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

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?

Saturday, February 9, 2019

“Body Bag”: El-Rufai’s History of Rhetorical Violence and Semantic Duplicity

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai’s ludicrously impotent threat that citizens of foreign powers who intervene in Nigeria’s internal affairs “would go back in body bags” and his duplicitous attempt to explain away the homicidal signification of the trope of “body bags” are only the latest addition to his lengthening record of rhetorical violence and semantic legerdemain.

There is now no doubt that El-Rufai is a rhetorically violent and murderous thug whom the good people of Kaduna have had the singular misfortune to elect as a governor. I hope they undo their mistake on March 2. El-Rufai started to publicly invoke bloodcurdling thanatological allusions to shut down his political opponents on October 16, 2015.  

“All of us in Kaduna State Government have sworn with the Qur’an—Christians with the Holy Bible—to do justice and we will do justice,” he said in Hausa during a town hall meeting in Kaduna. “We better stand and tell ourselves the truth. Everyone knows the truth. No matter the noise, the truth is one. And as I stand here, no matter who you are, I will face you and tell you the truth. If you don’t want to hear the truth, you can climb Kufena Hill and fall.”

Sunday Vanguard of October 17, 2015 reported him at the time as having taunted his opponents to “go and die” if they didn’t agree with him. As is now his wont, he resisted that indisputably logical interpretation. Nevertheless, falling from Kufena Hill, as I wrote my November 1, 2015 column titled “El-Rufai’s Kufena Hills and Metaphors of Death in Nigerian Public Discourse,” is a chilling local metaphor for death. No one falls from a high, rough, steep hill like Kufena and survives.

Although Governor El-Rufai didn’t directly utter the word “die,” I pointed out, Vanguard’s interpretive extension of his thanatological metaphor is perfectly legitimate, even brilliant. It’s interpretive journalism at its finest. It helped situate and contextualize the governor’s utterance for people who don’t have the cultural and geographic competence to grasp it.

Since anyone who jumps from the edge of an enormous hill will naturally plunge to his death, it was impossible to deploy the resources of linguistic logic to defend the governor’s choice of words as anything other than a call to suicide to his opponents. Text derives meaning from context. In any case, the video clip of the town hall meeting where El-Rufai enjoined his critics to go climb Kefena Hill and fall showed him in a combative and livid mood.

I challenged Governor El-Rufai and his media aides who insisted that asking people to jump from a giant hill and fall wasn’t synonymous with asking them to go die to prove their point by jumping from Kufena Hill and living to tell the story. They didn’t take up my challenge.

Again, at a Kaduna APC stakeholders’ meeting in September 2017, El-Rufai told political opponents that should they insist on fighting him, they would all die like the late President Umar Musa Yar’adua did. “I had fought with two presidents,” he said. “Umaru Yar’Adua ended in his grave, while President Goodluck Jonathan ended in Otueke.”

Many people in Katsina understood this statement as El-Rufai’s self-confession of culpability in the death of the late president and asked that he be prosecuted for murder. That was, of course, an inaccurate interpretation of his words. El-Rufai obviously cherishes the illusion that he possesses supernatural powers that can send his opponents to their untimely graves if they dare him. That is probably why he thinks he can put citizens of the US, the UK, and the EU who intervene in Nigeria in “body bags” and live to tell the story! He fancies himself as some invincible, immortal man-god.

In the aftermath of the massive domestic and international backlash against his threats of mass murder of foreigners, he said he didn’t imply that foreigners who intervene in Nigeria’s affairs would be murdered. But that’s an indefensibly unintelligent semantic obfuscation. A body bag is a “bag used for carrying a corpse from a battlefield or the scene of an accident or crime.” Other than mass murder, what else could El-Rufai possibly mean when he said US, UK, and EU citizens who intervene in Nigeria’s affairs would go back to their countries in “body bags”?

I called it a ludicrously impotent threat because you’re talking of the world’s strongest military powers. In the event of a military confrontation with these powers, Nigeria would be history in a matter of weeks, perhaps days. And should these powers desire to eliminate El-Rufai, his corpse wouldn’t even enjoy the dignity of being wrapped in a body bag.

El-Rufai’s fulmination against foreign intervention is particularly noteworthy because during the late Umar Musa Yar’adua’s administration, he and unprincipled, airheaded Nuhu Ribadu went on self-exile in the West and actively discredited and sought foreign intermediation against the Yar’adua government from their foreign bases.

 By the way, the most potent bulwark against foreign interference or intervention is to resist begging for and accepting aide from foreign governments to conduct elections. The US, the UK, and the EU have collectively sent millions of dollars to Nigeria for the conduct of the forthcoming election. The moment you take money from foreign governments for something as basic as conducting elections, you’ve already surrendered your sovereignty, and your patriotism is hollow. Samuel Johnson was right when he said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

In all of this, though, my greatest relief is that El-Rufai’s tenure as Kaduna State governor has afforded the nation the opportunity to know who he really is. Many people who had been seduced by his occasional flashes of intelligence had suggested that he would do well as Nigeria’s president someday. Now we know that he is an intolerant psychopath with homicidal impulses.

 In my September 23, 2017 column titled “El-Rufai’s Morbid Fixation with Death of His Political Opponents,” I pointed out that El-Rufai betrays a disturbingly shallow humanity and a murderous inner disposition. He, for example, endorsed, defended, and even celebrated the brutal, cold-blooded, and unjustified mass slaughter of hundreds of Shiite Muslims in his state.

My immersion in psychiatry also leads me to suspect that El-Rufai is suffering the early onset of a condition some psychologists call “megalomania with narcissistic personality disorder.” As I’ve pointed out in the past, he obviously has grandiose delusions that lead him to think that he deserves unquestioned obeisance from everyone. He also thinks he has a special relationship with imaginary supernormal powers that fight his opponents to death. Those are classic symptoms of malignant megalomania.

The American Psychiatric Association defines megalomania, which it also calls “delusional disorder, grandiose subtype,” as “delusions of inflated worth, power, knowledge, identity, or special relationship to a deity or famous person.”

Mayo Clinic, a go-to site for medical research, defines narcissistic personality disorder as “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”

El-Rufai’s claim that Yar’adua’s death was the price he paid for opposing him politically, his self-delusion that he can successfully murder US, UK and EU citizens who intervene in Nigeria, his oversensitivity to even the mildest criticism, his legendary lack of empathy (evidenced in his perverse love to remorselessly destroy people’s homes, the joy he exudes when people he hates die, etc.), and his exaggerated notions of his importance, for me, show symptoms of a man who is held hostage by megalomania and narcissistic personality disorder.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Even Ahmadu Bello Would Be Ashamed of Buhari’s Arewacentricity

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

The late Sir Ahmadu Bello, defunct Northern Nigeria’s first Premier, gets an undeservedly bad rap from the South for being the patron saint of the sort of exclusionary, reactionary regional chauvinism that political leaders of the North have been accused of. But he wasn’t nearly the monster of retrograde ethnic particularism he has been presented to be in the South, and he would definitely be ashamed of Buhari’s insensitive, in-your-face, knee-jerk “northern” sub-nationalism.

Of course, as a leader of the North, which was engaged in a battle of regional supremacy with the South, Ahmadu Bello was naturally protective of his region—as other regional premiers were. But he was the premier of a less homogeneous and infinitely more labyrinthine region than the West or the East. This fact heightened his sensitivity to diversity and to the merit of fair, if symbolic, representation of this diversity in employment and positional hierarchies in the Northern Nigerian regional civil service.

During a June 2000 interview, Chief Joseph Aderibigbe, who was provincial secretary of Sokoto and Kano provinces during the First Republic, told me a story about how he became the Provincial Secretary of Sokoto Province that, I think, strikes at the core of Ahmadu Bello’s foresighted northern Nigerian ecumenicalism.

Aderibigbe was a Yoruba man from what is now Kwara State. His hometown, Erin-Ile, is on the border between Kwara State and Osun State, and he was socialized in the West, having attended the University of Ibadan before being recruited into the Northern Nigerian Civil Service. He said one day the Premier asked for him because he had never paid a personal visit to the Premier’s office as others did.

While at the Premier’s office, he met everyone seated on the carpet. He couldn’t bring himself to do that, so he stood. He said Ahmadu Bello really wanted to earn his trust, so he invited him to come eat with him. He said the premier kept pushing juicy pieces of meat to him until he ate more meat than he had intended to. So the Premier cracked a joke along the lines of, “Look at this Yoruba man who didn’t want to sit on the floor. Now, he has finished all my meat! I am not sure he sees this much meat at his village.”

Everyone laughed at Aderibigbe’s expense, and he was enraged. In anger, he said, he told the Premier that it was because his people didn’t spend their money on meat that they could afford to send him and his kind to school to man the northern Nigerian civil service. There was dead, impenetrable silence everywhere. He thought he would lose his job, and he was fine with it.

A week after he got ready to return to Lagos, Ahmadu Bello invited him again. Instead of a sack letter, the Premier told him he had been posted to Sokoto as the Provincial Secretary, which is the equivalent of a governor now. (Sokoto Province is now present-day Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi and Niger states). Ahmadu Bello said to Aderibigbe, “I want you to go teach my people how to spend their money on education, not meat.”

This anecdote is a prototypic instantiation of Ahmadu Bello’s bridge-building efforts across Northern Nigeria’s many fissures. He wasn’t perfect. He was, for instance, accused of wanting to universalize his cultural and religious particularities to the whole region, which ignited forceful resistance among northern Christians. Nevertheless, the one thing no careful student of Ahmadu Bello would deny is that he was evolving and showed profound sensitivity to inclusivity, even if it was only token. He didn’t live long enough to realize the ideals he set out, but he did leave a template that anyone who leads an intricate, multi-ethnic and multi-religious polity can tweak and adopt.

He identified the multiplicity of ethnic groups in northern Nigeria, physically visited most of their places of origin, and sought to give them a sense of belonging in the region. This template can be extended as an instrument for nation building. A real, Ahmadu Bello-type northerner, which Buhari is not, would regard Yoruba people from Kwara and Kogi states as his or her “regional kin.” Well, if you can do that, you might as well extend that “kinship” to other Yoruba people in the Southwest in the interest of nation building.

If you accept Ebira people in Kogi as your regional kin, you might as well extend it to the Igara in Edo State whose language is mutually intelligible with Ebira. If you regard the Idoma of Benue as your regional kin, why not do the same to the Yala in Cross River who are linguistically and culturally similar to the Idoma? If you regard the Igala in Kogi as your regional kin, you might as well like the ethnic kin of the Igala known as the Ebu in Oshimili North LGA of Delta State or the Ilushi in Edo State, who are linguistically and culturally indistinguishable from the Igala.

If your benign northern sub-nationalism causes you to accept Iyiorcha Ayu as your brother because he is Tiv from Benue, why would you not accept his own brothers and sisters in Obanliku in Cross River State who are also, for all practical purposes, linguistically and culturally Tivs?

In fact, we are only now getting to know that there are Igbo people in Ado, Oju, Obi and Okpoku local government areas of Benue State who are native to the state. Had Ahmadu Bello lived long enough to know this, he would definitely have drawn them close to him. In other words, being a genuinely benign northern sub-nationalist draws you close to being a pan-Nigerian nationalist.

That is why the embarrassingly undisguised Arewacentricity of Buhari’s appointments in the last three and a half years—and counting—is such a betrayal of Ahmadu Bello’s template for inter-ethnic relations. Ahmadu Bello was supposed to be Nigeria’s first Prime Minister, but he instead passed the honor to the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa because he knew he hadn’t yet evolved to the point where he could regard the whole of Nigeria as his constituency. He was still learning to come to terms with Northern Nigeria’s complexity.

 Buhari’s Arewacentricity is not even reflective of the complexity of the North. The only visible appointment he gave to Northern Christians, for instance, is the position of Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Everything else is dominated by Northern Muslims. Going by the precepts Ahmadu Bello idealized, Buhari has neither the temperament nor the moral qualifications to even be a northern Nigerian leader, let alone a Nigerian ruler.

 In late 2015 when I started to call out Buhari’s skewed appointments in favor of the Muslim North, many people, mostly southerners, asked why I was bothered since I'm a northern Muslim who is “favored” by such appointments—“favored,” that is, on the emotional and symbolic plane. Well, I did and still do so out of embarrassment. It’s the sort of embarrassment you feel when your best friend visits you in your home and, during a family dinner, your mother gives you a considerably bigger food portion size and choicer pieces of meat than your friend.

Buhari’s self-defense for his provincial appointments is that he needs to appoint only people he can trust. Well, if after working for more than two decades in the Nigerian military, by far Nigeria’s most cosmopolitan institution, he can’t trust anyone outside his cultural, regional, and religious comfort zone, HE IS the problem, not the people he distrusts.