Saturday, March 27, 2021

How to Resolve the Hijab Controversy

 By Farooq A. Kperogi

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

People who don’t understand the imperative of lexical economy that column writing imposes on columnists wondered why I didn’t write more than I did last week on the hijab controversy in Ilorin— and why I didn’t suggest ways out of the problem I analyzed.

First, as much as this is a legitimately religious issue, it is really mostly a social class issue. Most upper-class and middle-class Muslims send their daughters to private schools where the hijab isn’t even an option, and they don't mind. And many wealthy Christians have no problems with the religious restrictions in prosperous Muslim societies like the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere.

Only the children of poor people attend public schools where the hijab excites passions, where the politics of public displays of religiosity is invoked as a wedge issue. Wealthy people and their children don’t give a thought to this.

As I pointed out in my August 6, 2016 column titled “Nigeria as a Perverse Anarchist Paradise,” parents with even modest financial capacity have learned to not send their children to government-funded schools because public education has now become the graveyard of learning and creativity.

“This is precisely where the intergenerational perpetuation of social and economic inequality starts,” I wrote. “Only the children of the desperately poor go to government schools, which are hardly in session because teachers aren’t paid salaries. This ensures that children of the poor stand no earthly chance of breaking from the cycle of poverty and social oppression into which they are born.”

Nonetheless, we can’t ignore a controversy because we think it’s contrived or politically motivated. As I admitted last week, the hijab has evolved as a legitimate accoutrement of female Muslim identity all over Nigeria. It is unhelpful to simply dismiss it as foreign or a consequence of an emergent Islamic fanaticism because it didn’t exist before now.

At the same time, Christian resentment against the wearing of the hijab in historically Christian missionary schools is justifiable, in my opinion, in light of the fact that the schools started out as private Christian schools which, even after being nationalized, observed the traditions of their original owners for decades. 

So, the root of the problem is the inexcusable takeover of the schools by the Yakubu Gowon military regime in the 1970s. The Gowon regime expropriated Christian missionaries of their schools in order “to provide stability, satisfy people's basic educational and national needs, combat sectionalism, religious conflict and disloyalty to the cause of a united Nigeria.”

State governments adopted and adapted the federal law that nationalized missionary schools, with many of them in southern and northcentral states allowing the missionary schools to retain their rituals— and playing a prominent part in the appointment of key administrative staff. In Baptist Grammar School, my alma mater, for instance, no Muslim has ever been appointed a principal even though the school has been fully government-owned since the 1970s.

But missionary schools that were taken over by the government are still essentially public schools. No more, no less. Their staff are paid by the government. That’s why when teachers in public schools go on strike, all missionary schools in Kwara State grind to a halt.

So one of the most effective solutions to the nagging controversy over the wearing of the hijab is to lobby the National Assembly to repeal the federal law that nationalized Christian missionary schools. The law was obviously informed by a post-Civil War obsession with “national unity” and curricular uniformity. That imperative no longer exists. Curricular standardization and national cohesion can be achieved without the appropriation of private schools by the government. 

What is more, several private missionary (including Islamic) and secular schools have been established after Christian missionary schools were nationalized in the 1970s, but such schools haven’t been nationalized likewise. Whatever justified the takeover of the missionary schools in the 1970s should extend to private schools that were established after the fact. If the government hasn’t found the need to nationalize schools that were established after the takeover of missionary schools in the 1970s, it should denationalize those that it did forthwith in the interest of fairness and equity. 

I am aware that many governments in states where Christians enjoy numerical and symbolic dominion have returned Christian missionary schools to their owners. But as Miracle Ajah of the National Open University of Nigeria pointed out in his Stellenbosch Theological Journal article titled “Religious education and nation-building in Nigeria,” state governments that returned mission schools to their owners did so through mere memoranda of understanding, which have no legal force.

“Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is not a law and cannot amend or repeal a valid law,” he wrote, pointing out that “the current trend in the return of mission schools stands on a false foundation, which an ambitious regime could overturn any day.”

That risk is almost zero in states where Christians are a majority, but it is always ever-present in a predominantly Muslim state like Kwara, which has never had an elected Christian governor, except for the Olusola Saraki-engineered brief governorship of Cornelius Adebayo in 1983 to spite Adamu Atta whom he also installed, since the 1970s.

The only logic that sustains and justifies the demand to accommodate hijab-wearing Muslim girls in historically Christian missionary schools is that the schools are public schools that are funded by public patrimony. I would be surprised if the Supreme Court rules that public ownership of a previously Christian mission school is not a sufficient justification to allow Muslim students to wear the hijab as part of their school uniform.

That means the only way to resolve this issue isn’t through the Supreme Court but for the law that made these schools public schools to be repealed. There’s no other way.

Of course, the denationalization of missionary schools will have an immediate adverse effect, which isn’t too much price to pay for peace given the violence that has attended the controversy. At least in the short term, enrollment will decline, and many teachers will lose their jobs. We have already seen that in some states where schools were returned to their owners. 

Take Ogun State as an example. Ajah’s article shows that “in Abeokuta South Local government, where six schools were said to have been handed over to the original owners by the government, the total school enrolment of these schools in 2008 was 12 663. But by 2010, after the hand-over, students' enrolment dropped drastically to 401 for the simple reason that school fees were high. Consequently, 12 262 students could not get access to secondary education. In Ijebu Ode, enrolment dropped from 8 729 in 2008 to 876 by 2010.”

As a parent in Ogun State— who displayed a protest sign that read "Missionaries are now Capitalists”— told Christianity Today in early 2012, “These schools are not for the poor; they are too elitist, even members who donated toward their establishments cannot send their children there. They should have told us they are running profit-oriented schools from the outset instead of using the word mission to raise money, get public support, and turn around to become unaffordable.”

But this is no reason why governments should hold on to schools that don’t belong to them, particularly when doing so is increasingly inviting communal distress and disruption. No law of nature says missionary schools should subsidize education for people. It is governments that have a responsibility to build schools, subsidize education, and allow religious groups to give expression to their sartorial rituals if doing so isn’t disruptive. 

Before an enduring solution is found for the hijab problem, it helps to remember that no Muslim girl will lose her faith if she doesn’t wear a hijab to school nor will any Christian’s faith be hurt because a Muslim girl wears a hijab to school. That realization should inspire greater inter-faith tolerance.

Related Article:

Hijab as Red Meat of Bigotry

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Hijab as Red Meat of Bigotry

 By Farooq A. Kperogi

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

In my home state of Kwara, which used to be proverbial for its peaceableness and inter-religious harmony, recriminatory disputes over whether female Muslim students should be allowed to wear the hijab as part of their school uniforms in historically Christian missionary secondary schools that are now government-owned is fueling tension and fears of extensive internecine violence.

This controversy is personal to me because I’m a Muslim who attended historically Christian missionary primary and secondary schools in the predominantly Muslim Baruten (former Borgu) part of Kwara State. Anyone who is familiar with Kwara State would know that the Baatonum-speaking Baruten Local Government in the westernmost fringe of Nigeria’s border with Benin Republic is the state’s least developed, most neglected area.

The earliest schools (and hospitals) in the area were established not by the government but by American Southern Baptist Christian missionaries who first appeared in my hometown in 1948. Until the early 1980s, Christian Religious Knowledge (or, as it was called then, Bible Knowledge) was compulsory in Baptist Grammar School, my alma mater, even though the federal government had urged the take-over of missionary schools by the 1970s.

I was in the second cohort of students who had the latitude to take Islamic Religious Knowledge as an option for religious education in my secondary school, but the school still observed its Christian traditions (such as requiring all students, most of whom were Muslims, to sing Christian hymns in morning assemblies), and the Nigerian Baptist Convention still determined who became principal and vice principal of the school.

Sometime in my final year of high school, a native of my hometown who lived in Sokoto for decades and returned with degrees in Arabic and Islamic Studies got a job to teach Islamic Studies at this Baptist Christian Missionary secondary school that was now fully funded by the Kwara State government. One of the first things he advocated was that Muslim students should have a separate morning assembly so that they won’t be required to sing Christian hymns and listen to Christian morning devotion.

I opposed him. And I was supported by other students, more than 90 percent of whom were fellow Muslims. When the man discovered who my dad was, he was mortified and decided to have a word with my dad about his “Shaytan” [Satan] of a son.

To his astonishment, my father, who also studied Arabic and Islamic Studies and taught it at the by then government-funded Baptist Primary School, said the man was wrong to disrupt the decades-old tradition of my secondary school. He reminded him that American Christian missionaries built the school with their money at a time the government didn’t even acknowledge people in my place existed, and that in spite of decades of proselytization, Christian missioners didn’t get many converts.

He advised the man to use his education and vast network to attract Muslim entrepreneurs to build a Muslim secondary school in the community to compete with my alma mater. My father said he would only draw the line if the school had insisted that Muslims convert to Christianity as a precondition to be enrolled in it (he missed out on the education American missionaries offered in the 1940s and 1950s because he refused to convert to Christianity like some of his siblings did), but stressed that no knowledge is ever wasted.

More than a decade after this conversation, the idea that no knowledge is a waste materialized for my father’s much younger first cousin who attended Baptist Grammar School at a time Bible Knowledge was required for even Muslim students. He had A1 in Bible Studies, but still remains a staunch Muslim. Now a medical doctor in Kaduna, he was caught in the crossfire of the sanguinary ethno-religious upheaval in Kaduna in 2000 that pitted Muslims against Christians.

 In the same day, a Christian mob mistook him for a Fulani because of his light complexion and a Muslim mob mistook him for an Igbo for the same reason.

His entreaty to the Christian mob that he wasn’t Fulani was rebuffed by a counter claim that he was a Muslim because his forehead showed evidence of repeated contact with the ground. He lied that he was a Christian. The bloodthirsty mob baying for Muslim flesh asked him to prove his claims by reciting John 3:16. That was easy-peasy for a man who attended Christian missionary schools and got A1 in Bible Knowledge. He escaped the jaws of death.

Just when he was about to get to his home, he encountered a Muslim mob baying for Christian blood. He pleaded with them that he was a Muslim. They insisted he was Igbo and asked him to recite surat-ul-fatiha, the first chapter of the Qur’an, to prove his Muslim bona fides. He said he could do better than that; he recited Surah al-Baqarah, the second and longest chapter of the Qur’an, instead, which most of his would-be murderers couldn’t recite. He survived.

I lived in Kaduna and covered the upheavals for the Weekly Trust at the time. When I visited him and heard how he escaped death by the whiskers from two groups of murderous thugs who claimed to be fighting for their religions, I recalled what my father said about no knowledge being a waste. 

Nonetheless, while Christian missionary schools have unquestionably done a lot to expand access to education and equip people with lifelong and lifesaving skills, we must recognize that Nigeria has evolved. Part of that evolution is the emergence of the hijab as a symbol of female Muslim identity.

In more ways than was the case when I came of age in Nigeria, many, perhaps most, Muslim women have been socialized to see the hijab as the definitive sartorial assertion of their Muslim identity. Perhaps precisely because of this fact, the hijab now stirs negative emotions in so many Christians.

 We need to have an honest national conversation about why the hijab triggers such extreme bitterness and hostility in some Nigerian Christians. Why has it been weaponized to stir bile and reinforce toxic prejudices against Muslim women when its wearing doesn’t hurt Christians?

In Kwara State, two separate court judgments (a high court judgement and an appeals court judgement) have upheld the rights of female Muslim students to wear the hijab as part of their school uniforms in schools that were historically owned by Christian missionaries but that are now hundred percent government funded. 

There are now only two options left for these schools: either appeal against the judgements by lower courts at the Supreme Court or obey the Kwara State government’s court-sanctioned directive that Muslim students be allowed to observe the hijab.

Instead, ChannelsTV reported on March 17, officials of Baptist School in the Surulere area of Ilorin, physically turned back hijab-wearing Muslim students from entry into the school in the aftermath of the Kwara State government’s reopening of former Christian missionary schools it had closed to protest the schools’ discrimination against Muslim students’ sartorial choices. The lawlessness by officials of Baptist School ignited violence.

Since these former Christian missionary schools are now public institutions that are fully funded (or underfunded) by the government, it isn’t reasonable to insist that Muslims enrolled in them can’t wear their hijabs— if they choose to— even after two court judgements say they can. That’s theocratic tyranny.

“State of harmony” is the number-plate slogan Kwara State cherishes about itself, but as Steve Goodier once said, “We don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonize. The same is true with people.”  In other words, it’s our ability to accept and live with our differences that can ensure harmony, not unnatural uniformity or mechanical sameness. 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Tinubu’s Missing Asset Declaration and Perils of Pecuniary Journalism

 By Farooq A. Kperogi

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

On March 2, 2021, Peoples Gazette, the gutsy online newspaper that has now become famous for meticulously evidence-based muckraking, reported that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which is now AGF Abubakar Malami’s dutiful poodle, requested the Code of Conduct Bureau to furnish it with former Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu’s asset declaration forms possibly preparatory to his prosecution.

The newspaper shared a PDF of the November 6, 2020 memo in which the EFCC “referred to its previous letter of September 4, 2020, and CCB’s response of October 9, 2020, asking the bureau to supply ‘outstanding requested information of Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu.’” (It’s interesting that the EFCC became interested in Tinubu’s files only after Ibrahim Magu has been displaced by Malami).

On March 9, exactly a week after this report, Peoples Gazette again got a scoop that Tinubu’s asset declaration forms, on the basis of which EFCC apparently wants to nail him, had disappeared from the vaults of the Code of Conduct Bureau.

“Three officials familiar with the matter told the Gazette that the bureau started looking for Mr. Tinubu’s asset filings after the EFCC requested copies as part of an ongoing investigation into the former Lagos governor’s financial and material possessions. Several offices have been rummaged at the bureau as officials scrambled to produce the documents for EFCC’s use — all to a dead end,” the paper reported.

In the aftermath of these reports, mass outrage stirred frenzied conversations on social media and other discursive arenas about the deployment of the EFCC to hamstring a potential presidential contender in 2023 and about lax and compromised record keeping at the Code of Conduct Bureau. In a curiously twisted way, both perceptions uniformly injure the reputational capitals of the federal government and of Bola Tinubu even though they now appear to be on opposite ends of the unfolding drama.

As with all stories that dominate the news cycle, fire up the deliberative space, and embarrass government officials and politicians, there’s now a concentrated effort at a dishonest narrative contortion of the sordid events that Peoples Gazette’s reporting has brought to light.

A familiar— and now mind-numbingly over-used— tactic to muddy the narrative fidelity of exposés of corruption and wrongdoing in high places is to impugn the credibility of the news media platforms that purveyed such news even if the veracity of the news is self-evidently unimpeachable.

 Calling every true but unflattering news story “fake news” even if its evidentiary facts and narrative integrity are unquestionably manifest has become a trite and banal rhetorical strategy that owes debt to former U.S. president Donald Trump. But it’s losing its novelty and effects. It has instead semantically transformed “fake news” into “true but uncomfortable news.”

In their war against true but uncomfortable news, Nigerian politicians and government officials now routinely enlist the services of unprincipled, mercenary journalists who feel no tinge of moral compunction about prostituting their professional integrity (if they had any, that is) for filthy lucre. 

Since Peoples Gazette’s story emerged, at least two different reports in the Guardian and LEADERSHIP newspapers (both of which unprofessionally elided Peoples Gazette’s name in their reports and instead called it merely an “online medium” or an “online tabloid”) have published two mutually contradictory, obviously “sponsored” rebuttals, which ironically dramatize the truth of the report.

In a March 10 report titled “CCB denies report of missing Tinubu’s case file,” the Guardian, which used to call itself Nigeria’s newspaper of record or “the flagship,” quoted an anonymous source to have confided in it that Tinubu’s file was never in its records. The source reportedly told the paper that after Tinubu’s 2007 trial by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the Code of Conduct Bureau no longer had any use for his asset declaration forms, which would be curious at best and criminal at worst if true.

“The file did not come back to us because I went through the archive to see the petition of the file and found the case was charged to the CCT,” the source reportedly said. “So, if anybody is interested in the case file, he should go to CCT.”

 However, in a report titled “Tinubu: CCB Dismisses Report of Missing Assets Declaration Record,” LEADERSHIP newspaper, the notoriously unprofessional and poorly edited government propaganda mouthpiece that masquerades as a private newspaper, quoted another anonymous source as confiding in it that Tinubu’s asset declaration forms aren’t missing from the Code of Conduct Bureau. 

“The source who didn’t want to be mentioned, also argued that the purveyors of the malicious report are ignorant of the collaboration between the CCB and other anti-corruption agencies in the fight against corruption,” the paper wrote in a hilariously illiterate and error-ridden “news report” that read more like the angry rants of a demented, overpaid, but uneducated government attack dog than a news report.

These two anonymously sourced stories can’t be simultaneously true. If the Guardian’s report that Tinubu’s asset declaration forms are no longer with the CCB, then LEADERSHIP’s story that the forms are untouched at the CCB and are being shared with other anti-corruption government agencies can’t be correct— and vice versa, which means both reports are probably intentionally mendacious.

Yet the LEADERSHIP “story” deployed the term “fake news” so liberally and so aggressively throughout you would think the writer just discovered it—or was curating it textually because it was in danger of disappearing from the English lexicon.

In other words, a by-definition fake news report, written in the worst English prose I’ve ever seen in a news report, dared to call a well-sourced and credible news report as “fake news” because it was “sponsored” to do so by shadowy, well-oiled figures. When has malevolent illiteracy and shamelessly willful propaganda become journalism?

I have written several articles, and a book, about the heartrending decline of critical, watchdog journalism in Nigeria and the rise of pecuniary journalism, as I choose to call public relations and advertising deceptively disguised as journalism, but what’s happening now is a new low for our profession.

It’s understandable, even if indefensible, that traditional, oligopolistic newspapers have, for the most part, abandoned investigative journalism because of the pressures of advertising and the threats of governmental clampdowns, but nothing can justify journalists being enlisted to assault the professional integrity of ethical, high-quality investigative reporting with noxious falsehoods. 

The core attribute of journalism in both a democracy and an autocracy is to be the eyes, ears, and mouths of the people; to put the feet of the people in power to the fire; to hold the powerful accountable because even the best of people become baleful beasts of power when they get into elective and appointive positions. 

That is why George Orwell is credited with saying, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.” William Randolph Hearst, the 20th-century American newspaper publisher who started the concept of the newspaper chain, has a slightly different version of this sentiment. “News is something somebody doesn’t want printed; all else is advertising,” he is often quoted to have said.

Of course, journalism encompasses way more than exposing the misdeeds and missteps of the powerful, but when newspapers go from not doing this to being paid to attack those who do, they are in the throes of a horrifying professional death.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Why Biden Embraces Nigerians and Shuns Buhari

 By Farooq A. Kperogi

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

It is by now evident that although President Joe Biden appreciates and identifies with Nigerians (certainly in more ways than Donald Trump did), he has nothing but stone-cold disdain for the inert, isolated mannequin in Aso Rock that pretends to be Nigeria’s “president.”

Biden’s first call to an African president (on March 3) after his inauguration wasn’t to the president of the continent’s most populous country; it was to Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta. Even in the aftermath of his electoral triumph in November 2020, Biden also only called South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa.

And on February 26, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nigeria’s geographic and demographic heft in the African continent hasn’t caused it to deserve the attention of America’s new leaders. Well, it has to be because Nigeria is now basically leaderless. Everyone who pays attention knows this.

I am not surprised that Biden is giving Buhari the cold shoulder. Right from his campaign, Biden made it clear that he identifies with the frustrations Nigerians feel with the Buhari regime’s ineptitude and ruthlessness. 

For instance, while Trump and his campaign looked the other way when Buhari’s regime brutally suppressed and murdered peaceful #EndSARS protesters, Biden issued a statement in support of the protest and expressed horror at the unconscionable barbarities the regime inflicted on protesters.

In an October 21, 2020 statement, he urged “President Buhari and the Nigerian military to cease the violent crackdown on protesters in Nigeria, which has already resulted in several deaths,” saying, “My heart goes out to all those who have lost a loved one in the violence. The United States must stand with Nigerians who are peacefully demonstrating for police reform and seeking an end to corruption in their democracy.”

At no time in America’s history has any candidate for president shown this level of interest in the affairs of Nigeria. It was no surprise therefore that henchmen of the Buhari regime were deeply emotionally invested in Trump’s reelection and in Biden’s loss.

As Wall Street Journal’s Africa Bureau Chief Joe Parkinson reported on November 8, 2020, honchos of the Buhari regime had desperately hoped for a Trump win in the 2020 presidential election. “Nigeria’s president was one of the first African leaders to congratulate Biden but privately, some of his key advisors were hoping for a Trump victory and are worried,” he wrote. “The reasons are quite simple and are linked — human rights, the #EndSARS protests, and weapon sales.” 

Parkinson concluded, correctly it’s turning out, that “President Biden may be much less welcoming to Buhari; much more skeptical about selling weapons to Nigeria’s military and much more forthright in criticising any crackdown on protests. That’s why, despite the tweets, some at the top of the Buhari administration are nervous.”

 But there’s another reason Buhari preferred a Trump presidency: Trump is an embodiment of— and an enabler of— moral putrefaction and a boon to blood-stained, anti-democratic despots all over the world.

The Trump and Buhari regimes also share a lot in common. They both loathe the news media, chafe at the feeblest dissent, are nepotistic, are incompetent and derelict in their duties, are unapologetic in their allegiances to divisive primordial loyalties in their countries, and personify indecency and corruption of the darkest dye. 

Even if the Buhari regime murders every citizen of Nigeria, Trump wouldn’t care a whit. He doesn’t think Black people’s lives are worth saving and would probably be pleased that there are fewer Black people on earth since, in any case, he has singled out Nigeria as an example of a country he doesn’t want immigration from into the U.S.

Notice, however, that while Biden obviously disdains Buhari and his regime, he has shown remarkable connection with everyday Nigerians. One of the first people he called after winning his election in November 2020 was a Nigerian immigrant family in Springfield, Illinois.

The Nigerian-American he called to thank and invite to the White House for donating $12 to his presidential campaign has been identified as Dr. Francis Abiola Oke who came to the US in 2007 from Iseyin in northern Oyo State.

Biden’s wide-ranging, 20-minute phone conversation with Dr. Oke and his two daughters was one of the sweetest, most genuine expressions of warmth I have seen from a politician in a long while. My own children derived so much vicarious joy from watching the video of the call. No American president-elect had ever gone out of his way to reach out to the Nigerian immigrant community in the United States like Biden did.

Of course, we also know that Biden’s government has more Nigerian Americans serving in strategic positions than in any government in America’s history. He nominated Adewale Adeyemo as Deputy Treasury Secretary (equivalent to a minister of state for finance), Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo as Associate White House Counsel, and 26-year-old Osaremen Okolo as a member of the presidential COVID-19 response team.

 So, it’s apparent that Biden has a lot of respect for Nigerians and courts their talent. But, like every sensible person, he just can’t bring himself to respect a government that despises its people, that has given up every pretense to governance, that willfully fertilizes fissiparity in its polity, that looks away while its citizens swim daily in oceans of blood,  and that has proved either incapable or disinclined to halt its country’s descent into the world’s kidnap capital.

Biden’s symbolic repudiation of the Buhari regime is an acknowledgement that he knows what Nigerians know: that they have no president, that their country has gone to the dogs, that what passes for the “Nigerian presidency” is a disorganized cornucopia of little political fiefdoms that work at cross purposes, and that mindless corruption and insensate cruelty are the governing philosophies of the hordes of swashbucklers who stand in for an absent, insentient, and clueless “president” marooned in Aso Rock.

Even Donald Trump, with whom Buhari shares many horrid qualities, reportedly called him a “lifeless” dolt with whom he never wanted to meet again. He was underwhelmed, irritated even, by Buhari’s child-like timidity and taciturnity when they met at the White House in April 2018.

 If even someone as objectionable and disreputable as Trump can find you unworthy of a second meeting—even after unwisely paying his government $496m upfront for fighter jets you aren’t sure will be delivered—you know there is something fundamentally defective about you.

To be clear, a call from the US president is nothing more than a diplomatic nicety. It confers no special status on presidents who receive it and detracts nothing substantive from presidents who are shunned. America’s national interest will always dictate how it relates to every country, no matter who is president.

Nonetheless, it bespeaks the international alienation and contempt that Buhari’s rulership has caused Nigeria that most of the world increasingly bypasses Nigeria for even symbolic gestures to the African continent. Most people in the world know that Nigeria’s current ruler, through his actions and inactions, has plunged the country to the nadir of despair.

There are now two dominant emotions in Nigeria: resignation and suspended animation. People are either resigned to the possibility that the country is headed for an implosion or hope against hope that it will endure until 2023 when Buhari’s stolen tenure will end to have another chance at a rebirth. Anyone who burdens his country with this weight of hopelessness deserves to be shunned by all world leaders.