"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta: August 2020

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Aso Rock Cabal’s Judicial Cabal on Election Petitions


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

I’ve always had a sneaky suspicion that judgments on election petitions in Nigeria are influenced by political pressures from the presidency, but a conscientious judge who is familiar with the issues and who is deeply concerned about the brazenness of the politicization of election tribunal judgements confirmed my suspicions last week.

One of the thrills and burdens of public commentary is that it connects you with every strand of the society— and with all sorts of information. When I received communication from someone who initially just identified themselves [the use of the singular plural pronoun is deliberate] as a “senior member of the judiciary” who wanted to confide in me, I was a little hesitant.

But being IT savvy— and security conscious—I was able to uncover their identity without letting them know. In time, they sensed that I knew whom they were, so they came clean. They called because they read my columns and have read my opinions on election tribunal judgements.

In September 2019, for instance, I wrote on Twitter that members of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal who delivered a predictably questionable judgement in favor of Buhari would be rewarded.
“Let me give you guys a little homework. From now till 2023, observe what happens to the judges that delivered the laughably tendentious & predetermined #PEPTJudgement,” I wrote on Twitter on September 11, 2019.

 “Buhari will reward them and/or their children. He already rewarded INEC's Mrs. Amina Zakari by appointing her biological son as his SA on Infrastructure. Recall that Buhari has openly admitted that he appointed 84-year-old retired Justice Sylvanus Nsofor as Nigeria's ambassador to the US because he wrote a dissenting judgment at the Court of Appeal in his favor. He rewarded many others.

“The PEPT judges are salivating right now in anticipation of their rewards. The already universally reviled and corrupt INEC boss and his minions are waiting for their rewards. Some have already been rewarded. Supreme Court justices are waiting in the wings….”

As if to prove me right, just one month after their judgement in favor of Buhari, Justices Mohammed Garba and Abdul Aboki were recommended for promotion to the Supreme Court. It took the protest of opposition political parties and of senior judicial officers for the National Judicial Council to withdraw their promotion to the Supreme Court.

But on Friday, August 14, Buhari elevated the same people yet again to the Supreme Court. Justice Mohammed Garba, in case you didn’t know, headed the patently prejudiced Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in 2019 that gave legal imprimatur to Buhari’s electoral heist. Justice Abdul Aboki was also a member of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.

Well, the judge who reached out to me last week told me “there is a judicial cabal at the Court of Appeals of Nigeria that writes judgments for election petition tribunals.” They said it was the cabal that wrote “the recent ludicrous judgment of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which the legal community and commentators have unanimously condemned for daring to overrule the Supreme Court.”

I am unable to share the details they shared with me about the Bayelsa tribunal judgement because doing so will ruin many lives. As a demonstration of the confidence in the authenticity of their information, the judge gave me the contact details of other judges who were in the know of the wiles and pressures that preceded the Bayelsa judgment.   

The judge said, “Indeed, the judicial cabal in the Court of Appeal was created by the late Chief of Staff to President Buhari, the late Abba Kyari” with the help of a senior judicial officer whose name I have chosen to omit for legal reasons.

I learned that judges who resent the overt politicization of election petition judgements were ecstatic when Justice Monica Dongbam-Mensem was appointed President of the Court of Appeal through external pressures, particularly the open letter Colonel Dangiwa Umar wrote on her behalf when it became apparent that she was going to be passed over by the Buhari regime.

Justice Dongbam-Mensem was thought to be independent-minded, scrupulous, opposed to politically motivated judicial activism, and capable of dismantling the judicial cabal.  “However, there are indications that she lacks the courage to do so and, may have compromised her integrity,” the judge said.

Apparently, this issue is well-known to most lawyers. Most of them know of this cabal that works in cahoots with the Aso Rock cabal to subvert justice. “The actual writing of the judgments is usually done by a consortium of justices and legal practitioners,” I was told. This subversion of justice by a conclave is a low-risk-high-reward undertaking.  Members of the judicial cabal are routinely compensated with promotion and financial reward.

I know that most people won’t be shocked by this revelation. I wasn’t. But I am sharing it nonetheless for just two reasons. The first reason is archival or, as my late friend Pius Adesanmi put it, “archaeological.” I want it to be noted somewhere in the records that a civilian junta that initially came to power through a popular election later thoroughly subverted the judiciary and made election tribunal judgements predictable charades.

The second reason for publicizing this is that it just might spur decent and ethical people in the judiciary to resist the cabal and their sponsors— and possibly inspire a reform.

It’s entirely possible that previous civilian administrations had their own judicial cabals. I have no evidence to make this case. I hope that the conversations that this will provoke would address that.

But no one disputes the fact that no civilian administration in Nigeria’s history has ever arbitrarily removed the Chief Justice of Nigeria because it fears he won’t give a judicial stamp of approval of its electoral malfeasance.

How Many Nigerias Does Tinubu Believe In?
A screenshot of an April 13, 1997 interview Bola Tinubu granted ThisDay with the headline “I Don’t Believe in One Nigeria” trended on social media this week.

In my social media commentary on the headline, I pointed out that, “Nigerian politicians are shamelessly situational ‘patriots.’ They're irredentists when they're outside the orbit of power and exaggerated ‘patriots’ when they have access to the public till. A man who didn't believe in Nigeria when he didn't have his way now wants to lead it. Ha!”

Tinubu’s defenders said his repudiation of Nigeria was informed by Sani Abacha’s brutal dictatorship, which disillusioned even the most optimistic patriots at the time. Well, Abacha wasn’t Nigeria. You could—and people actually did—condemn Abacha’s villainy without losing faith in Nigeria. To conflate Abacha and Nigeria was shortsighted.

Olusegun Obasanjo was jailed by Abacha, but I don’t recall him ever saying he no longer believed in Nigeria because of Abacha’s ill-treatment of him. In fact, it was precisely his unbending faith in Nigeria in spite of what he suffered under Abacha that inspired northern leaders at the time to support his presidential bid in 1999.

Of course, as I’ve always said, there’s nothing inviolable about Nigeria, and no one should be ostracized for questioning the desirability of its existence.  But it is legitimate to wonder if Tinubu, who wants to be president in 2023, now believes in Nigeria and what has caused him to change his opinion.

The government he is a part of now is, in many ways, worse than Abacha’s. Abacha’s fascistic excesses are being replicated many folds. Only that he is not at the receiving end this time. Is he an opportunistic, fair-weather patriot?

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Fani-Kayode: All Great Journalists Are “Rude”

 By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

I really didn’t want to comment on Femi Fani-Kayode’s viral communicative primitivism toward Daily Trust’s Calabar correspondent by the name of Eyo Charles because of my knowledge of the state of Fani-Kayode’s mental health, but I’ve read senior Nigerian journalists on social media rail against the Daily Trust reporter for asking a “rude question," and feel an obligation to intervene.

Rude question? Well, there’s no such thing as a “rude question” in journalism. A Chicago journalist and humorist by the name of Finley Peter Dunne once said, more than a century ago, that, “the job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” In other words, journalists have no obligation to comfort the comfortable. Their duty is to afflict the comfortable or, if you like, to be “rude” to the comfortable.

Asking questions that get a politician’s dander up, that inflame a politician’s passions, is a prized skill in journalism. Here's why: Politicians reveal the most headline-worthy information when reporters cause them to lose control of their emotions. Loss of emotional control forces them to depart from their scripted, predictable, choreographed, and often mendacious and boring performances.

 It’s precisely because the Daily Trust reporter asked a “rude question” (which is a charlatan’s term for a great question) that an otherwise unremarkable news conference is now grist for social media and editorial mills.

Journalists who think the Daily Trust reporter’s question to Fani-Kayode was “rude” and worthy of censure should go look for another job. They’d do well as publicists. 

Malcolm Muggeridge once said, “News is anything anybody wants to suppress; everything else is public relations.” Many Nigerian “journalists” are actually public relations practitioners polluting a noble craft. 

That’s why some of them apologized to an emotionally disturbed mental midget for asking him a legitimate, probing question. One of them even said to the Daily Trust reporter, “You see your life?”

I, like every journalism teacher worth the name, teach my journalism students the skill to ask politicians trenchant questions that have the capacity to cause the politicians to throw tantrums because politicians, in a state of meltdown, such as we saw in Fani-Kayode's news conference histrionics, let their guards down and involuntarily divulge the truth.

Smart politicians know this. Instead of allowing themselves to be immobilized by impotent anger, they respond to high-pressure, “embarrassing” questions with poise, and disarm adversarial reporters with humility, grace, and gentleness.

Related Article:

Fani-Kayode: Ministerial Rascality Taken Too Far!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

El-Rufai’s Humiliation and Mamman Daura’s Curious London Trip

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

The rescission of the invitation extended to Governor Nasir El-Rufai to speak at the annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) as a consequence of sustained social media pressures from people who are discomfited by his history of intolerance and verbal terrorism against his own people will inflict tremendous violence on the governor’s psychic well-being.

You see, there is nothing El-Rufai hankers after more than the approval of the intellectual, media, and cultural elites of Nigeria’s Southwest. He lives for and basks in their plaudits and strives excessively hard to avoid inviting their disapprobation.

I had always known this, but I developed a heightened awareness of it when a fellow northern Nigerian Muslim called my attention to it in his disagreement with a social media update I wrote on August 18 about El-Rufai’s visceral anti-Southern Kaduna bigotry.

“Why does El-Rufai hate and despise the people of Southern Kaduna with such unnaturally infernal intensity?” I wrote. “He strains hard, often too hard, to be seen as ‘cosmopolitan’ when he relates with Southern Christians. Why can't he even pretend to be prepared to get along with the people of Southern Kaduna? I don't get it.”

My interlocutor said El-Rufai’s stone-cold derision and loathing of the people of Southern Kaduna broadly represents his attitude toward most northerners, whether they are Christian or Muslim, Hausa-Fulani or ethnic minorities. His disdain for and murderous rage toward the people of Southern Kaduna is on a par with, or even less vicious than, his attitude toward Shiites with whom he shares the same religion.

 He added that El-Rufai’s contempt for the people of Southern Kaduna may be magnified by his self-conscious nurturing of the historical memory of the enslavement of the ancestors of the people of Southern Kaduna by his ancestors but that he is an equal-opportunity rhetorical pisser on everyday northern Nigerians.

El-Rufai cherishes the illusion that he is the undisputed champion of the North. He thinks he is the region’s nonpareil center fielder and regards most northerners as beneath him. The only people who humble him and whose approbation he perpetually seeks—obviously for transactional and opportunistic reasons—are the elites of Nigeria’s Southwest.

On the surface, this sounds like a cheap, conspiratorial whispering campaign until you step back and gaze at the facts. Let’s start from the obvious. El-Rufai’s Special Adviser on Media and Communication who issues press statements on his behalf is some guy called Muyiwa Adekeye, although there are scores of competent media personalities from Kaduna who can do that job.

Ordinarily, I would have applauded El-Rufai’s cosmopolitanism in appointing a “non-indigene” to be his spokesperson, but he didn’t appoint Adekeye as his spokesperson as a testament to his broadmindedness; he did so because the only constituency whose opinions of him he truly cares about are those of the elites of the Southwest, and only an Adekeye can effectively communicate his self-presentation to that constituency.

El-Rufai also has a slew of well-paid “social media influencers” as his “social media consultants” (which is a polite term for visceral and vicious social media attack dogs), all of whom are from the Southwest. He, of course, also throws a few miserly crumbs to hordes of hungry northern Nigerian social media users to defend him, but he really doesn’t care what the North, or even Kaduna State, thinks of him.

Recall, too, that the annual Kaduna Book and Arts Festival, also informally known as KABAFEST or KADAFEST, which El-Rufai finances, is largely powered by the Lagos literary elite, even though, on paper, it is supposed to be a “celebration and promotion of creatives in the Northern region of Nigeria.”

When he ventured into newspaper publishing in 2004 by founding NEXT, El-Rufai hired members of the Lagos media elite. The paper was also headquartered in Lagos, not Kaduna or Abuja. And he has a substantial financial stake in a prominent digital-native newspaper that is also run by members of the Lagos media elite.

I am not saying this to disparage or begrudge the media, intellectual, and cultural elites of Southwest Nigeria but to show that El-Rufai’s politics of ethnic and religious supremacy isn’t blind and unbridled. It is carefully circumscribed. It is nurtured by his warrantless contempt for northern Nigerians and delimited by the profound inferiority complex he feels before the elites of Southwest Nigeria whose admiration he lives for.

That is precisely why his humiliation by the NBA has rankled him intensely and torn his self-esteem into shreds. The greatest gift in this saga for northern Nigerian victims of El-Rufai’s bigotry and disdain is that they now know where to go when they want to get at him.

Mamman Daura’s Curious London Trip

International flights are supposed to be suspended until August 29. But Mamman Daura was allowed to fly to London on August 19 for medical treatment, according to Sahara Reporters. But LEADERSHIP newspaper, the unbearably illiterate propaganda rag of the Buhari regime, said Daura traveled to London only for a "scheduled business trip"!

What business trip can’t wait until the airspace is officially reopened? What business is taking place in London amid the raging coronavirus pandemic that warrants flouting Nigeria’s aviation law with such impunity? Is this an admission that the Buhari junta has taken impunity, double standard, and reckless disregard for its own rules as official state policy?

Well, if Sahara Reporters is right, as it always is in matters like this, it means Mamman Daura is probably in a grave medical emergency and wanted to avoid having to deal with the medical dysfunction at home that his uncle has done nothing to halt and that caused many of his fellow Aso Rock cabalists to die recently.

Unfortunately, death is no respecter of our wealth, access, and privilege. In his last letter to Nigeria before his death, Abba Kyari said, “I hope to be back at my desk very soon.” Unfortunately, nature didn’t share in his self-construal of his invincibility and outsized importance.

 Someone very close to the Presidential Task Force confided in me that arrangements had been concluded to fly Abba Kyari to Germany in a presidential jet when his condition took a turn for the worse.

But German government officials said they couldn’t deal with the fall-out of his hospitalization in their country if it became public knowledge that they allowed a COVID-19 victim from Nigeria into their country while the airspace was closed.

Nigerian elites subsist on self-interested lawlessness all the time to advance themselves at the expense of the rest of the country, but this attitude has assumed epidemic proportions in the past five years. For instance, Sahara Reporters also reported on August 7 that Aisha Buhari was flown to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to treat a neck sprain while the airspace was closed to everybody else.

No country whose leaders flagrantly undermine the laws they make and imperil the systems that give the country life, like the henchmen of the Buhari junta do habitually, can endure.

Most importantly, though, when pampered and privileged fat cats like Mamman Daura lie about their health and the medical tourism they embark on to take care of themselves while the vast majority of everyday people are crushed by preventable illnesses at home, they rob themselves of posthumous compassion in the event of their deaths.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Transformation of Nigeria’s Corruption from Outrage to Comedy

 By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

News of corruption used to outrage our moral susceptibilities. Now they excite our faculty of humor. In Nigeria’s increasingly dreary and despairing political and economic climate, people now look forward to news of bizarre acts of corruption as a source of cathartic hilarity.

We thought politicians faking illnesses and enacting histrionic displays in the courtroom to evade justice was the ultimate comedic mockery of justice that nonetheless helps us purge the ever-increasing emotional tensions that governmental ineptitude activates in us.

Then in February 2018, a JAMB employee in Benue by the name of Philomina Chieshe took it a notch higher. She alerted the nation to the existence of a moneyvorous “spiritual snake” that mysteriously swallowed 36 million naira realized from the sale of JAMB scratch cards. Her story stimulated mass psycho-therapeutic laughter in the country and inspired countless creative memes on social media. The national laughter her story stirred drowned out the outrage of her theft.

Exactly two years later, on February 7, 2020, the bursar of the University of Ibadan by the name of Michael Alatise told the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts that the university hadn’t submitted its audit report to the Auditor-General of the Federation since 2014 because the external auditor it hired to audit it went blind in the course of doing his job!

Perhaps, the fraud the external auditor discovered was so blindingly eyewatering it caused him to lose his visual sensibilities. Seriously, though, as House Public Accounts committee chair Oluwole Oke said then, “That somebody went blind does not mean that the firm [has gone] into extinction.” Instead of striking the nation with revulsion, the story became another laughter tonic to relieve stress.

Since then, of course, more consequential government officials and private sector operatives that have direct dealings with government have discovered that the most artful way to elude consequences for corruption is to be so inordinately outrageous in your justification for corruption that the nation goes from indignation to  bursts of deep loud hearty laughter.

For instance, on April 10, Maryam Uwais, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, told Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily program that she couldn’t account for the billions that she and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs minister putatively gave to weak, poor, and vulnerable Nigerians to ease the hurt of the coronavirus pandemic because, "Those who benefit from the conditional cash transfer of the Federal Government as palliative to cushion the effects of the lockdown caused by the deadly Coronavirus don't want to be addressed as poor people. That is why we can't publish their names.”

As I pointed out in my April 10, 2020 column, “Anyone who is too proud to be called poor is clearly not poor. The pangs of hunger are stronger than the vanity of self-esteem. That’s why there are hordes of Nigerian ‘e-beggars’ who drop their names and account numbers on social media without shame during social media ‘giveaways’—and sometimes without ‘giveaways.’

“But the whole point of asking for the identity of the people who benefited from the government’s ‘palliatives’ is to be able to authenticate government’s claims.”

However, as is now the norm, instead of being outraged by her explanation, Nigerians found it a welcome source of therapeutic mirth. And nothing has been heard about it since then.

When a video circulated on social media showing the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy telling what appears to be a white woman from an unidentified Western country that government uses the top-up data on phones to determine the economic needs of Nigerians and to wire money to them to relieve the economic burden of COVID-19, there were loud cyber guffaws all over Nigerian social media.

But an infinitely more hilarious moment of governmental corruption was to come later during the probe of multi-billion-naira corruption at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). For example, acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Daniel Pondei, “fainted” in response to questions about the enormous corruption in the commission. This earned him freedom from further scrutiny.

This event has become a goldmine for inventive humor, memes, and laughter therapy. So was the spat between the former MD of the NDDC, Joi Nunei, and Niger Delta minister Godswill Akpabio. Nunei’s claim that she slapped Akpabio when he attempted to sexually assault her provided grist for the humor mills and overshadowed the corruption allegations both of them are mired in.

The comedic entertainment that modern Nigerian corruption provides was also fully realized when Akpabio said members of the National Assembly committee probing the sleaze in the NDDC were beneficiaries of the corruption they were probing. “It’s OK,Honorable Minister!” members of the probe panel could be heard pleading. “Off [turn off] your mic!” The songification of this tragicomic encounter has gone viral on social media.

Sadiya Umar Farouq, Buhari's minister of humanitarian affairs who has become a byword for audaciously aggressive and hard-boiled corruption, also said a few days ago that she spent more than half a billion naira to feed non-existent schoolkids in their homes in Lagos, Ogun, and the FCT while schools were shut!

She said this to “correct” a viral social media message that suggested that she’d spent 15 billion naira to feed schoolchildren nationwide. Her “clarification” said nothing about how much she spent to “feed” school children in other parts of the country—or why only school children in Lagos, Ogun, and the FCT were “fed” to the exclusion of others. Or, more crucially, what she has done to the money budgeted to “feed” children under lockdown in other parts of the country if only kids in Lagos, Ogun and the FCT were fed.

 Of course, if she spent more than half a billion to feed phantom schoolkids in just two states and the FCT, it isn’t unreasonable to suggest that she spent 15 billion—or more— to “feed” children all over the country.

Again, instead of crying, Nigerians laughed about what I characterized as the minister’s explicit and unapologetic governmental theft by outrageousness.

Finally, on August 10, it emerged that the CEO of First City Monument Bank (FCMB) by the name of Adam Nuru told the Ayo Salami panel probing Ibrahim Magu's corruption at the EFCC that he paid N573 million into account # 1486743019, which is the church account of Magu's pastor Emmanuel Omale, in error, and only discovered the "error" four years later after the panel summoned him. This humorously infantile lie provoked another round of comic excitation across the country and inspired lots of creative editorial cartoons.

The bank’s face-saving “clarification” of what it meant was another exercise in comically obscurantist verbal buffoonery.

“To provide further clarity, during a maintenance upgrade of our systems in 2016, a defective file led to the aggregation of multiple unrelated entries into a single balance under the affected customer’s name in one of our reports,” the bank’s head of Corporate Affairs said in a statement. “This aggregation occurred only in the weekly automated report to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit. It had no effect on any customer account balance or statements and therefore was not immediately identified.”

Obviously, Nigerians are laughing to keep them from crying. But the corrupt will continue to intensify their theft while we laugh at the innovative wackiness of their corruption. 

Perhaps American journalist and author Erma Louise Fiste Bombeck was right when she said, “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”

Nigerian Politicians: Pampered in Life and in Death

Nigerian politicians are the world's most pampered and protected species. When they're alive, you can't criticize their misdeeds without contending with darts from their legions of daggers for hire on social media and in the news media.

When they die, people who know them are also not allowed to speak unflattering, publicly available FACTS about them; the society blackmails them into feeling guilty for "speaking ill of the dead." This ensures that they get away with iniquities in life and in death.

That's why, in spite of being the absolute worst leader Nigeria has ever had since independence, Buhari confidently says history would be "kind" to him. Of course, Nigerian "history" is always kind to every dead politician.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Young People Have Mentally Checked Out of Nigeria

 By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Young people are traditionally associated with vim, vigor, enthusiasm, and idealism. They energize social movements, inspire revolts, and help shape the contours of the future. But I’ve noticed that in the last few years, the vast majority of the Nigerian youth have effectively dissociated mentally from Nigeria.

They have lost interest in the affairs of government, human rights, democracy, social justice, and other high-minded ideals. Entertainment, gossip, comedy, football, and petty fights on social media are now their escape from the strain and stress of life in Nigeria.

I started observing this from the quality and quantity of engagement with news on social media. I noticed that the typical average “like” and “share” (or “retweet”) counts for stories shared on social media by Nigeria’s most visible national news platforms are always in the ballpark of 800.

Really impactful political stories may sometimes get up to 5,000 likes, shares, or retweets. I have never seen a story shared by a conventional Nigerian news platform that has attracted up to 10,000 likes, shares, or retweets.

But comedies, gossip, entertainment pages, football replays, BBNaija, etc. consistently get hundreds of thousands of likes, shares, retweets, and comments. Trending topics on Nigerian social media also reveal this reality.

In offline Nigeria, the culture of civil rebellion against tyranny is virtually gone. Student union activism, which used to be the initiatory rite to social justice activism, has been dead for a while. That’s why Omoyele Sowore’s #RevolutionNow protests attracted only a handful of the Nigerian youth. Scores of young people who should join it accepted pittance from the government to counter it and to deride it on social media.

There are at least three reasons for the progressively alarming mental dissociation of the Nigerian youth from issues that will shape their collective futures whether or not they realize it. The first obvious reason is plain, old, shortsighted self-interestedness. Human beings are biochemically wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain.

Nigeria is a source of endless mental and emotional anguish. From the decay of infrastructure, to rising insecurity, to the expanding oceans of blood across the country, to the conscienceless theft of national resources by everyone in government, to intractable impunity and lawlessness by people who are tasked with making and enforcing the law, Nigeria inflicts pain—even on those of us who are not directly affected by the country’s dysfunction because we live abroad.

In light of the frustration and helplessness that this state of affairs inspires, many people, including the youth, choose to escape into mental universes that they can control, that can give them ephemeral joys and freedom from disabling anxieties. Unfortunately, mental escapes don’t solve problems; they only suspend them temporarily.

The second reason why vast swaths of young Nigerians are no longer animated by social justice issues is that they have very few people to look up to for inspiration. With a few exceptions, most of the people who used to be at the vanguard of social justice are now in bed with the Buhari regime, which is by far the most tyrannical, the most inept, and certainly the most unjust government since the restoration of civilian rule in 1999—and perhaps in the entire history of Nigeria.

 If there is any regime that deserves to be confronted by a sustained, organized, nationwide, pan-Nigerian civil insurrection, more than any in Nigeria’s history, it is the Buhari regime, but it is ironically the one that is mollycoddled and legitimized by hitherto professional activists.

Activists who are not openly in bed with the regime run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, and most people are smart enough to know this. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with some former activists who are now unabashed pro-regime apologists, and they’re united in saying that they don’t want to be condemned to being economically disadvantaged, perpetual agitators for justice and democracy while undeserving people benefit from their toil.

They said other people should take off from where they left off. But that is simplistic. Their betrayal of the cause they were famous for hasn’t only broken the intergenerational continuity of a long tradition that goes back to the anti-colonial struggles of yore; it has damaged the credibility of civil activism. It has now caused people to see civil society activists and insurrectionists as mercenary opportunists who are waiting for a chance to be noticed by the government and rewarded with an invitation to join the plunder of the nation’s resources.

The third reason for young Nigerians’ mental break from their country is the forlorn hope they nourish that they would relocate from the country to a more prosperous, more secure, and more welcoming country in the near future. Survey after survey consistently shows Nigeria as the country with the highest number of people who desire to leave their country for another country.

For example, in a March 27, 2019 survey, Pew Research Center found that, “In Nigeria, Africa’s most populated nation, nearly half… of adults say they plan to move to another country within five years, by far the highest share among 12 countries surveyed across four continents.”

People who are resigned to relocating to another country in the near future will have a weakened commitment to their country since they see themselves as sojourners in their own homes. But the truth is that only a small fraction of people who want to relocate to other countries will be successful. That means the blithe unconcern to the solvable problems of the country that prospective exiles show will ultimately be counterproductive.

As many people have already pointed out, the vast amounts of money being mindlessly looted now by Buhari and his gang of criminals is borrowed money that today’s disconnected youth will have to repay someday. The Buhari regime is literally stealing and mortgaging the future of Nigeria’s youth.

The youth must snap out of their lethargy and inertia and reclaim their country. It is not an option. It’s a dire existential imperative.

Buhari’s Nigeria as a Terrorcracy in Terroraria

The Head of the US Special Operations Command in Africa, Maj.-Gen. Dagvin Anderson, told reporters on August 6 that Al Qaeda terrorists are infiltrating Nigeria’s Northwest. That didn’t come to me as a surprise. The Buhari regime has worked very hard in the past few years to fertilize Nigeria’s social soil for the growth and flourishing of terrorism.

The regime has become the greatest boon to terrorism. When Boko Haram terrorists capture civilians and soldiers alive, they either murder them in cold blood or release them only when government pays a handsome ransom.

But when Nigerian soldiers capture Boko Haram terrorists alive, they "deradicalize," "rehabilitate" and "reintegrate" them at the cost of millions. In other words, they get rewarded when they defeat Nigeria and again get rewarded when Nigeria defeats them. They win heads or tails.

On August 5, the regime upped the ante of its pro-terrorism policies. It told distraught Borno communities that they must accept “radicalized, rehabilitated, and reintegrated” Boko Haram terrorists who murdered their loved ones or risk having them “go back to terrorism.”

Then it added this telling and ominous line: “The Buhari administration is a responsible one and is conscious of its duty to the state and society, and to the victims of terror as well as to those who inflicted these pains and losses on our people.”

 So the government has a duty to “those who inflicted these pains and losses on our people”? What sort of government has a duty to mass murderers but not to peaceful protesters who are always crushed with disproportionate force?

This is a regime of terrorists, by terrorists, and for terrorists. We might as well rename Nigeria Terroraria and the system it practices under Buhari terrorcracy.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

“De-radicalization” of Terrorists Doesn’t Work

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

The de-radicalization, rehabilitation, and reintegration of so-called repentant Boko Haram terrorists have emerged as one of the centerpieces of the Buhari regime’s governance, which is not surprising given that Buhari had said in the past that government-sanctioned retaliatory aggression against Boko Haram terrorists was an attack on the North.

 Every sober observer knows that de-radicalizing, rehabilitating, and reintegrating remorselessly bloodstained mass murderers into the very societies they drowned in oceans of blood—especially without compensating and mollifying the people they displaced, widowed, and orphaned— is a singularly wooden-headed policy.

But it helps, nonetheless, to look at evidence from research— and from the experiential data of societies that attempted to de-radicalize terrorists. Since Nigeria isn’t the only country that grapples with the question of what to do with— and to—nabbed terrorists, what can we learn from other countries?

The UK has a program that it calls “Desistance and Disengagement Programme,” which works to de-radicalize terrorists. The US state of Minnesota, which has a large number of Somali immigrants and a fair amount of domestic terrorism, also has a “Terrorism Disengagement and Deradicalization Program” designed to jolt terrorists back from the precipice of fatal extremism. So do many countries in Europe and Asia.

The data from the UK is mixed, but it nevertheless provides a cautionary tale for Nigeria. For example, three past beneficiaries of the country’s “Desistance and Disengagement Programme” went on to murder 24 people between 2017 and 2019 in the aftermath of their “deradicalization.” Other countries have similar experiences.

Deradicalization of terrorists is not always a failure, of course. According to the Business Insider, “Between 2001-2012, Malaysia put 154 extremists through deradicalization schemes. Of those, 148 had ‘successfully completed the de-radicalisation programme and were released, without later re-offending,’ the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) wrote in a 2012 paper.”

However, an emerging consensus is that because terrorists are often animated by a single-minded, tunnel vision of society, it is often impossible to be certain that a deradicalization program can reverse their predilection for violence. A 2019 research by the European Union's Radicalization Awareness Network, for instance, concluded that, "Even after the very best of prevention efforts, some individuals still go on to become (violent) extremists."

The Center for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST) also said there is "limited evidence about what supports positive change, which makes it difficult to determine if an intervention's approach is likely to be successful."

Similarly, the UK’s Christopher Dean, a psychologist who created a deradicalization program called the Healthy Identity Intervention (HII), admitted that it’s difficult to be certain that a terrorist has been completely deradicalized. “People can get more reassured and confident about change and progress that people are making, but I think we have to be very careful about saying someone has totally changed or has been cured,” the Independent of the UK quoted him as saying.

I don’t know how Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorists are being deradicalized and rehabilitated—and I hope someone will systematically study this—but the result of their work stares us in the face. Many of the so-called deradicalized and reintegrated Boko Haram terrorists actually only reintegrate to their former terror cells from where they murder soldiers and civilians alike.

On July 26, for example, a soldier fighting Boko Haram in Borno sent the following social media message that tugged at my heart strings: “Good evening sir. I'm presently in Monguno. I've been wanting to hint you on the recent happenings. During the last two attacks June and July (in Monguno), some of the so called rehabilitated Boko Haram guys- Non State Armed Groups (NSAG) joined their former colleagues in attacking the community and ran back to the BUSH with them. This is to say that the whole rehabitation [sic] narrative is a sham.”

Ali Ndume, who represents Borno South in the Senate, told ChannelsTV on July 30 that a recently “de-radicalized,” “rehabilitated,” and “reintegrated” Boko Haram terrorist murdered his father, stole his father’s cows, and vanished.

“Some of them that returned to Damboa, after two, three days, they disappeared,” he said. “I learnt reliably that even in the course of de-radicalisation, they said they are not willing to come to live with the infidels. This programme really needs to be looked into immediately. I am gathering information and position of my people and even go legal.”

Ndume’s observation has support in research. A German researcher by the name of Daniel Koehler who studied German neo-Nazis and terrorists inspired by religion found that, “The solitary problem for these individuals is always that there’s a global conspiracy against their race or religion; the solitary solution to such persecution is violence, with the goal of placing themselves and their group in control of a revamped society.”

They are not persuaded by moral or theological arguments, he said. He makes the case for “the careful reintroduction of problems and solutions into a radicalized person’s life, so that they can no longer devote all their mental energy to stewing over their paranoia.”

I doubt that the people who are tasked with the responsibility to “deradicalize” Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria—if there are any, that is— have the intellectual resources to do what the German researcher suggested. How do the Boko Haram “deradicalizers” determine that “deradicalized” Boko Haram terrorists have “repented” and are ready to be unleashed to the societies they terrorized before their capture since even people who research the deradicalization of terrorists say no one can be certain that “deradicalized” terrorists won’t relapse to their old ways?

 Plus, people in the communities that the Nigerian government is reintegrating Boko Haram terrorists to don’t want these washed-up terrorists in their midst. Don’t the people’s opinions and preferences matter? TheCable of July 24 reported Borno residents to have told the government to integrate the terrorists back “to govt house or Aso Rock” instead of their communities.

The anger of the communities is understandable. While government is “reintegrating” terrorists, it is disintegrating the victims of the terrorists. While villainous Boko Haram terrorists are pampered, the surviving victims of Boko Haram’s murderous barbarism endure precarious existence in filthy, dangerous Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.  It’s like they are being punished by the government for being victims of terrorists’ brutalities.

While Boko Haram terrorists are being treated with excessive indulgence, their victims in IDP camps are serially raped—both figuratively and literally. Babachir David Lawal stole millions from them, and he is still walking free. Umar Farouq Sadiya stole date palms (worth millions of naira) donated to them by Saudi Arabia. She has been rewarded with appointment as minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. The cruel irony!

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), women in IDP camps in the Northeast “resort to transactional sex for survival.” Because of the unsanitary conditions of the IDPs, there are periodic outbreaks of cholera that kill scores of people. Plus, even in their state of helplessness, they are still subject to episodic Boko Haram murders.

When a Nigerian Airforce jet bombed an IDP camp in Rann, Borno State, on January 17, 2017 in error, which caused the death of at least 115 people, Buhari didn’t find it worth his while to console them, much less visit them. About three months later, on March 22, 2017, Boko Haram bombed another IDP camp in the Muna Garage area of Maiduguri. Again, there was insouciant silence from the same government that is bending over backwards to please Boko Haram terrorists.

Obviously, the Buhari regime rewards and celebrates homicidal outlaws. Its message to Nigerians is unmistakably this: if they want to be taken seriously and indulged by government, they should be organized, vicious mass murderers.

Boko Haram Rewarded When They Defeat-- and Are Defeated by--Nigeria

First posted on Facebook August 1, 2020

When Boko Haram terrorists capture civilians and soldiers alive, they either murder them in cold blood or release them only when government pays a handsome ransom.

But when Nigerian soldiers capture Boko Haram terrorists alive, they "deradicalize," "rehabilitate" and "integrate" them at the cost of millions. 

In other words, they get rewarded when they defeat Nigeria and again get rewarded when Nigeria defeats them. They win heads or tails. That's so bizarre and twisted!