DIALOGUE BY AKIN OSUNTOKUN email@example.com
At the All Progressives Congress (APC) party membership registration exercise in Katsina a week ago, the president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari spoke thus: “The problem is that I will like especially the elite to please be reflective. When we came, where we were, the resources available from them and the condition of the infrastructure,” Buhari said he was “compelled to go over it several times to tell Nigerians that between 1999 and 2014, let them check with the NNPC, let them check with the Governor of Central Bank, production was 2.4 million barrels per day and the average cost was $100 per barrel”.
He added: “So for a year’s daily production, Nigeria would earn 2.4×100 dollars every day. But look at the condition of infrastructure. You know this better than I do. I know I went to every local government of the country in my three consecutive attempts to become the president”.
First, he has conveniently forgotten that whatever financial shortfall he may encounter, his government has more than supplemented with loans upon loans in billions of dollars. On the contrary he should be reminded that to one of his predecessors (he loves to disparage) belongs the bragging rights of wiping away crippling debts accumulated over decades of national profligacy.
Second, if he is so keen to compare himself with his predecessors, two compelling parameters, provided in the last two weeks alone, should suffice as aide memoire. One is the annual report of the country by country corruption perception index of Transparency International (TI), the most authoritative corruption ratings agency in the world.
Speaking through his spokesman, Garba Shehu, Buhari then typically fanned the embers of the fire lit by the report. He had once (in the early years of his presidency) infamously shared and echoed the condemnation of the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, UK, David Cameron, of Nigerians as ‘fantastically corrupt’. He sought, thereby, to self-righteously distance himself from the people who had just elected him to office. Five years later, after perpetrating more corruption, by omission and commission, than any of his fourth republic predecessors, he sought refuge and escapism in the David Cameron precedent by deflecting and ascribing the stench of corruption to his hapless victim, Nigeria.This time around, the trick fell flat because, unlike before, he was not dealing with a dinner table anecdote of a patronising colonial master but the authority of Transparency International; and was acting, in violation of the legal cannon that you cannot be the accused, judge and jury of your misconduct.
Responding to the annual report of TI, on the corruption perceptions index which truthfully and objectively adjudged Nigeria as sinking deeper in the cesspit of corruption, the spokesperson of the president, Garba Shehu, argued “I’ll tell you that this one by TI is not a judgment on Buhari or his administration or its war against corruption, I will tell you that this one is judgement on Nigerians.”
The TI had anticipated this kind of mea culpa hence the clarification “The CPI draws upon 13 data sources which capture the assessment of experts and business executives on a number of corrupt behaviours in the public sector including bribery, diversion of public funds, use of public office for private gain, nepotism in the civil service…Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be”. In contrast to the universal understanding of public sector (as mainly governmental) the Nigerian presidency is proposing a unique definition of the public sector as exclusive of government.
According to the international oil market data provided by the Illinois Oil and Gas Association the following is the price per barrel of Brent crude oil spanning 1999 to 2015- haven made necessary adjustment for Inflation. In other words, the actual price at the time were even cheaper. 1999-$26, 2000-$41, 2001-$34, 2002-$33, 2003-$39, 2004-$51, 2005-$66, 2006-$75, 2007-$80, 2008-$109, 2009-$64, 2010-$84, 2011-$100, 2012-$97, 2013-101, 2014-$93. The average price of the 15 years was $71 per barrel yet the president kept on propagating the fiction that it was $100. Following the footsteps of former American president, Donald Trump, and in a feat of sham self-righteous indignation he doubled down on this lie summoning the authority of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigeria national petroleum corporation, NNPC, to bear him out. Within the context of this proclivity for burying its head in the sand and distortion of reality, explanation will be found for the failure of his presidency. Finger pointing and doubling down on the fantasy of alternative facts are a self-evident recipe for disastrous governance.
In a similar stream of false consciousness, the president claimed that he had visited every local government in Nigeria in the course of his three presidential campaigns. Yet without a doubt, the refutation can be made that no president, prime minister or military head of state of Nigeria ever visited all the 774 local governments in this country let alone a retiring Buhari who is mostly bedroom and living room bound. Recall that over five years in office, the more relevant culture of state visits and interaction with the media had been in Buhari compliant recession. And in any assessment other than that of the Buhari world, it is superfluous (and anti-federalism) of a Nigerian president prioritising the familiarity tour of Nigerian local governments. It is analogus to a state governor aiming to tour all the cities, towns and local communities in the state.
So how do we characterise a president who routinely demonstrates a detachment from truth and reality? Were truth, honesty and integrity not the purported proximate habit and trademark that sold his candidacy for the presidency? Increasingly, it now appears the difference between truth and falsehood, between honesty and dishonesty, between integrity and lack of character is the difference between the man Nigerians thought they elected in 2015 and the current president of Nigeria.
Where are the sanctimonious Adamu Adamus who fumed, week in week out in their columns, at Nigerians for letting this messianic leader literally go to waist by shunning him in election after election? Believing his own lies, the president would go ahead to reward those who had given minority supreme court rulings in his favour (in his earlier failed bids to become president) with Ambassadorial postings to the hub of the diplomatic world in the United kingdom, UK and the United States, US, regardless of their near geriatic disability and disqualifier. Where are those hagiographic hero worshipers who stood on what has turned out a fraudulent platform to eviscerate other Nigerian political leaders as unworthy in comparison to their clay-footed giant? In this mold, Adamu Adamu would abuse former President Olusegun Obasanjo to the point of deriding and mocking him his Owu tribal marks.
So self-regarding and caught up in hubris Adamu that he actually presumed to judge Professor Wole Soyinka as a non-intellectual. Such was the spectre of a midget contesting the characterisation of a ten feet tall as a giant. With the evidence of five years stewardship it would be interesting to know what he now thinks of the dissembling caricature at the Aso rock presidential villa. We all better begin to pray that the exorbitant price of knowing Buhari for what he truly is does not peak in a violent disintegration of Nigeria.This is the tragic tipping point to which the horrific presidency of General Buhari has consigned Nigeria. In a tragic irony, Adamu Adamu was actually given to such conjecture were his Allah annointed candidate continually “rigged out” in elections. For him and fellow traveller Trump, the only way his candidate loses his elections is if he is rigged out.
In his response to the criticism (of the king of Iselu) of his visit to Buhari on account of the Sunday Igboho revolt, the Ooni of Ife admonished “Were you there when I discussed with Buhari? If I had not gone to speak the truth to power, do you have an idea of what was planned for Sunday (Igboho) and things that will happen afterward?” It appears respondents missed out on a threat embedded in this excerpt and that is “do you have an idea of what was planned for Sunday (Igboho) and things that will happen afterward?” This raises the question of what was the plan and who was doing the planning and what are those things scheduled to happen afterwards? The logical extrapolation here is that the source of this information and threat, unwittingly conveyed by the Ooni, is the president. This is in sync with similar threats from representative notable individuals and pressure groups from the North exemplified by Bashir Tofa and the Northern Elders Forum. In absurd portrayal of self- reversal of roles, they are playing the vicarious victims of the lawful and non-discriminatory directive of the Ondo State governor Rotimi Akeredolu to those illegaly occupying the government forest reserves regardless of their ethnic identities. Moreso that the culprits had turned the space into a criminals den.
Complementing the initiative of Akeredolu was the popular revolt against terrorist and kidnapping syndicates championed by Sunday Igboho in Ibarapa.This drama queen act of playing the victim echoes the antecedent of the parochial truculence and arrogance of the indignant Buhari led Fulani warlords delegation to the erstwhile governor of Oyo State, late Lam Adesina, 20 years ago. As now, the trouble then was between Fulani nomads and Yoruba farmer communities in Oke Ogun. It was the beginning of an unlikely Buhari political career predicated on Northern Muslim irridentism and fulani supremacy of a particularly insular brand.
From charging Muslims to vote for ‘those who will protect their religion’ and fevered propagator in chief of the sharia rebellion to the patronage of Miyetti Allah, there has been no looking back for the president. Given what Buhari has become, to the chagrin of his naive enablers in the election of 2015, I have often been tempted to rub it in and mock that it serves you right. Where is the logic and merit in electing as president a politician who rose to prominence on the back of constituting an implicit threat to the unity of Nigeria?
If former President Goodluck Jonathan was corrupt and incompetent, how is a self-advertised threat to the notion of Nigerian nationhood a better bargain? Never mind that under Mr. Integrity, corruption has attained to the status of the fundamental objective and directive principle of state policy.