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

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Mamman Daura’s Shameful Birthday Bash in London

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

Mamman Daura, the guileful, influence-peddling son of Buhari’s oldest half-brother who rules Nigeria from the background of the “Glass House” in the Presidential Villa, turned 80 on November 9. After sponsoring a cornucopia of hagiographic birthday tributes in newspapers, Daura jetted forth to London—along with more than 30 family members—to celebrate at a high-priced London hotel.

His children recorded the glitz, vanity, and epicurean indulgence of the London birthday celebration and shared it with their friends. Somehow, it seeped out to the public and became the trigger for the ventilation of pent-up angst over the Buhari regime’s enduring hypocrisy.

In the cloying tributes written about him on the occasion of his birthday, Mamman Daura was variously—and falsely— described as modest, patriotic, self-effacing, unassuming, and contemptuous of conspicuous consumption. Yet he chose to celebrate his birthday, along with scores of nuclear and extended family members—and government officials—in London. Would it diminish the significance of his milestone if he celebrated his birthday in Abuja—or, in fact, Daura, his place of birth?

Where is the patriotism in celebrating birthdays on foreign soil? Where is the modesty in putting more than 30 family members in first-class flights to London to celebrate a mere birthday while millions of Nigerians, particularly in his hometown of Daura, writhe in unutterable pauperism?

The London birthday bash, incidentally, is co-extensive with Muhammadu Buhari’s presence in London on a "private visit" with public funds. People were understandably crossed that Buhari and Mamman Daura, Buhari’s chief puppeteer, were luxuriating in sybaritic pleasures abroad at a time they selectively closed the borders at home, insisted poor people must eat only local rice, and deepened the misery of everyday Nigerians like never before.

 In the aftermath of the online backlash that the video of Mamman Daura’s London birthday touched off, family members of Daura attempted to withdraw the video from circulation. For instance, a Facebook friend of mine by the name of Dr. Bello Inua Anka, who is married to one of Mamman Daura’s daughters, said I should take down the video from my Facebook and Twitter timelines.

The pretext he used to justify his take-down request was that two of his children were in the video and were being exposed to “hatred.” He said there were “security issues involved” in sharing the video publicly.

I told him I didn’t see anyone say anything about any child in the video. Everyone's focus was on the hypocrisy of closing the borders at home, insisting that traumatized, poverty-stricken people live within their means, using security agencies to physically humiliate and harass poor people for eating foreign rice, etc. while Buhari's family members, and a few favored ones, live off the fat of the land at home and abroad, even going so far as to celebrate the birthday of Buhari’s nephew in London— with ministers and senators in tow. Not even Jonathan was this audaciously insensitive and duplicitous.

I didn’t shoot or edit the video, I reminded him. The video was shot, edited, and shared by his in-laws before it slipped away from their grip. Why should I edit or take it down? His response was baffling. “Your page has more exposure than most, there are security issues involved here. A lot of people with a grudge or another will always pay a visit to your page to feed off what you write,” he said.

How does the appearance of indulgent, well-clad, and well-fed children in a video pose “security issues” when they live privileged, sheltered lives, which ensures that they won’t be in harm’s way? In Bello Anka’s village in Zamfara State, hundreds of thousands of poor kids, through no fault of theirs, are in real danger because they can't feed, because bandits terrorize them and their parents, and because they can't go to school, ensuring that their unfortunate condition will be perpetuated inter-generationally. That’s where the real “security issues” are. But he doesn’t care. The poor don’t matter.

When he didn’t succeed in persuading me to take down the video, he started to threaten me. “By all means don't take it down please. I wasnt [sic] actually begging you just so we are clear. I was being civil by asking you privately. I also said edit if you can and continue with your lunacy. I am indifferent to your grievances against the Nigerian government...I promise you won't get away with this… as long as that video remains on your wall. You clearly have no idea what you are dealing with. You believe too much in your own hype,” he wrote.

Because I’ve received several anonymous  death threats from supporters of the Buhari regime, including a recent one where someone publicly called for my execution—alongwith Chidi Odinkalu and Ahmed Salkida— on Twitter, I decided to make the man’s threats public because he has a name, a face, and a place in the Buhari/Mamman Daura family that can be held accountable if anything happens to any member of my family in Nigeria because he knows he can’t do anything to me in the US.

 Interestingly, this same witless, power-intoxicated buffoon used to fawn over me when I held Goodluck Jonathan’s feet to the fire before 2015. Because he and his parasitic, no-good in-laws are now milking the national cow, he wants me to look the other way as they perpetrate their corruption, nepotism, cronyism, and impunity.

When threats did nothing to get me to take down the video, the Mamman Daura family persuaded Facebook and Twitter that the video I shared of the children, grandchildren, in-laws, and Nigerian government officials (including a senator and a minister) celebrating Mamman Daura's 80th birthday at a pricey London hotel was "private media."  So they both took it down on November 14.

Scores of people have also shared the video on Facebook and Twitter. Why am I the only one they're worried about? Bello Inua Anka said I believed “too much” in my own “hype.” But it’s actually the other way round: it is he and his corrupt, profligate in-laws who believe in their hype about me. There are thousands of Nigerians with way more social media following and influence than I, but it’s my social media commentaries they are disproportionately obsessed with.

Well, although the video no longer appears on my social media timelines, it has already gone viral and is, in fact, archived on this blog. It has also been shared on many other Internet platforms. Will the Mamman Daura family persuade, for example, YouTube and WhatsApp to take down the video? Will they ask Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, LG, etc. to take down the video from millions of computers and phones?

Why are they embarrassed by the video? Of course, it’s because it calls attention to their extortionate profligacy, to their hypocritical licentiousness, to their objectionable immorality, to their ice-cold disdain for the poor, and to their reprehensible double standard.

They haven't realized that by getting Twitter and Facebook to take down the video from my social media timelines, and the online buzz this has created, they've made the video even more popular than it deserves to be. Now if you type "Mamman Daura birth…" on Google, Google’s autocompletion automatically suggests “Mamman Daura birthday video.”

 That means a lot of people are searching for it. According to Google, “The search queries that you see as part of Autocomplete reflect what other people are searching for and the content of web pages.” The forbidden fruit, they say, tastes the sweetest.

These Buhari/Mamman Daura folks obviously have the IQ of their shoe sizes. Hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of people have already seen, shared, and downloaded the video. Only imbeciles lock the barn door after the horse has bolted.

Related Articles:

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Buhari Relative is Threatening Me Over the Mamman Daura London Birthday Video

By Farooq Kperogi
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

A man by the name of Dr. Bello Inua Anka, who is married into the Muhammadu Buhari family, is threatening me over the PUBLICLY available video that I—and thousands of other Nigerians—shared on social media showing de facto president Mamman Daura celebrating his 80th birthday with (more than 30!) family members and government officials in a posh London hotel while people starve to death in Nigeria. (See screenshots of his threats).

He asked me— and reached out to a valued friend of mine to prevail upon me— to take down the video on the excuse that his children are in it and that they’re being endangered. How? As I told him, I haven't seen anyone say anything about any child in the video. Everyone's focus is on the hypocrisy of closing the borders at home, insisting that traumatized, poverty-stricken people live within their means, using security agencies to physically humiliate and harass poor people for eating foreign rice, etc. while Buhari's family members, and a few favored ones, live off the fat of the land at home and abroad, even going so far as to celebrate the birthday of Buhari’s nephew in London— with ministers and senators in tow. Not even Jonathan was this insensitive and hypocritical.

I didn’t shoot the video. It isn’t exclusive to me. In fact, it had already done the social media rounds before I shared it on my social media handles. The video was shot, edited, and shared by a member of the Buhari family. Why should I edit or take it down? He said, “Your page has more exposure than most, there are security issues involved here. A lot of people with a grudge or another will always pay a visit to your page to feed off what you write.” Huh?

Anyway, if his threat is limited to suing me in US courts where I live and work, I’m waiting for him. I’ve already notified my lawyers here. But there’s something darker and more sinister in the threat “I promise you won’t get away with this.” I’ve received countless threats from supporters of Buhari’s fascist monocracy. Someone even called for my execution—along with Chidi Odinkalu andAhmed Salkida— on Twitter last week. I dismissed it as the inconsequential overzealousness of a faceless Buhari Media Center (BMC) troll.

But Dr. Bello Anka has a name, a face—and a place in the Buhari family— that can be held to account if anything happens to any member of my family in Nigeria because he knows he can’t do anything to me in the US. 

Interestingly, this same witless, power-intoxicated buffoon used to fawn over me when I held Goodluck Jonathan’s feet to the fire before 2015. Now that the “spoon” is in his mouth, he wants me to let him and his parasitic family members to get away with their unexampled corruption, nepotism, cronyism, and impunity. Ain’t gonna happen!

Related Articles:
Assassination Plot Against Me by Buhari's Agents?
Presidency Pressured Daily Trust to Discontinue My Saturday Column

Sunday, November 10, 2019

4 Blood Relatives of Buhari’s Who Officially Work in Aso Rock

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D. Twitter: @farooqkperogi
In 2015, Buhari warned his family members to steer clear of his government. He lied. His relatives, many of whom wallowed in grubby poverty before 2015, not only now work as his official assistants, they’re now multi-millionaires. Some are billionaires. Here are 4 blood relatives of his that I know for a fact work for him. There may be more. I’ve confirmed these names from multiple sources in Daura and the Presidential Villa:
1. Abdulkarim Dauda. He is Buhari’s Personal Chief Security Officer (PCSO). Like Mamman Daura, he is Buhari’s nephew. His father, Dauda Daura, is Buhari's half-brother from the same father. He is de facto president Mamman Daura’s full biological brother. I exposed a recent secret memo Buhari sent to the Nigeria Police (where Abdulkarim is officially employed as Commissioner of Police after three unnaturally rapid promotions in three years) instructing it to circumvent time-honored public service rules and extend his service till 2023 even though he should have retired this year on account of being in the police for 35 years.
Abdulkarim Dauda
2. Sabiu “Tunde” Yusuf. He is Buhari’s Private Secretary. Don’t be deceived by the “Tunde” in his name. It’s just a nickname, probably inspired by Tunde Idiagbon, Buhari’s deputy when he was a military dictator. Sabiu is the son of Mamman Daura’s full biological sister by the name of Hajia Halima (more popularly known as “Hajja Madam” in Daura) who died last year. As you should know by now, Mamman Daura’s sister is Buhari’s niece since their father (Dauda Daura) is Buhari’s much older half-brother.
Sabiu, who is in his 30s, is one of the most powerful people in Nigeria today. He determines who sees and who doesn’t see Buhari. Only Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari can overrule him. By several accounts, he is now a billionaire, although he had no formal work experience before Buhari became president. He used to sell recharge cards in Daura until 2015!
3. Dauda “Zeze” Habu. He is Senior Personal Assistant to Abba Kyari, the de facto acting president/VP. His father, Habu Kurma, is Mamman Daura's younger brother. (Kurma is the Hausa word for deaf. He’s called Kurma because he’s deaf, but this isn’t derogatory in Hausa culture where people are habitually identified by their disability).
4. Musa Haro. He is PA (Domestic Affairs) to Buhari. His mother, Hajia Kwalla, is Buhari’s biological sister. Hajia Kwalla is a twin. Her twin sister is called Hajia Amadodo. My friends from Daura told me last week that Musa “ just bribed the Emir of Daura to be conferred with the traditional title of Dan Madamin Daura.”
Musa Haro
Bonus: 5. Ahmed Rufa'i Zakari. He is Special Adviser to the President on Infrastructure. He isn’t Buhari’s biological relative, but he is his relative by marriage and informal adoption. Ahmed’s mother is Mrs. Amina Zakari, the controversial INEC commissioner who, along with compromised INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu, helped Buhari to rig the 2019 election. Buhari’s older sister was married to Amina Zakari’s father, the late Alhaji Hussaini Adamu. Apart from being Buhari’s in-law, the late Hussaini Adamu also raised Buhari for some time after Buhari’s father died, so he was, in a sense, Buhari’s adoptive father.
6. The House of Representatives member representing the Daura/Sandamu/MaiAdua Federal constituency by the name of Fatuhu Muhammad is the son of Buhari’s older brother by the name of Muhammadu "Mamman" Danbafale. Fatuhu became the APC candidate without “proper primary,” as a source told me.
Also remember that Buhari created an entire ministry for his dabino-stealing former mistress, Ms. Sadiya Umar Farouq. I doubt that there’s any parallel in Nigeria’s history for the magnitude and severity of nepotism and personalization of power that we’re seeing now.

Video of Mamman Daura Celebrating 80th Birthday in London

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

Here's a video of Mamman Daura, Nigeria's de facto president, celebrating his 80th birthday in LONDON with his children, grandchildren, and political associates, including Senator Amosun and Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika. 

His uncle, Muhammadu Buhari, is also in London on a "private visit" with public funds. They luxuriate in sybaritic pleasures abroad, close the borders at home, inflict hardship on people, and tell the poor to eat only local rice.  Apparently, the good things of life are the exclusive preserve of Buhari, his family, and a select favored few.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Lionheart’s Oscar Rejection and Place of English in Nigerian Identity

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

News of the disqualification of the Nollywood movie “Lionheart” from contention in Oscar’s “International Feature Film” category for this year on account of its use of English in most of its dialogue has once again centralized conversations about the role of English in the constitution of the modern Nigerian identity.

But, first, the outrage over Lionheart’s disqualification is, in my opinion, unwarranted since the rules clearly state that to be eligible to vie for that category, a film must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track,” and Lionheart’s dialogue is predominantly English.

Nor is “Lionheart” the only—or, for that matter, the first— English-language international film to be disqualified from the Oscars because of its use of English.  The New York Times of November 5, 2019 reported that “The 2015 Afghanistan entry ‘Utopia’ and the 2007 Israeli film ‘The Band’s Visit’ were both likewise declared ineligible” because the dialogues in them are predominantly English.

Nonetheless, I’ve read several Nigerians vent their frustration over the fate “Lionheart” has suffered at the Oscars by suggesting that Nigeria should abandon English as its official language and adopt one of its more than 500 languages as its lingua franca. Of course, that’s sheer wishful thinking.

As I’ve argued many times in the past, the English language is at the core in the constitution of the modern Nigerian identity. Without it, Nigeria in its present form would cease to exist. 

In an April 24, 2010 article, I argued that “English is the linguistic glue that holds our disparate, unnaturally evolved nation together. Although Nigeria has three dominant languages, it also has over 400 mutually unintelligible languages. And given the perpetual battles of supremacy between the three major languages in Nigeria—indeed among all the languages in the country—it is practically impossible to impose any native language as a national language. So, in more ways than one, English is crucial to Nigeria's survival as a nation. Without it, it will disintegrate!”

Another reason it makes no sense to replace English as our official language is that English is now the de facto lingua franca of global scholarship, and we would be shutting ourselves off from the global scholarly community if we shut out English. This is how I captured it in my 2015 book titled “Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World”:

 “Most importantly, [English] is the language of scholarship and learning. The Science Citation Index, for instance, revealed in a 1997 report that 95 percent of scholarly articles in its corpus were written in English, even though only half of these scientific articles came from authors whose first language is English (Garfield, 1998). Scores of universities in Europe, Africa, and Asia are switching to English as the preferred language of instruction.

“As Germany’s Technical University president Wolfgang Hermann said when his university ditched German and switched to English as the language of instruction for most of the school’s master’s degree programs, ‘English is the lingua franca [of the] academia and of the economy’ (The Local, 2014). His assertion has support in the findings of a study in Germany that discovered that publishing in English is ‘often the only way to be noticed by the international scientific community’ (The Local, 2014).

“So most academics in the world either have to publish in English or perish in their native tongues. In addition, it has been noted in many places that between 70 and 80 percent of information stored in the world's computers is in English, leading a technology writer to describe the English language as ‘the lingua franca of the wired world’ (Bowen, 2001).”

English has moved beyond being imperialistic; it's now hegemonic. That is, its dominance isn’t a consequence of forceful imposition; it’s now entirely voluntary. When German, Italian, Israeli, Asian etc. universities switched to English as their medium of instruction, they didn't do so because they were conquered by Britain or the US.

When millions of Chinese people spend time and resources to learn English, they do so because they want to be competitive in the global market. When South Koreans go to the ridiculous extremes of spending thousands of dollars to perform surgery on their tongues so they can speak English with native-like proficiency, they do it of their own volition. (In South Korea, professors can’t be tenured, i.e., granted permanent employment status, if they don’t demonstrate sufficient proficiency in English).

When poor, struggling Indians spend scarce resources to acquire proficiency in English and to “dilute” their accents so they can approximate native-speaker oral fluency preparatory to call-center jobs, they do so because they think it offers a passport to a better life.

Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek once argued that people who are targets of hegemonic cooptation only voluntarily agree to this process if they believe that, in accepting it, they are giving expression to their free subjectivity. That's effective hegemony.

If English ceases to be the receptacle of vast systems of knowledge that it is now and goes the way of Latin, everyone would drop it like it's hot. This isn't about "race," "inferiority," "superiority," or such other piteous vocabulary of the weak. It's plain pragmatism.

This isn't about English as a language of culture, or as a symbol of colonial domination; it's about the fact that it is the depository of contemporary epistemic production and circulation. You shut it out at your own expense. It is hard-nosed pragmatism to embrace its epistemic resources both for development and for subversion.

Of course, English won't always be the language of scholarship. Like Latin, Arabic, Greek, etc., it would wane at some point, especially when America ceases to be the main character in the movie of world politics and economy, which Trump's emerging fascism is helping to hasten faster than anyone had imagined. It could be succeeded by Mandarin. Should that happen, it would be counterproductive for any country in the world to, in the name of nativist linguistic self-ghettoization ignore Mandarin.

I have argued elsewhere that there is no truth to the oft-quoted claim that no society develops on the basis of a foreign language. On the contrary, it is misguided nativist linguistic self-isolationism that actually hurts development.

Rift in the Presidency
Yemi Osinbajo's media aide, Laolu Akande, tweeted that "a list circulating in the media on... so-called sacked presidential aides is not genuine and ought to be ignored.” Hours later, Buhari's media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, counter-tweeted that, "The Presidency wishes to confirm" that the list was genuine and that it was "not personal or targeted to undermine the Vice President’s office."

Yet they both insist that there's "no rift" between Buhari and Osinbajo! What else must exist to show proof of a “rift”? Fisticuffs between Buhari and Osinbajo? Or a slugfest between Buhari’s aides and Osinbajo’s aides? The Buhari regime obviously needs its own English dictionary to accommodate the unending schizophrenic quirks it evinces in the usage of English words by its propaganda honchos.

Even when you do your darndest to keep Nigeria's official idiocy out of your life for your own sanity, it keeps coming at you with pigheaded insistence.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Never Tell a Past Student You Don't Remember Them

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D. Twitter: @farooqkperogi
I first learned this lesson from my wife's mother, who is American and who taught mathematics in Nigeria for nearly three decades before she relocated to her home country after retirement.
She taught at (and later became the principal of) Borgu Secondary School in New Bussa, which is now in Niger State. New Bussa used to be my local government headquarters until 1988. So several people from my part of Borgu (which is in Kwara State) attended Borgu Secondary School and were taught by my mother-in-law whom I never knew until I came to America.
My mother-in-law Mrs. Cecilia Crump Erinne

She was an inspirational teacher who produced generations of doctors, engineers, professors, etc. She was particularly popular with students because, being American, she never physically hit a student--like other teachers did. Plus, students loved her American accent and her self-conscious efforts to speak like Nigerians.

Anyway, many people from my area who discover that I'm married to her daughter always ask to speak with her through me, and on no occasion did she ever say she didn't recognize a past student. So I told her she must have an uncommonly capacious memory to remember all her former students, given that she taught almost every student in the school from the 1970s to the early 2000s.
She admitted that it was not humanly possible to remember all her former students and added, "Don't ever tell a past student you don't remember them." You may mess up with their most cherished school memories, she said.
I had a recent experience that materialized this priceless pedagogical wisdom for me. I had an influential Ghanaian teacher in my secondary school that I couldn't stop to think about more than 30 years after he was forced back to his country by the infamous "Ghana-Must-Go" madness. He not only molded me at the inchoate stage of my intellectual development, he was also like a father to me.

My Ghanaian teacher Mr. Selby Lewis
He taught me karate and soccer outside school and often visited my family house. He praised my littlest accomplishments to high heavens and explained away my failings. He was also a philosopher whose delicate words of wisdom still abide with me today.
One day, on a whim, I decided to use by cyber-sleuthing skills to look for him. After days of search, I found him! He was excited to hear from a former student of his, but he said he had not the faintest recollection of me and what we did together. I was incredibly heartbroken and went into a mild situational depression for at least a week.
I still cherish him and nurse no hard feelings toward him for not remembering me. He told me the "Ghana-Must-Go" immigration purge was a traumatic experience for him. He probably chose to wipe clean his memories of Nigeria in order to cope with the emotional aftermath of the purge.
But my experience dramatizes the truism of my mother-in-law's exhortation that, if you can help it, don't ever tell a past student that you don't remember them.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Google as "goggle" and WhatsApp as "whatsUp": Illiterate Pronunciations in Nigeria

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

Why do most Nigerians, including educated Nigerians, pronounce Google as "goggle" and WhatsApp as "WhatsUp"?

As I pointed out in my 2015 book titled Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World, two "O's" always make the long "uu" sound; that's why we pronounce book as "buuk," good as "guud," hood as "huud," etc. 

What explains the choice of Nigerians to pronounce Google as "goggle," which, among other things, means to look stupidly? I'm sorry, but people sound really stupid and illiterate when they call Google "goggle."
And WhatsApp as "WhatsUP"? What's up with that? Who comes up with these grating, uneducated pronunciational habits in Nigeria? Since Nigerians don't call phone apps "ups," why do they call WhatsApp "WhatsUP"?
Yes, the inventors of WhatsApp were clearly creatively playing on the informal American English expression "what's up?" (i.e., "how are you?") in the choice of the name for the app, but the name clearly has "app," not "up," in it.
Nigerians are the only people in the whole world who call WhatsApp "whatsUp." Did people miss the letter "a" in the name of the app? What sort of mass carelessness is that? Who did this to us? Before anyone says it's about differences in accents, this isn't an accent issue. It's simply carelessness. What's difficult in saying "whatsApp" and "Guugul?

Related Articles:
Top 50 Words Nigerians Mispronounce (I)
Top 50 Words Nigerians Mispronounce (II)
Top 50 Words Nigerians Mispronounce (III)
More Words Nigerians Commonly Mispronounce

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Assassination Plot Against Me by Buhari’s Agents?

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi
This was first shared on my Facebook and Twitter handles on August 2, 2019.
Someone close to the powers that be in Abuja who occasionally shares credible, privileged insider information with me sent me a message this evening (see screenshot) that henchmen of the Buhari regime might be planning to send assassins to murder me in America.

My first inclination was to dismiss this as mere alarmism. But when I recall that Buhari had sent Israeli mercenaries to kidnap Umaru Dikko from London on July 5, 1984 and that his regime hired Israeli agents for a social media dissemination and propaganda campaign this year, according to a May 17, 2019 Associated Press news story titled “Israeli Disinformation Campaign Targeted Nigerian Election,” I realize that the regime is capable of the vilest malevolence imaginable to protect and conceal the unprecedented criminality it’s perpetrating every day in Nigeria.

Several top-level security operatives have told me since 2017 that I would be “toast” if I travel to Nigeria while Buhari is in power. I’ve come to peace with that. But plotting to assassinate me in America just because, out of a patriotic duty to my home country, I've chosen to become the vault of critical news about the Buhari regime’s consuming fascism is beyond the pale—if it’s true.
Agents, friends, and sympathizers of the regime have thrown everything at me—personal attacks, smears, libelous falsehoods, etc. in newspapers and on different websites--and even instructed the management of Daily Trust to stop my Saturday column, but they were like water off a duck's back to me. Their last propaganda effort against me was to commission some fraudsters from Lagos who masqueraded as reporters to claim, without evidence, that I shared false videos during the last election. (The videos were factual even by their own so-called fact-check, so they chose instead to “fact-check” my intentions😂.)
Only numerically inferior bands of nitwitted ethno-regional bigots and government agents believe their smears against me. They are now obviously at their wit’s end and think the only way to silence me is to assassinate me. I hear they’ve arrested Omoyele Sowore tonight for planning mass protests against the incompetence of the regime. I hope they don’t kill him.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Buhari’s Obsessive Compulsive Runawayism

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

Muhammadu Buhari’s inexplicably frenzied globetrotting at a time when his government proclaimed a new policy that reduced the frequency and duration of foreign travels by ministers reputedly as a “cost-saving measure” recalls my September 16, 2017 column where I wondered if Buhari’s wanderlust is actuated by his resentment of Nigeria itself. I’ve reproduced a slightly reworked version of the column here:

Muhammadu Buhari is held prisoner by what appears to be an obsessive-compulsive impulse to desert Nigeria when the going gets tough. On at least two occasions, he has publicly confessed to feeling the urge to abandon his job in midstream.

The first time he gave public expression to this runawayist emotion was in November 2016 when he addressed senior management staff members and “Senior Executive Course 38” graduates of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies who paid him a visit at the Presidential Villa. “Actually, I felt like absconding because 27 out of 36 states in Nigeria cannot pay salaries and we know they have no other source than to depend on salaries to pay rent and do other things,” he said.

He expressed another urge for runawayism when he met with traditional rulers in the Presidential Villa on September 11, 2017. “We are lucky this year that last year and this year the rainy season is good,” he said. “If it were not good, I must confide in you that I was considering which country to run to. But God answered the prayers of many Nigerians.”

Buhari might very well have been joking. But it is also true that human beings ventilate uncomfortable truths through humor. In fact, an English proverb says, “Many a true word is spoken in jest.” So it’s fair game to interrogate Buhari’s predilection for wanting to abandon the nation in moments of strife and uncertainty.

This is particularly troubling seeing that Buhari appears to be more comfortable outside Nigeria than he is inside it. This is a man who will leave Nigeria for anywhere at the drop of a hat. He spent most of 2015 and 2016 traveling the world (for no justifiable reason, in retrospect) and a good bit of this year on “medical vacation” in London.

So when he said (or, if you will, joked) that he felt like “absconding” after the enormity of the task he was obligated to do stared him in the face, he wasn’t being faithful to the facts. He actually did abscond. How else would anyone characterize failing to appoint ministers six months after being sworn in—and leaving most governing councils of government agencies unfilled more than two years after— while aimlessly traveling the world?

And when he said he was “considering which country to run to” if the rains weren’t forthcoming, he also forgot that he actually did “run to” another country for more than 100 days for a different reason. He went to London to get UK doctors’ second opinion on his already treated ear infection and, thereafter, to treat an undisclosed ailment—exposing Nigeria, in the process, to one of the worst possible international embarrassments any nation could face.

Given Buhari’s penchant for runawayism, it’s hard to tell if his long stays in London were indeed medically warranted or if he was just “absconding” or choosing to “run to” other people’s country because he couldn’t take the heat of governing, which, in any case, he has illegally entrusted to Abba Kyari.

Plus, his health has now become an effective national emotional blackmail tool: he “absconds” for days on end without communication with the people he is supposed to be ruling, allows morbidly ill-natured rumors about him to fester, then causes photos of him to be posted on social media, which inflames more ghoulish speculations, and then a stream of extortionately costly but pointless visits by government officials to London ensues, and, of course, the nation is whipped into a frenzy of prayers for his convalescence.

When he returns, poor, mentally low-wattage citizens, who are the victims of his government by “abscondment,” gyrate wildly in futile, impotent exultation. This melodrama anesthetizes the citizens and helps to conceal or excuse the man’s incompetence for a while, and life goes on.

This is particularly interesting because more than three decades ago, Buhari famously said, “This generation and indeed future generations of Nigerians have no other country they can call their own. We must stay here and salvage it together.”

Apparently, he never believed a word of what he said because in February 2016, Buhari told Nigerians in the UK that he had been using his UK doctors “since 1978 when I was in Petroleum” [i.e., when he was Petroleum Minister. His daughter also recently told BBC Hausa that she doesn’t speak fluent Hausa because she lived mostly abroad “with white people” when she was growing up.]

 You can’t “stay and salvage” your country, especially as a high-ranking government official or a president, by perpetually disdaining your “country's best hospital for medical care in Britain,” as the Los Angeles Times of February 20, 2017 said of Buhari, perpetually vacationing abroad, and sending all your children to school in the UK.

Given what we now know of Buhari, it’s evident that his 1980s patriotic proclamation was just hollow sloganeering. Recall that on April 27, 2016, he also said, “While this administration will not deny anyone of his or her fundamental human rights, we will certainly not encourage expending Nigerian hard earned resources on any government official seeking medical care abroad, when such can be handled in Nigeria.”

Less than one month after this “patriotic” declaration, Buhari went to London, not to treat his ear infection (because, according to a news release signed by Femi Adesina, it had already been “treated” in Nigeria), but to have UK doctors examine his already “treated” ear “purely out of precaution.” Can you beat that quantum of hypocrisy and insensitivity?

What does it say about Buhari’s interest in, and preparedness for, leading Nigeria that he loves to make glib remarks about wanting to run away from the country he actively sought to rule four times in a row? What sort of leader tells (or jokes to) his followers that he almost ran away—and actually does run away— when the country he is mandated to rule gets hot?

Buhari won election in 2015 precisely because the country was in a terrible shape and people thought he truly meant it when he said he would turn things around if he was given the chance to rule again. If the country wasn’t as bad as it was in 2015, he wouldn’t have had a snowball’s chance in hell of defeating an incumbent. That was why he lost against Obasanjo in 2003, against the late Yar’adua in 2007, and against Jonathan in 2011.

To have expected that he wouldn’t contend with the depth of the rot he interminably whines about betrays a sad, embarrassing, and disquieting naivety that shows that he wasn’t worthy of his 2015 mandate. And that’s why he lost reelection in 2019 but rigged the process before, during, and after the fact to illegitimately hang on to power.

Does Buhari, perhaps, imagine that the presidency is some sort of a retirement gift to him? Or that he is doing the nation a favor by agreeing to be a “president”—a weak, bumbling, divisive, ineffective, and hypocritical “president”?