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

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A “Technically” Incompetent Chief Justice of Nigeria

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

A trending video clip of the senate confirmation hearing of Chief Justice of Nigeria Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad which shows him betraying mortifying ignorance of the meaning of the term “technicality” aggrandizes the point I made in my April 20, 2019 column titled “Atiku’s Citizenship and Buhari’s Illiterate Lawyers” about Buhari’s love affair with incompetence and mediocrity.

I noted that, “The law of attraction says like attracts like, which explains why Muhammadu Buhari is a magnet for mediocrities. Almost all his appointees are, like him, underwhelming, intellectually incurious rubes.” Justice Tanko is the latest instantiation of Buhari’s passion for attracting and elevating people who mirror his own well-known incompetence and witlessness.

First, here is a brief background for people who are not clued in on the exchange that exposed the soft underbelly of the awkward, cringe-worthy ignorance of Nigeria’s Chief Justice. Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe asked Tanko if he thought it made legal and moral sense to pervert the merit of cases before the Supreme Court on the basis of “mere technicality.”

Abaribe reminded Tanko that, “In the 2018 case of Akeredolu vs Abraham, the Supreme Court said, ‘technicality in the administration of justice shuts out justice.’…It is therefore better to have a case heard and determined on its merit than to leave the court with the shield of victory obtained on mere technicality.”

Nevertheless, in spite of the legal precedent the Supreme Court has set regarding the primacy of legal merit of cases over their technicalities in the dispensation of justice, Abaribe pointed out, the Supreme Court this year ruled against PDP’s Ademola Adeleke of Osun State not because his case lacked merit but on the basis of a frivolous technicality.

All this passed over Tanko’s head. He had not the haziest idea what “technicality” meant and went off on a puzzling tangent. “Permit me, distinguished senators, to ask what a technicality is,” he said. “It is something which is technical. By definition, it is something that is not usual and may sometimes defy all the norms known to a normal thing. Now, we have technicalities in our laws and this is because these laws we have inherited were from the British.”

Ha! You can’t make this stuff up! He continued: “Now, if something which is technical comes before the court, what we do in trial courts is to ask people who are experts in that field to come and testify. We rely on their testimony because they are experts in that field.

“Ask me anything about an aeroplane, I don’t know. Ask me to drive [sic] an aeroplane, I am sure if you are a passenger and they told you that the flight is going to be driven [sic] by Honourable Justice Ibrahim Tanko, I am sure you will get out of the plane because it is something that requires technicality and if I have any technicality, my technicality will only be limited to law.”

If I didn’t watch the video myself, I would have dismissed the response attributed to Tanko as an ill-willed spoof intentionally designed to diminish his estimation. Although I know that spectacular ignorance and vulgar loyalty are the most crucial criteria to be considered worthy of consideration for appointment in Buhari’s regime, I am still distressed both by the disconcerting know-nothingness Tanko evinced in his response to Abaribe and by the fact that he is head of Nigeria’s judiciary.

Tanko isn’t just any judge; he is the Chief Justice of Nigeria. He didn’t just study law; he has a Ph.D. in law from one of Nigeria’s finest universities— at a time when Nigeria’s education supposedly still had integrity. And facility for and proficiency in language (in Nigeria’s case the English language) and logical disputation are as central to the job of lawyers and judges as farming instruments are to the job of being a farmer.

If Tanko doesn’t know what a “technicality” is, what does he really know? Every averagely educated person knows that in conversational English, a “technicality” is an unimportant detail, a triviality. In law, it means a procedural trifle. This legal sense of the term is now so commonplace that it has diffused to everyday discourse. Why would a judge of nearly 40 years’ standing, a PhD in law, and the head of the nation’s judicial branch of government not know what a technicality is?

But what is even more disquieting is that Tanko inadvertently revealed ignorance of the precedent established by the Supreme Court in which he has served for more than 12 years. Had he read the Supreme Court judgement Abaribe referenced, he would have at least encountered the word “technicality.” He apparently wasn’t, probably still isn’t, aware that the Supreme Court had even laid a precedent that says the Court should not use procedural inanities to subvert the legal merit of cases.

It must be precisely this ignorance that led the Supreme Court to dismiss Ademola Adeleke’s bid to retrieve his stolen mandate from the current governor of Osun State. The Supreme Court didn’t even evaluate Adeleke’s weighty, water-tight case against Oyetola; it ruled against Adeleke just because one of the panelists on the election tribunal that had restored Adeleke’s stolen mandate was absent for one day out of the 180 days the election tribunal tried the petition. 

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

After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Oyetola, I wrote on social media that the ruling was judgment, not justice. In spite of suppositions to the contrary, “judgment” and “justice” are not synonymous. Some judgements pervert justice. The Adeleke vs Oyetola case is a classic example of that. Sadly, the distinction between judgement and justice will become starker, bolder, and more invidious now that we have an unbelievably ignorant and incompetent Chief Justice who heads a Supreme Court that's now an unabashedly "remote controllable" extension of Aso Rock.

 Even feeble pretenses to democracy and decency are now dead in Buhari’s Nigeria. Atiku Abubakar’s petition against Buhari’s unexampled electoral fraud has no chance of success in a Supreme Court that overturns its less than one-year-old precedent, that is headed by a nescient and inept chief justice who doesn’t know the meaning of basic terms that are crucial to the administration of justice, and who owes debt to an audacious electoral mandate snatcher for his position.

What is perhaps even more regrettable for me as a northerner is that Tanko has helped to feed the stereotype of the northern know-nothing who owes his rise in society to incestuous northern nepotistic patronage networks. Of course, it’s unfair to hold up Tanko’s obvious cognitive inferiority as representative of all northerners. There are way smarter, more educated northern lawyers than Tanko who nonetheless vegetate on the fringes.

 Our problem in the north has always been that we don’t put forward our best eleven, to use the common soccer analogy. We are often led by our worst. And we are all judged by the crass ignorance and indiscretions of our worst who nevertheless become our public face. Buhari is taking the elevation of wretched ignoramuses to important positions to the next level. How utterly sad.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Senator Abbo, APC, and Politics of Toxic Partisanship

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

The well-justified national outrage that was sparked by a video of first-term Adamawa Senator Ishaku Elisha Abbo assaulting a nursing mother has also highlighted the depth and toxicity of political partisanship in Nigeria. It shows that many Nigerians’ morality is mediated by political loyalties and primordial solidarity.  

My first, admittedly visceral, social media reaction to the video, which was shared widely, was to call Senator Abbo a “senatorial beast” and a “medieval idiot” who should be suspended from the senate as a first resort and recalled by his constituents as a final action. While the update was generally well-received a band of self-identified northern Christians launched vicious personal attacks on me on Twitter and attributed my condemnation of Senator Abbo to the fact of my being a northern Muslim.

Nonetheless, at the time I shared my update, I frankly had no awareness what Abbo’s religious identity was. I know enough about Adamawa to know that outside of Yola and Jimeta, religious identification merely from the sound of names is always tricky. Until he declared himself the “ambassador of Christ,” which was a day after my social media update, I had no idea that he was a Christian. Nor should it matter.

In any case, in spite of being a northern Muslim who has personally related with Buhari many times in the past and who has personal familiarity with several of his ministers and close aides, I am one of his severest critics. If I were a person who is animated by passions of religious and regional solidarity, I wouldn’t have stuck out my neck to become one of the most visible critics of this maladministration.

As I’ve mentioned here before, since 2016, at least three northern governors have reached out to me to arrange a “reconciliation” with Buhari. I froze off their overtures, not because I derive any joy in criticizing the Buhari regime for the hell of it but because it would be a betrayal both of Islam and of the ideals my father brought me up to internalize and cherish if I look the other way while Buhari smolders the foundations of Nigeria with his loathsome, unheard-of incompetence. Certainly not when I was also critical of past southern Christian presidents.

It’s also broadly true that the primary reason Senator Abbo’s barbarous brutality toward the innocent nursing mother is attracting official consequence is that he is not a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress. Had he been an APC member, the authenticity of the video would have been called into question, the same way Buhari wondered “what technology was used” to show Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano collecting kickbacks from contractors in several video clips.

The APC propaganda machine even hired an IT professional to write a column about “deepfake technology” just to muddle the waters and cast doubts on the authenticity of the obviously credible videos of the governor accepting bribes.

As I pointed out in a recent social media update, when I see Senator Abbo, I see a violent thug who should be in jail, who has no business being a senator, but APC minions see a PDP man who must be punished for not being an APC man. When I see Governor Ganduje, I also see a malefactor who should be in jail, but APC minions see a party man who must be defended and protected.

For instance, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, didn’t see an aggressive and violent assaulter when he looked at Abbo; she saw a PDP man. In a July 2, 2019 tweet, she wrote: “To think that this PDP guy was said to have ‘defeated’ one of our most respected female parliamentarians, Senator Binta Masi Garba. The Senate must not protect him. He should be charged. The footage is enough evidence. He deserves to be in Prison.”

It’s obvious that had Abbo been an APC man, which he was before he switched parties like all Nigerian politicians do, he would have been defended and protected by the APC propaganda machine. Being in APC cleanses sinners of their iniquities. APC chairman Adams Oshiomhole actually literally said that on January 17, 2019 in Benin City during a political rally. "Yes, once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven,” he said.

 If Abbo rejoins APC today, the Senate would no longer investigate him, the police would let him off the hook, and his court case would be withdrawn. And this isn’t hyperbole. Danjuma Goje, a former two-term PDP governor of Gombe who is now an APC senator, has had his years-long N25 billion naira fraud trial by the EFCC summarily dismissed on July 4 after the president intervened.

About a month before a court in Jos dismissed the case, Goje had met with Buhari, withdrew his candidacy for the presidency of the senate, and pledged support for Ahmed Lawan, the presidency’s preferred candidate. Presidential protection from the consequences of his corruption was his recompense for his support for the executive takeover of the legislature.

Musiliu Obanikoro, former Minister of State for Defence in Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP government, also had his corruption trial dismissed after he defected to APC So was Godswill Akpabio, a former two-term PDP governor and Senate Minority Leader who defected to APC. That was precisely what Oshiomhole meant when he said, "Yes, once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven.”

This moral double standard isn’t exclusive to APC, to be sure. When PDP held sway, it also deployed law enforcement agencies to fight political battles and to reward loyalty. The EFCC was always an unthinking police dog doing the bidding of its master even during Obasanjo’s time. However, PDP wasn’t this brazen-faced in its assault on morality and basic decency.

 It had sense enough to deceive Nigerians with token, inconsequential convictions of its own people to justify going after its opponents. For instance, former Inspector General of Police Tafa Balogun was tried and found guilty of corruption. Former Minister of Internal Affairs Sunday Afolabi was tried over a $2 million contract scam.

Former Minister of Education Fabian Osuji was dismissed from Obasanjo’s cabinet and prosecuted over an alleged N55 million bribe. Bode George, a close political associate of Obasanjo’s and former PDP Deputy National Chairman, was tried, convicted, and jailed over an N84 billion fraud while he was chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa and Ayo Fayose of Ekiti were PDP governors who were impeached and removed from office for alleged corruption under a PDP government.

In Buhari’s regime, unfortunately, intelligence and common sense are so scarce that no one in the highest reaches of the power structure can even suggest, much less attempt, the replication of the sort of anti-corruption showmanship we saw under Obasanjo. No one can come up with the idea of trying and convicting a few corrupt party men to justify going after bigger political enemies.

In Buhari’s Nigeria, political loyalty is the currency with which to buy immunity from the consequences of corruption and other forms of moral turpitude. Abbo hasn’t learned that yet.

Buhari’s Incoming Ministers
Muhammadu Buhari said this week that he would only appoint people "I personally know" as ministers, which is another telltale signal of impending in-your-face nepotism and subnationalism. Given that he is a reclusive, inward-looking bigot who feels like fish out of water outside his primordial comfort zone, it’s easy to guess the type of people he "personally" knows.

Nonetheless, if personal familiarity with him is the sole criterion for appointing ministers, what's taking him so long? What's difficult about appointing his relatives, friends, and acquaintances as ministers? This man represents the worst of Nigeria, the personification of the vilest form of incompetence we ever witnessed as a country.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Buhari is the Single Greatest Danger to the Fulani

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

On the surface, it sounds counterintuitive, even ridiculously counterfactual, to suggest that an unreflective Fulani supremacist like Muhammadu Buhari is the single greatest threat to members of his ethnic group. But it’s true. Here is why.

Although I had always been aware of this fact, it was actually a Fulani person who caused me to develop a heightened consciousness of it. In a lengthy phone conversation last weekend, a cosmopolitan Nigerian of Fulani ethnicity shared with me his deep worries about the deepening animus toward the Fulani all over Nigeria.

In his 1983 pamphlet titled The Trouble with Nigeria, Chinua Achebe talked of “the national resentment of the Igbo.” If Achebe were alive, he would probably agree that the Fulani have displaced the Igbo from this position. In most parts of Nigeria today, the Fulani are feared, resented, reviled, and avoided like never before.

To be sure, inter-ethnic relations have always been intensely conflictual right from Nigeria’s founding, and fear of “Fulani domination” is an enduring anxiety in both the South and in the Christian North. But the sort of mass resentment of the Fulani that has enveloped the country in the last few years since Buhari has been “president” has no precedent.

My Fulani interlocutor attributed this to Buhari’s unprecedentedly explicit favoritism toward the Fulani even when, as he said, “the favoritism does nothing to advance the living conditions of the average Fulani person.” Bloody farmer/herder clashes aren’t new, but they took a different dimension when Buhari appointed himself as the chief defender of and spokesperson for Fulani herders where studied neutrality from him would have been helpful.

He initially said the Fulani don’t have guns, only carry sticks, and therefore couldn’t be responsible for the bloodstained violence attributed to them. When the facts later incontrovertibly contradicted his claim, he changed tack and said the Fulani who murdered farmers with guns weren’t Nigerian Fulani. He said they were foreign Fulani.

“These gunmen were trained and armed by Muammar Gaddafi of Libya,” he said. “When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram.”

Nevertheless, in the aftermath of a particularly horrendous mass slaughter in Benue, which provoked mass outrage in the country, Buhari told Benue elders who came to plead for his intervention, “I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your countrymen.” The murderers can’t simultaneously be foreign Fulanis “trained and armed by Gaddadafi of Libya” and be the “countrymen” of their victims in Benue.

Everyone in the Buhari regime took a cue from the “president”: whatever you may do and say, never blame the Fulani for anything. That was why presidential spokesman Femi Adesina, in defense of “cattle colonies,” once told Nigerians to choose between their land and their lives. The defense minister also routinely blamed incessant bloodletting in the land on the enactment of “anti-grazing laws” in some states of the federation. Never mind that violent upheavals between farmers and herders predated “anti-grazing” laws and that they episodically erupt even in states that have no such laws, including in far northern states.

A day after herders massacred more than 200 people in Plateau State in June 2018, the presidency issued the following statement: "According to information available to the Presidency, about 100 cattle had been rustled by a community in Plateau State, and some herdsmen were killed in the process." No official investigation had been conducted when the statement was issued. The statement therefore came across as a knee-jerk defense of the herders by the presidency, which only inflamed passions.

Now, there is no difference between the president’s media team and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association. The president’s media team now customarily issues press statements to defend herders and even justify or explain away mass murders committed by herders.

As I said earlier, there is no parallel for this sort of naked ethnic partisanship in Nigeria’s entire history. When the O’odua People’s Congress (OPC) became a mass murdering machine of northerners in Yorubaland, Obasanjo never defended them even once, even though OPC was fiercely pro-Obasanjo at the time. He gave orders to shoot on sight any OPC thug who disturbed the peace. Even at that, we in the North weren’t impressed. We wanted him to do more.

Only former president Goodluck Jonathan is on record as having defended the terrorism of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). In the aftermath of a terrorist attack in 2010, which MEND owned up to, Jonathan said, “We know those behind the attack and the persons sponsoring them. They are terrorists, not MEND. The name of MEND that operates in Niger Delta was only used. I grew up in the Niger Delta so nobody can claim to know Niger Delta than [sic] myself, because I am from Niger Delta.”

In an October 16, 2010 column titled “A MENDacious President,” I called out Jonathan’s “unreasoning ethno-regional chauvinism” and pointed out that no past president had ever defended the transgressions committed by his people so brazenly like he did. So did many other columnists. What we thought was Jonathan’s unexampled defense of the terrorism of his kinfolk has now paled in comparison with Buhari’s.

As my friend pointed out, when a father of many children, through his words and deeds, habitually shows undisguised preference to one child, he unwittingly exposes that child to envy, hatred, and even gang-up among his siblings. It’s a natural human instinct.

The “Ruga” initiative, which had been unwisely called “cattle colonies,” provoked raw emotions because it was perceived as yet another intentional act of parental indulgence to a favored, pampered child to the exclusion of others.

Nevertheless, it helps to remember that the Fulani are just as human as anyone else, and there are several of them who are uncomfortable with the current state of affairs. But the current climate of unreasoning mass panic makes it seem like Fulanis are an undifferentiated collective of murderous villains. That’s both dangerous and inaccurate. Buhari shares the largest blame in this.

Misplaced Focus on Senator Abbo's Age
The average life expectancy for Nigerian men, according to the World Health Organization, is 54.7 years, yet many Nigerians call a 41-year-old senator a "youth" and attribute his thuggish idiocy to his age. Some even go so far as to say that his behavior represents a diminution of the arguments for the "Not Too Young To Run" initiative.

For starters, a 41-year-old person is NO "youth" by any definition of the term anywhere in the world. The UN defines youth as people between the ages of 15 and 24. In Nigeria, “youth” officially refers to people between the ages of 18 and 35. Second, Senator Abbo didn't need the "Not Too Young to Run” law be to be a senator. The original minimum age requirement to be a senator was 35. He is 41. That means he would have been qualified to run for the senate—and even for the presidency since the minimum age to be president was 40—even if the bill hadn't been passed into law.

Third, most past Nigerian military dictators ruled Nigeria in their 30s. Why are we making it seem like it's an undeserved favor to allow young people to rule? Abbo is a violent bully; his age is immaterial to this fact.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Mercenary “Investigative Journalism” in Service of Fraud

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

As a scholar and teacher of journalism, I am troubled by an emerging character of Nigeria’s diasporan and homeland digital-native news formation, which had functioned as alternative outlets for the sort of critical journalism that the homeland legacy news media have abandoned. 

They start by attracting attention to themselves through what seems like uncompromisingly adversarial journalism against venality in government. But just when they succeed in persuading people to invest faith in their journalistic integrity, they cash out and become indistinguishable from, and sometimes worse than, the compromised homeland legacy media they were thought to be an alternative to.

It started from Elendu Reports, the first successful diasporan citizen media outfit, which, after sensationally unmasking high-profile corruption in the high reaches of government in Nigeria in 2005, turned around to furtively serve as “media consultant” to the same politicians it exposed as venal. Most other online-only news outlets have followed this template, the latest being the dubiously named “International Centre for Investigative Journalism” (ICIR). (Neither its reportorial purview nor its workforce is “international,” but it ignorantly calls itself one nonetheless).

I became aware of ICIR after it routinely tagged me to its reports on Twitter about a year ago. It appeared to be committed to the sort of critical enterprise journalism that has gone out of fashion in Nigeria but that is crucial to sustaining democracy. So I subscribed to its news feed.

Although I liked what the site did, there was always something fundamentally defective about its reporting. It usually lacked depth, thematic coherence, and intellectual sophistication. The quality of English of its reports was and still is also bewilderingly dreadful. It appears like a crucial criterion to be hired as a reporter on the site is an ability to demonstrate capacity to write illiterate English, to show contempt for grammatical correctness and completeness, and to write mind-numbing clichés and solecisms.

But I chalked this up to the possibility that the owners of the site had the passion to uncover sleaze in government but lacked the education to do so. That was good enough for me. I thought they might improve in the coming years. Nevertheless, before they even gained traction in the Nigerian public sphere, they have chosen to cash out.

On June 24, the site published what it purported to be a “fact-check” of “social media influencers who shared fake news during the 2019 election.” I had been alerted several weeks in advance that some people had been “commissioned” by Bola Tinubu’s media team in Lagos to both launch an aggressive media onslaught on my person and to buy credibility for Buhari’s fraudulent “reelection,” which I have spent a great deal of energy exposing as the most barefacedly duplicitous election in Nigeria’s history.

I thought this would come in the form of the predictably sterile “attack” pieces in newspapers and on social media platforms, which I am already used to and for which I have developed a thick skin since Goodluck Jonathan’s days. But my informant said, “This would be different.”

Just when I got tired of waiting, a “Damilola” who said she was a reporter for “SaharaReporters” sent me a WhatsApp message weeks ago about videos of rigging that I shared on Twitter during the presidential election. She said she wanted to know the source of the videos or whether, in fact, I witnessed the events in the videos. No one who has even a day’s training in journalism would ask me those sorts of boneheaded questions.

First, the videos had gone viral before I shared them, so I couldn’t possibly be their original source. Second, the “reporter” obviously knows that I live in the United States and that I couldn’t have witnessed the rigging in the videos. If, for any reason, I did, I would have stated so—and would be the first to share them. Most importantly, though, no real journalist does a story about other journalists’ confidential sources of news, although I was, in fact, not the source for the videos she “fact-checked.”

The “fact-check,” which was published on ICIR’s website (and not Sahara Reporters) by two bylines, said I shared two “fake” videos during the 2019 election. The first so-called fake video was of INEC officials furiously thumb printing ballot papers on behalf of a political party. I wrote the following to accompany the video: “See shameless rigging by INEC officials: Thumb printing on an industrial scale.” I didn't mention the year this happened, and said nothing about what party was a beneficiary of the mass thumb printing because I couldn't tell that with any certainty, although other people who shared it before me said it was during the 2019 election.

The “reporters” said their “investigation” confirmed that the video indeed showed INEC officials thumb printing ballot papers except that they found it wasn't during the 2019 election. But I never said it was. Nevertheless, the “reporters” said I "implied" it was during the 2019 election. Was sort of “fact checking” is that?

You can’t fact-check what’s on my mind. That’s babalawo (or is it mamalawo) journalism! I am capable of saying it was during the 2019 election if I wanted to, but I didn’t. Others, however, did. The fact of INEC officials feverishly thumb printing ballot papers on a mass scale in support of a party, irrespective of when it happened, was worth sharing, particularly in light of similar things that went on at the time, which the second video confirmed, as I’ll show shortly. So the video wasn’t fake by any definition of the term. If anything, it’s the analysis of it by the venal, uneducated philistines masquerading as “reporters” that is fake.

The second so-called fake video they said I shared was real even by their own analysis. They confessed that they “set out to debunk many videos we believed to be old or not related to the elections. We were not prepared to deal with actual, blatant rigging, not with the PVCs and not with the improved vigilance that was supposed to be a key feature of the 2019 polls.” If you ignore the woolly, incoherent thought process of the sentence, you will see their bias seeping out like fetid pus. They were disappointed to find the video to be an authentic “recent case” case of rigging. All I said about the video was: “Why would anyone accept the outcome of an election like this? Democracy is supposed to be one person, one vote.”

They agreed that the video, which clearly showed INEC officials rigging on behalf of a party, was from the 2019 election. They only said they couldn’t “emphatically state that those stamping and thumb printing the ballot papers are INEC officials” and that they “could not distinctly make out the party being thumb-printed.” That’s blatant partisan claptrap. They could “fact-check” the thought-processes that resided in the inner recesses of my mind, which I didn’t verbalize, but they couldn’t fact-check an obvious fraud in a video. Nevertheless, neither the video nor what I said about it was inaccurate by any stretch of the imagination.

Can’t Tinubu’s media team get smarter mercenaries for their hit jobs than these pitifully lowbrow vulgar buffoons? Other dimwitted daggers for hire like a faceless, ignorant “Okanga Agila” have joined the fray to attack me.

But the truth remains that it was Buhari’s government that hired Israeli disinformation agents to spread fake news on social media against his main opponent, Atiku Abubakar. According to a May 17, 2019 Associated Press news story titled “Israeli Disinformation Campaign Targeted Nigerian Election,” “One of the pages that Facebook cancelled appeared filled with viral misinformation attacking Abubakar, the former vice president of Nigeria. The page’s banner image showed Abubakar as Darth Vader, the Star Wars villain, holding up a sign reading, ‘Make Nigeria Worse Again’.” The AP story added: “The report also featured a page that explicitly lionized and boosted Buhari, with amateur videos eulogizing the accomplishments of his presidency as though he were not locked in a tight battle for re-election.”

Interestingly, the ICIR “investigative report” on fake news only briefly referred to this report but didn’t point to the fact that it was Buhari who hired an Israeli firm to spread fake news during the election. ICIR has killed itself before it’s even had a chance to live. That’s such a shame!

Related Articles:
ICIR's Sponsored Fake "Fact-Checking" about Fake News
Propagandocracy and the Buhari Media Centre
Nigerian Media as Comforters of the Comfortable, Afflicters of the Afflicted

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

ICIR’s Sponsored Fake “Fact-Checking” About Fake News

By Farooq A. Kperogi
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Several weeks ago, someone from Lagos alerted me to what he said was a “hit piece” being hatched against me from Bola Tinubu’s media team in Lagos because of my consistently piercing scrutiny of the Buhari fascist monocracy and particularly because I’ve been in the forefront of efforts to call global attention to the unprecedented electoral fraud that birthed Buhari’s illegitimate “second term.” I told him I was already used to that. But he said, “This would be different.”

When, weeks later, a “Damilola” who said she was from “SaharaReporters” sent me a vacuous, grammatically challenged WhatsApp message about videos I shared on Twitter in February, I didn’t suspect anything. I should have. The questions weren’t just astonishingly illiterate, they were also curiously unprofessional. She wrote, “Sir, we would like to know how you got this information or maybe you even witnessed them.” Something told me the “reporter” was some two-bit mercenary scammer, so I sent a WhatsApp message to Sahara Reporters’ Omoyele Sowore to ask if he had any person by the name of “Damilola” in his reportorial corps.

I told him I was curious because Sahara Reporters built its fame on the strength of stories it wrote based on anonymous sources and on the protection of the confidentiality of its sources. Why would it have a reporter doing a story asking someone to reveal his sources? Sowore said he would find out who Damilola was and get back to me. He didn’t get round to doing that.

Weeks after this, a “Damilola Banjo,” along with a Shola Lawal, published a tendentious, poorly written, inaccurate screed on the “International Center for Investigative Reporting” (ICR) website that purports to be a “fact-check” of “social media influencers who shared fake news during the 2019 election.” All the pieces of the puzzles have now fallen into place. This is obviously the Tinubu media team hit piece that someone had alerted me to. By the way, how did a reporter for “SaharaReporters” end up on ICIR? Well, that’s irrelevant. Let’s look at the crying factual poverty and malicious ignorance in the “fact-check.”

So of the scores of videos I shared on Twitter during the 2019 election, the mercenary rube of a “reporter” that goes by the name “Damilola” found only two to be “fake.” The first so-called fake video I shared, which had already gone viral at the time I shared it, merely said INEC officials were mass thumb printing ballot papers. And that was precisely what happened in the video. I didn't mention the year this happened, and said nothing about what party was a beneficiary of the mass thumb printing because I couldn't tell that with any certainty, although other people who shared it before me said it was during the 2019 election.

The two “reporters’” needlessly tortuous analysis confirmed that the video indeed showed INEC officials thumb printing ballot papers except that they said it wasn't during the 2019 election. But I never said it was. I merely wrote: “See shameless rigging by INEC officials: Thumb printing on an industrial scale.” Nevertheless, the “reporters” said I "implied" it was during the 2019 election. Was sort of “fact checking” is that?

You can’t fact-check what’s on my mind. That’s babalawo (or is it mamalawo) journalism! I am capable of saying it was during the 2019 election, but I didn’t. Others did. The fact of INEC officials furiously thumb printing ballot papers on a mass scale in support of a party, irrespective of when it happened, is worth sharing, particularly in light of similar things that went on at the time, which the second video confirmed, as I’ll show shortly. So the video wasn’t fake by any definition of the term. If anything, it’s the analysis of it by the venal, uneducated philistines masquerading as “reporters” that is fake.

The second so-called fake video they said I shared was real even by their own analysis. They confessed that they “set out to debunk many videos we believed to be old or not related to the elections. We were not prepared to deal with actual, blatant rigging, not with the PVCs and not with the improved vigilance that was supposed to be a key feature of the 2019 polls.” If you ignore the atrocious grammar, you will see their bias seeping out like fetid pus. They were disappointed to find the video to be “a recent case.” All I said about the video was: “Why would anyone accept the outcome of an election like this? Democracy is supposed to be one person, one vote.”

They agreed that the video, which clearly showed rigging, was from the 2019 election. Although they claimed they were on a “fact-finding” mission, they conceded that they “cannot emphatically state that those stamping and thumb printing the ballot papers are INEC officials” and that they “could not distinctly make out the party being thumb-printed.” What sort of idiotic “fact-checking” is that? That’s blatant partisan claptrap. They could “fact-check” the thought-processes that resided in the inner recesses of my mind, which I didn’t verbalize, but they couldn’t fact-check an obvious fraud in a video. In any case, my tweet didn’t say INEC officials were thumb printing for APC, although that was what appeared to have happened in the video. So what was fake about my video and why was it the object of their “analysis”? Neither the video nor what I said about it was inaccurate by any stretch of the imagination.

So, although they agreed that the second video is authentic, they went ahead nonetheless to throw juvenile insults at me, such as calling me a “professor of falsehood” and then this: “High profile Twitter account holders such as Mr. Kperogi and Senator Melaye are still active on social media and it is conceivable they will share more fake news in the future. That makes us worry. What will they post next?” What the heck is that? Can’t Tinubu’s media team get smarter mercenaries for their hit jobs than these pitifully lowbrow vulgar buffoons?

They also claimed I shared the videos with my 30,000 plus followers, even though at the time I shared the videos, I didn't have that number of followers on Twitter. I had only a little over 20,000 then. You would think "fact-checkers" would know that😂. They also said I have 70,000 plus followers on social media. That's inaccurate as well. If you add my Facebook fan page and my Facebook “like” page, I have a little over 100,000 followers, but thousands of people have way more social media following than that. In any case, I shared the videos only on Twitter, which were first shared by thousands of other Twitter users before I did. So it's unclear why they chose to make reference to my social media following.

These nescient, mercenary ICIR “reporters” need an education more than anything else. Their sponsored hit piece purports to be a "fact-check," but it is gratuitously abusive and opinionated, and is unmoored to even the most basic requirements of journalistic integrity. It imputed motives to me and divined motivations for my action. Fact-checks are usually, well, factual. They present information in a neutral, unemotional tone.

The “reporters” were not even smart enough to conceal their pro-regime biases. The only "fake" videos and photos from the 2019 election they found worthy of "fact-checking" are those that disfavor the Buhari regime. There were no pro-Buhari "fake" videos and photos, apparently. These disreputably illiterate hustlers obviously set out to not just discredit me in hopes of blunting my critical searchlight on the honchos of the fascist regime that hired them, they also want to legitimize Buhari’s universally discredited electoral robbery. In the process, they’re polluting journalism. Such a shame!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Borno’s New Boko Haram-Loving Governor

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

Babagana Umara Zulum, Borno State’s new governor, is shaping up to be a flippant, insensitive airhead, which is distressing given that the fact of his being a former professor had heightened expectations that he would be refreshingly different. In the midst of Boko Haram’s interminably murderous devastation of the state he has been elected to govern, he appealed to the federal government to not requite Boko Haram’s violence with violence.  

Even after admitting to State House correspondents on Wednesday that, “two, three days ago…about 40 people were killed [by Boko Haram] in Konduga,” he insisted that, “there is need for the Federal Government to also open other opportunities of bringing down the crisis rather than the kinetic force [sic]. It is also important for those people who have been forced to join the insurgency; if they are integrated into the society, I think this will be good.”

In other words, even though Boko has made it clear that it wants to conquer and dissolve the Nigerian state through the indiscriminate mass slaughter of everyone in its path, Governor Zulum nonetheless wants the federal government to mollycoddle its members and “integrate them into the society.” The downright callousness and buffoonery that that sort of reasoning betrays, especially from the governor of a Boko Haram-ravaged state, is unsettling.

In any case, that has been the strategy of the Buhari regime in the last four years. Buhari, who had said during Goodluck Jonathan’s administration that the sustained military offensives against Boko Haram were “attacks” on the “North,” instructed that captured Boko Haram terrorists be “de-radicalized” and “reintegrated” into the society. Several of them were, in fact, recruited into the same military that has been fighting them.

The result of this perversely wrongheaded policy has been predictable: “deradicalized” Boko Haram members have infiltrated the military and have continually divulged military secrets to their still “underadicalized” members. That’s why it came as no surprise to me when it came to light that more soldiers have been murdered by Boko Haram during Buhari’s regime than at any time since the insurgency started. By many international estimates, in 2018 alone, more than 2,000 Nigerian soldiers were murdered by Boko Haram.

The statistics are getting even grimmer this year. No day passes without the mass murder of Nigerian soldiers on the front lines, which has prompted Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai to concede that Boko Haram is winning the war, although he coldheartedly attributed this to “insufficient commitment to a common national and military cause by those at the frontlines.”

Recall that honchos of the Buhari regime routinely claim, even in the face of manifestly contrary evidence, to have “defeated” Boko Haram. At other times, they insist that Boko Haram has now been so “degraded” that it now just attacks “soft targets.”  “Soft targets,” of course, is a stone-cold euphemism for poor people who, in the estimation of the Buhari regime, are inconsequential and worthless. To call victims of murderous terrorist brutality “soft targets” is to dehumanize them even in death.

Perhaps the worst insult to the memories of the thousands of soldiers and civilians who were slaughtered by Boko Haram in the last four years came from Buhari himself who told his cabinet members on May 22 that they should be “Proud [they] were part of a government that ended Boko Haram.” Ended Boko Haram? In which universe? That was sky-high presidential mendacity that was outrivaled in its perverseness only by its rank hard-heartedness.

A commander-in-chief on whose watch more soldiers are being killed than at any time in peacetime Nigeria, as a consequence of his obstinately boneheaded policy to pamper the enemy, went ahead to declare empty triumphalism even in the face of humiliating defeat, and a clueless rookie governor wants  even more of the same policies that have rendered Nigerian soldiers sitting ducks on the battle front. Why is there no outrage?

Zulum should be told that you can’t fight violent nihilists with “integration.” Buhari has already been doing that, and it has been disastrous. As I pointed out in a May 25, 2013 column, until the Nigerian government militarily conquers and contains Boko Haram, talks of giving them amnesty and reintegrating them into the society are not only premature but smack of cowardice. You have to speak the language of the enemy to communicate and reach an understanding with him. I once called this “Malcolm Xian logic.”

 On February 14, 1965 in Detroit, Michigan, Malcolm X addressed a crowd of supporters about the ironic communicative and dialogic utility of retaliatory violence. He was talking about the best way to confront the persistent violence of the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist, negrophobic group that used terrorist tactics (including lynching and other kinds of extra-judicial murders) to intimidate and overawe American blacks. During the speech, he said:

“You can't ever reach a man if you don't speak his language. If a man speaks the language of brute force, you can't come to him with peace. Why, good night! He'll break you in two, as he has been doing all along. If a man speaks French, you can't speak to him in German. If he speaks Swahili, you can't communicate with him in Chinese. You have to find out what does this man speak. And once you know his language, learn how to speak his language, and he'll get the point. There'll be some dialogue, some communication, and some understanding will be developed.”

The only language Boko Haram terrorists speak and understand is the language of violence, and you can’t speak or dialogue with them with the language of peace and integration. It will never work. There will be a communication breakdown—the kind that would result if you speak Mandarin Chinese to a farmer in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. We have already seen evidence of that in the last four years.

Retaliatory or preventive violence doesn’t always eliminate violence, but it sometimes provides a, if not the, basis for the negotiation of the cessation of violence. That’s why Gandhi’s oft-quoted aphorism that “an eye for an eye will only leave the whole world blind” is not entirely accurate. It unduly pampers the aggressor, unfairly restrains the victim, and defeats the logic of proportionality of justice.

 A potential eye “plucker” may hold himself in check if he discovers that one eye “plucker” nearby has had his own eye plucked in retaliation. Freedom from the consequences of our action can encourage a repeat of the action. Boko Haram terrorists know that more than anyone does.

Plus, you can’t offer to forgive and “integrate” a vicious enemy who has—or thinks he has—an upper hand in a confrontation with you and who has not asked for and is certainly not interested in your offers. The federal government should first militarily subdue Boko Haram before it would be in a position to “deradicalize” and “reintegrate” its penitent members. To paraphrase Malcolm X, the Nigerian state has to understand and speak the language of Boko Haram. Then, there will be some dialogue, some communication, and hopefully some understanding.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Three “Misspellers” that Mystify Me

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Three types of “misspellers” that mystify me on social media are:
1. People who attended a grammar school for 5 or 6 years and still misspell grammar as “grammer.” I attended a grammar school and see alumni of my school write the name of our secondary school as “Baptist Grammer [sic] School” on Facebook. Why would people who consistently saw the word “grammar” in the name of their school for years on end--and still probably see it in their certificates--- continually misspell it as “grammer”? I can forgive people who didn’t attend a school with “grammar” in its name. Do people who attended a grammar school but misspell grammar as "grammer" deserve their certificates?

2. People who spell “college” as “collage,” as in, “collage of education.” Collage [pronounced like kolaazh, not kolij] means a collection of different things. That means a “collage of education” is a collection of different types of education, which frankly makes no sense as the name of an institution. How can you attend a college, any kind of college, for years and not know how “college” is spelled?

3. Graduates of Bayero University who spell Bayero as “Bayaro.” I've seen many of them here on Facebook. Bayero is a Fulfulde word (whose meaning I don't know) and “ba yaro [ba]” is a Hausa phrase, which roughly translates as “not a child.” One of my cousins chose to study at Bayero University (which is also my alma mater) because he thought the school’s name was Bayaro University, which meant, in his reasoning, that it was a university for serious adults, not children. He was disappointed when he discovered that “Bayero” is a Fulfude word that has not the remotest lexical or semantic relationship with the Hausa “ba yaro”! We still laugh over this.

But why would anyone get one of their most important educational qualifications from an institution and not know how to spell the institution’s name? Have scientists identified the cognitive deficiency that explains this?

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Politics of Grammar Column

Saturday, June 15, 2019

A Slavish Parliament and the Road to Buhari’s Life Presidency

By Farooq A. Kperogi, PhD

On June 11, 2019, Nigeria inaugurated what promises to be the most servile and least independent National Assembly in Nigeria’s entire history. The new Senate President and the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, whose ascendancy to their positions was enabled by nakedly transparent executive manipulation, are unabashedly obsequious grovelers to the presidency.

 New Deputy Senate President Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege’s cringe-worthily sycophantic genuflection to Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa on June 11 is perhaps the most symbolic affirmation yet of the loss of any pretense to legislative autonomy in the coming months and years. The National Assembly will no longer be an independent arm of government; it will now be an extension of the presidency and an assemblage of fawning factotums of fascism.

Senate President Ahmed Lawan has been transparent about his desire to transform the Senate into a congregation of slavish yes-men (and women) to Buhari. He lived up to this desire on June 13 when he rudely stopped Senator Istifanus Gyang’s motion to debate the substance of Buhari’s uninspiring and uninspired “Democracy Day” speech, which signposts many dangers ahead, as I will show shortly.

Similarly, when Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo pointed out that former Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha should not be formally addressed as the SGF in official communications from the Senate since his tenure has expired and he hasn’t been reappointed to his position, Lawan rejected his suggestion and said, “the Senate must do everything within its powers to nurture a good working relationship with the Executive arm of government.”

So it’s obvious that Lawan wants no one to cherish any illusion that he will be anything but a fawning lapdog of the executive. There is no indication that House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, who owes his position to the support he received from the minions of the executive, also won’t be a servile poodle of the presidency.

That means that, for the first time since the restoration of civilian rule in 1999, Nigeria will have a leadership of the national legislature that will be indistinguishable from the executive and that has no self-awareness of its constitutional obligation to be independent and to provide an institutional check to other arms of government. It is the presence of an independent legislature that marks the difference between democracies and dictatorships. Under Lawan and Gbajabiamila, the legislative branch will be as good as non-existent.

Here is why that is dangerous. If Buhari survives his current stolen mandate, all indications point to the possibility that he won’t give up power to anybody for as long as he is alive. Buhari exults in the glories and perks of power and can no longer imagine life outside it. He will most likely instigate a constitutional amendment to extend his tenure beyond four years. With the unprecedentedly malleable and bribable National Assembly we have now, this would be a cakewalk.

This may come across as an ill-willed, off-the-wall prognostication, especially for people who have not developed a heightened appreciation of Buhari’s persona. When I told a senior retired military officer that Buhari would lose the 2019 election, would never hand over to the person he lost to, and would instruct INEC to announce him the winner of the election and nothing would happen thereafter, he thought I was being hyperbolic. He later called to say my predictions had materialized.

Nearly four months after the presidential election, INEC has not given a breakdown of the vote count. Atiku Abubakar’s team, meanwhile, has made available to the world the raw data of the election that it said it got from INEC’s server, which shows that Buhari lost the election by nearly two million votes. APC’s henchmen initially scorned this claim. However, after they found the evidence to be incontrovertible, their scorn turned to panic. They charged the Atiku team with “hacking” into INEC’s server and demanded that they be prosecuted.

Nevertheless, INEC, which spent hundreds of millions of naira for a server and even trained its staff on how to transmit the results of the election to the server, now says it has no server—and has refused to make the results of the election available to Atiku’s legal team in spite of court orders asking it to do so. So, if INEC has no server, which server did APC accuse the Atiku team of “hacking”? This is the most damningly self-evident proof that the results of the presidential election that INEC announced have no association with the actual votes cast on Election Day. In spite of this knowledge, however, there is no outrage anywhere. Even many previously critical people have moved on.

Buhari has caused the nation to be in a state of suspended animation in ways never seen before. He will walk to a life presidency in this state. He has already given broad hints of this in his so-called Democracy Day speech, which Senator Istifanus Gyang wanted the Senate to discuss. In the speech, Buhari extolled China’s and Indonesia’s progress “under authoritarian regimes.” Of course, he tempered this with a tepid reference to India, which also “succeeded in a democratic setting.”

Now, why would a supposedly democratic leader eulogize totalitarian regimes in a “Democracy Day” speech? It wasn’t an innocent, unintended miscue. It was intentional. He was flying a kite. I study presidential rhetoric and know that presidents habitually deploy the symbolic and discursive powers of formal speeches to frame, reframe, define, and redefine national conversations.

Buhari didn’t stop at glorifying authoritarian regimes and subliminally linking them with development (while craftily mentioning a lone democratic example just to blunt potential criticism), he also said, “With leadership and a sense of purpose, we can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.” His current stolen mandate has a four-year duration. Why did he make a 10-year projection?

People who haven’t come to terms with Buhari’s plans to rule for as long as he is alive would say governments traditionally make projections way beyond their tenures since governance is supposed to be a continuity. Well, we know that governance isn’t a continuity in Nigeria. Governments in Nigeria derive the notional basis of their legitimacy and independence by instinctually opposing and upending the programs and policies of their predecessors—even when they are from the same political party. The Yar’adua administration, for instance, defined itself in opposition to the Obasanjo administration even though both belong to the same party and Obasanjo, in fact, made Yar’adua’s emergence possible.

Plus, fulsome praise for authoritarianism from a power-obsessed man who is also making projections into the future that exceed the limits of his constitutionally guaranteed tenure should, at the very least, invite curiosity and a search for clarity. Now, why would the leadership of a branch of government that works through deliberation squelch a conversation about this?

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s bid for a third term was thwarted by a virile, independent National Assembly. Now that the National Assembly has been fused with the presidency, there will no resistance to executive tyranny.

Buhari’s self-perpetuation bid, when it does finally unravel, will be unchallenged in the National Assembly. With a compromised legacy and digital-native news media formation, a decapitated judiciary, a purchasable civil society, and hordes of homeland and diasporan mercenary intellectuals for hire, Nigeria is sleepwalking to self-annihilation.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Buhari Bares His Fascist Fangs at AIT and RayPower

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

The Muhammadu Buhari regime, in a fit of fascist rage, shut down the African Independent Television (AIT) and RayPower FM for electing to not be an appendage of the Presidential Villa like NTA , FRCN, and other broadcast stations are; for not being a willing tool in an illegitimate government’s fascist, self-serving propaganda; and for providing an outlet for the ventilation of democratic anxieties about Nigeria’s descent into unimaginable depths of hopelessness.

This didn’t come to me as a surprise because I had warned about it several times. In fact, in last week’s column titled “Formal Enthronement of Buhari’s Fascist Rigocracy,” I said, “Because he lacks legitimacy to rule again, expect the official inauguration of fascist totalitarianism in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. All illegitimate regimes brutally suffocate their citizens who stand up to them.  That is why François-Marie Arouet, aka Voltaire, famously said, ‘It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.’”

Several decades ago, African-American abolitionist and newspaper editor Frederick Douglas eloquently prefigured the unfolding take-over of the right to public expression by Buhari’s fascist tyranny when he said, “Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down.”

The broadcast licenses of AIT and RayPower FM were withdrawn because the stations reputedly "embarked on use of inflammatory, divisive, inciting broadcasts and media propaganda against the government and the NBC for performing its statutory functions of regulating the broadcast industry in Nigeria," among other silly, asinine reasons invented by the NBC to mask its willful, preplanned strike against Daar Communications’ constitutionally guaranteed liberty of expression.

One of AIT’s professional infractions, according to the NBC, was that, on January 18, 2019, its presenter for a program called Kakaaki Social “Read out a tweet from @Gold Rush: ‘…Aticulated FC consolidated its position at the top of the table with a huge away win in America…while lifeless FC is battling with relegation at Ogboru Presidential Stadium, Warri. Presenter just laughed.”

This is unnerving pettiness. For people who are not clued in on Nigerian social media lingo, this tweet merely said Atiku (represented as “Aticulated FC”) scored an enormous political capital by traveling to the United States in January even when Buhari’s propagandists had said he couldn’t travel to the country because he would be arrested and prosecuted for an alleged transnational money-laundering crime.

The tweet contrasted the political capital that the US visit conferred on Atiku with the political diminution Buhari (represented as “Lifeless FC”) suffered in Delta State during the same time when, in a fleeting moment of senile dementia, he declared Delta State’s APC governorship candidate Great Ogboru as APC’s presidential candidate.

The NBC was peeved not only because the tweet was read out on air in a program where trending tweets are read out, but also because the presenter laughed when he read it out!  How does one even engage with that sort of despotic, overweening juvenility? Well, scholars of fascism have long found that in fascist tyrannies, even humor, especially transgressive humor, is a threat that must be eliminated. Buhari’s tyranny, like most tyrannies, is not only humorless and artless; it is also afflicted by a cripplingly lumbering intellectual deficit, which ensures that it doesn’t even understand the codes it purports to enforce.

Nevertheless, transgressive humor is crucial to critical democratic citizenship and to the sustenance of a healthy state, and there is no greater evidence of Nigeria’s tragic descent into the atrocious pits of totalitarian suffocation of the discursive space than the fact that even oppositional political humor is now treason.

Buhari and his malevolent puppeteers have found a dutifully alacritous minion of fascist monocracy in the morally impaired and explicitly politically partisan Ishaq Modibbo Kawu who, as Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, vied for the governorship of his home state of Kwara on the platform of the ruling APC.

A man who didn’t have the common decency to resign his position as the non-partisan arbiter of the broadcast industry before running for a partisan political position and, even worse, who returned to the same position after losing his partisan political bid has no moral authority to sit in judgment over professionalism and political partisanship.

As I mentioned in a previous two-part column titled “Ilorin is an Ethnogenesis: Response to Kawu’s Anti-Saraki Ilorin Purism,” Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, whom I knew as Olanrewaju “Lanre” Kawu in the 1990s, is someone I’ve called a friend and a brother for years, not because we come from the same state but because I thought we shared the same passion for a juster, fairer, more progressive society.

I now realize that I didn’t know him. Access to power has exposed the rotten underbelly he had artfully hidden for years. Former US First Lady Michelle Obama, who should know, once said power doesn’t change people; it divulges who they really are.  It lays bare their inner core. Kawu is a fawning, servile enforcer of the fascist strangulation of the broadcast industry on behalf of Buhari and Abba Kyari, his equally ethically stained benefactor, because he was never true to the ideals he professed.

As I write this column, he is being tried by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on 12-count charges, including a N25 billion naira fraud. A man who flouted the provisions of the Nigerian constitution that requires public servants to resign their positions 30 days before standing for elections, who is an unabashed political partisan, and who is on trial for colossal financial fraud against the nation and the organization he heads has no moral power to regulate any institution.

But this is Buhari’s Nigeria where people buy immunity with political loyalty, where people evade the legal consequences of their moral indiscretions by not only showing loyalty to the president but by performing it with exhibitionistic glee.

For instance, just a day after he met with Buhari, withdrew his candidature for the position of senate president, and endorsed the president’s candidate for senate president, the EFCC withdrew its N25 billion fraud case against Danjuma Goje and transferred it to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, which is now the euphemism for discontinuation of prosecutorial pursuit of malefactors with whom the government is now pleased.

Kawu knows that the only way to earn himself reprieve from his N25 billion fraud trial is to, like Goje and others, perform spectacular partisan loyalty to Buhari. In the coming days and weeks, expect the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation to take over his case from the ICPC. This is a thoroughly corrupt, lawless, and fascist totalitarianism that does not even pretend to spare a split second’s worth of thought for moral propriety and sense of shame. The Buhari regime, as I’ve repeatedly said, will be the undoing of Nigeria.

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Saturday, June 1, 2019

Formal Enthronement of Buhari’s Illegitimate Rigocracy

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

May 29, 2019 will go in the record books as the day Nigeria formally adopted, institutionalized, and inaugurated rigocracy as a system of government. In my March 2, 2019 column titled “This is Rigocracy, Not Democracy,”I defined a rigocracy as a system of government which owes its existence not to the votes of the electorates of a country, but to audaciously violent, in-your-face, state-sponsored rigging.

 The new Buhari regime isn’t just a rigocracy; it’s a rigocracy wrapped in multiple layers of brazen-faced illegitimacy. An illegitimate, ethically stained Chief Justice of Nigeria inaugurated an illegitimate president who unashamedly stole someone else’s electoral mandate in broad daylight.  This reality puts Nigeria’s democracy in double jeopardy.

Buhari (whom people on social media now call “Buharig” because of the unprecedentedly crude electoral heist he perpetrated in February) and the cabal of corrupt, indolent, and unconscionable provincials who rule on his behalf instructed their minions to rig the last presidential election because they knew Buhari had not a snowball’s chance in hell of winning.

The assault on the integrity of the electoral process actually started way before the election took place. The president was told to decline assent to a revised electoral bill that would have made rigging impossible. Then the president’s villainous fixers circumvented the law, and even the conventions of basic decency, to remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria and replace him with a malleable, compromised dissembler from his geo-cultural backyard so that any judicial challenge to their planned rigging would be ineffectual.

In spite of their rigging, however, Buhari still came up short on Election Day. He lost to Atiku by nearly 2 million votes, according to figures on INEC’s own server, which they have been unable to refute with the resources of logic and evidence. So Buhari ordered INEC to invent arbitrary figures and proclaim him “winner.” And degenerate, unprincipled, and morally compromised Mahmood Yakubu who has gone down in the annals as the absolute worst and most detestable INEC chairman Nigeria has ever had obliged dutifully.

 That’s why more than three months after the election, INEC has not had the courage to share the raw data of the election with the public. It’s because the numbers won’t add up. The numbers won’t add up because they are not even remotely faithful to the outcome of the votes cast on Election Day. Mahmood Yakubu’s venal, purchasable INEC is still frantically fudging the figures to justify the fraudulent figures they assigned to presidential candidates.

To be sure, this isn’t the first time elections were rigged in Nigeria. In fact, all previous elections have been rigged. Nevertheless, in past rigged presidential elections, the winners would still have won even if the elections were free and fair. It was often overzealousness and the absence of restraining mechanisms—and legal consequences— against electoral manipulation that enabled their rigging.

For example, in 1999 Olusegun Obasanjo enjoyed the support of every electoral bloc except the Southwest. His minders didn’t need to rig to win. In 2003, he had the support of every voting bloc except the Northwest and the Northeast. That was enough to hand him a handy victory.

In 2007, the late Musa Umaru Yar’adua, whom I refused to address as “president” because of the intolerable magnitude of rigging that brought him to power, would have easily defeated Buhari without the need to rig. Buhari, after all, only campaigned in the Muslim north, which was also Yar’adua’s natal region. The rest of the country saw Buhari for what he was (and is): a violent, closed-minded, malicious religious and ethnic bigot. So no one outside his primordial cocoon wanted to touch him with a barge pole.

Buhari’s public perception as the personification of spiteful religious and ethnic bigotry was unaltered in 2011 when he ran against Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan also didn’t need to rig to defeat him. In an October 10, 2010 article, even Nasir El-Rufai, who later became his most important political asset, rightly characterized him as “perpetually unelectable because his record as military head of state and [his]insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus.”

In 2014, Buhari had a total makeover, thanks to the same Nasir El-Rufai who reached out to his allies in the southwest. He was dressed in borrowed robes—both metaphorically and literally. Jonathan’s own unacceptable incompetence, which we thought was the worst we had witnessed until Buhari came and shattered his record, made Buhari an option. In other words, unvarnished, un-deodorized Buhari was no electoral threat to anyone, so rigging to defeat him was purposeless overkill.  

 It is also true that Atiku rigged in his strongholds in the last election. I’ve also seen firm videographic evidence to suggest that Atiku’s supporters in the southeast and in the deep south rigged on his behalf, although Atiku’s rigging in his strongholds couldn’t cancel out the magnitude of Buhari’s rigging in the Northwest, the Northeast, and in Lagos.

 Nevertheless, the rigging that ultimately determined the outcome of the presidential election this year wasn’t the rigging that took place at polling booths. If it had been limited to that, Buhari would have lost. INEC outright ignored the record of the election stored in its system and plucked grotesque, fantastical numbers out of thin air. It is the first time since 1999 that a presidential candidate who lost an election by a massive margin, even after rigging, has been declared winner. It’s an outrage.

From May 29, I took a decision to stop calling Buhari Nigeria’s president because he is NOT. He is a shameless mandate thief, the face of a fascist rigocracy, and a dreadful reminder of the collapse of all pretenses to democracy in Nigeria. Even the president’s minders know this. That is why they couldn’t summon the courage to write an inaugural address for him, making him probably the first president in the world to ever be inaugurated without an inaugural address.

It’s also telling that no past living head of state or president, except the uncommonly genial Yakubu Gowon, honored the illegitimate, discreditable charade called inauguration. They all withheld their symbolic stamps of approval from the disgraceful travesty. That’s a first.

Because he lacks legitimacy to rule again, expect the official inauguration of fascist totalitarianism in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. All illegitimate regimes brutally suffocate their citizens who stand up to them.  That is why François-Marie Arouet, aka Voltaire, famously said, “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”

This is by far the darkest period in the history of Nigeria's democracy. I commiserate with Nigerians who are witnessing the brutal annihilation of the faintest vestiges of democracy in their country by an inept, illegitimate fraud who is, in addition, held hostage by an irreversible mental and cognitive decline as evidenced, yet again, in the tediously rambling disaster of an interview he gave a few days ago where he couldn’t tell Nigerians who he is.