“Akin Oshuntokun appeared on Channels television today and made the false claim that a bomb blast had gone off earlier in the day, killing about 88 people in Maiduguri… Apparently, enemies of peace and progress had expected a return to the infamous past, thus Oshuntokun appeared on television with his bag of lies. The tripod goals of securing the country, fighting corruption and reviving the economy are central to the Buhari administration.

Government is making strides in the three areas and the conquests continue” –Femi Adesina, 24th August 2018
“President Muhammadu Buhari demonstrated his cluelessness afresh on Sunday when he blamed herders’ act of horrific violence on the shrinking Lake Chad and alleged biased media reports. .. Across the country, especially in Northern states, churches, homes, farms and passenger-laden vehicles are brazenly attacked, villages razed and taken over while police and soldiers are also killed in droves. The sanguinary activities of Fulani herdsmen, together with those of Boko Haram, have earned Nigeria the dubious distinction of being third after Iraq and Afghanistan, in the League of Nations with the worst form of terrorism globally”-Punch newspaper editorial, 4th September 2018
“Amnesty International counted 168 killed in January alone, while the Benue State Government said Fulani marauders killed over 1,500 persons, including soldiers and policemen, in 47 different attacks in the three years to February this year. At least, 14 persons were again brutally murdered in Plateau State yesterday… Before he became President, Buhari had similarly demonstrated jaundiced diagnosis of the Boko Haram’s evil mission. For instance, in 2013, he asked the government to stop its clampdown on Boko Haram because Niger Delta militants were never killed, nor were their property destroyed. At another point, he led a team to Oyo State to protest the alleged killings of the Fulani people by Oyo farmers. It turned out however that it was the herdsmen who were actually doing most of the killings”-Punch newspaper editorial, 4th September 2018

Reporting for Reuters news agency on the 20th of August 2018, Ahmed Kingimi wrote ‘- At least 19 people were killed in an Islamist militant attack on a village in northeast Nigeria in the early hours of Sunday, a survivor of the attack, Umar, said he had counted 19 people killed, including his younger brother. An aid worker at a camp that received the survivors, and who declined to be identified, put the death toll at 63’. On another news report platform I read of 88 people rescued in a foiled Boko Haram attack by the Nigerian army.

Haven acquired a certain reputation as a tireless critic of President Muhammadu Buhari I get regularly invited by the electronic media especially the Channels Television to give counter perspectives in panel discussion segments on the Buhari Presidency. This aspiration for balanced coverage is a time honored tradition of a responsible press and liberal democracy. Often characterised as the public watchdog, the media plays the role of holding the government accountable to the people. This role reinforces and overlaps the institutional opposition role of the opposition political parties in multi-party democracies. This is the general context within which I function as a pundit and opposition megaphone.

More than many commentators, I specialise in the critique and criticism of the political status quo and specifically its current personification namely President Buhari. And if I am accused of stridency in the tone and tenor of my criticism, I will plead guilty as charged. But taking a cue from the law of physics (that action and reaction are equal and opposite) I will plead the extenuating circumstance of proportionality-of such stridency being a commensurate response to the subsisting amplification of Nigeria’s self-destructive streak, a self-propelling momentum towards the political abyss. In a fundamental sense, the Buhari Presidency has been a betrayal and negation of the positive political momentum he inherited from the circumstances of his accession to the Nigerian Presidency in 2015. His incumbency has become an embodiment of almost all that is wrong with the Nigerian political status-quo-crude hegemony, incompetence, corruption, parochialism, divisiveness, illiberalism and obsession with political power.

Proceeding from the logic of reciprocity I do not expect my critical opposition standpoint to be reciprocated with charitable disposition from the camp of the President and if I goofed in my criticism the government is perfectly entitled to make maximum hay of my lapse. And so, (if in alluding to the prevalent and pervasive nature of its deplorable record in the management of the national security crisis), I got my facts mixed up-they were at liberty to accuse me of telling ‘lies’. If rather than the figure of 63 dead, I erroneously gave 88, I have myself to blame and whatever the exploitation of the momentary lapse, it comes with the territory. But they are not at liberty to put words in my mouth.

Yet the Presidential spokesperson, Mr Femi Adesina, in a fit of rage and animus I could never have imagined, issued a statement and proclaimed ‘Akin Osuntokun made the false claim that a bomb blast had gone off earlier in the day killing about 88 people in Maiduguri’! Apparently whatever purpose the statement was intended to achieve could only be realised with emphasis and repeated reference to bomb blast. In a statement of less than 500 words, bomb blast alone was accorded the frequency of five repetitions. Yet the correct position (as can be publicly verified) is that Akin Osuntokun made no such false claim, the honour for that false claim belongs to the author of the claim that ‘Akin Osuntokun made the false claim that a bomb blast had gone off earlier in the day’.

Recall that unlike me, Adesina was not speaking off the cuff, his was the well-rehearsed affectation of a written palace court judgement unloading righteous indignation on a brazen conspiratorial liar (of his own imagination) with the imprimatur of the Nigerian Presidency-do they come more authoritative than that? To what then do we attribute the alarming testimony of a bomb blast? Absent mindedness?, or deliberate orchestration of giving the dog a bad name in order to hang it? The tragedy is that while chasing this shadow and within a couple of days of attempting to make me a fall guy, the grievous inability of this government to grapple with calamitous national security breaches was again laid bare in the following recurrences-among others unreported:

“Even a heart made of stone will melt at the sight of the roasted corpse of a 67-year-old Adamu Gyang Wurim. His wife, Jummai Adamu Gyang, 45, and their three children: Theophilus Adamu Gyang, 20, Dung Adamu Gyang, 12 and 8-year old Wurim Adamu Gyang, were equally not left out. They were locked in the house and roasted like chickens when armed killer herdsmen invaded some communities of Foron District of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area on Tuesday August 29, 2018, leaving 10 persons dead, 95 houses burnt and 225 farms with crops awaiting harvest were looted and destroyed”.

Mr Gwom Pam Dusu, a Financial Secretary of Roman Catholic Church of Ziyat, gave a vivid account of another gory incident at Ziyat village where four persons were killed and several houses burnt.

‘Reeling from the killings of a pastor, his wife, three children and three others in Barakin-Ladi local government area of Plateau State last week, another 13 people were killed by gunmen on Sunday in Jos South council area. Nigerian Tribune learnt that the gunmen who were in two Hilux vans on Sunday swopped on a group of people relaxing in front of the hotel at Lopandet Dwei Du Area of Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State’.

‘Over 40 soldiers have been lost to rampaging Boko Haram terrorists in the last two weeks, despite claims by the military that the Islamic terror sect had been “technically defeated”. This is in addition to the military’s loss of some of their prized weapons, including five gun trucks, to the insurgents. In the latest attack by the insurgents on Thursday, 26 soldiers were killed in Northern Borno’.
‘Boko Haram insurgents on Wednesday hijacked a commercial bus and kidnapped the 20 passengers on board in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital’.

This is the trend of events Adesina celebrated as “The tripod goals of securing the country, fighting corruption and reviving the economy are central to the Buhari administration. Government is making strides in the three areas and the conquests continue”

MTN AGAIN!

The story of the Nigerian telecoms giants, MTN, is fast degenerating into a narrative of hero to villain. The company literarily took Nigeria by storm. Its entry into the telecoms industry 17 years ago on the coattails of the liberalisation policy of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency easily qualifies as heralding a quantum leap in the development of the telecommunications sector of the Nigerian economy. It was a classical win-win situation for MTN and the Nigerian public. It brought in a massive inflow of development capital into an economy that was famished and thirsty for the nourishment and infusion of foreign investment. The multiplier effect rapidly spawned a sprawling complex of forward and backward sectoral linkage industries. Not to talk of the ease of doing business and the facility of social and economic mobility it fostered. In return, the efforts of MTN were bountifully rewarded with tonnes of dollars in investment recoup. And then the descent into villainy began.

‘Barely two and half years after MTN was slammed with $5.2billion (negotiated to 1.9 billion dollars) in sanctions by the Nigerian government for connecting millions of unregistered SIM cards to its network, the telecom giant is again under official scrutiny over $8.1billion serially moved out of Nigeria using processes described by authorities as illegal and irregular’. “The committee of governors directed MTN and the banks to meet with the examiners to provide any evidence within one week that could convince the examiners to change their position.

Indeed, the deadline for the submission of documents and evidence was extended to over 12 weeks…Despite granting these extensions, the examiners’ position never changed as MTN and the banks had no new evidence to provide. Based on this, the examiners concluded their reports and made their recommendations which were subsequently adopted by the CBN committee of governors.”-according to the CBN governor.