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

Saturday, March 23, 2019

How Buhari is Turning Nigeria into a Fascist State

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Buhari’s Nigeria is a suffocatingly fascist, illegitimate rigocracy, and it will only get worse in the coming years. Dissent is now violently suppressed. Opposition is pathologized and criminalized. Elections are militarized and rigged blatantly—and with criminal impunity. Rule of law and due process are officially disdained and murdered at the highest levels. The judiciary is now a pitiful poodle of the presidency. Rank nepotism and total disregard for even the wispiest pretenses to meritocracy are now normalized.

What we are seeing now is Hitler-level fascist conquest of the Nigerian democratic space. The imperfect but nonetheless emergent culture of democracy that re-sprouted in the country from 1999 is now being systematically annihilated and replaced with fascist totalitarianism.

Buhari’s ascendancy to the Nigerian presidency and the ravages he and his puppeteers are inflicting on democratic culture remind me of German philosopher Theodor Adorno’s Negative Dialectics. In this book, Adorno took issue with the conventional Marxian understanding of the nature of the progress of history. Marxian (and, before it, Hegelian) dialectics takes for granted that the resolution of the contradictions between the thesis and the antithesis of historical epochs often leads to a synthesis, which is invariably positive.

But that’s not always true. Adorno, a German Jew, witnessed Adolf Hitler’s unspeakable fascist brutalities firsthand; he lived through fascist barbarities that negated the high-minded promises of the European Enlightenment and of modernity. I will vulgarize Adorno’s insights to make sense of Buhari’s pollution and reversal of Nigeria’s democracy.

There is no doubt that from 1999 to 2015, Nigeria did make minor, scarcely perceptible but nonetheless visible progress in democratic ethos. Elections have always been flawed, but they became progressively better, even if only marginally, each year. The 2015 election, defective as it was, represented a qualitative improvement over all other elections that preceded it, and is perhaps Nigeria’s best to date.

There has always been intolerance for, even suppression of, dissent, but because this was often resisted by critical sections of the society—the media, civil society groups, and sometimes the judiciary— it often came across as anomalous.

All that has changed. Critics of government lose their jobs without as much as a whimper from anyone. Critical voices on social media are arbitrarily arrested and jailed on trumped-up charges. The news media are forced to self-censor and squelch critical voices in their opinion pages. The judiciary has been subdued and decapitated. Votes no longer matter. INEC now arbitrarily allocates fraudulent figures to poodles of the presidency during shameful shams called “election.” Fraud and state-sponsored violence are now legitimate instruments of governance.

The Buhari regime legitimizes its strangulation of basic democratic liberties through duplicitous appeals to a transparently fake anti-corruption crusade that has been intentionally designed to ensnare only opponents of the regime while mollycoddling crooked pro-regime fat cats. That is classic fascism: it subsists on the self-created notion of widespread societal decadence, which justifies the enthronement of the authoritarian state, the worship of the supreme leader who reputedly embodies moral regeneration, and the suspension of civil liberties in the service of a putative moral revival.

To be sure, Nigeria is no stranger to asphyxiating absolutist tyranny. But it has never experienced this depth, breadth, and severity of fascist despotism under a system that pretends to be a democracy.  Most importantly, under past military dictatorships, the country always had a robust culture of civil rebellion to checkmate and neutralize tyranny.

But Buhari’s fascist monocracy is enabled and nourished by the very people who had made it their life’s calling to fight past military dictatorships. And that is what is particularly scary about what is unfolding in Nigeria today. Human rights organizations, pro-democracy groups, and the legacy news media formation either are in bed with Buhari’s fascist regime or are too cowed to speak up. The result is that people are increasingly becoming desensitized to the habitual rape of democracy, and tyranny is being normalized.

Even when Buhari told the Nigerian Bar Association that he had no use for the rule of law and due process, there was no outrage. When he illegally “suspended” the Chief of Justice of Nigeria over allegations that have now turned out to be bogus by the admission of the regime’s own prosecution counsel (which I’d called attention to several times in the past), there was no condemnation, much less a protest. Of course, when he coerced INEC to declare him winner of an election he clearly lost, everyone who should talk has looked the other way.

The next phase of Buhari’s fascism is to perpetuate himself in power beyond 2023—if he is lucky to survive the mandate he stole this year, that is.  The incoming National Assembly will be a pliant, slavish, rubber-stamp congress of yes-men that will tweak the constitution to legitimize and even prolong Buhari’s tyranny. Opposition parties will be decimated and Nigeria will become a one-party state.

Since Nigeria’s intellectual, cultural, and political elites are already compromised, resistance to Buhari’s fascism is a forlorn hope. Most people know that Nigeria is in the throes of economic collapse, that the slenderest tinctures of democracy are being eroded every day, and that there is more division now than at any time in Nigeria’s history, but they feel helpless and appear to have come to terms with this depressing reality with listless surrender.

A newspaper editor told me last week that, “People here are carrying on like a conquered people.” There is no doubt most people in Nigeria outside the circle of the bloodstained buccaneers who are ruthlessly fleecing the nation now are overcome by a sense of helplessness and have developed ego defense mechanisms to justify their indifference to the creeping totalitarian fascism in the nation.

Michael Rivero, an American journalist, actor, and activist, once captured it this way: "Most people prefer to believe their leaders are just and fair even in the face of evidence to the contrary, because once a citizen acknowledges that the government under which they live is lying and corrupt, the citizen has to choose what he or she will do about it. To take action in the face of a corrupt government entails risks of harm to life and loved ones. To choose to do nothing is to surrender one's self-image of standing for principles. Most people do not have the courage to face that choice.

“Hence, most propaganda is not designed to fool the critical thinker but only to give moral cowards an excuse not to think at all."

In other words, in order to free themselves from the twin burdens of critical thinking and direct action to change or challenge a bad government, people become willing suckers of sterile government propaganda. Nowhere is this more nakedly apparent than in Nigeria. Many otherwise sober, clearheaded people are making peace with the fascism in the country.

They legitimize their moral cowardice by swallowing the propaganda of the regime: Buhari is fighting corruption; it gets worse before it gets better; even though Buhari is bad, the alternative is worse; in the interest of stability, let’s not rock the boat; Buhari will hand over power to the people of my region, so we can wait out his incompetence for another four years; and so on.

I warned several times in the past that Nigeria might not survive a Buhari second time in its present form. Although he did clearly lose the election, he rigged himself back to power in ways never seen before in Nigeria’s entire history, and will be sustained in power by people’s moral cowardice. Then he’ll complete the destruction of the country he started. I hope people of conscience act before it’s too late.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Why Pius Adesanmi’s Death Shook Us to our Roots

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

I know of no death in Nigeria in recent time that has dominated social media conversation and inspired a welter of sustained lamentations with as much undying persistence as Pius Adesanmi’s heartrendingly sudden death in an air crash last week.

He was no politician. He was no wealthy man. He was no king or prince. He was no pop culture celebrity.  He was only a scholar and a social critic who railed against incompetence and malfeasance in government and who fired our collective imagination about our unrealized but realizable potential as a nation. Yet he was mourned—and is still being mourned—by an unbelievably vast swath of humanity.

Shakespeare said, “When beggars die there are no comets seen; the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes." Pius was no prince, yet the heavens are blazing forth his death. Why has his death detained our imagination and united us in grief? Was it because when he lived he radiated so much communicable warmth and love? Was it because he inspired tremendous, transmissible mirth wherever he was? Was it because he exuded life like no one? Was it because he shared love and built bridges across traditional fissures like no one in his generation? Well, it was all these things and more.

Pius lived his life publicly on social media. He shared his prodigious intellect with a massive, engaged social media audience. His biting wit, his sharp repartees, his homespun witticisms, and his equal-opportunity rhetorical “kobokos” (as he liked to call public censures) on Nigeria’s decadent and shortsighted political and cultural elites animated social media chatter and inspired hundreds of thousands of Nigerians.

He was an open book who shared the joys, the thrills, and the challenges of parenting with his friends and followers on social media. Everyone who followed him knew of his 7-year-old daughter Tise— and of her precocious questions to and conversations with him. He shared details of his travels with his friends and followers and even invited them to partake in his anxieties even in things as quotidian as the gastronomic choices he had to make in grand, glitzy, Western-style African hotels that marginalize African culinary delicacies.

He let anyone who knew him to take a peep into his deep, vast, phenomenal mind and see the angst that troubled him. People who cared to look saw a man who was deeply concerned about the present and the future of Africa. They saw the mind of a man who was impatient with the snail-pace progress of his native Nigeria. They saw a mind that was gripped by the fear of the judgment of history. They saw a man who was prepared to risk being unpopular rather than bend or sugarcoat the truth.

In short, in Pius Adesanmi, people saw a complaisant, brilliant, fearless, patriotic yet modest hero in whom they had become intellectually and emotionally dependent. That was why his death felt like—and actually is— the death of a piece of us.

I first met Pius in 2004 when I started publishing my articles in the Nigerian Village Square, a website set up by a Chicago-based Nigerian by the name of Philip Adekunle, where Pius also published. It was the go-to electronic marketplace for Cyberians, as I like to call Nigerians on the Internet, before the profusion of social media. In time, we discovered that we had more in common than our viewpoints about Nigeria: I found out that my late wife, Zainab, and he shared the same hometown. They were both from Isanlu in Kogi State. After this discovery, we started to call each other “my in-law.” Until his death, every communication we had—emails, phone calls, texts—was preceded by “my in-law.”

It was through him I got to know that my wife’s grandparents—or great grandparents—were the first Okun people to accept Islam in Isanlu and that a prominent Muslim secondary school in Isanlu, known as Oluyori Muslim Comprehensive High School, is named after my late wife’s grandfather (or perhaps great-grandfather).

When my wife died in a car crash in Nigeria in June 2010, Pius was distraught and was among the friends who rallied Nigerians in the diaspora to lend me emotional and financial support. In spite of his “sister’s” death and my remarriage four years later, we still called each other “my in-law.” When his wife gave birth to their daughter, Tise, more than a year after my late wife’s death, I was one of the first people he informed. “My in-law, Muyiwa delivered a beautiful baby girl this morning. Mother and daughter are doing great!” he wrote to me on Facebook on November 22, 2011.

Pius kept up with and lubricated his vast network of friends through dutiful outreach and relational nourishment. If a milestone happened in his life and you didn’t write or call to congratulate him, Pius would send you an email or a text to chastise you—often employing his trademark satirical raillery. He did the same if something momentous happened to you and he got to hear of it from others. But he was quicker to forgive than he was to take offense.

That is why a whole lot of people who knew him are distressed beyond comforting by the gut-wrenching news of his death. I personally don't think I will ever come to terms with his death.

A mutual friend of Pius’ and mine by the name of Bamidele Ademola-Olateju moved to the Atlanta area from Michigan about a year ago. She told me Pius kept reminding her to call me so we could visit each other. 

She finally called me about two weeks ago, and my family visited her family on March 9. In the nearly five hours we spent at her home, as you would expect, we talked about Pius. Bamidele's husband had fun things to say about Pius, especially about his travels to Ghana where Bamidele's husband grew up. Their lovely daughter, Imani, took photos of our visit, which Bamidele said she would share with Pius the following day.

Bamidele's call woke me up the following morning. I thought she called to tell me that Pius had seen our photos and videos and got a good laugh from my 2-year-old daughter’s clowning. Instead, she told me Pius had died in an air crash! Because I was still in bed and not quite awake when I answered her call, I thought I was having a nightmare from which I would wake up. So I called her back a couple of hours later to confirm if she did actually call to tell me Pius had died. I was hoping against hope that it wasn't true. She said I wasn't dreaming.

In many ways, Pius reminds us all of the intrinsic impermanence of our very humanity and of the imperative to always be self-conscious of our mortality. In many discussions with friends, Pius often said he had a foreboding that he wouldn’t live long enough to see his daughters grow to adulthood. That was why he lived every day as if it was his last. He always knew and said that tomorrow isn't guaranteed. That was why he always stood on the side of truth, justice, and fair play.

 More than anything, it was Pius' commitment to these ideals that earned him universal admiration and why we have a hard time accepting that he is physically gone from us for good. But he lives in the millions of lives he inspired and in the ideals he passionately espoused. May his soul rest in peace and his family be comforted.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Let's Celebrate Jaafar Jaafar on His Birthday

By Farooq Kperogi
Twitter:@farooqkperogi
Pius Adesanmi's heartrendingly sudden departure from us has rudely reminded me once again of the intrinsic impermanence of our very humanity and the imperative to celebrate worthy people when they are alive, not only when they are dead.

Jaafar Jaafar of the Daily Nigerian, whom I have not (yet) met physically but with whom I have related for the last couple of years, is one person that is worthy of our celebration while he is alive. Today is his birthday, and I invite you all to not just say happy birthday to him, but to also appreciate his admirable record of uncommon courage in defense of the truth.

In case you didn't know, it was he who exposed damning videographic evidence of Kano State governor Abdullahi Ganduje collecting millions of dollars in kickbacks from contractors. Jaafar practically risked his life, spurned entreaties from people in the corridors of power, and resisted enormous financial inducement to release the videos. At some point, he was compelled to relocate his family to Lagos when the monsters of power and their minions who felt threatened by his intrepid journalism threatened to eliminate him.
That’s not run-of-the-mill courage, folks. That’s some singularly plucky journalism of the kind that is becoming increasingly hard to find in Nigeria. Jaafar’s exposé has become the single most important reason why Ganduje is about to lose his reelection bid as governor of Kano State. There is no doubt that Jaafar’s work will rank as one of the most consequential journalistic efforts in Nigeria in this period.
This is not Jaafar’s first confrontation with official graft and falsehood. He has a consistent record of sustained struggle to enthrone justice, fairness, truth, and fair play. Let’s celebrate him when he can see it.
Jaafar, you know what makes your birthday particularly special? You share it with my son, Adam, who calls himself my dad’s “replacement” because I named him after my dad. In other words, he is my boss at 9. I’ll tell him he shares the same birthday with a great man who was prepared to risk his life instead of suppressing the truth. Happy birthday!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Pius Adesanmi's Death

By Farooq Kperogi
Twitter:@farooqkperogi
I am distressed beyond comforting by the gut-wrenching news of Pius Adesanmi's death today in an aircrash. I don't think I will ever come to terms with this tragedy.
A mutual friend of Pius and me, Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, moved to the Atlanta area from Michigan recently and reached out to me. She told me how Pius reminded her to call me so we could visit each other. We visited her and her family just yesterday. As you would expect, in the nearly five hours we spent at her home, we talked about Pius. Bamidele's husband had fun things to say about Pius, especially about his travels to Ghana where Bamidele's husband grew up. Their lovely daughter, Imani, took photos of our visit, which Bamidele said she would share with Pius today.

Bamidele's call woke me up this morning. I thought she called to tell me that Pius had seen our photos. Instead, she told me Pius had died in an air crash! Because I was still in bed and not quite awake when I answered her call, I thought I was having a nightmare from which I would wake up. So I called her back a couple of hours later to confirm if she did actually call to tell me Pius had died. I was hoping against hope that it wasn't true. She said I wasn't dreaming, but importuned me not to share or confirm the news to anyone yet because Pius' family hadn't yet been informed about this.
This is a tragic national loss. It's also an inconsolable personal loss to me. In the past few months, we missed each other's calls several times and didn't get to speak. That's one of my biggest regrets, but one from which I've learned great lessons. I'll henceforth be checking up on my friends as frequently as I can. This life is too transient to allow ourselves become too busy that we don't have time to say hi to our friends.
Pius and I used to call each other "in-law" because my late wife, Zainab, and he shared the same hometown. They were both from Isanlu. When I lost my wife in 2010, he took it really personal and was one of the people who rallied Nigerians in the diaspora to offer me both emotional and financial support. Now he is gone, too.
Like me, Pius was always self-conscious of his own mortality. He always knew and said that tomorrow isn't guaranteed. That's why I live every day like it's my last. I'll always stand on the side of truth, justice, and fairplay even if the whole world no longer sees merit in these virtues. It was Pius' commitment to these ideals that made us friends. May his soul rest in peace.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Why the Saraki Political Dynasty Collapsed

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Everyone who isn’t a victim of the current fascist mass hypnotism in Nigeria knows that Bukola Saraki was the target of a carefully executed and well-funded rigging assault by the Buhari presidency. For instance, a few days before the February 16 election, which was suspiciously canceled at the last minute, the Directorate of Security of Services swapped some State Directors of Security (SDS) in some states for what a source told me was a plan to manipulate the electoral process in favor of Buhari and against Buhari’s opponents.

I shared screenshots of the postings on my social media handles and on my blog on February 13. I pointed out, for instance, that, “Bassey Eteng, who is the DSS' Director of Operations (equivalent to DIG Operations in the police) is going to lead election operations in Kwara State. (They decided that they must wrestle Kwara State from Saraki in view of his centrality to the Atiku campaign).”

Again, three days before the rescheduled elections on February 23, at least two security sources told me Rafiu Ibrahim, Saraki’s protégé who represents Kwara South in the Senate, would be arrested a day prior to the election, among other things that came to pass, which the sources wanted me to publicize on Facebook and Twitter. At that point, frankly, my enthusiasm in the election had waned considerably because I’d known at that point that it was all a grand, prodigal charade, so I didn’t share it.

Saraki was the object of a vast, single-minded, concentrated federal assault. Nevertheless, he became an even easier target because of his own avoidable vulnerabilities. They are two.

The first is Saraki’s arrogance. His notoriety for overweening hauteur, particularly toward the people of Kwara State, is legendary. He routinely humiliated even people old enough to be his father out of pure, perverse self-conceit. One of my townsmen who was a professor here in the United States and who returned home to “give back to the community” a few years ago shared with me an experience he had with Saraki that captures Saraki’s imperiousness.

He said Saraki asked to meet with elders of the Baruten community in Kwara State, which included the area’s four emirs, over a contentious issue regarding political representation. In light of his age, education, and exposure, the professor was prevailed upon to be a part of the delegation. He said the delegation arrived at the venue of the meeting on time but that Saraki didn’t show up until several hours later.

When he arrived, he didn’t apologize for his lateness, didn’t establish eye contact with anyone in the delegation, and proceeded to tongue-lash every one of them in the most humiliating manner because he was miffed that they had the impudence to oppose his political choice for the area. Then he stormed out in a huff. The professor said many old men in the group felt so humiliated and so crushed that they literally wept.

I don’t recall if this incident happened when Saraki was governor or senate president, but this sort of insufferably overbearing arrogance and cultural insensitivity defines the contours of his relational dynamics with the people of the state—when he is not seeking their votes, that is. Someone also called my attention to the fact that Saraki’s political associates from Kwara State are often so subdued and so intimidated in his presence that they don’t even sit on the same chair with him. In several photos that I’ve seen, they either squat obsequiously or sit flat on the floor while he sits alone on the chair with imperial airs.  

To be fair to Saraki, this attitude of elite superciliousness toward people thought to be socially subordinate is a Nigerian malaise. Nigerian “big men”—and “big women”—seem to derive the cultural basis of their superiority and dominance from inferiorizing people who are below them. The degree of severity to which politicians inferiorize others may vary, but none is exempt from it.

Nevertheless, Saraki’s own arrogance is aggrandized in Kwara State, particularly in Ilorin Emirate, because it complements a strong, well-oiled, if reactionary, nativist delegitimization of his Ilorin bona fides. His political opponents from Ilorin have caused to percolate in Ilorin a narrative that he isn’t really from Ilorin and that he isn’t even a Muslim. Many Ilorin people have come to see him as a Lagos Yoruba carpetbagger who is only masquerading as an Ilorin man but who nonetheless can’t help but evince the age-old contempt southwestern Yoruba people have toward Ilorin people.

When Premium Times reported Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission and Ilorin native, to have said in a closed WhatsApp group that the ancestral provenance of the Saraki family isn’t locatable in Ilorin, I wrote a two-part series on August 18, 2018 and  on August 25, 2018 titled “Ilorin is an Ethnogenesis: Response to Kawu’s Anti-Saraki Ilorin Purism” to point out the historical inexactitude  of his claims.

Most Ilorin people who responded to my interventions agreed with my historicization and sociological characterization of the Ilorin identity and saw merit in my condemnation of Kawu’s ahistorical Ilorin nativism, but almost all of them said what delegitimizes  Saraki’s Ilorin bona fides isn’t so much the notion of his ancestral provenance as his cultural disaffiliation from the people.

They pointed to the fact that when his child got married recently, he did a wedding ceremony that was completely culturally alien to Ilorin. It was an avoidable self-delegitimization that rankled a lot of Ilorin people. They also say he doesn’t speak the Ilorin dialect of the Yoruba language and that, in spite of his vast wealth, he neither has any investment in Ilorin nor even a home outside his family house and the post-governorship house built for him by the Kwara State government.

I have not independently verified the accuracy of these claims, but they circulate widely and fuel a simmering discontent against him among Ilorin people who are hypersensitive both about the cultural boundaries of their identity and any hint of snobbery toward them particularly from southwest Yoruba people. Olusola Saraki, Bukola Saraki’s dad, artfully navigated these unspoken but nonetheless consequential cultural minefields.

People who wanted to shake off the senior Saraki’s grip on Kwara politics also called to question his ancestral connection to Ilorin. AbdulGaniy Folorunsho Abdulrazaq, northern Nigeria’s first lawyer and father of the current APC candidate for governor of Kwara State, famously said he knew Olusola Saraki’s father, known as Muktar Saraki, to be from Abeokuta. But his nativist delegitimization of the senior Saraki didn’t stick.

It didn’t stick because although the senior Saraki also studied medicine in London and grew up partly in Lagos, he immersed himself in the Ilorin cultural universe. He spoke the idioms and vernaculars of the people. He was modest, down-to-earth, and generous. His religious piety didn’t come across as forced and politically motivated. In short, he was indistinguishable from the very Ilorin people Abdulrazaq wanted to divorce him from.

Bukola Saraki didn’t learn this basic skill in what I call protective cultural mimicry, that is, the skill to embody and reflect the cultural singularities of your immediate community so you don’t stand out like a sore thumb. That was what rendered him vulnerable to the electoral onslaught of the hawks of the Buhari presidency. In other words, Saraki’s Ilorin cultural immunity was weak, which made him susceptible to an opportunistic presidential infection during the election.

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Friday, March 8, 2019

My (Temporary) Emotional Break from Nigeria

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter:@farooqkperogi
I have decided to take an emotional break from Nigeria for a while. I’ve not read Nigerian news and have had no social media engagement for nearly two weeks now. It's been unbelievably blissful and tranquil. I am completing research projects that had been hibernating for a while, have been spending more time with my family, and feeling happier and more fulfilled than I've ever been in a long while.
I didn't realize just how toxic and time-consuming dealing with Nigeria has been until this moment. Many people have wondered what I stood to gain from my passionate interventions in Nigerian affairs when I am not a direct victim of the dysfunction of the country and won't be a direct beneficiary of the systemic overhaul I desire for the country. I used to think people who asked me these questions were shortsighted.


Your home is where your heart is. Although I am a permanent resident of the US and can choose to never visit Nigeria for the rest of my life, Nigeria is where my fondest memories are located, where my heart is. But I am just realizing that it doesn't have to be that way.
It's now obvious to me that the country is an impending train wreck, which is being hastened by the rise of Buhari to the presidency. Suddenly, mass stupidity has taken over the country. Adults reason like retarded kids. Dissent is criminalized and punished. The critical press is dead. With a few exceptions, human rights and pro-democracy groups have become active accomplices in the emerging fascism in the country.
From my perspective, this is no longer a country worth wasting one's emotions on. But I've given up many times in the past and returned after a while, so I don't trust that I can sustain my emotional divestment for as long as I think I can. Nevertheless, ultimately, it is up to the people who live in Nigeria to either change their situation or live with it.
So, please don't tag me to posts and mention me in comments. As it should be obvious to people by now, I don't respond to personal attacks against me from my intellectual inferiors. I don't even read them because I don't want to read things I won't respond to. I don't kill ants with a sledgehammer. That's unusual cruelty. 
A few people have tagged me to an article written in the Daily Trust today with my name in the title. Even from the title of the article, it's obvious the writer would benefit from a good secondary school education. Why would I read an article whose headline screams pitiful illiteracy? I have better use for my time than that.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

This is Rigocracy, Not Democracy

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Critical scholars have characterized contemporary systems of government that claim to be democracies as mere “electocracies” because the vast majority of people actually don’t vote, which denudes such systems of their claims to being governments by the “demo,” that is, the people.  Nigeria’s situation is worse. It has institutionalized “rigocracy,” that is, government by in-your-face rigging, not transparent elections, as its preferred system of government.

Although rigocracy has been institutional in Nigeria for a while, its brazen manifestation in the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections, in spite of putative technological safeguards against it, should invite introspection from people who matter in Nigeria on whether it’s wise to invest enormous resources, not to mention risk the needless deaths of scores of citizens, to organize periodic elections.

The last election was a sham and a shame. There is no question about that. The results INEC announced as the product of the presidential and National Assembly election are, in many cases, scandalously inconsistent with the figures officially declared at polling units.  Given the deployment of technology for the election, you would think that arbitrary allocation of votes to candidates won’t be a strategy of rigging. But it was.

At this point, we might as well have a fascistic monarchy with no elections at all instead of spending billions to organize sham elections that don't mean anything; that a bunch of mulish, nescient knuckleheads can overturn at will without consequences.

I am surprised that I am surprised by this. In several past columns and social media posts, I had cautioned against what I called “misplaced PVC optimism.” In a September 28, 2018 post, for instance, I wrote:  “Nigerians feel oddly empowered by the possession of their Permanent Voters Card (PVC). They think it's their bulwark against Buhari's continuing incompetence. I am sorry to be a party pooper, but the truth is that in Buhari's Nigeria, the PVC is worthless, as we've seen in most of the elections conducted while Buhari is president, the latest being the Osun State governorship election.

“All indices show that Buhari would lose the 2019 election if it's free and fair, but Buhari would rather die in power than hand over power to anyone… So your votes would be worthless in 2019.” And that was precisely what happened: PVCs were worthless last Saturday.

In spite of propaganda to the contrary, last Saturday’s election will go down in the annals as one of the bloodiest, most brazenly monetized, and most explicitly fraudulent presidential elections in Nigeria's entire history. Ballot boxes in polling units won by opposition candidates were seized, burned, or dumped in the sewers by APC-sponsored thugs in places like Lagos. Countless instances of massive thumb-printing of ballot papers in APC strongholds have been captured and shared on social media in the far North.

Nevertheless, in spite of the active state-aided voter suppression in PDP strongholds, murderous violence against PDP agents, ballot paper snatching, and sundry electoral malpractices, Atiku Abubakar still had a comfortable lead. Results that trickled in in real time showed that he won in southern and northcentral states with a wider margin than Buhari did his strongholds in 2015, and lost a majority of northwestern and northeastern states by a far narrower margin than Jonathan did his weak spots in 2015.
At the last minutes, however, votes from several states were arbitrarily inflated in favor of APC’s Muhammadu Buhari, leading to a situation where there are now more votes cast in the election than there were accredited voters in the election.

The title of my last column is, "Buhari, 'remote control' is worse than ballot snatching." "Remote control," remember, is Buhari's euphemism for changing results after the vote, which he confessed to have done in the Osun State governorship election. “I know how much trouble we had in the last election here,” he said on January 27 during a campaign event in Osun State. “ I know by remote control through so many sources how we managed to maintain the [APC] in power in this state.”

 Well, he and his henchmen did precisely that again in Saturday’s presidential election. In the actual votes declared at polling units nationwide, which have been captured in real-time and stored in cloud-computing technology, Buhari lost the election. Troves of anecdotal evidence, including intercepted phone conversations and video recordings, have emerged to show that INEC officials fudged the figures in parts of the northwest, the northeast, the southeast and the south-south after the vote, to give Buhari a fraudulent lead.

This is in addition to massively brazen ballot snatching, ballot burning and outright, barbarous disenfranchisement in PDP strongholds in places like Lagos where, in spite of everything, Buhari only managed to squeak out a narrow "win."

The signs were always there that Buhari would not accept any result that does not declare him a winner, and I and other commentators have called attention to them. For instance, his refusal to sign the Electoral Bill, which would have frustrated the rigging his minions perpetrated in this election, was deliberate. One of the provisions of the bill was to make on-the-spot transmission of election results mandatory.

 He also knew, as I pointed out in a previous column, that his blatant rigging would invite a robust judicial challenge, and that the overturning of his fraudulent victory would be a slam dunk in an independent, unpredictable Supreme Court. That was why he exploited CJN Walter Onnogen's asset declaration infraction, which most government officials, including Buhari himself, are guilty of to illegally remove him and replace him with a pliant, acquiescent alternative from his geo-cultural backyard.

This is not an election Atiku and other opposition politicians should accept. It was a brazenly disreputable daylight electoral heist, which has completely destroyed the last vestige of faith most Nigerians had in the integrity of the electoral process. Unfortunately, the judiciary is now so intimidated and so compromised that it’s incapable of dispensing even a semblance of justice. Nevertheless, for the sake of history, I’d encourage Atiku to proceed to the courts to present evidentiary proofs of the enormous rigging the Buhari regime has perpetrated to perpetuate itself in power.

In all of this, the person I am concerned with the most is Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC chairman. Even Maurice Iwu would be alarmed by the shameless sham Yakubu supervised and legitimized. As I’ve pointed out before, Yakubu is straight-up one of the smartest people I have ever related with. As a professional historian, and a top-rate one at that, I thought he would be self-conscious of the judgement of history. Apparently, he is not.

He will sadly go down in the records as the worst INEC chairman Nigeria has ever had. He frittered away billions to invest in technology to organize elections and ended up not using it to determine the outcome of the election. Well, at least Maurice Iwu can thank him for displacing him as Nigeria’s most audacious election fixer in favor of a ruling party. That’s such a sad end for such a brilliant man.

But he might be able to redeem himself someday by writing a manifesto of rigocracy. At least he would make an original contribution to knowledge from the vantage point of someone who supervised an unsophisticated rigocratic process. Such a manifesto would also help cure the illusion that Nigerians have elections.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Buhari's Unprecedented Electoral Brigandage

By Farooq Kperogi, PhD
The title of my last column in the Nigerian Tribune on Saturday is, "Buhari, 'remote control' is worse than ballot snatching." "Remote control," remember, is Buhari's euphemism for changing results after the vote, which he confessed to have done in the Osun State governorship election.
Well, he has done precisely that again in this presidential election. In the actual votes declared at polling units nationwide, which have been captured by instantaneous cloud-computing technology, Atiku won the election by at least 4 million votes in spite of unprecedented voter suppression and violence against PDP voters, but Buhari's henchmen bribed and intimidated INEC officials into fudging the figures in parts of the northwest, the northeast, the southeast and the south-south, to give him a fraudulent lead.

This is in addition to massively brazen ballot snatching, ballot burning and outright, barbarous disenfranchisement in PDP strongholds in places like Lagos where, in spite of everything, Buhari only managed to squeak out a narrow "win." In line with his directive to security forces, should he and his henchmen lose their lives for the unprecedented electoral heist they’ve perpetrated? Even Maurice Iwu would be alarmed by what happened in this shameless sham that is dignified as an election.
I pointed out many times in the past that Buhari had said he'd rather hand over to the military than concede to the PDP (because all signs pointed to his defeat in a free and fair contest even before the election took place). Being the insatiable monster of power that he is, he countenanced any and all tactics his henchmen were prepared to execute to retain him in power.
That was why he refused to sign the Electoral Bill, which would have frustrated the rigging his minions perpetrated in this election. He also knew, as I pointed out in a previous column, that his blatant rigging would invite a robust judicial challenge, and its overturning would be a slam dunk in an independent, unpredictable Supreme Court. That was why he exploited CJN Onnogen's asset declaration infraction, which most government officials, including Buhari, are guilty of to illegally remove him and replace him with a pliant, acquiescent alternative.
I and many other independent voices have done our bit. I hope the opposition political parties, not just the PDP, unite in not just protesting the outcome of this fraudulent “election” but also in letting the world know that Buhari has murdered the last vestige of democracy that existed in Nigeria. Nigeria is now officially a fascist state. The next four years won't be pretty, Nigerians. You have been warned.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Buhari, "Remote Control" is Worse Than Ballot Snatching

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

Elections inspire trepidation in Nigeria because they are traditionally bitter and slaughterous affairs. But violence doesn’t necessarily inhere in elections; it is political actors who exploit elections to instigate violence. It is the utterances of politicians that predispose the nation to avoidably violent post-election upheavals.

All political parties are guilty of instigating, or invoking the threat of, violence for self-interested political gains. Even former president Olusegun Obasanjo whom the passage of time appears to have sanitized described the 2007 presidential election as a “do-or-die” matter. “This election is a do-or-die affair for me and the PDP,” he told elders from Abeokuta North Local Government on February 11, 2007. “This coming election is a matter of life and death for the PDP and Nigeria.”

Former Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu who fancies himself as a democrat threatened in June 2014 that the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections that year— and the general elections a year later— were “going to be rig and roast.”

As a presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari had on many occasions explicitly instructed his supporters to extra-judicially murder vote riggers. In 2011, for instance, he told his supporters in a now viral video, “Ku fita ku yi zabe. Ku Kasa. Ku tsare. Ku raka. Ku tsaya. Duk wanda bai yarda ba, ku halaka shi!” 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). Anyone who stands in the way, kill him!” In the video, his audience gave wild chants in agreement.

And that was precisely what happened. In the aftermath of Buhari’s loss in the 2011 election, at least 800 southerners and Christians who lived in the far north, including 10 youth corps members who worked as ad hoc electoral staff, were murdered in cold blood.

A year later, Buhari again threatened violence if elections were rigged. He said there would be a scenario of “kare jinni, biri jini” (Hausa for “the dog is soaked in blood, the baboon is soaked in blood”). Many commentators, including me, had defended the expression as an idiomatic substitute for “fierce competition” rather than a literal call for bloodletting. Nevertheless, in retrospect, both the context of his utterance and his past and subsequent calls for extra-judicial mass murders of so-called riggers subvert the admissibility of our defense.

Nothing proves this more than Buhari’s February 19 revelation on national television that he had “directed the police and the military to be ruthless” with ballot snatchers, and that whoever leads thugs to snatch ballot boxes on election day would be doing so “at the expense of his own life.”

I have as much revulsion toward election riggers as anybody else. However, Buhari’s outburst is disturbing and indefensible for at least three reasons. First, it is unconstitutional and therefore illegal. Jail time, not death, is the punishment for rigging. Given the notoriety of Nigerian security forces for trigger-happiness, Buhari’s instruction amounts to license to mass murder.

Second, it's ironic that Buhari is complaining of rigging and even giving orders for security forces to extra-judicially murder alleged riggers when he is, in fact, a serial beneficiary of rigging. For instance, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, former Sokoto State governor who doubled as ANPP chairman in 2003, revealed to the author of a new, explosive book titled Politics as Dashed Hopes in Nigeria that he rigged the ANPP presidential primary election for Buhari in 2003—with Buhari's active knowledge and permission. He said Rochas Okorocha won “27 of the 36 states and the FCT, while Buhari could only win five.” The story came out on January 30, and it hasn't been refuted up to now.

It's also now evident that Buhari's 2015 "victory" was fraudulent. First, INEC's data from the 2015 election, as I pointed out in a previous column, showed that Buhari was a disproportionate recipient of possibly sham votes that were masked with and legitimized by “incidence forms.” “Of the 31,746,490 accredited voters in the election, 13,536,311 — representing 42.6 percent of voters — voted without biometric accreditation. Out of this number, 10,184,720 votes are from states won by Buhari," according to DeepDive Intelligence, which got the data from INEC’s website.

Recall, too, that INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in Kano, from where suspicious 2 million votes were recorded for Buhari, was burnt alive in his home, along with his wife and two children. The man, identified as Mukaila Abdullahi, was said to be uncomfortable with the electoral heist perpetrated in Kano on Buhari’s behalf and wanted to blow the lid off the scam.

Everyone also knows that underage voting is rampant in the northwest, Buhari’s electoral stronghold, which is just as illegal as ballot snatching. And, of course, post-election manipulation is an even bigger, more sinister threat to the integrity of elections than ballot snatching. In a moment of unguarded candor, Buhari confessed to participating in post-election manipulation in favor of his party in the last Osun governorship election.

At the banquet hall of the Osun State Government House on January 27, Buhari admitted that APC won the Osun governorship election only with “remote control,” a euphemism for underhand manipulation of election results after the fact. “Remote control” is worse than “ballot snatching.” Should Buhari and other “remote controllers” in the Osun election lose their lives for their treachery against the democratic process?

 But what is particularly disturbing about Buhari’s instruction to security forces to extra-judicially murder so-called ballot snatchers is that Buhari suffers from a mental disorder that leads him to think that any vote against him is rigging. Here's my evidence.

When he ran for president in 2003, 2007, and 2011, Buhari never campaigned in the South. In fact, he didn't even campaign in the Christian North. Yet he believed he "won" the elections and was "rigged out" by PDP. How could he possibly win a national election when he only campaigned among Hausa-speaking northern Muslims? The only time Buhari's presidential campaign extended beyond the Muslim North was in 2015.

And even though evidence now shows that his victory was possibly aided by rigging in spite of the significantly more national appeal of his candidature in 2015, Buhari believes that the 2015 election in which he emerged victorious was the only free and fair election in Nigeria. That, right there, is the picture of the mind of a man held hostage by a psychic disorder.

Since Nigerian security forces are now explicitly biased in his favor, as several photos illustrate and the utterances of the heads of the military show, a vote against him might be interpreted as "rigging" or "ballot box snatching" and be met with deadly force.

Buhari’s APC henchmen have come out to defend his bloodthirsty executive rhetorical thuggery. However, when a far less incendiary rhetoric than Buhari’s was uttered by a senior police officer four years ago, his party was up in arms against the policeman.  On February 13, 2015, AIG Joseph Mbu told his men to shoot at electoral offenders who first shot at them. Two days later, APC called Mbu a “lawless and barbaric policeman.” Now, would they say Buhari is a lawless and barbaric president?

Most importantly, though, had Buhari signed the Electoral Act, which provides for on-the-spot electronic transmission of election results, there would be no need for ballot boxes and no risk of snatching them.  Buhari is, no doubt, a violent, bloodthirsty man, but may today’s election be peaceful in spite of him.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Abba Kyari’s Self-Serving Condemnation of Foreign Intervention

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Abba Kyari, President Muhammadu Buhari’s geriatric and morally stained Chief of Staff, wrote an impudent, awkwardly error-ridden, and mind-numbingly platitudinous screed titled “Tomorrow Never Dies.”  That’s an ironic title in light of the well-known fact that he and a junto of reactionary, avaricious pudden-heads misgoverning Nigeria on behalf of a senile, cognitively degenerate, and physically infirm Buhari are already murdering Nigeria’s tomorrow.

Kyari has an unflattering reputation for physical and intellectual laziness and for down-the-line duplicity, so his hackneyed, intellectually malnourished harangue didn’t surprise me. Nonetheless, the false, exaggerated, and opportunistic appeals to patriotism and the hypocritical denunciation of foreign intervention that constitute the core of his essay need a response and a reality check.

 Kyari griped about Bukola Saraki’s alleged hiring of an American lobbyist by the name of Riva Levinson.  “We are meant to believe that Ms Levinson, like the others who are paid by one of the contestants, wants only to promote a free and fair race,” Kyari wrote. “And that it is only a coincidence that this language for hire is identical to what we hear from accredited diplomats!”

I have no clue what thought Kyari wanted to express in that tortuous quote, especially in the second sentence, but it’s apparent that he was taking issue with the hiring of an American to help the opposition with today’s presidential election. Well, I too resent it and have written several columns in the past to denounce what I have called Nigerians’ knee-jerk xenophilia, which I have defined as the tendency to uncritically celebrate and valorize the foreign. Nevertheless, Kyari’s APC isn’t immune from this disease of low self-esteem.

 From December 2013 to 2015, according to influential American online newspaper Politico, the APC paid for the services of AKPD Message and Media, a political consulting firm owned by former Obama campaign manager David Axelrod. “AKPD’s Nigerian work has already drawn media attention in the U.S. and Nigeria, including reports of leaked emails that discussed the firm’s recent work for Buhari’s party,” the paper wrote in its February 14, 2015 story titled “Democrats working both sides of Nigeria's presidential election.”

The same sorts of pronouncements from Trump administration officials that Kyari and his gang of philistines in the Presidential Villa characterize as evidence of foreign interference were also made by Obama administration officials against Jonathan in 2015. When President Goodluck Jonathan postponed the presidential election in 2015, for instance, then Secretary of State John Kerry said, “It is critical that the government not use security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process.”

Several other influential American political players made statements that the Jonathan administration interpreted as covert endorsement of Buhari’s APC. For example, following Kerry, Jennifer Cooke, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a Washington think tank, said, “There is a great deal of anger about the postponement of the election and suspicion among opposition supporters that the delay is a deliberate ploy to subvert the democratic process.”

I can give more examples, but the point is that in 2015 when US, UK, and EU officials issued statements that benefited Buhari’s APC and censured Jonathan’s PDP, Abba Kyari and the band of farouche provincials he is speaking for now didn’t see any “foreign interference.” In fact, when Buhari visited the US in July 2015, according to the Associated Press of July 20, 2015, “he said Nigeria would be ‘ever grateful’ to the U.S. for its support of free elections in his country,” and added that “U.S. and European pressures to ensure the election was ‘fair and credible led us to where we are now.’” He repeated this sentiment on several other occasions. And Jonathan, on the other hand, has blamed his electoral loss on foreign, particularly American, interference.

Even after getting into power, the Buhari regime has been more obsessed with getting favorable public opinion in foreign lands, particularly in the West, than it has been with its perception in Nigeria. That is why Buhari gave all the consequential press interviews of his presidency to foreign media organizations—usually on foreign soil.

In addition, a September 20, 2018 Premium Times investigation found that Justice Minister Abubakar Malami “hired two American lobbying and public relations firms to plant opinion articles favourable to the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in American newspapers.”

So, for Buhari and his no-good puppeteers like Abba Kyari and homicidal executive thugs like Nasir El-Rufai, foreign interference is good only when it favors them and condemnable when it calls out their incompetence and duplicity.

I won’t lie that when I read statements from foreign countries cautioning, warning, and threatening our leaders to be of good behavior or risk punishment, my national self-pride is often bruised. Sadly, it is only this sort of infantilization that can compel our leaders to be of good behavior.

I have pointed out in previous interventions that most Nigerians would seem to be held hostage by a debilitating and deep-seated inferiority complex. This complex consists in the internationalization of a mentality of low self-worth and an inordinate reverence of the foreign, especially if the “foreign” also happens to be white.

It is this xenophilic inferiority complex that allowed low-grade US diplomatic officers to extract treasure troves of sensitive national secrets almost effortlessly from well-placed Nigerian officials, according to revelations from WikiLeaks in 2011.

What I’ve found particularly instructive from the US diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks squealed in 2011 is that our perpetually lying politicians suddenly become truthful, honest, and straight-talking people when they talk to Americans. You would think they were standing before their Creator—or at least before a stern, omniscient, no-nonsense dad who severely punishes his kids for the minutest lie they tell.

For instance, Nuhu Ribadu, the wily airhead who had told the world that he thoroughly investigated former President Obasanjo and found him squeaky clean, confessed to the Americans that Obasanjo was more corrupt than Abacha. The same Ribadu had lied that the EFCC he headed never investigated Mrs. Patience Jonathan over money-laundering allegations. However, leaked US diplomatic cables quoted him as telling US officials that he indeed investigated Patience Jonathan for money laundering.

Nasir el-Rufai, the thuggish, murder-loving governor of Kaduna, had also publicly denied any debt to Atiku Abubakar for his political rise, but he confessed to American embassy officials that Atiku indeed gave him his first public service job as head of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, according to WikiLeaks.

Many Nigerian leaders—and followers— seem to have an infantile thirst for a supranational paternal dictatorship. The United States is that all-knowing, all-sufficient father figure to whom they run when they have inter-elite troubles. We learned from the US embassy cables in 2011 that our Supreme Court judges, Central Bank governors, national leaders, and state governors routinely ran to the American embassy like terrified little kids when they had quarrels with each other. They only preach “patriotism” in the open when they are publicly chastised by their masters.

I can bet my bottom dollar that even Abba Kyari will squeal like a canary if he is “honored” with an invitation to any Western embassy. Don’t be deceived by his fraudulent pretense to patriotism.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Lawal Daura's Plans to Rig Saturday's Poll Using the DSS

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
My source within the DSS just informed me that Lawal Daura, the disgraced former DG of the DSS (who is still in charge of the agency by proxy in spite of being fired) has perfected plans to rig Saturday's election for Buhari with new suspicious postings. See screenshots of the memo of the postings here below: 


He swapped some State Directors of Security (SDS) in some states yesterday for that purpose and instructed them to manipulate the electoral process in favor of Buhari
For instance, Bassey Eteng, who is the DSS' Director of Operations (equivalent to DIG Operations in the police) is going to lead elections operations in Kwara State. (They decided that they must wrestle Kwara State from Saraki in view of his centrality to the Atiku campaign). Eteng is very close to Daura and the cabal in the Villa. He's their tool.
As you can see from the memo, tt was Eteng, rather than Yusuf Magachi Bichi, (the surrogate DG), who signed the memo. Bichi is an old, tired man who has no clue what is going on in the agency he supposedly leads. Also note that Lawal Daura still lives in the official residence of the Director General of the SS in Asokoro months after he was relieved of his appointment by then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.

The whole world must know that the DSS is planning a massive rigging operation on Saturday. Vigilance, people! Vigilance.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Atiku’s Fiercest Foe Isn’t Buhari; It’s the INEC Chairman

By Farooq Kperogi
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

The auguries already favor a decisive Atiku win in the forthcoming February 16 election, and the biggest electoral shock may actually come from the northwest, hitherto Buhari’s impregnable electoral fortress. The silent majority of voters in the region will ventilate their pent-up anger and frustration against Buhari in ways that will signal a tectonic disruption of the habitual voting patterns of the region. At this point, Buhari isn’t a threat to Atiku. INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu is actually Atiku’s most potent threat now. Here is why.

A brother of the INEC chairman’s close friend confided in me today that the electoral boss has a deep-seated animus toward Atiku and has made many nasty, unkind remarks about Atiku in private. That, in and of itself, is not the problem. We are all entitled to our personal predispositions and biases as long as they don’t interfere with our judgement on occasions that invite our neutrality and fairmindedness.
However, the same source told me the INEC chairman has a profound personal investment in APC’s electoral successes, like Maurice Iwu had in PDP’s victories. He said the INEC chairman told his friend that he was going to hand victory to APC in the Osun governorship election even though PDP clearly and handily won it. Buhari’s unguardedly candid confession on January 27 at the banquet hall of the Osun State Government House that APC won the Osun governorship election with “remote control” is the biggest corroboration of this previously uncirculated whisper.
The go-to rhetorical strategy to impeach the credibility of uncomfortable, anonymous but veridical revelations like this is to call them “fake” and to dismiss them as ill motivated. Well, I’ve confirmed the INEC chairman’s ill will against and active personal hostility toward Atiku from other credible sources that should know. I’m so sure of my information that I can swear by Allah that Professor Yakubu isn’t neutral toward Atiku and has said unmentionably disparaging things about him in private. I invoke the wrath of Allah upon me if I am making this up. I hope Professor Yakubu, who is a Muslim like me and with whom I have personal familiarity, can do the same.
I concede that INEC has taken many admirable actions in the past few months that point to some degree of independence. It has also conducted a few elections in which APC lost, but that may just be window-dressing to conceal plans for the grand presidential electoral heist on February 16. The world needs to know that the INEC chairman isn’t neutral toward all the presidential candidates. 

There are many other disturbing things I’ve heard about the INEC chair that I’ll withhold for now because I haven’t independently confirmed them. It suffices to say, nonetheless, that the INEC chairman is NOT a neutral arbiter in the forthcoming election. Domestic and international observers—and Atiku’s agents—should observe him with heightened sensitivity. This is not Attahiru Jega; this is a less evil version of Maurice Iwu.

Forget Onnoghen; Let’s Talk about Buhari’s Asset Declaration Fraud

By Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Buhari’s asset declaration fraud is more damning than Onnoghen's, yet it is Onnoghen who has been illegally “suspended” and pilloried in the media. In this piece I’ll show you why Buhari is a double-dyed scammer who should be in jail.
First, it was Buhari who voluntarily said he would publicly declare his assets. The Punch of February 20, 2015 reported him to have said: “I pledge to PUBLICLY declare my assets and liabilities, encourage all my appointees to publicity declare their assets and liabilities as a pre-condition for appointment.” However, several months after getting into power, he refused to declare his assets publicly.

In the early days of the regime, I frantically reached out to many people in the president’s inner circle with whom I have a personal relationship and begged them to prevail upon the president to make good his campaign promise. When they weren’t forthcoming, I wrote a column on June 13, 2015 titled “Mishandling of Asset Declaration May Doom Buhari’s Presidency.” I republished it weeks later.
The very first paragraph of the column, which seems pretty prescient in retrospect, read: “Although many of us still nourish the hope that President Buhari’s administration will represent a substantive departure from the blight of the past, Buhari has so far done little to inspire confidence that he will live up to the hopes we have invested in him. Perhaps the biggest germinal error he has made, which might haunt his administration, is his seeming reluctance to publicly declare his assets, contrary to the promise he made during his campaigns.”
After the column was published a second time, one close aide of the president told me in confidence that Buhari would NEVER publicly declare his assets because it would demystify him. I asked why and he said it's because the man is very wealthy and that his base in the North and his supporters down South would feel betrayed if they knew how much he’s actually worth. He said Buhari declared close to a billion naira in his asset declaration form and has choice property all over the country worth billions of naira. What was worse, he said, Buhari didn’t even officially declare everything. That was when it dawned on me that Buhari was a deodorized and carefully packaged scammer.
For instance, Buhari routinely received generous donations from foreign governments during previous runs for president. The Saudi Arabian government has given him the equivalent of up to two billion naira in two election cycles, and he always instructed his personal aide to deposit the money into his personal bank account. The late Muammar Gaddafi also once gave him at least $3 million and he deposited it into his personal bank account. He was also the sole signatory to the donations that everyday Nigerians made to his campaign through scratch cards between 2014 and 2015. The money was never used for the presidential campaign, and it has not been accounted for up to now. (An old woman in Kebbi State donated her entire life saving of N1 million that she got from selling kosai (bean cake) and died in penury a year later. Buhari didn’t even acknowledge her death!). Buhari did not declare all these monies in his asset declaration form, yet he had close to a billion naira in cash in his declaration form that he is hiding from the world.
Now, here is where the fraud starts. In December 2014, Buhari had said, “I have at least one million naira in my bank, having paid N5.5 million to pick my form from my party APC. I have around 150 cattle because I am never comfortable without cows. I have a house each in Kaduna, Kano, and Daura which I borrowed money to build. I never had a foreign account since I finished my courses in the USA, India and the UK. I never owned any property outside Nigeria. Never.”
They say a liar must have a good memory. But Buhari is a bad liar. After so much pressure from many of us, Buhari’s strategists came up with a plan to deceive Nigerians and deflect attention from Buhari’s asset declaration fraud. His spokesman was told to issue an intentionally vague and incomplete “public asset declaration” that would leave room for plausible deniability in case he is caught.
That was why there were no specifics other than unhelpfully broad claims that the president had a house in Abuja (which he earlier said he didn't have during the campaigns), Kano, Kaduna, Daura and Port Harcourt; some cattle and livestock; “not less than 30 million naira” (how more deceptively vague can you get than that? Recall that a few months earlier he said he had only one million naira left in his account!); “a number of cars” (we weren’t told how many); and so on. Compare Buhari’s "public asset declaration" with the late President Umaru Musa Yar'adua's more transparent, public declaration and the face of Buhari’s fraud will become even more nakedly apparent.
Many Nigerians weren’t deceived by the fraud. They asked that he make public a copy of his declaration like Yar’adua (who didn’t even campaign to publicly declare his assets) did. In response, the president’s spokesperson said, “As soon as the CCB is through with the process, the documents will be released to the Nigerian public and people can see for themselves.” It’s been more than two years, and the declaration hasn’t been released to the public.
What is worse, I have confirmed from friends at the Code of Conduct Bureau that the presidency took away Buhari’s asset declaration form from the place. So, get this: Buhari is the ONLY public officer whose asset declaration does not exist at the Code of Conduct of Bureau. Of course, it’s because he wants to hide his fraud from scrutiny.
This double-dyed fraud becomes even more annoying when you remember what Buhari says when he is asked to publicly show his asset declaration form as he promised he would. During the one and only media chat he did as president, he challenged journalists to use their skills in “investigative journalism” to find the form. What sort of dumb logic is that? On your own, you promised to publicize your asset declaration form. Then you took it away from the only place it’s legally supposed to be, and you now challenge journalists to use their investigative skill to find it. You want them to invade your home, hold you at gunpoint, and force you to produce it?
Well, journalists have used the best resources they have to find the form. They invoked the Freedom of Information Act and requested the CCB to release Buhari’s asset declaration form. On September 21, 2016, Code of Conduct Bureau Chairman Sam Saba said the Bureau couldn’t release Buhari’s asset declaration form because the law that set up the bureau forbids him from making the forms public without Buhari’s consent.
That’s why the Bureau also declined requests to release the asset declaration forms of other higher-ups in the Buhari regime. Now, how did Dennis Aghanya, Buhari’s former media aide and current SA on justice, get access to CJN Onnoghen’s asset declaration form when the law forbids the public disclosure of public officials’ asset declaration forms without their consent? Why isolate someone for punishment for an offense that everyone, including the people meting out the punishment, is guilty of?