"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta: 2019

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Buhari Didn’t Defeat Atiku; The Judiciary Defeated Nigeria

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal’s tendentious and predictably predetermined judgement on September 11 that upheld Muhammadu Buhari’s electoral fraud was not such much a defeat of Atiku Abubakar as it was symbolic judicial violence on Nigeria and Nigerians.

As I pointed out in my April 20, 2019 column titled “Atiku’s Citizenship and Buhari’s Illiterate Lawyers,” Buhari assembled unbelievably ignorant and rhetorically impotent lawyers to defend him, not only because he loves to mirror his trademark incompetence in everything he does, but also because he knew that there was nothing at stake for him in the petition since the tribunal’s ruling was a foregone conclusion, as I pointed out in a social media post titled “WhyAtiku Isn’T Coming” a day before the tribunal’s verdict.

The tribunal judges, who were supposed to be neutral arbiters, were infinitely more effective defenders of Buhari’s stolen mandate than his own lawyers were. Imagine the severity of ignorance it must take for any Nigerian to make the case that someone born in the former British Northern Cameroon (and whose immediate ancestral provenance is traceable to the nucleus of the defunct Sokoto Caliphate) is not a Nigerian citizen even when the constitution explicitly confers citizenship on people that were born in British Northern Cameroon.

Even the unambiguously partisan tribunal chose to not touch such sophomoric legal and constitutional illiteracy with a barge pole. It dismissed it. That says a lot. Nevertheless, there are many fundamental respects in which the tribunal’s ruling has wounded the very soul of Nigeria.

When (not “if” because this is all prearranged) the tribunal’s verdict is upheld by the Supreme Court, it would mean that barefaced electoral fraud perpetrated through the arbitrary manufacture of fanciful figures for an incumbent office holder, intimidation of voters with the aid of the nation’s security apparatuses, and all the other unmentionably unconscionable electoral malfeasance Buhari perpetrated to hold on to power are now entirely legitimate.

The implications of this are many and varied. For one, it has destroyed the vaguest vestige of hope that democracy will grow and thrive in Nigeria. It will inaugurate unexampled voter apathy in the future since voting no longer matters. Buhari’s predecessors also did rig elections, to be sure, but they rigged elections  that they would have handily won because they had no opposition.

Buhari was the serial opponent of his predecessors, but until 2015, he never even campaigned for votes outside the Hausaphone Muslim North (he routinely ignored even predominantly Muslim Kwara and Kogi states and, of course, snubbed the entire Christian North), so he couldn’t have conceivably won a national election with such an insular focus.

Even Nasir El-Rufai described Buhari in an October 4, 2010 article titled “Buhari Should Stick To Facts” as “perpetually unelectable because [of] his record as military head of state and [his] insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus.”

Perhaps the most distressing implication of the tribunal’s ruling is that education and even a pretense to honesty will no longer matter. Buhari’s claim to possessing a school certificate is supported only by an affidavit in his INEC forms, which turned out to be false.  That’s a prima facie case of perjury.
He could very well have truly sat for his school certificate exam and received proof of this. But that is not the issue. He consistently swore under oath that his school certificate was in the custody of the Nigerian military. It has now come to light that this is entirely false. The tribunal said this lie is immaterial.

This doesn’t just legally endorse official mendacity, it also disincentivizes education. It means any Nigerian can claim to possess any qualification, and the only evidence that would be required for such claims would be a mere affidavit. That’s why Nigerian social media is now suffused with transgressively humorous affidavit-supported claimants to all sorts of bogus qualifications. The most humorous yet instructive I have read so far is from someone by the name of Osaze Jesuorobo.

He wrote: “First, I have a sworn affidavit stating that I have the required qualifications to… be admitted into… Law School and that my credentials are with the Director of Administration of NTA, the establishment I retired from.

“Secondly, I have a recommendation from the Vice Chancellor of the university I attended, the  University of Benin that I WILL PASS the final Bachelor of Law degree with a Second Class Upper.

“Thirdly, since my records at NTA show that I have a Bachelor of Law degree, I will present a statement from NTA Director of Corporate Affairs to the effect that from their records, I have a Bachelor of Law degree and was educated to university level even though the original, CTC or photocopies of my credentials  are not in their possession.

“If the Law School requests... the originals and copies of my credentials, I will tell them that there is nowhere in the 1999 Constitution (as Amended) that says I must accompany my admission forms with copies of my credentials. I will also tell them that their condition that I should attach copies of my credentials is a subsidiary condition inferior to the Nigeria Constitution.

“If the Nigeria Law School denies me admission for not producing the credentials to back up my qualifications claim, I will sue the Law School relying on the Atiku/PDP vs INEC & others (2019) per Garba Mohammed (or is it Muhammad  or Muhammadu), JCA. I am waiting for the Nigeria Law School to dare me by refusing me admission.”

This reminds me of a community college president in California who sent out a mass email to the academic and non-academic staff of his school demanding that he henceforth be addressed as a “Dr.” because some nondescript university in the middle of nowhere awarded him a pay-to-play honorary doctorate. The response of the staff was as sarcastic as it was hilarious. Staff of the community college, most of whom didn’t have PhDs, decided to also prefix “Dr.” to their names; they said they too had been awarded doctoral degrees by some no-name university. The president got the message and dropped his title.

But Nigeria’s situation is graver. Buhari will get away with his subversion of law and decency, and the damage to the nation will be irreversible. Related to this is the controversy relating to the spelling of Buhari’s first name. The tribunal was reported to have said, “The question about whether the name in the certificate is ‘Mohamed’ or ‘Muhammadu’ doesn’t matter so long as the name Buhari is attached to the name.”

That’s a dangerously ignorant thing to aver.  A more acceptable statement would have been for the tribunal to say “Mohamed” and “Muhammadu” are different spellings/renderings of the same name. Every time you use a different orthography to spell a name that was originally written in a different orthographic tradition, you often have several variants. Names originally written in Latin alphabets also have different variants when they are written using different scripts such as Arabic, Cyrillic, Chinese, Thai, etc.

I can relate to this. I insist on my name being spelled as “Farooq,” but my primary school headmaster spelled it as “Faruk” in my school leaving certificate. Again, to my utter annoyance, Bayero University spelled my name as “Farouk” on my certificate but, mercifully, my transcript has my preferred spelling. So this isn’t unusual.

Buhari obviously prefers to spell his name as “Muhammadu.” Even in 1961 when he applied for the Nigerian military’s qualifying exam, he spelled it that way. Nevertheless, his principal, who was a white man, spelled his name as “Mohamed” in his recommendation letter to the military on Buhari’s behalf. It was obviously the principal’s variant that went into the official school records.

The tribunal, being the gaggle of incompetent and compromised partisans that they are, couldn’t defend their benefactor on an issue as simple as variants of the spelling of his name.

Buhari shot democracy in 1983 with bullets and left it for dead. But it managed to survive his attempted murder after a prolonged convalescence. Then he came back in 2019 to finally kill it with rigged, poisoned ballots. But when the story of Buhari’s premeditated murder of Nigeria’s democracy is written, the role the judiciary played in endorsing and legalizing it will take up reams of paper or disproportionately large nibbles of bytes.

Related Articles:
Questions Still Remain About Buhari's School Certificate
Formal Enthronement of Buhari's Illegitimate Rigocracy
Buhari's New SA on Infrastructure is INEC's Amina Zakari's Son

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Why Atiku Isn’t Coming

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi
Poor leadership is obviously a grave, enduring problem in Nigeria, but an even graver problem, in my opinion, is the country’s docile, acquiescent, and fatalistic citizenry. Most Nigerians are afflicted by a condition anthropologists call cargo cult mentality, that is, the superstitious belief, first recorded among pre-modern tribes in Melanesia, that all the fine things of this world will somehow magically and effortlessly appear because people who desire it wish it into existence.
It's cargo cult mentality that drives and sustains the forlorn hope that “Atiku is coming” as Nigerians await the verdict of the Presidential Election Tribunal tomorrow. The verdict of the tribunal is, as British sports commentator Sid Waddell once said, as predictable as a wasp on speed: the electoral fraud that brought Buhari to power will be affirmed, and the verdict of the tribunal will be upheld by the Supreme Court, which is now an unashamed, remote-controllable extension of the presidency.

Frederick Douglass famously said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” No one has made any systematic, sustained demand on the Buhari junta after it audaciously stole an election that it clearly lost— and in the face of its infernal ineptitude, which is causing the nation’s smolder to transform into a consuming conflagration. Sowore attempted it, has been clamped in illegal detention, and everyone is carrying on as if nothing happened.
When Buhari refused to sign the electoral bill that would have made on-the-spot, instantaneous electronic transmission of election results mandatory, most people kept quiet, but that was the first pre-election rigging. When he illegally removed the Chief Justice of Nigeria and replaced him with a pliant, know-nothing accomplice, there were no protests from any quarters.
When he rewarded his incompetent and compromised service chiefs with an unprecedentedly illegal extension of their tenures for helping him rig the election before and after the fact, the nation was quiescent. When it came to light, through my social media update, that Buhari rewarded INEC’s Mrs. Amina Zakari by appointing her son as his Special Adviser on Infrastructure for helping him rig the 2019 election, many people pretended it never happened. Several other people who helped perpetrate the worst electoral heist in Nigeria’s democratic history have been handsomely rewarded by Buhari.
In other words, Buhari rigged the election months before it even took place. He rigged it again when it took place. And he rigged it yet again after it took place. That’s multiple rigging of one election. But no one cared. And you think members of the election tribunal will reverse it? Why would they? What’s the incentive do so in a country that no longer even makes the faintest pretenses to fairness and justice? There is no fear of mass action from any quarters. On the contrary, handsome rewards await them. That’s Buhari’s history: he rewards loyalty, however crooked the loyalty may be, and punishes dissent, however decent the dissent may be.
The entire legal process is already bought and compromised. Save yourself the emotional trauma of having your expectations dashed. Yes, Atiku has a watertight case, but justice is a meaningless concept in Buhari’s Nigeria. Atiku ain’t coming.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Shiites, Buhari, Religious Bigotry, and I

By Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi
A Shia Muslim reached out to me privately a few days ago and said things to me that I frankly couldn’t relate to. When he realized that I was genuinely ignorant of what he said, he said he’d thought I was a Shia Muslim, to which I responded that I had mentioned several times in the past, including in my columns, that although I respect the right of people to be Shia—or anything that their consciences tell them to be so long as they don't infringe on other people's right—I am not one.
He said he had read that but that he thought I was practicing protective mimicry to avoid social exclusion. Apparently, because Shias have been historically persecuted in most parts of the Sunni-dominated Muslim world, publicly denying being Shia or intentionally being silent about—or omitting to mention—being Shia is a well-practiced art among them. Denying being Shia to escape persecution is called taqiyya and deliberately being silent about—or omitting to admit— being Shia for fear of social isolation is called kitman.

My interlocutor thought my criticisms of Buhari’s regime were inspired by the government's mass murders and continued persecution of Shias, which I have condemned in the strongest terms in my social media updates and columns. I told him—and showed him evidence—that I’d been critical of the Buhari regime even before its mass slaughters of Shia Muslims. Interestingly, many Shia Muslims from the north here on social media had attacked me for criticizing Buhari “rather too early" before he supervised their mass massacres.
The man said he had developed a "renewed respect" for me to know that I’m a Sunni Muslim who defends Shias (whom many Sunnis don't even recognize as Muslims) with such passion. (I don’t know where people get the idea that a northern Muslim can’t be critical of Buhari unless he’s a Shiite). But here's the thing: I’d be a flaming hypocrite to be a religious or sectarian bigot. Although my father was a Sunni Islamic scholar and teacher, his own father (and some of his siblings) converted to Christianity in the 1940s in an otherwise over 90 percent Muslim society.
I was born in an American Baptist Christian missionary hospital in my hometown, attended Baptist Christian missionary schools for my primary and secondary education, and my dad taught Arabic and Islamic Studies in a Christian Baptist missionary school for more than three decades. Plus, I live in America, a predominantly Christian country, that accepts me for who I am and allows me to thrive and live my dreams. My best friend here in America, Moses Ochonu, is a Christian.
If I’m at peace with Christians, and Christians are at peace with me, both at home and abroad, why would I resent fellow Muslims on the basis of trifling doctrinal differences to the point of looking the other way—or, worse, cheering—when they are murderously persecuted because of their beliefs? That's not how I was raised.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Victims of Xenophobia Abroad, Culprits of Xenophobia at Home

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

The mindless xenophobic violence against Nigerians and other African immigrants in South Africa is igniting social media conversation about what one might call global Naijaphobia, that is, the mass resentment of Nigerians in many parts of the world. We are now increasingly stereotyped worldwide as rude, boisterous, tastelessly showy, domineering, and criminally inclined.

From Euro-America to Asia, from Southern Africa to East Africa, and even in other West African countries, many people judge Nigerians by the attitudinal excesses and moral indiscretions of a minority of us. Nevertheless, amid the righteous indignation that this admittedly unfair reality provokes in us, we need to realize that we are also culprits of internal xenophobia within our national space.

In Nigeria, moral transgressions are habitually territorialized and ethnicized. Northern Muslims are routinely stereotyped as terrorists. Nigerians from the East are pigeonholed as inescapably prone to fraudulent schemes like 419 and drug trafficking. Nigerians from the West are typecast as a cowardly, traitorous lot who are given to ritual murders and credit card frauds. Northern Christians and southern ethnic minorities are branded as lazy, good-for-nothing drunkards.  And so on.

To be sure, unkind stereotypical  generalizations about people are conventional parts of the human perceptual process. They are not necessarily always activated by premeditated ill will. They are just a part of our visceral, unschooled perceptual guidelines that psychologists call our schemata. The untutored human mind has a cognitive need for what is called chronically accessible constructs, which help us make snap, effortless judgments about people. Nevertheless, the body of stereotypes we build about people through our chronically accessible constructs can be—in fact often are—faulty, over-generalized, and primary reasons for the distortion of reality.

Negative, inaccurate cognitive schemata become particularly problematic if they formally inform public policy. For instance, about the same time that Nigerians were justifiably hyperventilating on social media over xenophobic fury on their compatriots in South Africa, the Lagos State government arrested 123 Nigerians from Jigawa State who relocated to Lagos in a truck with their motorcycles in search of better economic opportunities.

The Lagos State government accused them of the non-existent crime of “illegal mass movement”! In an August 31 tweet, the Lagos State government announced the "Arrest of illegal mass movement of Okada riders to Lagos from the North jointly coordinated by the State Commissioner for The Environment and Water Resources, Mr Tunji Bello and his Transportation counterpart, Dr. Abimbola Oladehinde."

Ignore the monstrous grammar for a moment. What law of the land justifies what the Lagos State Government did? Chapter4, Section 41 of the Nigerian Constitution states that, “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom.”

So what was the legal basis for the Lagos State government’s initial arrest of the Okada riders from Jigawa? A newspaper editor from the South who supported the unconstitutional arrest and detention of the 123 Jigawa Okada riders argued that the action was justified in light of the rampant terrorism in the Muslim North and the crippling anxieties in the South about the creeping incursion of this virus into their region. There are three fundamental problems with this reasoning.

One, that assumption rests on the notion that the South is an unblemished, crime-free El Dorado. It's not. Criminals from the South also go to the North. Some crimes are more prevalent in the South than they are in the North. The fact that one region has one sort of crime and not the other is no reason to engage in invidious stereotypical generalization of one or the other. No crime is more acceptable than the other is.

Two, if state governments in parts of Nigeria can invoke the crimes prevalent in other parts of the country as justification to violate the constitutionally guaranteed right to movement of some Nigerians, what moral right do we have to resent being negatively stereotyped and violated abroad on account of the crimes of a minority of our compatriots? It’s the same logic.

Three, the 123 people the Lagos State government illegally arrested (and later released) putatively on suspicion of being terrorists are from Jigawa State. Since the Boko Haram insurgency started in 2009, there are scarcely, if any, terrorist attacks in Jigawa. The North is not one monolithic, undifferentiated region. The fact that there is terrorism in the northeast is no reason to assume that every Northern Muslim, including one from outside the Northeast, is a terrorist. That’s ethnic profiling.

Incidentally, the Lagos State Government appeared to have inadvertently admitted that it indeed “profiled” the Okada riders from Jigawa. Gbenga Omotoso, Lagos State’s Commissioner for Information & Strategy, in a press statement designed to dispel the impression that the 123 Hausa travelers who were arrested by the Lagos State government were targeted because of their ethnic identity, said, “The arrested suspects have been moved to the State Police Command where they are being profiled."

When law enforcement officers “profile” people, it means they are judging the people because of their ethnicity, race, religion, etc. instead of their actual conduct. I’m not sure that was the meaning Omotoso intended to convey because it contradicts the core claim of his press release. Was it a Freudian slip or just plain ignorance? Or both?

Well, a friend from the South who is close to Lagos State government officials confided in me that the arrest of the 123 men from Jigawa was just political theatre carefully calculated to purchase and win back lost political capital for the Bola Tinubu political camp in the southwest. This was necessitated, he said, by Tinubu’s insensitive and impolitic “where are the cows?” remark in the aftermath of the brutal murder of Afenifere leader Rueben Fasoranti’s daughter, which has caused Tinubu to be seen in the Southwest as a shamelessly thoughtless lackey of the Fulani.

If this is true—and I have no reason to doubt that it’s true— how is this different from South African politicians playing up negative stereotypes of Nigerians to stir up xenophobic violence against Nigerian immigrants in South Africa?

Interestingly, the Naijaphobic hysteria in South Africa and the Hausaphobic profiling of poor Okada drivers in Lagos are fairly coextensive with another enduring strand of Nigeria’s many bigotries: religious intolerance. Inaccurate reports that alleged that Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike had destroyed a mosque in Port Harcourt also helped to magnify the Muslim North’s own hypocrisy and unflattering record of religious intolerance.

Tearing down of churches and refusal to grant permits to build churches is a persistent problem in the North’s so-called Sharia states. Ironically, it’s precisely the people who have destroyed churches, who have refused to grant permission for churches to be built, or who have cheered the persecution of Christians that are taking umbrage at the unusual news of the demolition of a mosque in Port Harcourt.

A Kano-based Facebooker by the name of Ibrahim Sanyi-Sanyi captured the hypocrisy and duplicity of the arrowheads of the Northern Muslim anger brigade against the “demolition” of a mosque in Port Harcourt when he wrote: “When Shekarau was the Governor from 2003 - 2011, billboards warning visitors ‘Kano garin Sharia ne' [Kano is Islamic Sharia state] were erected at strategic locations leading to Kano Metropolitan City. Furthermore, churches were razed down including Christ the King Church (CKC) in Naibawa, Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) in Giginyu and HEKAN (Combined Churches of Christ) Church in Rogo Local Government Area (LGA).

“Now, Malam Shekarau, out of political expediency and with obvious intention to ride on general sentiments, has lashed out on Governor Wike for saying 'Rivers is a Christian State' and for 'demolishing of mosque' which are similar divisive stuff that happened under him as a Governor.”

Similarly, even when predominantly Christian universities like the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, have had spaces for mosques on their campuses almost since their founding, federal universities in Kano, Sokoto, etc. that are funded by oil wealth from the Christian South have no churches. That’s unacceptable Christophobia.  So while we condemn Naijaphobia abroad, let’s also reflect on our own local phobias at home.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Recent Grammatical Howlers of Nigerian Politicians

By Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi
I stopped my Sunday grammar column in the Daily Trust after the paper’s "management" (AKA Kabiru Yusuf, its chairman) yielded to Aso Rock’s instruction to stop my Saturday column for being consistently critical of Buhari’s irremediably infernal incompetence. (The stoppage of the column in the Daily Trust paradoxically amplified its patronage and reach on the back page of the Nigerian Tribune on Saturday, which defeats the purpose of stopping it in the Daily Trust!)
Anyway, although I no longer write on English grammar, I can’t fail to notice the multiplication of humorously awkward grammatical boo-boos from Nigerian politicians these past few weeks. I’ll highlight only four, starting from the most recent one.
1. Gbenga Omotoso, Lagos State’s Commissioner for Information & Strategy, in a press statement designed to dispel the notion that the 123 Hausa travelers who were arrested by the Lagos State government were targeted because of their ethnic identity, said, “The arrested suspects have been moved to the State Police Command where they are being profiled."😂😂

When law enforcement officers “profile” people, it means they are judging the people on the basis of their ethnicity, race, religion, etc. instead of their actual conduct. I’m not sure that was the meaning Omotoso intended to convey because it contradicts the core claim of his press release. Was it a Freudian slip or just plain ignorance? Or both?
2. But there’s more. In the same press release, we encounter risible howlers like, "large quantity [sic] of used bikes" [I thought bikes were countable], "speculated cases of Boko haram [sic] insurgency" (what in the world does that mean?), "banditry attacks," "the case on hand," "most preffered [sic] destination" ["preferred" is already a superlative state and doesn't need "most," another superlative, to make it a superlative], etc. And can someone please tell the man that spellcheck is meant to be used; that it's not a mere decorative appurtenance on Microsoft Word?
3. Senator Remi Tinubu repeatedly told woman-beating Adamawa senator Elisha Abbo to “off” his microphone! No one taught the distinguished senator that the proper expression is “turn off.” “Off” is rarely used as a verb. When it is, particularly in American English, it means to murder. Senator Abbo looks like he can murder people in a fit of uncontrolled temper tantrum, but I doubt he can murder a microphone😂.

4. During the senate confirmation hearings of ministerial nominees, which Nigerians erroneously call "screening," senators repeatedly addressed the nominees as “Mr. Nominee.” Where the heck did that come from? “Mr.” is traditionally prefixed either to a man's full name or to his last name alone. There is an undertone of mockery when you call someone “Mr. Nominee,” particularly when you know his real name. I missed if they also called female ministerial nominees “Mrs Nominee” (which would mean they're married to people whose last names are "Nominee") or “Miss Nominee” (which would mean their fathers are called "Mr Nominee"). Or did they just call them "Madam Nominee"?😂
"Mr. President," "Madam President," "Mr. Speaker," and "Madam Speaker" are formal titles of respect in American English for occupants of such offices. It appears that our senators invented "Mr Nominee" on the model of these fossilized titles. But "Nominee" is not a position. We don't even say "Mr. Senator," or "Mr. Representative." So why do we have "Mr Nominee"?

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Buhari’s New SA on Infrastructure is INEC’s Amina Zakari’s Son

By Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi
When people objected to the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as head of INEC’s committee that would be in charge of the “secretariat for collation of results” of the last presidential election, both the presidency and Zakari lied that Buhari and Zakari had no family relationship until I exploded their duplicitous mendacity in a January 5, 2019 update. (I’ll come to that shortly).
Well, many people don’t seem to notice that Buhari has compensated Mrs. Zakari for helping him to rig the 2019 election; He appointed her biological son by the name of Ahmed Rufa'i Zakari as his new Special Adviser on Infrastructure, a pointless, previously non-existent position specifically created to pay back Mrs. Zakari. Mr. Zakari holds the traditional title of San Turakin Kazaure.

Buhari also reappointed Mrs. Zakari’s brother, Suleiman Hussaini Adamu, as Minister of Water Resources. Adamu and Mrs. Zakari are full siblings, i.e., they share the same father and mother. They are the children of Alhaji Hussaini Adamu (who was emir of Kazaure) and Hajia Hafsatu Hussaini Adamu. The current emir of Kazaure, Alhaji Najib Hussaini Adamu, is their older brother with whom they’re also full siblings.
The immediate past commissioner of education in Jigawa State, Mrs. Rabih Eshaq, is also their younger sister (again, same father, same mother.) So the same family basically monopolizes political appointments in the state. And it’s all due to their Buhari/Daura connections.
Their mother, Hajiya Hafsatu, is the daughter of Alhaji Jibril Daura, a Daura native. More than that, though, Buhari’s biological sister was once married to Mrs. Zakari’s father. That makes her Buhari’s niece. The Oxford Dictionary defines a niece as, “A daughter of one's brother or sister, or of one's brother-in-law or sister-in-law.” Mrs. Zakari’s father was Buhari’s brother-in-law.
But that’s not all. As I pointed out in my Jan. 5, 2019 update, at some point in his youth, Buhari, who lost his father at a young age, came under the guardianship of Mrs. Zakari’s father, the late Alhaji Hussaini Adamu. Buhari continues to nurture his relationship with the Hussaini Adamu family. When he was PTF boss, for instance, he got Mrs. Zakari a consultancy contract with Afri-Projects Consortium (APC), “the sole manager of the PTF projects.”
When Goodluck Jonathan asked Buhari for a candidate for INEC commissionership, he nominated Mrs. Zakari. In my update, I said, “This fact, as I pointed out in my Saturday Tribune column, isn’t enough to vitiate her neutrality. After all, Jonathan defeated Buhari in 2011 while she was INEC commissioner. But deceiving the world by concealing the nature and depth of her relationship with Buhari shows that she’s up to no good this time around.” My predictions materialized.
The appointment of Mrs. Zakari’s son to an utterly purposeless position isn’t just a reward for her help in perpetrating unexampled electoral fraud on Buhari’s behalf; it’s also a continuation of Buhari’s trademarked bald-faced nepotism. I know this isn't anything that will shock anyone--or change anything-- but I just want to put it out there for the records.

Related Article

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Why Hausa is a Fascinating Language

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

Hausaphone northern Nigerians on social media celebrate “Ranar Hausa” (Hausa Day) every August 26. In honor of the celebration, I share with the reader a reworked version of a column I wrote on September 4, 2016 in the aftermath of the controversy stoked by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s alleged description of Hausa as a “unique” language.

 He actually never said that. Nevertheless, even if he didn’t say Hausa was unique, it sure is a fascinating language for these five reasons—and more.

1. Hausa is by far Nigeria’s, nay West Africa’s, most widely spoken language. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, it is spoken by up to 50 million people both as a native language and as a non-native language. This means it is outrivaled only by Swahili as the most widely spoken language in Africa.

2. Hausa is also emerging as Nigeria’s only non-ethnic language, by which I mean it is spoken as a lingua franca by millions of people who are not ethnically Hausa. Although Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Fulfulde, and other major Nigerian languages have tens of millions of speakers, their speakers are, for the most part, ethnically affiliated with their languages.

There are more than 25 million non-native Hausa speakers, according to many estimates. That means, like the English language, there are probably more people who speak Hausa as a non-native language than there are who speak it as a native language.

 It is now usual to distinguish between native- and non-native speaker varieties of Hausa in terms of vocabulary and pronunciation. There is even pidginized Hausa called Barikanci, which is spoken by non-native Hausa speakers in military barracks.

Hausa is a lingua franca in 16 of northern Nigeria’s 19 states. The only northern Nigerian states where Hausa isn’t widely spoken are Benue, Kogi, and Kwara.

3. Hausa enjoys enormous language loyalty in ways no other Nigerian language does. First, most Hausa speakers who are educated in English are also educated in Hausa. That is, they can write as proficiently in English as they can in Hausa. You can’t say that of speakers of other Nigerian languages.

Second, Hausa speakers don’t subordinate their language to English or even to Arabic. By contrast, the Igbo language has the distinction of being the only endangered language that is currently spoken by millions of native speakers. Typically, languages are endangered because of the numerical insignificance of their native-speaker base, or because younger people refuse to speak them. This fate is often suffered by minor languages with low social and cultural prestige.

But Igbo isn’t just spoken by millions of people in Nigeria, it also enjoys high social prestige. However, the preference for English and Nigerian Pidgin English is endangering the language. That is why in 2012 UNESCO predicted that if nothing is done to reverse the trend the Igbo language could disappear from the world’s linguistic map by 2025. This is obviously overly alarmist, but several Igbo scholars are taking this prediction seriously.

4. Hausa has a rich written tradition that goes back to hundreds of years. For instance, Kano Chronicle, a palace-centered monthly publication, was first published in Hausa (and in Arabic) in 1503 and continued for many years before it stopped publishing. It predated Iwe Irohin fun awon Egba ati Yoruba (“newspaper for Egba and Yoruba people”), which was first published in 1859 by the Reverend Henry Townsend.

5. Hausa is also perhaps the only Nigerian language that has grammatical gender for noun distinction. Every Hausa noun is either masculine or feminine.

Misconceptions about Hausa’s Linguistic Superiority
While Hausa is a lexically rich, structurally beautiful language, it isn’t superior to any language. No language is. As Michael Stubbs points out in his book, Language, Schools and Classroom, “It is accepted by linguists that no language or dialect is intrinsically superior or inferior to any other, and that all languages and dialects are suited to the needs of the communities they serve” (p. 30). Here are popular misconceptions about the Hausa language that I’ve decided to explode:

1. Hausa is not Nigeria’s first written language. Although the ajami script (an improvised Arabic orthography to write non-Arabic languages) emerged in Hausaland around the 1500s, it is not the first writing system in Nigeria. Ajami was preceded by an indigenous writing system called nsibidi in what is now Cross River and Akwa Ibom states by hundreds of years.

The earliest record of nsibidi dates back to more than 1,000 years. It was an ideographic alphabet that was written on pots, calabashes, stools, walls, leaves, etc., which British colonialists initially derided as "a kind of primitive secret writing," but which actually produced an elite corps of literate people who used it to write court judgments and to chronicle history.

In his article titled “Early Ceramics from Calabar, Nigeria:Towards a History of Nsibidi,” American art historian Christopher Slogar quoted J.K. Macgregor to have said the following about nsibidi in the 1900s: "The use of nsibidi is that of ordinary writing. I have in my possession a copy of the record of a court case from a town of Enion [Enyong] taken down in it, and every detail ... is most graphically described."

It is worth mentioning that a kind of indigenous, nsibidi-like Hausa alphabet that is neither Arabic-based nor Latin-based was discovered in Maradi in southern Niger Republic in 2004. It was discovered by a Nigerien Hausa by the name of Aboubacar Mahamane and brought to the attention of the world by Dr. Donald Zhang Osborn, an American scholar who specializes in African languages. However, no one has determined when the alphabet was invented. Did it predate ajami or did it come after ajami?

2. The notion that Hausa speakers were widely literate before colonialism is a common claim, which has no basis in facts. Although literacy in Arabic and ajami existed in Hausaland before British colonialism, it was never widespread at any point in history. Being merely able to read and write in Arabic isn’t functional literacy. Like most northern Muslims, I can read and write in Arabic, but I can’t claim to have functional literacy in the language because I can’t communicate in it or understand, say, a newspaper article in it.

As Billy Dudley points out in his book, Parties and Politics in Northern Nigeria, according to the 1921 census, the literacy rate in the North (including Arabic literacy) was a mere 1.9 percent. By 1952, the literacy rates in Arabic were 10 percent in Zaria; 8 percent in Kano; 4.8 percent in Katsina; 4 percent in Niger; 2.2 percent in Plateau; 2 percent in Borno; 1 percent in Benue (p. 106).

Like Latin in Medieval Europe, full functional Arabic literacy in northern Nigeria was the exclusive preserve of a few clerical elites. It was never democratized literacy.

3. It’s a misconception that the ancestors of modern Hausa people have always spoken Hausa. First, according to historians, including the late Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman, “Hausa” isn’t even a Hausa word; it’s derived from the ancient Songhai word for “southerners,” which makes sense since Hausa people are located south of the Zarma people of Niger Republic (who are the modern descendants of the Songhai people). The first known use of the term Hausa (in English?) dates back to 1853, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Second, a landmark 2009 DNA study by Sarah A. Tishkoff and 21 other researchers titled “The Genetic Structure and History of Africans and African Americans” shows that most modern native Hausa speakers are actually Nilo-Saharans who share genetic affinities with people from Borno, central Chad, Cameroun, and South Sudan. They adopted the Hausa language through elite emulation thousands of years ago. That’s why linguists are often careful not to use language as a basis to make judgments on ethnic origins.

In my April 3, 2016 article titled “Nigerian Languages are More Closely Related Than You Think,” I pointed out that “linguistic similarity isn’t always evidence for common ethnic or racial origin. For instance, although the Hausa people speak an ‘Afro-Asiatic’ language, they have little or no Eurasian element in their genetic profile while the Fulani who speak a Niger-Congo language have substantial Eurasian elements in their gene pool.”

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Presidential Dissociative Disorder (PDD)

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

The intoxication of power can deaden people’s moral sensibilities, weaken their faculty for empathy, and cause them to be ensconced in an alternate universe. My widely shared July 27, 2019 column titled “How Political Power Damages the Brain—and How to Reverse it” provides scholarly, empirical evidence for this.

Nevertheless, Muhammadu Buhari appears to be breaking records in the depths and severity of his divorce from quotidian reality. He seems to inhabit a universe that is completely disconnected from everyday Nigeria. In his parallel universe, he has transformed Nigeria into a Nirvana where there is a superfluity of the best imaginable nourishment for everyone and where life is pleasant, pleasurable, and perfect.  

For instance, in his speech at the inauguration of his ministers on August 19, Buhari said he had "secured" the country, "improved the economy" and "fought corruption" to a standstill, adding “none but the most partisan will dispute that we have made headway in all three areas.”

The reality, of course, is that Nigeria is more insecure now than it has ever been since its founding. The theater of sanguinary frenzy and abductions for ransom in the country has both widened and deepened in ways that have no parallel in Nigeria’s history.

The economy has witnessed negative growth throughout the period Buhari has fancied himself as president, and debt has ballooned to unimaginable proportions. Unemployment is now the worst it has ever been since 1960. On his incompetent watch, Nigeria earned the dubious honor of being the world’s poverty capital.

Although Buhari disputes that Nigeria is now the poverty headquarters of the world, he continually says he will take “100 million” people out of poverty in the next 10 years (never mind that his “tenure” is supposed to end in four years). If 100 million people need to be taken out of poverty out of Nigeria’s 190 million people, isn’t that an admission that more than half of the country’s population is desperately poor? So what exactly does he dispute about the World Poverty Clock’s characterization of Nigeria as the headquarters of the world’s poorest people?

Corruption is now so shamelessly brazen that even positions in government, including ministerial appointments, are now literally auctioned off to the highest bidders. As a source close to presidency told me recently, “The rottenness is unprecedented and no society or country can survive this level of fraud, crime, and sleaze.” It’s supremely symbolic that the vast majority of Buhari’s current ministers are people who have been investigated for financial crimes by the EFCC.

Only a person who is unmoored to reality, who is dissociated from the real world, who should be a patient in a psychiatric hospital, would even joke that Nigeria is secure, that the country’s economy is improved, and that corruption is being fought. That’s why I think Buhari is suffering from a condition I choose to call presidential dissociative disorder (PDD). It’s a condition that causes him to take rent-free residence in cloud-cuckoo-land and that uncouples him from the experiential realities of real living people.

Another jarring instance of presidential dissociative disorder occurred on August 15. While commissioning the Nigerian Air Force Reference Hospital built in his hometown of Daura, Buhari was reported to have remonstrated "against foreign medical treatment." He pointed out that the location of the Air Force Hospital in Daura would “minimise the need for people in these areas [apparently areas around Daura] to travel to Kano, Kaduna, Abuja or even overseas to receive medical treatment.”

I initially dismissed the story as a humorous spoof, given Buhari's notoriety as a UK medical tourist. But it turned out to be a factual story. Now get this: According to the Punch of April 20,2019, Buhari spent a total of one year and 39 days abroad between May 2015 and April 2019, mostly on foreign medical tourism in the UK while healthcare at home falls apart on his watch.

Buhari has spent more time in foreign hospitals—at the expense of Nigeria—than any past president or head of state, dead or alive. He beat the late Umaru Musa Yar'adua's record by a wide margin. While Yar’adua spent 109 days in foreign hospitals during his presidency, Buhari spent 172 days in UK hospitals as of May 2018.

Given that British news agency Reuters reported in 2017 that several of Buhari’s foreign trips are actually covert medical trips (such as when his media aides prevaricated that he had made a“technical stopover” in London on his way from the US in May 2018), the number of days he spent in foreign hospitals exceeds what has been publicly acknowledged.

If Buhari wasn’t unplugged from reality, he wouldn’t be caught railing against medical tourism, his favorite pastime. He should be embarrassed by any talk of foreign medical care. But he lives in his own world, his own self-created psychic silo. It didn’t start this month, though.

Recall that on May 22, he told outgoing ministers that they should “be proud” that they “were part of a government that ended Boko Haram.” He said this at a time of Boko Haram’s forcefully slaughterous resurgence, at a time when more soldiers were murdered by Boko Haram than at any time since 2009, at a time when several communities in Borno were under Boko Haram's control, and when the population of IDPs continued to rise to astronomical levels.

Recall also that in the aftermath of a horrendously bloodstained communal upheaval in Taraba in March 2018, which compelled him to pay a forced sympathy visit to affected communities, Buhari told grieving communities that he had fulfilled his campaign promise to secure the nation. “Today, even our worst enemy can attest to the fact that the APC-led federal government has done well in the area of security,” he said. “We have decimated Boko Haram, while the fight against corruption is going on well.” If government had “done well in the area of security,” why was he on a tour of scenes of bloodletting?

What more evidence do we need to conclude that Buhari has disengaged from the world the rest of us live in? A man who doesn’t see the contradiction in bragging about his “success” in security while on a condolence visit of several parts of the country that were drenched in unspeakably agonizing oceans of blood lives in an alternate universe. He is completely divorced from reality. And that’s frightening.

It appears that Buhari’s apparent senile dementia is colliding with an emergent presidential dissociative disorder, causing him to be detached from reality! His thoughts, actions and the reality in the country have parted company. What is sadder still is that his dissociative disorder is infectious. All his aides have caught it. That’s why the entire country is caught in a state of suspended animation.

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Complicity of Nigerian Media in Intellectual 419 of Academics

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

The sensational but entirely false story about one Dr. Nura Yakubu (or is it Yakubu Nura) of the University of Maiduguri winning “the World Physics Competition by defeating about 5720 contenders from 97 countries,” which reputedly earned him the distinction of becoming “the father of modern Einstein's planetary equation studies in Physics,” is another sad example of how the Nigerian news media help to give publicity to patent intellectual fraud by Nigerian academics.

I can forgive the Nigerian media’s failure to detect Philip Emeagwali’s intellectual 419. It was a sophisticated, well-layered intellectual con game that suckered even well-established media outfits like CNN and otherwise perceptive politicians like former US president Bill Clinton.

Emeagwali’s deception was believable because he actually did win a real award. It was just that he exaggerated the worth of the award and used it as a launching pad to orchestrate one of the most labyrinthine intellectual swindles I’ve ever come across in all my years of systematic study of the rhetorical strategies of fraudsters.

Although several well-researched reports have blown the lid off Emeagwali’s unfounded claims, Yemi Osinbajo recently repeated the discredited falsehoods Emeagwali had peddled for years. During an Independence Day speech on October 1, 2018, Osinbajo said, “the world’s fastest supercomputer was designed by a world-renowned inventor, Philip Emeagwali, a full-blown Nigerian.”

Premium Times was compelled to fact-check Osinbajo in an October 20, 2018 report titled “FACT-CHECK:Did VP Osinbajo goof in his Independence Day speech?” “There is no evidence that Mr. Emeagwali, 64, has ever invented anything, not to talk of the ‘world’s fastest supercomputer’,” the paper wrote. “A detailed investigation by the rested NEXT newspaper in 2010 indicated that Mr. Emeagwali’s biggest achievement at the time was his winning of the $1,000 Gordon Bell Prize in 1989.”

I wasn’t surprised that Osinbajo said this. His media aide, Laolu Akande, was one of the biggest enablers of the false and exaggerated claims of Nigerian academics when he was a reporter for the Guardian in New York.

As I wrote in my November 6, 2010 column titled “Intellectual 419: Philip Emeagwali and Gabriel Oyibo Compared,” “The Guardian's U.S. correspondent, a certain Laolu Akande, is the biggest accomplice in Oyibo's fraud. Until the last few years, the Guardian often reported that Oyibo was among the top three candidates being considered for the Nobel Prize in Physics. This intentionally deceitful newspaper speculation was/is the basis for his unearned popularity in Nigerian elite circles.”

You would think after Emeagwali and Oyibo, the Nigerian media would be wary of future unverified claims by Nigerian academics. On the contrary, however, they seem to be falling for even less sophisticated, easily detectable scams.

For instance, on July 28, 2011, the Guardian publicized the false claims of a Benue State University lecturer by the name of Michael Atovigba who claimed to have solved a 262-year-old mathematical puzzle (for which he said he would win $1 million from the US-based Clay Mathematics Institute) based on an article he published in a predatory, pay-to-play Pakistani journal (with more than half of his references from Wikipedia!) The Guardian caused Nigerians to celebrate him wildly until I—and others— burst his bubble.

Four years later, the Vanguard of November 15, 2015 publicized the false claims of a Dr. Enoch Opeyemi of the Federal University in Oye-Ekiti who claimed to have solved the same centuries-old mathematical puzzle that Atovigba had claimed to have solved! As I pointed out in my November 21, 2015 column titled “‘Mathematical’Enoch Opeyemi and the Making of Another Nigerian Intellectual 419er,” Opeyemi’s only evidence for claiming to have solved the Riemann Hypothesis was that he presented a paper on the puzzle at the “International Conference on Mathematics and Computer Science” in Vienna, Austria.

It later emerged that the “conference” itself was a scam operation. An August 20, 2011 blog post titled “Fake Paper Accepted by Nina Ringo's Vienna Conference” revealed that a scientist by the name of Mohammad Homayoun who was suspicious of the genuineness of the “International Conference on Mathematics and Computer Science (ICMC)” decided to test his suspicion by submitting a fake, worthless, nonsensical paper to the conference to see if it would be accepted or rejected.

The researcher’s hunch was accurate: the ICMC in Vienna was an elaborate, money-making scholarly scam. His paper was accepted even though it was intentionally nonsensical.

Opeyemi also said he would be paid $1 million by the Clay Mathematics Institute in two years for his “feat,” and the media believed him. On November 25, 2017, I did a follow-up column titled “Remember Enoch Opeyemi Who Claimed to have Solved the Riemann Hypothesis?” where I pointed out that two years later, the puzzle Opeyemi claimed to have solved was still listed as “unsolved” on the Clay Mathematics Institute’s website. It’s still unsolved as I write this.

In spite of my pointing this out, many Nigerians continued to celebrate Opeyemi’s delusional claims to nonpareil intellectual accomplishment—until Dr. Nura Yakubu came and displaced him.

As I pointed out on social media, the truth is that Dr. Nura is the willing victim of a scam, a kind of scam I call scams of ego, which prey on the status anxieties and low self-esteem of insecure, fraud-prone people. World Championship, the "organization" that conferred the “award” on Dr. Nura, is a well-known scam operation that does not, for strategically fraudulent reasons, have a site with its own domain name. It uses a free sites.google.com account to perpetrate its swindles.

Anyone who pays a fee can get any—I mean ANY—award from the site. Check the site to see the list of “award winners” it features in every imaginable field. You will find many Nigerians there. Some past Nigerian “winners” even managed to defraud the ever credulous Nigerian news media into publicizing their “feat.”

For instance, one Dr. Kaywood Leizou of the Niger Delta University (NDU) got the Guardian to write a story about his “award” from this same fraudulent site on October 19, 2018. Titled “Bayelsa don wins global chemical sciences contest,” the report said, “The Bayelsa-born don beat 5,845 others from 89 countries whose nominations were screened for this year’s edition. Consequently, the International Agency for Standards and Ratings (IASR) has recognised Leizou as one the world’s 500 most influential experts on earth in chemical sciences for the year.”

In 2018, the same website “conferred” one “Dr.” Shuaib Idris Mohammed of Edo State (who hasn’t even completed his PhD) with the “World Champion in Agricultural Extension (Credit Facilities)” award “out of 91 countries.” The site added: “Dr. Shuaib Idris Mohammed is now recognized as Father of modern Credit Facilities in Agricultural Extension. The purpose of the award is to identify brilliant scientists and academicians around the world through World Championship. The World Championship is organized by International Agency for Standards and Ratings at international level.”

Sounds familiar? That’s the exact language used for Dr. Nura. It’s the same suspiciously atrocious grammar. The “contenders” for the “awards” are always in the thousands—and from more than 80 countries in the world.

But nothing in Nura’s scholarly record—and those of others who have been made “fathers” of whole disciplinary specialties by the fraudulent site—suggests that he is anywhere close to the pinnacle of his career. In fact, most of his articles are published in dodgy, predatory journals that publish ANYTHING submitted to them for a fee.

The scariest thing in all this is that Dr. Nura Yakubu was going to be hosted in the Presidential Villa and honored by Muhammadu Buhari. A friend of mine who is a close confidant of Buhari’s called to tell me this and to ask that I help verify the authenticity of Nura’s “award.” My findings and subsequent status update saved Buhari from a potentially momentous embarrassment.

Well, even Buhari himself fell for a fraudulent “MLK award.” So he and Dr. Nura Yakubu would have made good company in the Villa! Nigerians have to be the world’s greatest suckers for cheap scams!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Lessons from George Orwell about Current Phase of Buhari’s Fascism

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

I have immersed myself in the study of the ontogenesis and manifestations of fascism since Buhari started to bare his ferociously fascist fangs. One of the world’s most insightful writers on fascist totalitarianism is George Orwell. As he himself pointed out in his 1946 essay titled “Why I Write,” “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism….”

His most famous works, Animal Farm (published in 1945) and 1984 (published in 1949), were not just devastatingly searing fictional critiques of totalitarianism, they also offer enduringly accurate insights into how absolutist fascism works.  The significance of Animal Farm to understanding Buhari’s monocratic excesses are already too obvious to deserve expounding.

Orwell’s 1984 is the most helpful in unpacking the unfolding phase of Buhari’s next-level fascism. In this phase, the regime wants to not just impose ironclad strangulation on basic liberties; it also wants to exercise absolute control over the limits of the meanings of everyday words and expressions. I call this intangible but nonetheless visible forms of symbolic fascist violence.

 Words and expressions such as “revolution,” “terrorism,” “terrorist,” “treason,” “soft target,” “defeat,” “technical,” “hate speech,” etc. no longer mean what they are universally understood to mean in the Anglophone world; they now only mean what Buhari and his fascist honchos want them to mean, as I will show shortly.

In Orwell’s 1984, we learn that the fictional totalitarian country of Oceania invented a new language called newspeak, which strips words of their habitual significations, constricts the semantic boundaries of existing words, narrows the range of vocabularies people can use, and privileges, indeed insists on, the meanings the state imposes on words and expressions.

All fascist regimes understand the power of language in birthing, nurturing, and naturalizing tyranny. Orwell recognized this fact in another famous, oft-cited 1946 essay titled “Politics and the English Language.” That is why the Buhari regime now wants to impose limits on what words can mean and not mean. Take, for instance, the increasingly variable and arbitrary meaning of the word “terrorism” in Buhari’s Nigeria. Every organized resistance against the government is now “terrorism.”

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), whose mode of campaign for separatism is demonstrably non-violent, was formally declared a “terrorist” organization and proscribed.

 Shiite Muslims, who have remained remarkably pacifist and restrained even in the face of the unjustified extra-judicial mass murders of their members and the continued incarceration of their leader in spite of several court judgments to release him, have been declared “terrorists” and their organization “proscribed.”

The regime labeled IPOB and Shiites “terrorists” only because of their sustained, constitutionally guaranteed civil protests against the government, which will go down in history as the most thin-skinned collection of boneheaded crybabies.

Omoyele Sowore’s nationwide #RevolutionNow protests, for which he is being illegally detained, were also declared “terrorism” and“treasonable felony.” Ironically, between 2013 and 2014, many of the founders of the APC vigorously lobbied the US government to not designate Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization. On June 10, 2013, Lai Mohammed said Goodluck Jonathan administration’s proscription of Boko Haram was overly broad and did not “pass the Constitutional test.” Buhari is also on record as saying that military action against Boko Haram was an attack on the “North.”

To this day, the Buhari regime has never officially declared Boko Haram a terrorist group let alone proscribe it. On the contrary, Boko Haram’s captured members are often washed up, deodorized as “repentant,” and even enlisted into the Nigerian Army, which explains why our soldiers are now sitting ducks for Boko Haram terrorists.

Murderous marauders known in the Nigerian news media as “killer Fulani herdsmen” or " armed bandits" have been called “the fourth deadliest known terrorist group” in the world by the Global Terrorism Index, but the Buhari regime has said absolutely nothing about this group much less designate it as a terrorist group. If anything, members of the group are being featherbedded and emboldened by the regime.

But harmless, unarmed, defenseless groups who resist the regime’s tyranny peacefully are quickly labeled “terrorists,” detained, harassed, and ultimately “proscribed.” This is particularly interesting because Buhari rode on the crest of the wave of civil disobedience to climb to power. In fact, in 2011, during a stump speech, he did actually commit what amounted to a terroristic incitement to violence when he unambiguously told his supporters to extra-judicially murder political opponents.

  Ku fita ku yi zabe. Ku kasa. Ku tsare. Ku raka. Ku tsaya. Duk wanda ya taba ku halaka shi!” he said in Hausa. Rough idiomatic translation: “Go out and participate in the election. Cast your vote. Protect it. Accompany it (to the collation center). Wait for it (to be counted). Whoever tempers with (the vote) kill him!”

And scores of people, including youth corps members, were extra-judicially murdered in several parts of the Muslim North as a direct consequence of his incitement. That was real terrorism for which he was never brought to justice. Terrorism is defined as "the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims."

Similarly, although Buhari, Bola Tinubu, and many APC henchmen had used the word “revolution” in the past to characterize their resistance to the reigning government, the word is now practically banned in Nigeria. It can now only mean what the government wants it to mean. By “revolution,” Sowore clearly meant prolonged mass protests that would so overwhelm the government that it would be compelled to accede to the demands of the protesters.

That was precisely the sort of “revolution” Buhari praised in Egypt and which he enjoined Nigerians to emulate. The Arab Spring was not a revolution through the ballot box, as his defenders are insisting; it was a series of unrelenting, organized mass protests that caused the deaths of many people. It was its aftermath that birthed the pretense to democracy that was quickly thwarted in the country.

Any intelligent person knows that Sowore’s isolated references to overthrowing the government weren't literal. In media law, it’s called rhetorical hyperbole, and it’s not actionable.  Calling someone a “criminal,” a “thief,” a “fraudster,” a “conman,” etc. is mere rhetorical hyperbole, but saying they stole “500 billion naira in 2018” is a specific, verifiable fact and may constitute grounds for libel.

 Sowore and his group have no capacity to overthrow the government. It’s the government’s own acute self-consciousness of its transparent illegitimacy that is causing it to see threats in even the most innocuous forms of resistance. English philosopher Bertrand Russel had hypersensitive, illegitimate regimes like Buhari’s in mind when he said, “Freedom of opinion can only exist when the government thinks itself secure.”

While any physical protest against the Buhari regime is now “terrorism,” the definitional boundaries of the term “hate speech” have also been squeezed to now only mean any strong criticism of the government’s trademark incompetence and fraud.

But hate speech is conventionally understood as speech that denigrates or incites violence against a people on the basis of their social, cultural, ethnic, religious, etc. characteristics. Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation (= the fact of being gay, etc.):”

That means government or its officials can’t possibly be the target of hate speech for just being in government. But the point of controlling the meanings of the words we use is that the regime wants to invoke its invented meanings as linguistic justification for physical violence and the naturalization of fascism.

Nigerians must not only resist the Buhari regime’s repression, they must also fight its Orwellian newspeak, which excludes Nigerians from the power of naming. In his influential book titled Challenging Codes, Italian political sociologist Alberto Melucci, whose country birthed the original fascist ideology Buhari is enamored with, tells us that, “The real domination is… the exclusion from the power of naming.”

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