"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta: Who Writes Buhari’s Horrible, Error-Ridden Speeches?

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Who Writes Buhari’s Horrible, Error-Ridden Speeches?

 By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

A former minister called me a few days ago to say the focus of my columns on Muhammadu Buhari ignores my own 2018 disclosure that he is a captive of an irrecoverably degenerative mental decline that ensures that he doesn’t know what he says and does. “To criticize Buhari is to beat a carcass,” he said.

I see his point, but I disagree. It is the office, not necessarily the person, that is being criticized, although the person and the office converge. Anyway, the former minister said attention should be focused on the people who drive the policies of the regime, who write Buhari’s speeches, who babysit him.

He pointed out, for instance, that CBN governor Godwin Emefiele now almost singlehandedly steers the economic policies of the country without recourse to the presidency—or the presidential economic advisory council— because there is frankly no presidency. It’s just outright anarchy.

But, to get back to the subject matter of today’s column, who writes Buhari’s speeches? Why are the speeches often embarrassingly error-ridden, callous, shallow, cavalier, ignorant, and unpresidential? Buhari’s October 1 Independence Day Speech is perhaps the crowning encapsulation of his speech writers’ utter inner emptiness and cluelessness. I’ll come back to this point shortly.

I know that Mamman Daura and Education Minister Adamu Adamu wrote some Buhari’s signature speeches in his firm term. I know this because when I wrote a June 7, 2015 column in my now rested grammar column titled “A Grammatical and Rhetorical Analysis of President Buhari’s Inaugural Speech” where I both praised and called attention to the speech’s grammatical errors, I got a swift, defensive, ill-informed response from a “Mainasara” who used the majestic self-referential plural “we” in his response to me, which was published in the Sunday Trust of July 12, 2015.

Daura betrayed himself when he made reference to Dublin College Ireland as one of the guardians of the English language, which it isn’t, nor is there any. (He attended Dublin College!). I wrote a rejoinder to his rejoinder and shut him up. A senior person in Daily Trust later confided in me that “Mainasara” was Mamman Daura’s pen name and that Daura took my criticism personally because he was one of the writers of the inaugural. 

Adamu Adamu, who had been Buhari’s speech writer before he was elected in 2015, also contributed to the 2015 inauguration speech, particularly the Shakespearean references in the speech. (Adamu Adamu is a Shakespearean enthusiast and wordsmith who probably wrote Buhari’s famous “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody” line in the inaugural speech, which some people erroneously said was plagiarized.)

But I no longer see the rhetorical echoes of Adamu Adamu—or even Mamman Daura—in the recent speeches Buhari reads. Whatever disagreements I may have with the duo, I can’t help but concede that they are excellent writers. This is particularly true of Adamu Adamu, who is far and away one of Nigeria’s finest writers in the English language.

I don’t know who writes Buhari’s speeches now. Nor is it possible to tell because the tones and tenor of the speeches change dramatically from occasion to occasion, underscoring the chaos and anything-goes climate in the presidency. 

But whoever the speech writers are, they are illiterate doofuses who have zero appreciation of the power of what we call the rhetorical presidency in communication studies, which I have defined in a forthcoming book chapter as the symbolic and discursive powers of the presidency to frame, reframe, define, and redefine the contours of national conversations and identity formulations and reformulations.

As I pointed out on social media on October 1, Nigeria's Independence Day is supposed to be a solemn, august, introspective moment, and the speech of whoever claims to be president of the country should reflect the dignified seriousness of the moment. It should inspire hope for the future, enliven spirits, and renew faith in the country.

 But what did we see? Buhari’s speech writers chose the moment to visit rhetorical violence on Nigerians, to rile people and foul their mood, to annihilate people’s loyalty in the country, to fertilize hopelessness and despair, and to inspire disabling anxieties about the immediate future.

For instance, during his speech Buhari signaled that he'd yet again hike the price of petrol (and plunge Nigerians into even deeper misery than they're already in) by saying, "It makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia." Which sane person writes that in an Independence Day Speech?

Well, it also makes no sense for the minimum wage in Saudi Arabia to be 3,000 riyals (which is equivalent to N305,149.30) while the minimum wage in Nigeria is a miserly N30,000, which hasn’t even been fully implemented in all states. Nor does it make sense for Saudi Arabia to have generous social safety nets for its citizens while the vast majority of Nigerians are crushed by biting deprivation. Or that Saudis have access to affordable public transportation, while Nigerians don’t.

To compare the petrol prices of various countries with Nigeria and ignore the sky-high differences in minimum wages and standards of living is beyond cruel. In any case, if the government claims it has fully “deregulated” the petrol industry, what business does it have again talking about the prices of petrol? In a deregulated economy, the government has no business fixing prices. That’s the prerogative of the private sector.

You are either deregulating or you are not. There is no in-between. Deregulation means freedom from government regulations. Yet, the government fixes the price of petrol. That’s insane. In a deregulated petrol price regime, the first government agency that should be disbanded outright is the fraudulent Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

I live in the United States where petrol prices are truly deregulated. Different states have different price regimes. In fact, in the same city, different gas stations have different prices. And prices fluctuate from time to time. Prices have been extremely low these past few months because of the slump in global oil prices. Ironically, government-engineered price hikes in Nigeria coincide with a time when prices are low everywhere else in the world.

But, as I've pointed out before, cruelty is now Buhari's official governing philosophy. Denying Nigerians the expectation of relatively cheaper petrol prices is like asking people to hold cream on their hands while their faces and bodies are dry. That’s cruelty. Most Nigerians would be at peace with high petrol prices if their country doesn’t produce oil.

A wealthy parent who starves his children and justifies his cruelty by pointing to the starvation of the children of his poor neighbors is an irresponsible parent who doesn’t deserve his children.

I think one error people keep making, including the former minister who spoke with me, is to forget that even before his dementia-fueled alienation from his government, Buhari had notoriety for sadism. In a response to a previous column, for instance, a Katsina man wrote that Buhari’s nickname as a youngster was "Danliti mugu," meaning "Danliti the sadist."

Another said most people in the Northwest have internalized the fact of Buhari’s sadism by coining the expression "Da sauran aiki; Buhari yaga mai rake da iPhone." Literally: "There's still more to be done; Buhari saw a sugarcane hawker with an iPhone!" In other words, the appearance of even a glimmer of prosperity in people activates Buhari’s sadistic instincts. So his government reflects his person, and his speech writers probably know this.

I wish I could say, "Happy Independence Day" to Nigerians, but that would be heartless. There was nothing to make a song and dance about an Independence Day that was ruined by Buhari's sadism.

28 comments:

Unknown said...

Wow! As always.

Stanley Chukwu said...

I read that speech, you are completely right. The Independence day speech was just a linguistic terrorism. I blame the speech writer. It was as if he was hired to discredit Buhari

Unknown said...

Good morning Farooq.How is your family?.I must confess Farooq that I'm a big fan of yours for a long time and I always enjoy your write-up.
Farooq our country has been steeped in all the vices that has virulently defied any solution which is the direct consequence of Buhari's ineptitude, incompetence, nepotism and corruption.
Buhari struggled for twelve years before becoming the president. One would've expected the president to have a blue print of all programs he would implement on Ascension but alas he didn't. Honestly Buhari is empty, overrated.He literally deceived everybody. May Allah pull us out of this doldrum that we are spirally steeped

Unknown said...

Top analysis! When I was reading the insipid speech, the write-up failed to erupt my appreciative emotions rather it brought inner rage; wondering who could have penned such a disdainful thoughts? It is truly un-presidential. My soul remained there in its southern ebb, would not even attempt to wake when i tried to compel it. I read few paragraph, it didn't connect. There, I did mind analysis of what could be therein;just like this government, the quality was less than the previous ones.

So, I left the the drab draft binge on solid crumbs from people's breakdown of the watery and toxic speech.

Then, I heard about presidency's un-marriageable reference of fuel's prices, I lost the iota of soft spot I may have left for this regime.

Buhari is the worst president in our history!

Unknown said...

I always feel fulfilled reading from u sir. Keep it up, may God see u through.

Unknown said...

Thank you Dr. Farooq

Odih Daniel Nuhu said...

I posted a comment under one of Femi Adesina's posts on Facebook last night:

"The speech was bland, boring and acidic, devoid of any human sympathy or sensible consideration of the yearning and aspirations of the people. You are just trying to change the narrative in the speech to numb the many pains the militarised Independent Day speech inflicted on the people. I think his (Buhari's) poor education and the hypocrisy of his aides which you (Femi) exemplify are the reasons PMB delivered the most demoralising, insipid and callous speech on a day people expected faintest relief from the boredom Buhari's dictatorial policies breed."

You presented here, Prof, an educating and edifying piece of writing that inspires hope and confidence. Your writings enliven my ennui. I often go to your wall in search of new posts because your writings give better hope than Buhari's speeches.

Unknown said...

I got into thinking, who is/are writing speech to this man, does this our president read speeches written for him before addressing it to the public, does this man even listen to himself while reading the speech or is he just reading and English speech like a nursery boy acting an English drama that he does not know the meaning of his dialogues?

These are the question that came up to me. But praises to the Almighty your write up serve as a guide to me in this regard.
Thank you Dr.

Sheriff said...

If the speech writer is at fault so does Buhari. How could a president be that lackadaisic that couldn't go through his speech and see if there any entanglement and callous declamation within!?

Ameen said...

I wonder how he felt reading that speech.

Y.D Danwudil said...

The speech should focus and ginger our morah for future expectations and remembering our heroes.

Unknown said...

This is to make us all put on our thinking caps in order to look for ways out of this presentlogjam. It is a government without empathy and lack altruistic spirit who will give its citizens a greek gift of hike in fuel price on the nation's diamond Jubilee.

Y.D Danwudil said...

Nice write up am always reading your opiy

Kullasa Bichi said...

Excellent, sir.

Olowookere Owolabi Samuel said...

Welldon sir, well said, but make then share the nation jare. Tired of this grammar abeg. No vision, no mission, no future. What a shame

Unknown said...

Your write-up is a relief, sir. There is no better analysis of this situation.

Mohammed Ridwan Bolaji said...

I've started thinking everyone in this administration are bent on destroying the man even further.

Unknown said...

Does that man still feel anything? Just asking because he looks mostly vacant and deadpanned like an empty vegetable tray.

Sollomonn said...

Allah ka raba mu da Danliti mugu.

Unknown said...

Keep the voice alive sir. I respect your stance

Unknown said...

A fine piece, written by a true patriot.

Unknown said...

The worth administration I ever see in my life

Owoicho ukangini said...

You've said it all, prof. An empty man surrounded by empty people. Buhari is so blank.

Unknown said...

Dr. Always a joy reading. You meant slump in global oil market and not slum-typo devil

Unknown said...

Doc your pen is truly mightier than a thiusand swords. Always am incisive read.

Temilola said...

Sir, we were somehow identify Nigeria problem, what is the way forward

Charles Udende said...

Our country is lost with this man at the helm.

Sulaiman Shehu Funtua said...

Hahahaha, danliti the mugu.