelsa voters.

This is both culturally insensitive and a violation of the sanctity of the vote. I will only discuss the cultural insensitivity of the judgment because it has implications for a whole host of Nigerians. Because there’s a vast disconnect between the colonially inherited orthography we use and the sound systems of our indigenous (and, in some cases, borrowed precolonial) languages, it’s impossible to maintain consistent spellings for all our names.

For instance, my credentials have many variants of the spelling of my first name. In my primary school certificate, my teacher spelled it as “Faruk,” and there’s nothing I can do about that. When I got to secondary school, I realized that the correct orthographic rendition of the name from Arabic is “Farooq,” so I adopted that spelling.

However, when Bayero University issued me my certificate, I saw that my name was spelled as “Farouk” even though I’ve never spelled it that way. Should I be held responsible for this? But it gets worse: my transcript spells my first name as “Farooq.” In other words, my certificate and my transcript have different spellings of the same name.

To make matters even more complicated, a few years after my graduation from the university, I changed my last name from Adamu, which is my father’s first name, to Kperogi, which is my family name that my father, uncles, and cousins, bear (bore in the case of my dad) as their last name.  Is the Supreme Court suggesting that I can’t win an election because of the differences in the spellings of my names and because I changed my last name to my family name?

The inconsistencies in the names we bear in Nigeria can sometimes start from our birth certificates. For instance, when I was born in a Baptist missionary hospital in my hometown, a white American nurse by the name of Miss Masters who delivered me and who could speak, read, and write my native Baatonu language, wrote my name as “Imoru Sabi” in my hospital birth certificate.

Apparently, my father told her my name was “Umar Farooq.” But she used her judgment to take only “Umar,” which she chose to write as “Imoru”—exactly the same way an uneducated Borgu person would pronounce Umar—and added “Sabi,” the generic name for every second son in Borgu, as my middle name.

For some reason, she entirely omitted “Farooq” (which she might have spelled as “Faruku” given her penchant for Borgu phonological fidelity) from my name, but that was the name by which I was known and called when I grew older. No one called me Umar or Sabi.

That was why when I came of age and my father handed my birth certificate to me, I told him it wasn’t mine. I knew I was Sabi by default since I am my parent’s second son, but no one ever called me that, and “Imoru” totally threw me off until my dad explained to me what had happened.

Muhammadu Buhari had similar issues. His father was called Adamu Bafale. His primary school certificate probably either lists Adamu or Danbafale as his last name. I say this because his late older brother, Mamman, was formally called Mamman Danbafale (Danbafale means “son of Bafale” in Hausa), so I won’t be surprised if either Adamu or Danbafale appears in Buhari’s primary school certificate.

In any case, Muhammadu and Buhari are his first and middle names. By the way, why doesn’t he bear a surname? Most importantly, though, the British colonial educators who registered Buhari at the Provincial Secondary School in Katsina spelled his name as “Mohamed,” and it’s that variant of his name’s spelling that still appears in his school certificate, which I am now convinced he actually has, contrary to widespread notions that he doesn’t.

However, although the official records of his secondary school spell his first name as “Mohamed,” he prefers to spell it as “Muhammadu.” In spite of the discrepancy between the official spelling of his name in his school certificate, about which he lied under oath that it was with military authorities instead of admitting that he had lost it, the Supreme Court said he was “eminently qualified” to stand for election.

If Buhari was “eminently qualified” in spite of the different spellings of and possible inconsistencies in his name from primary school to now, why should Degi-Eremienyo be disqualified? Why is what is good for Buhari bad for Degi-Eremienyo?

Now the elephant in the room is that Degi-Eremienyo is still a senator. If he was unqualified to be a deputy governor by reason of the inconsistent spellings of and changes to his name, can he be qualified to be a senator? Can his opponent sue to be declared the rightful senator of Bayelsa East Senatorial District even though he lost the election?

This goes to the heart of the doctrine of judicial precedent, which the Oxford Dictionary of Law defines as “judgement or decision of a Court used as an authority for reaching the same decision in subsequent cases.”

Clearly, Tanko’s Supreme Court, as I pointed out in my July 20, 2019 column titled “A‘Technically’ Incompetent Chief Justice of Nigeria,” doesn’t give a thought to precedents. That’s why its judgements are characterized by inconsistencies, and why there’s a spike in the number of lawyers who are asking the Court to review its judgements.

 “All over the world, courts rely on precedents to adjudicate current cases,” I wrote in my July 20, 2019 column. “Precedents may be modified, but they are rarely overturned without a compelling reason, certainly not within a few years after they were established. That is what legal scholars call stare decisis, that is, the doctrine that courts should follow precedent. A Chief Justice that is ignorant about something as basic as ‘technicality’ is unlikely to know what ‘precedent’ means, much less something as rarefied as the doctrine of stare decisis.”

If Nigeria had a real parliament, I would have suggested that the National Assembly pass a law to undo the judicial violence of Tanko’s Supreme Court. Well, this is what you get when every branch of government is an extension of a confused and feuding executive branch.

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 exposé, 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.

Postscript:
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.”

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