Monday, September 30, 2019

MedShare's Award to a Nigerian

By Farooq A. Kperogi, PhD

It's not very often, particularly in the last few years, that I've had a reason to be as proud of being a Nigerian as I was last night. I was invited to a gala where Medshare, a humanitarian organization that "recovers surplus medical supplies and equipment from U.S. hospitals and manufacturers, and redistributes them to needy hospitals in developing countries," gave its inaugural Bob Freeman Humanitarian Award to two people.

One of the two people is a Nigerian by the name of Ndagana Baba Alhaji. The other is Dr. Paul Farmer, a professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, Chair of the Harvard Medical School, and UN Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community-based Medicine.

Alhaji has dedicated his life, according to the citation of his award, to "working to provide medical supplies and equipment to under-served communities across the African diaspora."
His medical humanitarianism started when he almost lost his life during a visit to Chicago years ago. He found out that he needed heart surgery that would cost half a million dollars (that is more than 180 million naira), which he didn't have. The Advocate Christ Medical Center in Chicago performed the surgery for him for free and only told him "all you owe us is the commitment to this possibility for others."
Alhaji is deeply beloved and respected by the folks at MedShare. It's clearly a product both of his consequential humanitarianism and his honesty and commitment. Congratulations, Ndagana Baba Alhaji!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Osinbajo: Unraveling of Nigeria’s Most Overrated Vice President

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

In previous columns, I have described Yemi Osinbajo as possessing social, symbolic, and political presence—qualities that, I pointed out, Muhammadu Buhari sorely lacks. It was my way of saying that Osinbajo has the capacity to initiate motions without movement, which creates the illusion of presence, particularly considering the stultifying stagnancy that characterizes Buhari’s pretense to being president of the nation.

 But there is always something uncannily vacuous and pretentious about Yemi Osinbajo that is just now bubbling to the surface. His smooth, debonair exterior conceals a troubling inner emptiness and a barely detectable but nonetheless strongly diffident disposition. It is the reason he unquestioningly accepted to debase the worth of his office—and his person—by becoming the conduit for the distribution of N10,000 “Tradermoni” to induce poor, traumatized, disaffiliated electorate into voting for the failed government he is a pitiful appendage to.

The cabal of farouche, provincial power brokers in the presidency that habitually belittles him and visits symbolic violence on him no longer has any use for him and has not only denuded him of the crumbs he was allowed access to, it also wants to get rid of him.

The tensile stress that the coordinated assault on him by his Aso Rock masters has activated has caused him to unravel quickly. We now know that Osinbajo isn’t just a groveling, cowardly toady, he also isn’t the smart lawyer he has been cracked up to be.

Instead of confronting the real demons that are tormenting him, he has chosen to transfer his aggression elsewhere by intimidating and overawing soft, weak targets. In the process, he has exposed just how little he remembers of the law he says he is a professor of.

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

He curiously added, “I will waive my constitutional immunity to enable the most robust adjudication of these claims of libel and malicious falsehood.”  That’s obviously a poorly worded attempt to say he will waive his constitutional immunity to allow for a fair investigation of the allegations of corruption against him.

But, as I pointed out in my September 25 social media updates, that is not only disingenuous, it also betrays how utterly little Osinbajo remembers about law, which he studied up to the master’s degree level. (There’s a popular misconception that because rose to the position of professor of law, he also earned a research doctorate in law. No, he didn’t. A Master of Laws is his highest academic qualification.)

Legal experts have pointed out that Osinabjo cannot validly relinquish his constitutional immunity against prosecution by mere self-indulgent Twitter proclamation while he still holds on to his office. If he were serious about giving up his immunity from prosecution to clear his name, he would have offered to resign while he is prosecuted-- on condition that he would be reinstated after he is found innocent. That was what the government he is an appendicular component of said to CJN Walter Onnoghen.

Most importantly, though, a Supreme Court precedent has established that presidents, vice presidents, governors, and deputy governors cannot voluntarily waive their immunity. As human rights lawyer Inibehe Effiong pointed out, "The Supreme Court decided in 2001 in the case of Tinubu v. I. M. B. Securities Plc that the constitutional immunity under Section 308 of the Constitution cannot be waived. In the said Tinubu's case, former governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu decided to waive his immunity to defend a civil claim initiated against him. The Supreme Court barred the then gov of Lagos State from proceeding with the suit.”

Incidentally, Osinbajo was Lagos State’s Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice when this case was adjudicated. It makes you wonder what he really remembers about law. Outside of law, though, this is also about power asymmetry. Osinbajo is the second highest office holder in the land. Everyone who can conceivably probe him is below him in the bureaucratic pecking order. Waiving his immunity by mere verbal proclamation while he is still in office is both insincere and invalid.

Perhaps the most laughable of Osinbajo’s litigious antics is his threat to sue Google (which owns YouTube) for hosting an alleged libelous news video by RootsTV. It betrays his double-dyed ignorance of US media law, which has jurisdiction over Google.

 I teach media law at an American university and can bet my bottom dollar that any US judge will dismiss Osinbajo’s suit with the Latin legal maxim de minimis no curat lex, which means, “the law does not concern itself with trifles.”

For starters, as I said of Abba Kyari in a September 15, 2018 column when he sued the Punch, Osinbajo is a public official whose conduct—both in public and in private—the public is justified to be inquisitive about and to scrutinize. Being a public official comes with a lot of perquisites and privileges, including being in the public consciousness, being able to influence the direction of national conversations, and having the symbolic resources to counter, or at least respond to, injurious information.

In recognition of the influence and power that public officials—and public figures—wield, US courts impose a higher burden of proof on them to prove a case of libel against the media and the public. What would be libelous if written about a private figure isn’t libelous if written about a public official.

Private citizens (who also aren’t public figures) have no symbolic resources to robustly respond to injurious falsehoods against them. That’s why they need the protection of the law. But public officials and public figures have the social and symbolic capital to respond to any libel against them.

For instance, Osinbajo’s tweet denying the allegations of corruption against him and threatening to sue the purveyors of the allegation was headline news in all Nigerian news outlets. It also dominated social media chatter for days. That’s a lot of power. That’s why it’s almost impossible for public officials and public figures to win libel cases in the US.

 In my forthcoming book, I pointed to several suits that were filed against Sahara Reporters in US courts by Nigerian government officials, all of which were dismissed. Osinbajo’s case against RootsTV and Google will suffer a similar fate.

But it’s obvious that Osinbajo is pursuing a legal intimidation tactic that we call SLAPP in American media law. The acronym stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” It’s a type of flippant lawsuit whose purpose is to terrorize critics into self-censorship, not necessarily to seek redress for injury to reputation.

Like Abba Kyari in 2018, Osinbajo wants to cower people into silence and muzzle public conversation about an issue that has tickled the sensation of vast swathes of Nigerians. The tactic seems to be working. The Vanguard has retracted an unfavorable story about him and apologized. RootsTV has also deleted the video that got his hackles up. Newspapers and social media commentators are now guarded.

But this tactic dramatizes Osinbajo’s powerlessness. When he imagined himself to be powerful, he didn’t sue his critics. He caused them to be imprisoned or fired from their jobs. Deji Adeyanju was arrested and jailed for calling Osinbajo “Ole!” on Twitter.

 In a June 2, 2018 story titled “Nigerian Woman Loses Job after Criticizing Vice President Osinbajo Online,” Premium Times reported that a young lady by the name of Bolouere Opukiri was fired from the presidential amnesty office because she wrote tweets that were critical of Osinbajo.

The dimming of the “star boy’s” lights is nothing short of karmic retribution. He deserves no pity.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sowore in Jail for "Causing Insult" to Buhari?

By Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D.
When I saw the story that one of the reasons Omoyele Sowore is in jail was that he caused "insult" to Buhari, I thought, like Professor Wole Soyinka said, it was a made-up story.

Even when I saw the headline in TheCable, one of Nigeria's most credible news platforms, I didn't read it. For some reason, I thought, as irredeemably stupid and intolerant as Buhari and his minions are, they won't descend to this nadir of stupidity and intolerance. Besides, a horde of two-bit, braindead Buhari Twitter bots went into overdrive yesterday to deny the accuracy of the story.
It turned out that it's actually true, as this screenshot shows. When has "causing insult" (whatever in the word that idiotic expression means) to an inept, illegitimate, corrupt, insult-worthy dissembler like Buhari become a state crime? Where in Nigeria's laws is it a crime to insult an incompetent fool who rigged an election, who is inflicting incalculable hardship on people, who can't perform the basic function of securing the nation, who fritters billions to keep himself alive while people die and keep being kidnapped in their hundreds every day?

Buhari spent the greater part of his time between 2003 and 2015 insulting his predecessors who are light years better than him, who did an infinitely better job of governing than he could ever do in a million lifetimes. If he was jailed for what he did, he won't be "president" today
This is the unravelling of full-blow dictatorship. And the country is carrying on as if nothing happened? Wow!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Why Bola Tinubu Can Never Be Nigeria’s President

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

I admit that it’s always ill-advised to use the word “never” when you prognosticate the outcome of a future event. The vagaries of life can throw a wrench to the works of the most auspicious auguries. I know that. Nevertheless, I am prepared to go out on a limb and proclaim that in spite of his feverishly desperate, frenzied, backstabbing machinations, Bola Ahmed Tinubu can never be Nigeria’s president. Here’s why.

Tinubu isn’t electable in any region of Nigeria outside the Southwest, his natal region. Even in the Southwest, his political capital has suffered incalculable diminution over the years, particularly because of the growing perception in the region that he is now a mindless minion of a morally maggoty, Machiavellian, and no-good northern cabal.

His callous, injudicious, not to mention misguided and evidence-free, exculpation of the alleged murderers of the daughter of Afenifere leader Reuben Fasoranti rankled many people in the region and helped seal the notion that he is now no more than a fawning, unthinking automaton for hostile political forces outside his region.

It is entirely possible that Fasoranti’s daughter wasn’t murdered by Fulani herders, but saying so without firm, foolproof evidence—and when raw passions were still inflamed—betrayed his lack of scruples and independence of thought. That is why an increasing number of people in the Southwest now see Tinubu as an unreliable, out-of-touch, self-absorbed, power-hungry, and treacherous narcissist.

Among the electorate in the Southeast and the South-south, he is seen as one of the principal architects in the emergence of the unrelieved disaster that is Buhari whose regime has taken the humiliation and alienation of the two regions as an article of statecraft. Tinubu also infamously sanctioned the systematic, state-sponsored, and thugs-executed disenfranchisement of Igbo voters in Lagos in 2019. His wife, Remi Tinubu, was, in fact, caught on camera lamenting that the Igbo are untrustworthy (Her exact words were, “Igbo, we no dey trust una again!”) Most Igbos and Southern ethnic minorities would rather be dead than vote for Tinubu.

Christian ethnic minorities in the North, for whom religious identity is an important instrument of political mobilization, deeply distrust, even resent, Tinubu and his politics. Although Northern Nigerian Christians tend to be largely indifferent to Southern (that is, Yoruba and Edo) Muslims, they nonetheless nurse deep-seated animus toward Tinubu because of the roles he is perceived to have played in propping up the fiendish monster of depravity that the Buhari regime has become.

You would think the Muslim North, particularly the Hausaphone Muslim North, would requite Tinubu’s support for Buhari in 2015 and 2019 by supporting his presidential aspiration in 2023. That is precisely what Tinubu himself, in his blissful naivety, expects. Well, as I pointed out many times before the 2019 election, this is where Tinubu will get the biggest shock of his life.

If Tinubu were lucky to clinch the nomination of the APC (as unlikely as this is), he would need to nominate a Christian, preferably a Northern Christian, politician to “balance” his ticket since he is a Muslim—or self-identifies as a Muslim—from the South. And that’s where the problem would start for him. In the North, there is an enduring distrust of the authenticity of the Islam of Yoruba Muslims.

There is even a Hausa phrase that encapsulates this distrust: adinin Yarbawa. It literally translates as the religion, i.e., Islam of the Yoruba. But it means more than that. It is often uttered to suggest that the Islam of Yoruba people is fickle, inauthentic, meretricious, syncretic, and untrustworthy. So, as far as most Northern Muslims are concerned, a Yoruba Muslim/Northern Christian ticket is as good as a Christian/Christian ticket.

Well, some Yoruba Muslims have been able to overcome this visceral Northern Muslim perceptual bias against their Islam. A good example is the late MKO Abiola. And it was because he did more for the cause of Islam than any Nigerian of his time. You can’t say that of Tinubu who, apart from the rampant northern Muslim perception that he isn’t a practicing Muslim, always looks drugged and drunk in TV interviews. Even Abiola had to choose a Northern Muslim running mate to earn the trust of the Northern Muslim political elite.

Nonetheless, if Tinubu chooses a running mate from the Muslim North to compensate for his lack of sufficient Muslim bona fides, he would alienate Igbo, Southern ethnic minority, and Northern Christian voters, the very people who distrust and resent him in the first place. Contemporary Nigeria is way more sensitive to the politics of religious representation than 1990s Nigeria was when Abiola ran for president.

The rise of politically tinged Pentecostalism in the South has made even the religiously liberal Southwest a hotbed for religious particularism, even though ethnic solidarity is still a more potent instrument for mobilization in the region than religion.

But I wager that Northern Muslim voters would rather vote for a party that fields a Northern Muslim candidate—even if that party is the PDP—than vote for Tinubu even if he chooses a Northern Muslim running mate. So, heads or tails, Tinubu will lose.

Nevertheless, the most important reason Tinubu can never be present is that the people who currently wield political power, to whom he is a witlessly obsequious bootlicker, won’t hand over power to him—or to anybody—in 2023.   

Members of the cold, calculating, and conniving Buhari cabal have chosen Babagana Kingibe as Buhari's successor. As I pointed out in previous columns and social media updates, in the privacy of their conclaves, members of the cabal snigger at Tinubu for naively imagining that Buhari will hand over power to him. In the service of this self-delusion, he is bending over backwards, including throwing his loyal lieutenants under the bus, for the cabal in the presidency. But all this will come to naught.

Before the 2019 election, a friend of mine who is close to Abba Kyari confided in me that after the election they would “deal with Tinubu and his people.” He bragged that by the time they are done with him and his underlings, he would be so damaged that he won’t even be an option for the 2023 presidency. It’s already starting.

Of course, the cabal isn't banking on any legitimate election to get Kingibe into power; INEC, which is now in their begrimed pockets, will just pluck imaginary figures from the air, ignore actual votes, and declare him "winner"—like it did Buhari this year. And the Presidential Election and Petitions Tribunal and the Supreme Court will uphold the travesty.

However, I predict that should Buhari survive until 2023, he won't hand over power to anyone, including Kingibe. Apart from his hopeless love of power for the hell of it, Buhari needs power to stay alive—literally. The obscene amount of money Nigeria habitually fritters away in medical bills to keep him alive can only be sustained if he is in power. He won't get that sort of money outside power.

Only sustained, nationwide, pan-Nigerian civic insurrection can save Nigeria from the current fatal grip on it by Buhari and his cabal of ruthless power mongers. Tinubu has contributed to killing the culture of civil disobedience because of his inordinate, unrealizable political ambition. When the cabal finally comes for his neck, there will be no pan-Nigerian coalition to save him.

Related Articles:

Friday, September 20, 2019

Nasir El-Rufai: Nigeria's Most Dangerous Politician Alive

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Kaduna's Governor Nasir El-Rufai is straight-up Nigeria's most bigoted and most dangerous public official alive. In a Nov. 9, 2013 tweet, he called Goodluck Jonathan a "lazy, docile, incompetent, clueless, hopeless, useless leader" using a photo of him praying at a church in Israel for illustration.

Yet this man detains and torments people who criticize him. Abu Hanifa Dadiyata, a critic of his, just disappeared in Kaduna without a trace. Several other critics are in detention. And he recently threatened: "If you want to tweet anything about Kaduna be very careful because I'm watching..."

By the way, would he also use a photo of Buhari praying in a mosque in Saudi Arabia to call attention to Buhari's own quality of being a "lazy, docile, incompetent, clueless, hopeless, useless leader"? Buhari is certainly a far more "lazy, docile, incompetent, clueless, hopeless, useless leader" than Jonathan ever was. There's a consensus among all right-thinking people that Buhari is Nigeria's absolute worst leader since independence.
The worrying thing is that El-Rufai wants to be Nigeria's president someday. Given that elections no longer matter even in the slightest, he just might be.

Related Articles:

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The "#Copied" Social Media Plagiarism Plague in Nigeria

By Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi
It used to be that intellectual thieves simply stole people's creative labor and passed them off as theirs. Well, that still happens. But in the frenetic, exhibitionistic world of social media, plagiarism is taking newer, more insidious, and less explicable forms.
Now, people shamelessly pirate other people’s original thoughts, strip the thoughts of the names of their original authors, post them on their timelines (or share them on WhatsApp and other closed forums), and pretend to be ethical by prefacing the word “#Copied” to their intellectual robbery.

But “Copied” doesn’t deodorize your ethical rottenness. It doesn’t minimize your dishonesty in not acknowledging the author of the thoughts you shared. It doesn’t vitiate your intellectual corruption. On the contrary, it aggrandizes your moral turpitude, your cognitive laziness, and your utter spinelessness. If your mind is too barren to conceive original, share-worthy thoughts, why do you deny credit to people who have taken the trouble to exert their minds and share their thoughts publicly?
An emerging and more sinister iteration of this social media virus is the practice of falsely attributing authorship of people’s thoughts and ideas to well-known people who didn’t author them. It’s a spinoff of the “Copied” intellectual roguery. People see a post that they like, which is authored by “Copied.” Since “copied” is not the name of any human being, they invent the name of any well-known personage that catches their sterile fancy and falsely give credit to him or her.
I’ve been a victim of both forms of social media plagiarism. For instance, my name has been stripped from my July 27, 2019 column in the Nigerian Tribune titled “How Political Power Damages the Brain—and How to Reverse it.” It was initially prefaced with “Copied” and is now attributed to Pat Utomi. Although the very first sentence of the column says “I was one of seven professors who facilitated a leadership training in my university here in Georgia for local government chairmen from a major Nigerian southwestern state,” which indicates that the author lives in the US state of Georgia, the vulgar, low-IQ herd who shared the article on their timelines (and WhatsApp) nonetheless attributed it to Pat Utomi who lives in Lagos, Nigeria!
Before me, Inibehe Effiong wrote a clever, punchy post about how one’s education is a waste if one can’t transcend narrow ethnic, religious, and regional loyalties. After first stealing it with “Copied,” people now attribute it to either Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman or Dr. Chuba Okadigbo.

It’s now customary for Nigerians to seek people’s permission on Facebook to share their public posts. I’d always wondered why people would seek permission to share a post that's already public and that people have already shared through Facebook’s “share” button. It later dawned on me that they’re seeking permission to copy people’s posts, deny them authorship, and preface “Copied” to the posts. What sort of cognitive sickness makes people do that?

Monday, September 16, 2019

Kidnapping in the Heart of Abuja

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
The abduction and release of Dr. Umar Ardo's daughter after a $15,000 ransom payment via bitcoin joins a lengthening list of largely unacknowledged abductions in the heart of Abuja.

A few days ago, a Nigerian-American professor of political science who retired from a university in Mississippi and relocated to Abuja suddenly returned to the US. Just a few months after relocating to Abuja, where he'd invested and hoped to live the rest of his life, he was kidnapped in the downtown and wasn't released until he paid an N8.5 million ransom.

After his release, he took the next available flight back to America. He was profoundly traumatized and swore to never set foot in Nigeria till he dies. He said even his dead body should never be taken to Nigeria.
He was "lucky," he said, that his abductors didn't know he was American: they would have asked for a much higher ransom than they did. From his account, it became apparent to me that scores of people are being abducted on a regular basis right in Abuja's city centre, but we don't hear about these abductions because victims choose to keep it to themselves.
In fact, the retired Nigerian-American professor allowed me to share this only on condition that I conceal his identity. This is a dangerous dimension to the menace of kidnapping in Nigeria. But Buhari is still picking his teeth.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Buhari Didn’t Defeat Atiku; The Judiciary Defeated Nigeria

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Why Atiku Isn’t Coming

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

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

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Shiites, Buhari, Religious Bigotry, and I

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

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

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Victims of Xenophobia Abroad, Culprits of Xenophobia at Home

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 2, 2019

Recent Grammatical Howlers of Nigerian Politicians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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