"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Where’s Buhari? Is That a Body Double in Aso Rock?

 By Farooq A. Kperogi

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

The last few weeks have seen a curious resurgence of the preposterous conspiracy theory that Muhammadu Buhari has been dead and that it’s his body double that lives in Aso Rock. Readers of my column have invaded my email and social media inboxes with persistent requests for me to illuminate the ambiguities surrounding the existence—or lack thereof—of Buhari. 

I frankly thought the silliness and infantilism of the conspiracy theory of Buhari’s putative death was too apparent to deserve the attention of any serious person. In any case, I’d addressed this in a December 8, 2018 column titled, “Buhari: Not a Clone but a Clown” where I described it as an “insanely absurd IPOB whispering campaign” and as “so ludicrous, so off-the-wall, and so patently illogical that even acknowledging it would be an exercise in the legitimization of stupidity.”

I pointed out that the conspiracy theory gained some traction at the time “because it captures the vast disconnect between the Buhari Nigerians thought they elected in 2015 and the bungling, wimpy, aloof, unjust, and inept Buhari that we have as president now.

“Buhari had an unearned reputation as a firm, fearless, just, disciplined leader who was animated by a restless thirst to transform Nigeria, to build enduring institutions, to wipe out or at least minimize corruption, and to bequeath a legacy of justice, fair play, and national cohesion.

 “But he has turned out to be an infirm leader who looks the other way when injustice is committed by his close associates, who disdains the poor, who defends and praises corruption when it’s committed by people who are loyal to him, who lies interminably, who has not a clue how to glue the nation and transform lives, and who is consumed by a monomaniacal obsession to perpetuate himself in power.

“For people who invested hopes in an idealized Buhari that never existed, the Buhari they see now is figuratively a clone. Even his wife, Aisha Buhari, casts him as a helpless, ineffective, and isolated leader who is held prisoner by an evil, sneaky, corrupt, vulturous, and conniving two-man cabal.”

What is driving the revival and intensifying mainstreaming of the notion that Buhari is dead and that a body double lives in Aso Rock to give cover to a cabal of larcenous rogues to plunder Nigeria’s wealth? I have two answers—three actually.

The first is what I adverted to in my December 2018 column, which is that Buhari isn’t in charge, merely holds the horns of the cow while others milk it, and is cognitively, symbolically, and politically absent. That is as good as being dead.

The second reason is that in the last few months, in momentous moments when even the most lethargic and disaffiliated leaders of nations are compelled to demonstrate that they are in charge, Buhari has always been missing.

When the new coronavirus officially became a pandemic in March and everyone in the world was spooked and wanted reassurance from their countries’ leaders, Buhari was missing. After enormous public pressure, his minders caused him to informally address the nation on March 22.

But although his speech was pre-recorded and lasted only a couple of seconds, he mispronounced COVID-19 as "Kovik one nine"! As I pointed out at the time, there was no sentient, living being on this earth— and certainly no world leader—who didn’t know that there was a global pandemic tipping over the world that was called the new coronavirus or COVID-19.

Again, during the #EndSARS revolt, which convulsed the foundations of Nigeria, Buhari was absent. Then on October 13, a video surfaced on the Internet of Lagos State governor Jide Sanwo-Olu briefing Buhari on what the Inspector General of Police was doing about the EndSARS protests. Buhari stood like a breathing, insentient mannequin and intermittently laughed vacuously. 

More disturbingly, when Sanwo-Olu said the IGP recommended that governors set up commissions of inquiry into SARS brutality, Buhari interrupted him. “I said that,” he said and looked at Ibrahim Gambari, his Chief of Staff, for assurance. “I said that in my speech.” He hadn’t given any speech at the time.

 But Ibrahim Gambari flashed a sheepish, fawning grin of dishonest, sycophantic approval of Buhari’s dementia-inflected mendacity. The video dramatized yet again the reality that Buhari is disconnected from reality and is barely aware of his own existence.

 It wasn’t until October 22, after sustained public outrage, that Buhari was compelled to appear in a heavily edited, pre-recorded broadcast to talk about the EndSARS revolt, but the speech sidestepped the October 20 military-executed Lekki Massacre, the most distressing tragedy that had befallen the nation two days prior. Apparently, the speech had been recorded and edited days before it was broadcast, which explained why it wasn’t current.

Most importantly, unlike any president or head of state Nigeria ever had, Buhari studiously avoids the press. Or, more correctly, his minders studiously keep him away from the press. And they do so because any question-and-answer session with the press exposes Buhari’s irreversible mental degeneration.

For instance, an August 1 video of Buhari answering a question from a journalist about the revelations of colossal corruption at the Niger Delta Development Commission and the EFCC showed a man who was in the land of the living dead. 

Instead of answering the question, Buhari went on an irrelevant rant about “TSA, Treasury Single Account where all the monies are taken, and I said that assets should be sold and the money be put through TSA Treasury Single Account so that it can be identified at any level, and I’ll see who will take it back again to those who misappropriate public funds.”

Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, was so embarrassed by the interview that he was caught on camera frantically telling the reporter to abruptly cut the video and stop the interview. That’s not the picture of a man who has control over his cognitive faculties. 

The final reason the Buhari body double conspiracy has endured in spite of its implausibility is that there are actual historical cases of presidential body doubles in the world. For example, in British author W. Hugh Thomas’s 1996 book titled “Doppelgangers,” we learn that Adolf Hitler had a body double by the name of Gustav Weler who occasionally served as his decoy for security reasons. 

The striking resemblance between Hitler and Weler ensured that the general population didn’t suspect when Weler represented Hitler at meetings and at formal occasions.

USSR leader Josef Stalin has also been recorded to have used body doubles to represent him at formal occasions. In 2008, then 88-year-old Russian man by the name of Felix Dadaev wrote a book in which he disclosed that he had acted as a body double for Stalin. He and Stalin shared a striking physical resemblance.

Saddam Hussein, Boris Yeltsin, and other world leaders had been said to have had body doubles merely as a decoy. But there is no record anywhere in the world that I know of where leaders die and are replaced by body doubles.

The truth is that even if they wanted to, Buhari’s inner circle is too incompetent to pull off putting a body double in Aso Rock to replace a supposedly dead Buhari. Incompetence is supposed to be the strong suit of the Buhari regime, but they've shown time and again that they are incredibly incompetent at even being incompetent!

Buhari appears to be dead and replaced by a body double because he is wracked by the ravages of dementia. His continued stay in Aso Rock in spite of his cognitive incapacities is the biggest con game in Nigeria’s political history.

Related Articles:

Buhari’s Physical and Mental Health is Now a National Emergency

Buhari Doesn’t Rule Nigeria. His Wife Confirms It

Saturday, November 21, 2020

My 2018 Prediction About Buhari’s “NextLevel” is Materializing

 By Farooq A. Kperogi

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

It’s now two years since the Buhari regime launched its “NexlLevel” agenda. In a November 24, 2018 column titled “APC’s ‘NextLevel’ of Fraud, Incompetence, and Sorrow,” I predicted most of what is unfolding now. Read it below:

APC’s embarrassing “NextLevel” reelection campaign has erased all lingering doubts that the Buhari presidency is a veritable graveyard of creativity, intelligence, and basic decency. The campaign’s logo and slogan, as most people know by now, are unoriginal. They are also the product of willful intellectual theft. More than that, though, its symbolism portends a frightening future for Nigeria.

Let’s start with the logo that President Buhari shared on his verified Twitter handle on November 19. The creativity deficit in the graphic is truly unsettling, but it powerfully encapsulates, without intending to, the terrifyingly escalating sense of foreboding that a Buhari second term would mean for Nigeria.

 It shows Buhari and Osinbajo insouciantly detached from the people they are leading. Buhari appears as a clumsy, clueless leader who can’t even get his steps right: unlike Osinbajo, he skips a step on the staircase as he leads Nigerians to what seems like bottomless perdition.

Both the leaders and the led wear sheepish, vacuous grins—except Buhari who looks stiff-backed and joyless— as they head to their damnation like moths to a flame. The photo shows them climbing up the edge of a cliff from where they'd fall into the cruel, unforgiving blue ocean that surrounds them. It’s a contagiously depressing graphic, but I give it credit for its fidelity in capturing the ruination that Buhari is inexorably leading Nigeria to.

The “NextLevel” slogan is also a powerful linguistic affirmation of the depressing future the graphic evokes. There’s no question that Buhari’s record as president these past three years has been an unrelieved disaster. Nigeria now leads the world from the bottom in almost everything. For the first time in Nigeria’s history, we now have the unenviable notoriety of being the poverty capital of the world.

According to the most recent World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI) released by the International Police Science Association (IPSA) and the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), Nigeria’s police service is now the absolute last in the entire world.

The only quality Buhari proclaims to possess is an inscrutable “integrity” that no existing English dictionary in the world has a definition for, yet his government was ranked the second worst in the world in “government integrity” in 2018 by the US-based Heritage Foundation. It is only better than Venezuela’s government.

In Oxfam’s and Development Finance International (DFI)’s 2018 global ranking of “Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index,” Nigeria was ranked 157 out of 157 countries. And, in spite of the president’s tiresomely sanctimonious noises and holier-than-thou “anti-corruption” grandstanding, Nigeria has consistently regressed in Transparency International’s corruption perception index since Buhari became president. We are currently ranked 148 out of 180 countries.

Similarly, according the BBC of July 25, 2017, “Nigeria has largest number of children out-of-school in the world.” So, in Buhari’s more than three years in government, Nigeria has been in an unexampled free fall in every imaginable index of human development. To be sure, we weren’t first before, but we were never at the bottom.

These damning global assessments of Buhari’s excruciatingly biting incompetence are painfully familiar to everyday Nigerians. We know, for instance, that nearly 8 million people lost their jobs between January 2016 and September 30, 2017, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, which is a federal government agency.  

Youth unemployment also more than doubled during Buhari’s presidency. According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, when Buhari ascended to the presidency in May 2015, youth unemployment was 13.7 percent. By July 2017, it climbed to 33.1 percent.

Current statistics are grimmer and scarier than the 2017 ones, which explains why the government has chosen to starve the National Bureau of Statistics of funds, which has prevented it from bringing to light more embarrassing statistical testimonials of Buhari’s frightful incompetence.

But even without official statistics, we know Nigerians are enduring unparalleled existential torments. Prices of goods and services have gone through the roof. Insecurity used to be limited to the northeast, but it has now become democratized nationally. Governance has ceased. Governing boards of several federal agencies are still not constituted, which means the nation is literally at a standstill. 

The economy has tanked, and everyday folks are writhing in unspeakable agony, but the president bragged about never being in “a hurry to do anything.” Corruption by the criminally favored few in government is ignored, defended, celebrated, and rewarded (remember Abdullah Ganduje AKA Abdollar Gandollar).

Imagine what the “NextLevel” of this grim reality would be. That’s what the Buhari campaign is warning Nigerians about, and that’s why critics have rechristened the campaign slogan as the “NextDevil.”

APC's NextLevel campaign isn't just deficient in creativity; it's also a shameless theft of an organization's intellectual property. The logo that the president shared on his verified Twitter handle was stolen from Winthrop University in the US.

 I was one of the first people to call attention to this on social media. How can the government afford not to be original in something as consequential as its campaign logo and slogan? What level of cognitive indolence can activate that sort of intellectual dishonesty?

Remember that the “Change Begins With Me” campaign was also a brazen intellectual theft. According to the Premium Times of September 11, 2016, one Akin Fadeyi, identified as “a creative artist and former head of communications at Airtel Nigeria,” said he sent a proposal about the campaign to Lai Mohammed, who rejected it but later used it without the originator’s permission. 

But Premium Times found out that the slogan “Change Begins with Me” actually came from a public campaign in India. Interestingly, President Buhari’s speech at the official launching of the “Change Begins with Me” campaign plagiarized passages from Obama’s previous speeches!

What has become agonizingly obvious about the Buhari presidency is that everyone there from top to bottom is lazy and dishonest in even the little things. That’s why Buhari's government has been one giant, hypocritical criminal enterprise. No one thinks in that government. They are all intellectually low-grade malefactors.

Should Winthrop University decide to sue the Buhari campaign, it would inflict incalculable reputational damage on Nigeria.  Although it’s unlikely that Winthrop University has trademarked the NextLevel logo, it can still win a copyright infringement suit. Nigeria is a signatory to the Berne Convention, the international copyright treaty.

Copyright protection applies to “original works of authorship” that are “fixed in any tangible medium of expression.” In the US, creators of original works don’t have to formally apply to the US Copyright Office; their works are already automatically copyrighted.  Besides, the Berne Convention protects copyrighted materials from unauthorized “adaptations and arrangements of the work.” Changing the colors of the original logo, as the Buhari campaign did, is unauthorized adaptation.

How can the Buhari government take you to any level when it can't even come up with an original slogan and logo for its reelection campaign?

What is probably worse than APC’s intellectual theft is its insultingly inept attempt to cover its fraud with easily refutable lies. After our exposure of their mortifying intellectual theft, the Buhari campaign first blamed its supporters for it. 

Then Buhari campaign spokesman Festus Keyamo (who has been caught and exposed for stealing stock photos from the internet to bolster the Buhari regime’s habitual lies of infrastructural upgrades) took the lie a notch higher: he said on AIT that that the logo was actually designed by PDP to embarrass the Buhari government! But it was President Buhari who first tweeted it from his verified Twitter handle!

There’s little doubt at this point that the “NextLevel” that the Buhari reelection campaign is promising Nigerians is unmentionably unprecedented lying, ineptitude, fraud, and anguish.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Trump-Loving Buhari Critics are Bigoted Christofascists. Here’s Why

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

The stubborn, pigheaded, and religion-inspired support for Donald Trump by large swathes of Nigerian Christians (who also happen to be virulent critics of Muhammadu Buhari) is the clearest evidence that their criticisms of Buhari isn’t informed by Buhari’s tragic missteps in governance but by the mere fact of his being a Muslim.

Buhari and Trump have a lot of things in common. They both live in alternate realities. They both lack empathy. They are both bigots who exploit the primordial loyalties of their natal constituents to divide their countries. They both supervise the most corrupt regimes in their countries’ histories. And they both deploy state-sanctioned violence to squelch dissent that rattles them.

But Nigerian Trump supporters criticize in Buhari what they praise in Trump. For instance, when Trump ordered the military to crack down on peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, Nigerian Trumptards praised it. They are even ferocious opponents of Black Lives Matter and repeat racist rightwing propaganda against it. They say it’s a coordinated stratagem to dislodge Trump from power, not to protest and seek systemic redress against police brutality.

Interestingly, Nigerian Trumptards are enthusiasts of the #EndSARS revolt against police brutality who resent Buhari’s brutal military action against protesters. They resist the government’s narrative that #EndSARS is a well-planned civil insurrection to unseat the Buhari regime.

Nigerian Trumptards defend Trump’s white supremacist bigotry. They see no wrong in Trump characterizing African countries as “shitholes”; in  limiting visa issuance to Africans; in halting immigration from African countries; in preferring only immigrants “from countries like Norway”; in appointing only white judges; in having the whitest, least diverse cabinet in recent American history; and in defending negrophobic, white supremacist, domestic terrorist groups such as the Proud Boys (whom he told to “stand back and stand by”).

They also see no big deal in Trump’s habitual preferential treatment to “red” Republican states that voted for him and his antagonism to “blue” Democratic states that voted against him.

But they impotently rail against Buhari’s Arewacentric appointments, his inveterate defense of his Fulani kinfolk, his mollycoddling of Boko Haram terrorists, and his systematic exclusion of states that he said gave him only “5 percent” of their votes.

Nigerian Trumptards also defend Trump’s unprecedented nepotism and exploitation of the presidency for personal gains—in contravention of the U.S. Constitution. Trump’s employment of his daughter and her husband as his senior advisers with undeserved national security clearance has no precedent in recent American history. As I showed in a recent column, several watchdog groups have found Trump guilty of corrupt enrichment. Nigerian Trumptards said it was small potatoes.

But my revelations about the unprecedented number of Buhari’s family members who work in his government drew the fury of these same defenders of Trump’s nepotism and corruption. Apparently, for them, only Trump has the right to be nepotistic and corrupt.

When Buhari lost previous elections and perpetually complained that he was “rigged out” even though he never even campaigned outside the Muslim North and therefore couldn’t possibly have won a national mandate, he was dismissed as a sore loser by the same Nigerian Trumptards who are now defending Trump’s infantile, mendacious claims that he lost because he was cheated.

Buhari lost his second term election in 2019 but used the power of incumbency to steal it. He was roundly condemned by the same Nigerian Trumptards who are excited that Trump is refusing to concede an election he has clearly lost.

In 1985, Buhari was accused of betraying Nigeria by supporting a Hausa-speaking diplomat from Niger Republic to become Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity at the expense of a Nigerian by the name of Peter Onu.

Well, largely because of his racial animus toward Black people, Trump has also voted against Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to become Director General of the World Trade Organization even though Okonjo-Iweala became a US citizen in 2019.

Nigerian Trumptards’ defense is that Barack Obama also denied Okonjo-Iweala the headship of the World Bank in 2012. Well, at the time she vied for the headship of the World Bank, Okonjo-Iweala wasn’t a U.S. citizen.

As I pointed out in my April 27, 2012 column titled, “Nigeria’s Failed World Bank Presidency Bid,” “Historically, Europeans lead the IMF and Americans lead the World Bank. That's how it has been from the beginning. While it makes sense to demand that this undemocratic practice be stopped, it is unreasonable to let Europe lead the IMF but insist that America give up its own hold on the World Bank.”

The similarities between Trump and Buhari are almost endless. But it’s amazing what kind of self-indulgent cognitive bias causes people to condemn a vice in one person but praise it as a virtue in another.

This isn’t altogether surprising, though. Nigerian Trumptards also tend to be knee-jerk Goodluck Jonathan partisans who defended Jonathan for exactly what they criticize Buhari for. For instance, they attacked Bring Back Our Girls activists who demanded that the government rescue schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in April 2014. They even said the abduction never happened—or that it was staged to bring down Jonathan’s government.

But they are the most strident in condemning Buhari for Boko Haram’s February 19, 2018 abduction of more than 100 schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State on Buhari’s watch.

When Jonathan signed a draconian anti-social media law before he left power in 2015, which is now being used to muzzle and try activists like Omoyele Sowore, Jonathanian-Trumptards-turned-Buhari-critics praised it as a necessity to guarantee “national security.” Now they are up in arms against the series of duplicative anti-social media bills the Buhari regime is planning on unleashing shortly.

(Jonathan’s Cybercrime Act, which he signed into law in 2015, prescribes a three-year jail term or a fine of 7 million naira or both for anyone convicted of “causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or needless anxiety to another.”)

The Jonathanians-turned-Nigerian-Trumptards also opposed the #OccupyNigeria protest, saw it as a coup against Jonathan, and had not the feeblest compunction that the Jonathan government murdered at least 12 #OccupyNigeria protesters. Now they criticize Buhari’s strong-arm tactics against protesters and even gaslight Nigerians by falsely claiming that Jonathan gave Nigerians “total freedom” and never murdered anyone for protesting.

What has become apparent is that Trump-supporting Buhari critics don’t criticize Buhari because of his disastrous policies; they do so because of his religious, ethnic, and regional identity. They aren’t animated by the imperatives of critical democratic citizenship; they are simply two-bit religious and ethnic bigots who hate Buhari for who he is and not for what he does or doesn’t do.

They support Trump because, in their twisted, infantile, and impoverished minds, he is the Christian messiah who has come to establish a Talibangelical theocracy in America and the rest of the world. Never mind that Trump isn’t a Christian and has deep-seated contempt for believing Christians.

In other words, Trump-loving Nigerians are Christofascists. Like Islamofascists, their only goal in life is to impose their religious beliefs on others, to merge religion and everyday life, and to close off secular spaces.

In the last few years, because of my consistently searing critiques of the Buhari regime’s frightful ineptitude, I’ve become popular with Nigerian Trumptards. But I block them on social media now because I share nothing in common with them. I criticize Buhari, as I criticized his predecessors, out of a civic obligation to hold the government accountable.

 If I were as bigoted as they are, I would either ignore or vigorously defend Buhari because he and I share the same religious and regional identity. Plus, I had related personally with Buhari in the past and have personal relationships with many people who serve at the highest levels of his government.

I can’t stand Nigerian Trumptards the same way I can’t stand Buharists. They are two sides of the same sordid, bigoted coin. Buharists also criticize Trump for the same things they defend in Buhari—just like they gave Jonathan hell for the exact same things they are defending Buhari for. I was also their hero when Jonathan was in power, but they can’t stand me now.

The redemption of our world from ruin will come not from bigoted, self-interested, and situational critics of leaders but from people who transcend cheap emotions and show willingness for dispassionate examination of the ills that ail us.

Related Articles:

Fake Trump Quotes about Nigerians and Africans

Making Sense of Trump’s Victory for Nigerians

Sleepy Joe is in, Sleepless Donald is Out, and Nigerian-Americans on the Rise

Trump NOT a Christian. Here’re 7 Proofs

Trump, Chauvin, and English Morphology of Vileness

Adesina and Trump’s America: A Case of Corruption Fighting Corruption?

Biden is Right; If You Vote Trump You Ain’t Black

Nigerian Trumptards Are the World’s Most Annoying Humans

Social Media, Mental Health, and Nigerian Trumpists

Mangled Trumpian Grammar as New American English?

Video of Young Senator Biden Fighting for South African Blacks in US Senate

Video of Trump Defending Homosexuality at the UN

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Sleepy Joe is in, Sleepless Donald is Out, and Nigerian-Americans on the Rise

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

As of the time of writing this, all indications point to a decisive Electoral College win for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Donald Trump, who stays sleepless at nights to rage-tweet insane inanities, had in his characteristic juvenile schoolyard bullying called Joe “Biden Sleepy Joe.”

Well, Trump’s infantile nickname for Biden is ironically fitting in retrospect. After four years of a tumultuous, unconventional, incompetent, and immature presidency that kept both Trump and the world sleepless, we need a sleepy person at the helm so we can all go to sleep and not be worried that a corrupt, self-dealing, inept, perpetually enraged sociopath with access to nuclear codes is president of the world’s most powerful nation.

When my wife and I voted early on October 15, I said on social media that I did so to bring back decency to the White House and to restore the values that attracted me to America.

I’m a Nigerian by birth and an American citizen by choice. In my nearly two decades of living here, I hadn’t ceased to be amazed by the grace, magnanimity, and hospitality of most Americans; by the resilience, beauty, and ruthless efficiency of America’s institutions; and by the opportunities the country gives to immigrants. Then Donald Trump became president. And everything changed.

In the last four years, Trump’s America has reminded me of the country of my birth in many ways. Trump supervised the systematic demolition of the institutions, traditions, norms, and values that made America a transcendent shiny star in the world’s firmament and a welcoming place for everyone who shared in the country’s ideals of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Even in defeat, Trump is continuing with his banana-republic-style destruction of America’s centuries-old traditions. He is baselessly sowing doubts in the integrity of the electoral process. He did exactly that in 2016 when he thought he’d lose.

Like a stereotypical Third World dictator, he is inflaming the passions of his supporters and rousing them to violence. He wants to burn the system down because he can’t have his way. Just like he has made a habit of mindlessly labeling any factual and accurate but unflattering news about him “fake news,” he is alleging electoral malpractice, without evidence, because he is losing.

Trump checks all the classic characteristics of the sorts of authoritarian narcissists the US State Department threatens with visa bans and that U.S.-based NGOs habitually denounce and shame. That is why every reasonable American is worried that Trump has diminished America’s global moral authority in ways no one has ever done.

For instance, when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on November 2, “We are deeply concerned by reports of election irregularities, politically motivated arrests, and violence during Tanzania’s elections last week. We urge authorities to fully address concerns of irregularities and will review allegations of the use of force against civilians,” his message was at once hollow, hilarious, and self-indictingly satirical.

As you would expect, Pompeo was widely panned on social media for looking at the speck of sawdust in Tanzania’s eye and paying no attention to the plank in America’s own eye. Someone, for example, told Pompeo that he “misspelled America” as “Tanzania.”

 That is the lowest watermark in America’s moral standing that I have ever seen. And it’s all thanks to Sleepless Donald who has ensured that America has literally become the laughingstock of the world and the butt of cruel jokes.

It isn’t surprising that in his hours of desperation, Trump looked up to Africa, which he had called a “shithole,” for forlorn hope. On Election Day, for instance, he retweeted a video of braindead and self-hating Nigerian Trumptards rallying in support of him. He said he was “honored” by it.

And after it became apparent that Trump would lose, his comically unhinged spiritual adviser by the name of Paula White went on a wild prayer rant calling for “angels from Africa” to magically give Trump electoral victory. Many people joked that the African angels were denied visas at US embassies.

But this joke has a basis in reality. In a March 7, 2020 column titled, “Nigerian Trumptards Are the World’s Most Annoying Humans,” I wrote: “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.”

I wonder why Trump was suddenly “honored” by the rally of “shithole” people who dwell in “huts” (in December 2017, he said Nigerians should be denied visitor’s visas because they would never ‘go back to their huts’ after seeing the US,” according to the Business Insider) and why his spiritual adviser wanted shitty angels from shitholes to salvage his doomed reelection bid.

Well, it’s probably because he knows there are hordes of brainless know-nothings who worship him in Nigeria. After he is finally booted out of the White House in January next year, he should get in touch with his Nigerian supporters and establish a new country. They can call it the “Talibangelical Republic of Trumpistan.”

Whatever it is, Trump will go down in history as the absolute worst president America has ever had. In America’s nearly 250-year history, only three presidents have been impeached, and Trump is one of them. The other two are Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.

Again, in America’s entire history, only five presidents lost the popular vote, and Donald Trump is one of them. The others are John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and George W. Bush in 2000. But “Trump lost the popular vote by a greater margin than anyone ever elected president,” according to U.S. presidential historians.

Finally, out of America’s 45 presidents, only 12 have lost their reelection bids, and Trump seems headed for that fate. With the likely outcome of this election, I think 2020 has redeemed itself. I can forgive all the hurt it has thrown our way.

My In-Law Elected U.S. Congressman

My relative-in-law by the name of Oye Owolewa is one of at least three Nigerian-Americans I'm aware of who just got elected into legislative positions in the United States.

The shadow House of Representatives member-elect from the District of Columbia is the grandson of my aunt-in-law, that is, the older sister of my wife's father. His maternal grandmother, the late Chief Phoebe Chiadi Ajayi-Obe, about whom I wrote in a July 18, 2020 column, is Nigeria's second female Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Eastern Nigeria's first female SAN.

Although I have never met the younger Owolewa, his father, who is from Omu-Aran in Kwara State, attended my wedding. He came to me after the wedding ceremony and said, “Asalam alaikum, brother! I’m delighted to welcome the second Muslim into the family.”

The newly elected congressman is a product of tolerance and compromises along Nigeria’s primordial fissures. His maternal grandmother was an Igbo woman from Anambra State who married a Yoruba man from Osun State, and his mother married a Muslim from Kwara State. Just like his maternal grandmother “converted” to a Yoruba identity, his mother converted to Islam.

The Owolewas are devout Muslims, and the House of Representatives-elect brought his Muslim identity to the fore during his campaigns. “As a Nigerian-American and a Muslim, I look at [Donald Trump’s] policies as a direct finger at me saying, ‘You’re not welcome here,’” he said in a campaign video. “Even though I have done my best to provide for my community…I still feel I’m not good enough for Donald Trump.”

In spite of his “outsider” identity, Owolewa won more votes than his two other competitors combined. So in spite of Trump's racist, juvenile vileness, America is still a great, tolerant country.

Plus, I doubt that the three young recently elected Nigerian-American legislators would have had a snowball's chance in hell of being elected if they vied for equivalent positions in Nigeria.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Nigeria’s Season of Anomie and Okonjo-Iweala’s WTO DGship Bid

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

In the aftermath of the infiltration, suppression, and suspension of the #EndSARS protests, Nigeria is now contending with the spontaneous nationwide eruption of what I call a subaltern revolt against the greed and hardheartedness of Nigeria’s elites.

All over the country, “palliative warehouses” (where foodstuffs donated by the private sector to help the government provide relief to citizens during the COVID-19-inspired lockdown of the country months ago) are being raided. Unlike the #EndSARS protests, the raiding of “palliative warehouses” is pan-Nigerian. Call it unity in adversity, if you will.

While discussing this with a childhood friend of mine in Nigeria, he bewailed the widespread “looting” of foodstuffs all over the country as the definitive signal of the erosion of Nigeria’s moral core and of the younger generation’s total divorce from the ethical verities that held the society together.

 I told him he was guilty of chronocentricity, that is, the often wrong-headed, evidence-free idea that one generation or era is better or worse than the other. There is no evidence there was ever a golden age of moral perfection in any society. The evidence we have is that people in every era tend to sentimentalize the past as better and to disdain contemporary eras as worse.

This is usually wholly a product of our imaginations. There will always be criminals and pious people in every society and in every era.

Since we are both from Borgu, I reminded my friend that until colonialism stopped it in the early 1900s, Borgu princes used to be highway robbers on the Trans-Saharan trade route. It was called “swa dibu,” which literally translates as “eating the road.” We were told stories of Borgu princes’ highway robberies as brave and heroic feats, even though they robbed innocent people of their possessions like modern-day armed robbers do.

The mass, unprecedented repossession of foodstuffs from warehouses by both genuinely poor and criminal people isn’t proof of a new moral degeneracy in the society. It is rather evidence of the collapse of the unwritten social contract between the rulers and the ruled.

The idea that organized societies are founded on a social contract between the governors and the governed was first proposed by Plato and elaborated by other philosophical treatises such as Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan. 

Social contract rests on the idea that everyday members of a society have agreed formally or informally to give up some of their natural rights and to recognize the authority of people in power in exchange for security and basic economic liberties. 

Social cohesion and the sustenance of social order are guaranteed when both parties keep their side of the bargain. Anomie results when either side fails to live up to the terms of the contract. That is why citizens get thrown into jails or fined for offenses ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. 

When those who control the levers of the power structure, who enjoy the privilege of being rulers, provide neither security nor basic economic liberties for everyday citizens who give up their natural rights for the sake a common social order that works for everybody, you get rebellion, insurrection, revolt, or even revolutions.

That is precisely what is happening in Nigeria. In both the North and the South, particularly in the North, oceans of innocent blood flood the land, and the government has shown itself to be either unwilling or unable to protect people.

Amid biting and rising mass hunger in the land, governors chose to hoard foodstuffs that were donated by the private sector. Since self-preservation is the first law of nature, most people would do anything, including risking death, to stay alive. It’s one of the existential paradoxes of human life.

This anomie, this disruption of the habitual order of society, won’t abate as long as the conditions that drive them persist. But Nigeria’s political elites don’t seem to grasp what’s happening. They are still cocky, callous, and calculating.

 The same governors who couldn’t go from house to house to distribute foodstuffs to citizens under a government-mandated lockdown have now said they would go from house to house to retrieve forcefully taken foodstuffs that were meant for them. These guys are sowing the seeds of a revolution the kind of which their impoverished minds can’t conceive.

However much we may like to characterize it as a “revolution,” #EndSARS wasn’t a revolution. It was merely a rebellion. Disparate resentments against police brutality, particularly in the South, quickly coalesced into a mass resistance, then blossomed into a protest, and culminated in a rebellion without ever achieving the status of a revolution.

 In a revolution, a vanguard takes ownership of the rebellion and uses it as a ladder to climb to substantive power. But all that #EndSARS did—and could ever do—was cause discomfiture to an oppressive power structure while leaving intact the power structure itself. 

What is brewing, and which the political elites are exacerbating, is far greater in ramifications than anything Nigeria had ever seen. Nigerian rulers should know that they can’t continually fail to fulfill their duties and obligations in the social contract and expect the governed to accept their dehumanization with listless abandon. 

Okonjo-Iweala’s WTO DGship and Trump

Almost every Nigerian news outlet inaccurately reported that Dr. Ngozi Oknonjo-Iweala had been appointed Director General of the World Trade Organization at a time that international media outlets reported that US’s opposition to her consensus nomination had threatened her chances.

For instance, Bloomberg reported that preparatory to the WTO General Council "tentatively set for Nov. 9" during which a final decision will be made, the WTO reached a consensus decision to appoint Okonjo-Iweala as its DG, but that "the Trump administration said it won’t back the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to be the WTO’s next director-general"  and "will act as a veto that disrupts” her consensus nomination.

Okonjo-Iweala became a US citizen in 2019, yet Trump is more comfortable with a Korean than with his compatriot.  Trump’s calculations for rejecting Okonjo-Iweala may be geo-political, but he is also a dyed-in-the-wool negrophobic racist.

For instance, of the 220 federal judges he has appointed since he became president, not a single one is black or nonwhite. 

In 2016, Trump praised and promoted a book titled “Adios America” by American conservative activist Ann Coulter which, among other racist 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.”

On December 23, 2017, he was reported to have said people from Haiti and Nigeria should be denied US 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.”

 In January 2018, he was quoted to have said he didn’t want immigration into the US from “shithole countries” like Nigeria and Haiti; he said he preferred “more people coming in from places like Norway.”

 In 2020, to appease his racist base, he banned Nigerians, along with other non-white countries, from immigrating to the US. And now, his government is the only government in the world that will vote against a smart, accomplished black woman’s choice as the DG of the World Trade Center.

Trump is far and away the most racist president America has ever had in modern history. We can only hope that his racist, nightmarish presidency comes to an end on November 3.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Buhari’s Trumpian Propaganda to Cover Up the Lekki Massacre

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

On October 20, I couldn’t sleep in my base here in the United States because I was glued to social media monitoring livestreams of the agonizing state-authorized mass massacres of peaceful protesters in Lekki, Lagos.  I was crushed and despondent beyond description.

My situational insomnia was triggered by vicarious pains. The sights and sounds of young men and women being felled by live bullets by uniformed homicidal thugs caused me to imagine— and vicariously experience— the pain that the parents of the children who were being killed would go through when they find out about the murder of their children.

Although this Buhari-sanctioned, Tinubu-supported mass murder of unarmed and defenseless protesters was captured in real time on social media, archived on the web, and reported in the domestic and international media, the government isn’t only denying it now, it is causing people who witnessed it to question their own perceptual stimuli, recollections, and even sanity.

That is the propaganda tactic Donald Trump routinely deploys in America. He tells outrageous lies (he has told more than 50,000 lies since becoming president, according to several media houses that are keeping records!), repeats them ad infinitum, ignores rebuttals, and causes otherwise normal people to question the reality they live in and the evidence around them.

This propaganda and mind management tactic is called gaslighting. Its goal is to defamiliarize reality and the truth through intentional, in-your-face obfuscation of the facts—or through the popularization of what Trump’s former counselor Kellyanne Conway once called “alternative facts.”

In a January 2017 article for Psychology Today, Stephanie A. Sarkis, Ph.D., defined gaslighting as “a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn't realize how much they've been brainwashed.”

I’ve seen otherwise intelligent, critical people fall victim to the Nigerian government’s Trumpian gaslighting propaganda tactic over the Lekki massacre. Even though videographic evidence exists of the shooting of protesters in Lekki—and of real-time reports of military officers hiding corpses to conceal their murderous cruelty—I’ve seen a surprising number of people asking for evidence of the deaths of protesters in Lekki.

Before writing this column, I observed social media conversations about the government’s audacious denial of the Lekki massacre, and I was amazed by the number and types of people who were gaslit by the government.

Although gaslighting was initially studied in interpersonal settings, it has now been expanded to account for how people with political and coercive authority (such as presidents, heads of military organizations, etc.) and even symbolic power (such as celebrities and public intellectuals) can use their positions to muddy the waters and confound otherwise self-aware people.

The website “Healthline” tells us that gaslighting can cause people “to question their thoughts, memories, and the events occurring around them,” adding that “A victim of gaslighting can be pushed so far that they question their own sanity.”

It is the reason millions of Americans have become suckers for Trump’s absurd, easily refutable lies, and why millions of unreflective Talibangelical African Christians worship and believe him even though he isn’t a Christian and hates and disdains them because of their race.

Psychologists say the most potent solution to gaslighting is to recognize and accept that you’re the victim of a carefully planned emotional manipulation by people who have conscious and unconscious political, symbolic, or interpersonal dominion over you.

That acceptance frees victims from the burden of self-doubt and allows them to examine the facts and evidence around them. The unvarnished fact is that on October 20, CCTV cameras were turned off in Lekki and scores of protesters were shot at with live bullets by the Nigerian military. An undetermined number of protesters died.

The Punch of October 21 reported that “no fewer than seven persons” were murdered at Lekki and that “Many protesters were said to have sustained bullet wounds as a result of the attack that suddenly came just after the billboard on the tollgate and the streetlights around the premises were switched off.”

The paper also reported an eyewitness to have said, “They have killed more than seven people that I have seen with my eyes. They were killed with real bullets...”

Premium Times of October 23 also reported “Nigerian artiste, DJ Switch, who was present when soldiers shot at peaceful protesters in Lekki, Lagos, [on] Tuesday” to have said, “at least 15 people were killed in the shootings and that she and other survivors took the victims’ bodies to the soldiers who took them away.”

The Peoples Gazette, a professional, up-and-coming digital-native news outlet, reported that “the police in Lagos turned down [the] Nigerian Army’s request to hand over nine bodies from Tuesday’s massacre” and pointed out that “Amnesty International had reported 12 persons were killed by security forces on the same night, including 10 from Lekki military shooting.”

So the murder of protesters in Lekki by the Buhari regime is real. It isn’t mass hallucination. And it is disrespectful to the memories of the people who were senselessly murdered by the Nigerian military to question the truth of their death.

The blame for this gaslighting, of course, rests entirely with the government. Many of the peddlers of the government-approved falsehood that no one died at Lekki—or that accounts of what happened there are hyperbolized— are also victims of sophisticated emotional exploitation.

Tinubu is Complicit in the #LekkiMassacre

In an October 21 phone interview with Channels TV, Bola Tinubu tried to dissociate himself from the mass murder of EndSARS protesters in Lekki by asking, “Why will they use live bullets?” and proclaiming he “will never, never be part of any carnage. I will never be part of that.”

His condemnation of the massacre is refreshing, but he advertently or inadvertently enabled it in his blind pursuit of an increasingly implausible presidential ambition.

On Oct. 17, it emerged that clueless Aso Rock insiders said Tinubu was behind the #EndSARS protests as a bargaining chip to get the APC presidential ticket in 2023. I pointed this out on social media, and Tinubu himself acknowledged it days later in his ChannelsTV interview where he said he was “being accused and reported to the Presidency that I was behind the protests, that I was a sponsor of the protests.”

To persuade Aso Rock power brokers that he was on their side, he issued a forceful press statement on October 18 disclaiming any connection with the protesters, saying the protests, in fact, "affected the "economy of Lagos State" (read: Tinubu's bottom line since he practically owns the Lagos State government).

But his disclaimer did little to assuage the suspicions of his Aso Rock masters. So on Oct. 20, he issued an even more forceful statement where he, among other things, said the Buhari regime had the right to "act with the requisite decisiveness and FORCE to restore law and order."

In other words, he gave his imprimatur to the military to murder protesters. What else can “decisiveness and FORCE to restore law and order” mean but state-sanctioned lethal violence?

On the night of Oct. 20, several unarmed, defenseless young men and women were murdered in cold blood in Lekki by the Nigerian military. Of course, given Buhari’s bloodstained history, he didn’t need Tinubu’s greenlight to extrajudicially murder citizens who challenged his dreadful ineptitude, but Tinubu’s endorsement made it easier.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

#EndSWAT/#EndSARS Youth Steamroller and Theory of Rational Ignorance

 By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

An unprecedently seismic youth-led force is convulsing the foundations of Nigeria, which once and for all settles the widespread notion that Nigeria’s youth are lazy, ignorant, and detached. I call this the EndSWAT/EndSARS youth steamroller.

Like the literal steamroller, this Nigerian youth steamroller is massive, resolute, persistent, fearless, implacable, and determined to crush everything and everyone that stands in its way. Its momentous passion is energized by the vigorous eruption of years of raw, pent-up rage over the murderous impunity and crippling incompetence of the Nigerian state.

Its confidence is buoyed by its lack of fear of loss because it has nothing to lose. The vast majority of young Nigerians feel indestructible because they have already been destroyed. You can’t destroy what is already destroyed.

 When a young man pays through his nose to get a crummy higher education that was perpetually punctuated by strikes and, after graduation, is required to pay hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, in bribes to get a hopelessly low-wage civil service job, he has nothing to lose by confronting the state.

When a man defies the odds, surmounts the state-imposed structural impediments placed in his way, and takes advantage of the global digital economy to earn a decent living but automatically becomes the target of ignorant law enforcement agents who torture him based on evidence-free suspicion that he is an internet fraudster, he has nothing to lose by fighting.

When a smart, hardworking young lady with as good qualifications as—or even better than—the next person can’t get a job without being trapped in the lecherous snares of arrogant and degenerate bureaucrats and politicians, she has nothing to lose by fighting.

When the annihilators of the Nigerian state transcend the dysfunctions that they created at home by misappropriating public resources to go abroad for services their incompetence deprives the less privileged of, they enkindle the fury of young people who are condemned to deal with the insensate cruelty of the elites.

Young people see that the elites send their children to overseas schools while public institutions wither away irreparably. They see that as healthcare gets progressively worse, the elites have become perpetual patrons of foreign hospitals.

They see insatiably greedy, short-sighted, senescent geezers in government relentlessly borrowing and stealing massive amounts of foreign loans they won’t be around to repay. They know they would be burdened with and compelled to repay these foreign debts they didn’t benefit from. They know their futures are being literally mortgaged. So they have nothing to lose by fighting.

In a January 21, 2012 column titled “Labor’s Treachery against the ‘Occupy Nigeria’ Revolt,” I despaired that the revolutionary fire of a splendidly promising, spontaneous, unscripted, and unexampled mass insurrection against an evil ruling class was extinguished by Nigeria’s thoroughly compromised labor movement.

I ended the column with the following ominous warning: “Lastly, this battle isn’t over yet.  The suicidal and clueless Nigerian elite are unlikely to relent in their cowardly and egomaniacal violations of the poor. When the combustion does erupt again, it would take a decidedly different course. Labor leaders would no longer be able to stop what they didn’t start. A wise government would learn from this, retrace its steps, and respect the will and wishes of the people it claims to govern. But is any Nigerian government wise?”

My warning turned out to be accurate. The current #EndSARs/#EndSWAT revolt is a recrudescence of the 2012 #OccupyNigeria protests that the Nigerian labor movement betrayed and squelched from within. As I predicted, the current face of the revolt of the Nigerian youth excludes labor and the traditional wheeler-dealing “pro-democracy” and “human rights” entrepreneurs. It is fierce, decentered, leaderless and yet intensely consequential.

 As I pointed out on social media recently, the current #EndSARS/#EndSWAT revolutionary ferment in Nigeria has been successful precisely because the Nigerian Labor Congress and its evil twin, the Trade Union Congress, aren’t in it.

The debauched labor aristocrats in NLC and TUC habitually hijack, neutralize, and extinguish the people’s revolt. They didn’t just do precisely that in the #OccupyNigeriaProtests in 2012, they’ve been doing it ever since. They did it again a few weeks ago. There is now no doubt that the Nigerian labor movement is officially an extension of the government.

But why are young people now waking up? The seeming complacence and self-satisfaction of the Nigerian youth in the face of their continual rape by a rapacious, decaying elite class—and their curious obsession with sports and entertainment—had worried me and caused me to question my confidence that a second OccupyNigeria rebellion in a newer, more ferocious, less predictable form would materialize someday.

 In trying to understand why the Nigerian youth appeared disengaged, “ignorant,” fixated on strategies of emotional escape such as binge-watching BBNaija but suddenly energized to confront their oppressors, I encountered a concept in economics called “rational ignorance.”

In his book titled “Against Democracy,” Jason Brennan explained rational ignorance as the intentional avoidance of knowledge that has no immediate utilitarian value. “When the expected costs of acquiring information of a particular sort exceed the expected benefits of possessing that sort of information, people will usually not bother to acquire the information,” he wrote.

Nigerian politics is a source of unrewarding emotional strife and distress, so the youth chose to disengage from it, not because they don’t understand the power of knowledge and engagement but because they realize that they are and will always be systematically excluded from the orbit of power and influence. They also realize that conventional engagement with the state would do nothing to assuage their continued structural exclusion.

Now they’ve come to the realization that their very lives depend on their unconventional engagement with the state. Malcolm X once said, “Preserve your life. It’s the best thing you’ve got. And if you gotta give it up, let it be even Steven.”

 The Nigerian youth are fighting back with vigor and defiance because it’s their only chance to live. They are suddenly engaged because they are enraged. The only thing they have to lose is their oppression. That’s not a loss anyone regrets. The political elites should be wise enough to know that they can’t crush a people whose only hope of living is to risk death.

In Monarchs and Mendicants, Dan Groat said, “Not interested in scarin’ anybody, but people with good sense are afraid of a man with nothin’ to lose.” Lance Conrad captured the same sentiment in The Price of Nobility. He said, “Only a fool would underestimate a man with nothing to lose.”

The #EndSWAT/#EndSARS are only the trigger of a much deeper youth resentment against the Nigerian state. The protests aren’t just against police brutality; they are also against the oppressive and obscenely unequal character of the Nigerian society.

Although I live in America, my heart is with the valiant and resilient young men and women who are risking everything to take back their humanity from wretched scoundrels in the seat of power.

Related Articles:

Fuel Subsidy Removal: Time to “Occupy” Nigeria!

Labor’s Treachery against the “Occupy Nigeria” Revolt

I'm Shocked People Are Shocked by NLC's Treachery

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Litigious Terrorism of Ortom, el-Rufai, Fani-Kayode and Osinbajo

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

There is an abysmally low legal literacy in Nigeria. And Nigerian political elites have discovered that they can exploit the fear and ignorance of the law in the general population to terrorize their critics into silence and self-censorship through the threats— or actual institution— of meritless lawsuits.

American defamation lawyers call this “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation” (SLAPP). But I choose to call it litigious terrorism. I think that is a more evocative and fitting description than SLAPP. Litigious terrorism is the intentional intimidation, coercion, or instilling of fear in journalists and critics through frivolous lawsuits that are designed to shut down scrutiny of plaintiffs’ questionable lives.

In Nigeria, litigious terrorism also comes in the form of infuriating litigious frivolity. Take the case of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom for example. On October 4, he sued young, smart, fearless human rights activist Sesugh Akume (for N150 million) for suing him “over abuse of the local government system [particularly] the powers to sack local government chairmen and control local government funds, especially federal allocations”!

He also sued Sahara Reporters (and its owner Omoyele Sowore) for reporting on Akume’s lawsuit! The governor’s lawyer said the lawsuit against his client and its publication on news websites such as Sahara Reporters constituted “defamatory words or hate speech [sic] capable of lowering the reputations, [sic] undermine the integrity of the plaintiff, inviting disloyalty and bringing the name of the plaintiff to obloquy.”

This has to rank as by far the silliest and most ignorant lawsuit in the history of litigation worldwide. Even with the wildest stretch of the most febrile fantasy, it’s impossible to imagine a more absurd lawsuit than that.

In law, there is something called absolute privilege, which is the privilege granted to certain people in certain places to say whatever they want without legal consequences. For instance, people can’t be sued for whatever they say (however libelous it may be) while a court is in session or during National Assembly hearings.

There is also what is called “qualified privilege,” which is the privilege extended to reporters to report on what people with “absolute privilege” say without legal consequences. It’s called “qualified,” i.e., limited or restricted, because it is only guaranteed if the reporter reports exactly what the person with absolute privilege says.

If, for example, Mr. A says in court that Governor O stole money, but journalist S adds that Governor O also sexually harasses his female aides (which Mr. A didn’t say in court), journalist S can be sued for defamation.

But Mr. A’s claims don’t have to be true for him to be protected from libel lawsuit and for journalist S’s accurate reporting on what Mr. A said to be protected. The idea behind the privileges is informed by the need for untrammeled divulgence of the facts that are critical to the pursuit of truth in court cases, judicial inquiries, parliamentary proceedings, etc.

The judge before whom Ortom filed his thoughtless lawsuit would most likely remind him of the Latin legal maxim that says de minimis no curat lex, i.e., “the law does not concern itself with trifles.”

An even more insidious litigious terrorist than Samuel Ortom is Nasiru el-Rufai who sues every critic he can’t cause to “disappear.” For instance, on August 23, Sahara Reporters reported that the Kaduna State Government sued a Kaduna bishop “for saying Governor El-Rufai will never be Nigeria’s president”!

I observed in an August 23 tweet that the humiliation of el-Rufai by the Nigerian Bar Association must have literally driven him stark raving mad. That was the only way I could make sense of his juvenile litigious terroristic stunt.

Opinion is protected by law. In fact, vigorous, vituperative, unflattering opinion uttered in moments of inflamed passions can’t be defamatory in Nigerian law. There are many precedents for this. For instance, in Bakare v Ishola, the defendant, in a moment of heightened emotions, said to the plaintiff in Yoruba, “Ole ni o! Elewon! Iwo ti o sese to ewon de yi.” English translation: “You’re a thief! Ex-convict! You have just come out of prison.”

Justice C.J. Jibowu ruled that these were vulgar insults that weren’t actionable. “It is a matter of common knowledge of which this court takes judicial notice that people commonly abuse each other as a prelude to a fight and call each other ‘ole! Elewon!... which…no one takes seriously as they are words of heat and anger,” he said.

In another case, Ibeanu v Uba, the defendant was accused of defaming the plaintiff by saying in Igbo, “Josiah, Josiah, Ongi kpo ndi ori bia zulu ewum, bia malu uma najum.” Translation: “Josiah, Josiah, you brought the thieves with whom you stole my goat and you have now come to ask me.” The judge in the case also ruled that this didn’t constitute defamation.

So it has been established in Nigerian law that mere “vulgar abuse” isn’t defamatory. In American media law, vulgar abuse, such as calling someone a “criminal idiot” in the heat of anger, is called rhetorical hyperbole, and is not defamatory.  Saying someone can never be president because of his vicious divisiveness isn’t even vulgar abuse or rhetorical hyperbole; it’s simply innocuous, if uncomplimentary, opinion. Only a litigious terrorist would sue anyone over that.

This is particularly interesting because el-Rufai said worse things about people in power when he was in opposition than his critics say about him now, but no one sued him. He was so proud of his vicious verbal causticity that he described himself as a “certified ruffler of feathers” on his Twitter profile.

Femi Fani-Kayode’s litigious terrorism is less outrageous than Ortom’s and el-Rufai’s but it’s no less indefensible. On September 1, for example, he sued—or threatened to sue— the Daily Trust over a scathingly unflattering opinion article that an occasional contributor to the paper's opinion pages wrote about him.

Most of the unsparingly virulent things the writer wrote about Fani-Kayode, as I pointed out on September 1, qualify as opinion and fair comment in media law and are not actionable. The matter about which the writer wrote, i.e., Fani-Kayode’s unjustifiably primitive verbal violence against a Daily Trust reporter, had dominated the news cycle and generated intense public interest.

The only potentially libelous statement in the piece was the claim that Fani-Kayode is a drug addict who had been treated, without success, in psychiatric hospitals in Ghana (and other places) but who hasn't recovered from his drug addiction.

That's not an opinion that enjoys legal protection; it is a statement that implies a definitive habit of moral turpitude that can be proven to be either true or false.

 Nonetheless, truth is a defense in libel. Daily Trust would be compelled to prove that Fani-Kayode was indeed a drug addict who had been treated at psychiatric hospitals.

In proving this, Daily Trust’s legal team would expose Fani-Kayode to even more public ridicule because whatever evidence they present in court, whether the evidence is false or true, would be legitimate, legally protected material for the news media.

But, even worse, if Daily Trust finally proves it, Fani-Kayode's reputation would be so irretrievably sullied that he would become what defamation lawyers call a “libel-proof plaintiff,” that is, someone whose reputation is already so thoroughly damaged that no libelous statement can damage it further. In other words, he would inadvertently open the floodgates to everyone to thrash him in public without fear of legal consequences.

Plus, he is a public figure who seeks out the media, who willfully thrusts himself into public consciousness, who seeks to influence national conversations, and who has the capacity to respond to whatever dirt is thrown at him. Such people have a hard time winning libel cases.

Finally, in a September 28, 2019 column titled “Osinbajo:Unraveling of Nigeria’s Most Overrated Vice President,” I also wrote about Yemi Osinbajo who, “instead of confronting the real demons that are tormenting him… has chosen to transfer his aggression elsewhere by intimidating and overawing soft, weak targets….

“He is now on a wildly frivolous litigation spree. As of the time of writing this column, he has sued—or has threatened to sue—'one Timi Frank and another Katch Ononuju’ whom he said have ‘put their names to’ what he said are ‘odious falsehoods’ against him. He also threatened to sue RootsTV and Google over a YouTube video he said injured his reputation.”

As is obvious by now, litigious terrorists are cowards who derive strength from intimidating weaker targets and who treasure the privileges of being in the public eye but chafe at the scrutiny that comes with it.

Related Articles:

Abba Kyari’s Cowardly SLAPP against the Punch over Alleged Scam

Osinbajo: Unraveling of Nigeria’s Most Overrated Vice President

Fani-Kayode: All Great Journalists Are “Rude

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Who Writes Buhari’s Horrible, Error-Ridden Speeches?

 By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

A former minister called me a few days ago to say the focus of my columns on Muhammadu Buhari ignores my own 2018 disclosure that he is a captive of an irrecoverably degenerative mental decline that ensures that he doesn’t know what he says and does. “To criticize Buhari is to beat a carcass,” he said.

I see his point, but I disagree. It is the office, not necessarily the person, that is being criticized, although the person and the office converge. Anyway, the former minister said attention should be focused on the people who drive the policies of the regime, who write Buhari’s speeches, who babysit him.

He pointed out, for instance, that CBN governor Godwin Emefiele now almost singlehandedly steers the economic policies of the country without recourse to the presidency—or the presidential economic advisory council— because there is frankly no presidency. It’s just outright anarchy.

But, to get back to the subject matter of today’s column, who writes Buhari’s speeches? Why are the speeches often embarrassingly error-ridden, callous, shallow, cavalier, ignorant, and unpresidential? Buhari’s October 1 Independence Day Speech is perhaps the crowning encapsulation of his speech writers’ utter inner emptiness and cluelessness. I’ll come back to this point shortly.

I know that Mamman Daura and Education Minister Adamu Adamu wrote some Buhari’s signature speeches in his firm term. I know this because when I wrote a June 7, 2015 column in my now rested grammar column titled “A Grammatical and Rhetorical Analysis of President Buhari’s Inaugural Speech” where I both praised and called attention to the speech’s grammatical errors, I got a swift, defensive, ill-informed response from a “Mainasara” who used the majestic self-referential plural “we” in his response to me, which was published in the Sunday Trust of July 12, 2015.

Daura betrayed himself when he made reference to Dublin College Ireland as one of the guardians of the English language, which it isn’t, nor is there any. (He attended Dublin College!). I wrote a rejoinder to his rejoinder and shut him up. A senior person in Daily Trust later confided in me that “Mainasara” was Mamman Daura’s pen name and that Daura took my criticism personally because he was one of the writers of the inaugural. 

Adamu Adamu, who had been Buhari’s speech writer before he was elected in 2015, also contributed to the 2015 inauguration speech, particularly the Shakespearean references in the speech. (Adamu Adamu is a Shakespearean enthusiast and wordsmith who probably wrote Buhari’s famous “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody” line in the inaugural speech, which some people erroneously said was plagiarized.)

But I no longer see the rhetorical echoes of Adamu Adamu—or even Mamman Daura—in the recent speeches Buhari reads. Whatever disagreements I may have with the duo, I can’t help but concede that they are excellent writers. This is particularly true of Adamu Adamu, who is far and away one of Nigeria’s finest writers in the English language.

I don’t know who writes Buhari’s speeches now. Nor is it possible to tell because the tones and tenor of the speeches change dramatically from occasion to occasion, underscoring the chaos and anything-goes climate in the presidency. 

But whoever the speech writers are, they are illiterate doofuses who have zero appreciation of the power of what we call the rhetorical presidency in communication studies, which I have defined in a forthcoming book chapter as the symbolic and discursive powers of the presidency to frame, reframe, define, and redefine the contours of national conversations and identity formulations and reformulations.

As I pointed out on social media on October 1, Nigeria's Independence Day is supposed to be a solemn, august, introspective moment, and the speech of whoever claims to be president of the country should reflect the dignified seriousness of the moment. It should inspire hope for the future, enliven spirits, and renew faith in the country.

 But what did we see? Buhari’s speech writers chose the moment to visit rhetorical violence on Nigerians, to rile people and foul their mood, to annihilate people’s loyalty in the country, to fertilize hopelessness and despair, and to inspire disabling anxieties about the immediate future.

For instance, during his speech Buhari signaled that he'd yet again hike the price of petrol (and plunge Nigerians into even deeper misery than they're already in) by saying, "It makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia." Which sane person writes that in an Independence Day Speech?

Well, it also makes no sense for the minimum wage in Saudi Arabia to be 3,000 riyals (which is equivalent to N305,149.30) while the minimum wage in Nigeria is a miserly N30,000, which hasn’t even been fully implemented in all states. Nor does it make sense for Saudi Arabia to have generous social safety nets for its citizens while the vast majority of Nigerians are crushed by biting deprivation. Or that Saudis have access to affordable public transportation, while Nigerians don’t.

To compare the petrol prices of various countries with Nigeria and ignore the sky-high differences in minimum wages and standards of living is beyond cruel. In any case, if the government claims it has fully “deregulated” the petrol industry, what business does it have again talking about the prices of petrol? In a deregulated economy, the government has no business fixing prices. That’s the prerogative of the private sector.

You are either deregulating or you are not. There is no in-between. Deregulation means freedom from government regulations. Yet, the government fixes the price of petrol. That’s insane. In a deregulated petrol price regime, the first government agency that should be disbanded outright is the fraudulent Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

I live in the United States where petrol prices are truly deregulated. Different states have different price regimes. In fact, in the same city, different gas stations have different prices. And prices fluctuate from time to time. Prices have been extremely low these past few months because of the slump in global oil prices. Ironically, government-engineered price hikes in Nigeria coincide with a time when prices are low everywhere else in the world.

But, as I've pointed out before, cruelty is now Buhari's official governing philosophy. Denying Nigerians the expectation of relatively cheaper petrol prices is like asking people to hold cream on their hands while their faces and bodies are dry. That’s cruelty. Most Nigerians would be at peace with high petrol prices if their country doesn’t produce oil.

A wealthy parent who starves his children and justifies his cruelty by pointing to the starvation of the children of his poor neighbors is an irresponsible parent who doesn’t deserve his children.

I think one error people keep making, including the former minister who spoke with me, is to forget that even before his dementia-fueled alienation from his government, Buhari had notoriety for sadism. In a response to a previous column, for instance, a Katsina man wrote that Buhari’s nickname as a youngster was "Danliti mugu," meaning "Danliti the sadist."

Another said most people in the Northwest have internalized the fact of Buhari’s sadism by coining the expression "Da sauran aiki; Buhari yaga mai rake da iPhone." Literally: "There's still more to be done; Buhari saw a sugarcane hawker with an iPhone!" In other words, the appearance of even a glimmer of prosperity in people activates Buhari’s sadistic instincts. So his government reflects his person, and his speech writers probably know this.

I wish I could say, "Happy Independence Day" to Nigerians, but that would be heartless. There was nothing to make a song and dance about an Independence Day that was ruined by Buhari's sadism.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

I'm Shocked People Are Shocked by NLC's Treachery

 By Farooq A. Kperogi

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

The Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) has been the outpost of nakedly mercenary and treacherous intrigues at least since Adams Oshiomhole became its leader.

I know for a fact that in the early 2000s, every petrol price hike used to be preceded by negotiations with, and eye-watering palm-greasing to, debauched labor aristocrats led by Oshiomhole.

If the price of petrol was, say, N10 per liter and the government planned to raise it to, say, N20, it would increase it to N30. Compromised and coopted labor bureaucrats would be encouraged to talk tough and to go on strike to "protest" the hike. After "negotiations" and other theatrics, government would "back down" and agree to “reduce” the price to N20. 

Both the government and labor aristocrats would win, and the masses would lose. Nonetheless, the masses would be thrilled that they didn’t have to pay N30 for a liter of petrol.

Unsuspecting citizens would praise the labor leaders for "fighting" for them—and the government also got brownie points for being a "listening government." And everything went back to normal. Until the next hike. And the same chicanery would play out.

But post-Oshiomhole labor leaders, particularly the current ones, neither have Oshiomhole's criminally effective wiles nor his swaggering gutsiness. They're simply farouche, unthinking, mercenary know-nothings whose dewy-eyed eagerness for financial inducement from the government caused them to botch an amateur theater. 

Of course, the current regime doesn’t even respect them enough to plot the sort of carefully choreographed histrionics that previous governments hatched with Oshiomhole and his gang of depraved underlings.  

That anyone even thought the barely literate mercantile scammers masquerading as labor leaders would lead a strike against the government's unpopular policies shows that many Nigerians know awfully very little about the crying moral poverty of the NLC—and its evil twin the TUC.

Related Article:

Labor’s Treachery against the “Occupy Nigeria” Revolt

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Nigeria Won’t Break. It’d Evolve. Here’s How

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Nigeria will be 60 years old as a formally independent country next Thursday, but the divisibility and tiresomely endless feuding that have emerged as some of its defining features since its forced birth more than a century ago show no sign of abating.

The immobilizing factiousness of the past five years have particularly conduced to the growing sentiment that Nigeria won’t be around much longer.  Opinion leaders of major ethnic groups are plotting exit strategies from the Nigerian union.

But as much as I respect the rights of any people to dissociate from a toxic Nigerian union that seems to hold everybody back, I think that news of Nigeria’s imminent dismemberment is greatly exaggerated.

What I foresee happening—bits of which are actually already manifest—is that Nigeria would use its current ethnographic resources to evolve into a completely different country. And here’s my admittedly imperfect ethnographic forecast of an evolved Nigeria.

Let me begin from northern Nigeria, Lugardian northern Nigeria, that is. Home to more than half of Nigeria’s over 500 ethnic groups, northern Nigeria is Nigeria’s most diverse region. Even the two major ethnic groups from Southern Nigeria are represented in the North.

There are Yoruba people who are native to Kwara and Kogi states and there are Igbo people—of the Ezza, Izzi and Effium sub-groups, who are also found in Ebonyi State—who are native to at least four of Benue State’s 23 local governments. That makes northern Nigeria the microcosm of Nigeria.

But I prognosticate that an evolved northern Nigeria would be monolingual with a few holdouts. The Hausa language already predominates in 16 of northern Nigeria’s 19 states. Only Benue, Kogi and Kwara states have so far resisted the linguistic hegemony of the Hausa language.

Every subsequent generation in the 16 Hausaphone northern Nigerian states internalizes the logic and desirability of Hausa-inflected linguistic uniformity and a corresponding abandonment of the plethora of native languages that dot the region’s linguistic map.

Even Fulfulde (as the language Fulani people speak is called) is dying in such northeastern states as Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe and Bauchi, and the resistance to Hausa in Kanuri-speaking Borno and Yobe weakens every generation.

The relentless march of the Hausa language in Northern Nigeria will ensure that a somewhat unified mega identity, riven only by religion, would emerge, and memories of previous ethnic and linguistic identities would recede or disappear—in the same way that many Hausa-speaking communities in northwest Nigeria have no memory that their distant ancestors were not Hausa-speaking people.

So two dominant identities would emerge from northern Nigeria: Hausaphone Muslim northerners and Hausaphone Christian northerners. The Tiv, Idoma, Igede, Igbo, etc. people of Benue State who have historically resisted the Hausa language would share more in common with the emergent ethnic alchemies of southern Nigeria than they would with Hausaphone northern Christians.

The Yoruba-speaking people of Kwara and Kogi states would also fit more easily with their kith in the Southwest, with Ilorin Emirate being a holdout even though its sociolinguistic and geographic singularities would not permit its seamless fusion into the Hausaphone northern Muslim identity.

The people of what has been called Kwara North—the Baatonu and Boko people of Baruten and Kaiama local governments and the Nupe people of Pategi and Edu local governments— who are culturally more similar to other Muslim northerners than they are to the Yoruba-speaking parts of Kwara State would easily meld well into the Hausaphone Muslim identity. Both the Igala and the Ebira of Kogi have cultural and linguistic kith in southern Nigeria and are easily amenable to Hausaphone Muslim/Christian identities.

The former Eastern and Midwestern Nigeria are already witnessing the incipience of an alchemic ethnic fusion of disparate groups enabled largely by the enormous creolization of Nigerian Pidgin English and the Pentecostalization of the Christianity of the regions.

By creolization, I mean the transformation of Nigerian Pidgin English from an anarchic, emergency contact language for episodic encounters to a stable, rule-governed, self-sufficient native language that millions of people speak and identify with on an emotional and cultural level such as is the case with the Krio of Sierra Leone.

The creolization of Nigerian Pidgin English seems unstoppable and appears primed to play the role Hausa is playing in northern Nigeria as an ethnographic glue to coalesce otherwise historically disparate people. The shared Christian identity of the people of the regions, which is now increasingly Pentecostal Christianity, would accentuate this process.

As anyone who pays attention to Edo State would testify, the new identity formation among southern Nigerian minorities is already killing Islam in Edo North where it has existed for decades. There is a mass Christianization of Muslims in northern Edo, and this would only intensify in the coming generations.

As I’ve shown previously, Islam is a strong building block for identity formation in Northern Nigeria, so that “Hausa” and “Muslim” have become misleadingly synonymous in the Nigerian popular imagination. That is why people of northern Edo used to be erroneously called “Bendel Hausa” even though they speak an Edoid language that is almost mutually intelligible with the Bini language.

The association of Islam with Hausa—or, to use the trendiest hyphenated identity formation, Hausa-Fulani—is leading to its repudiation in even historically Muslim polities in southern Nigeria such as Yorubaland. Stories of Yoruba Imams who aren’t allowed to lead prayers in the North and of the distrust of the authenticity of the Islam of Yoruba people by Hausa Muslims help to solidify resistance to Islam. Today, overtly Muslim Yoruba people are seen by the non-Muslim Yoruba as perfidious toadies of the Muslim North.

If this attitude persists—and I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t—it means southern Nigeria would become wholly Christian a few generations from now.

It is not clear to me now if Pidgin English in the former Western Nigeria would be creolized like it is becoming among southern minorities because of the social prestige of the Yoruba language and the numerical power of its native speaker base, but there are already signs that this is happening among the Igbo people.

The Igbo language is the only Nigerian language with millions of native speakers which is nonetheless classified as an “endangered language” because of the tendency toward what Professor Chukuwma Azuonye has called “the fetishization of English” among the Igbo, including code-mixing and  code switching, assimilation of Pidgin English into the Igbo language, among other factors he identified in his article titled “Igbo as an Endangered Language.”

I have a personal encounter with this. In 2000 when news filtered through that there were retaliatory mass slaughters of northerners in the southeast, the editor-in-chief of Weekly Trust where I worked requested that I travel there to cover it.

He said I could easily pass for an Igbo man and that my linguistic handicap in the Igbo language wouldn’t be an issue since Igbo people actually revere their kith who are monolingual in English. What he said turned out to be accurate. Throughout the five days I traveled all over the region, not once was I suspected to be anything but an Igbo.

I got along with a mixture of Pidgin English, Standard English, and a strategic sprinkling of “nna” and other popular Igbo intensifiers in my speech. In fact, when I was returning to Kaduna, someone in Onitsha actually asked why I was going to “where they are killing our people.” “Nna, na my business,” I said.

In other words, generations from now, the fissiparity that drives Nigeria’s current ethnic tensions will dissipate and the fresh contradictions of an evolved Nigeria would frustrate its dismemberment.

For instance, Hausaphone northern Christians, who are a huge chunk, would be invested in a united Nigeria for their self-survival. Although they would share linguistic affinities with the Hausaphone Muslim North, their apprehensions about religious domination would connect them to a creolized Christian South.

More than that, though, Nigeria has generated an enormous repertoire of collective national identity symbols that the upcoming generations, who won’t be moored to the same identities as us, would find hard to throw away.

Of course, as the example of Somalia shows, nations don’t endure merely because of the similarities and shared memories of the people that constitute it. That was why Steve Goodier once said, “We don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonize. The same is true with people.” 

Oshiomhole and His Lizard and Lion Hyperbole

I watched a video clip of Oshiomhole's interview with ChannnelsTV a day before the Edo governorship election where he characterized Obaseki's promise to extirpate his "godfatherly" tentacles in Edo as the threats of a "lizard" to a "lion." (Obaseki is the "lizard" and he is the "lion.")

That's an unusually over-dramatic hyperbole, which aggrandizes the enormity of Oshiomhole's defeat--and the deep psychic rupture he must be nursing now. 

The defeat of a lion by a lizard is the stuff of legends. The Bible's "David and Goliath" story pales miserably in comparison!

Related Article:

Obaseki’s Win, Tinubu, and the Power of American Threats