Know Your President
According to the United States Energy Information Administration, the below stated are the US landing price per barrel of crude oil imports from Nigeria-from 1999 to 2013. Not exactly, on account of the constraint of space and in order not to belabor the issue, I took the highest monthly price as the price per barrel indicator for each year. Information was not provided for 2014 and 2015.
1999 (USD27), 2000 (USD29), 2001 (USD29), 2002 (USD31), 2003 (USD36) 2004 (USD52) 2005 (USD67), 2006 (USD77), 2007 (USD98), 2008 (143), 2009 (USD79), 2010 (USD95), 2011 (USD126), 2012 (USD130), 2013 (USD121). Contrast this information with what President Mohammadu Buhari told the Voice of America radio (earlier in the week)
“In those 16 years of PDP rule, Nigeria was getting 2.1 million times 100 (2.1 million barrels by $100 per barrel) every day, every week, but when we came on board, the price fell to between $37-38 and hung around $40-$50..I went to the Central Bank of Nigeria, – the governor of CBN is here – and asked him, how far? And he said nothing was left apart from debts. I said, but this is what the country made? And he said: Yes. He knew, and I asked him, where is the money? All gone,” he said. “Nigerians know that there were no roads or rail lines, there was no power, despite the billions of dollars spent. Only God will judge this thing,”
What does this say of President Buhari? First it tells us that the President is in the unpresidential habit of playing fast and loose with facts and figures. It is either he is ignorant and he couldn’t be bothered with the discipline of establishing the facts before committing himself publicly or he knows but decided nonetheless to bend the facts to suit his wishful narrative of his predecessors. A sticking exasperation I have with this government is incompetence in almost all aspects of its conduct, good or bad, little or big, including, for that matter, the incompetence in fabricating lies.
I will ignore the illogical and incredible demonization of his predecessors but should the President of Nigeria, who was a former oil minister, not know that ascertaining the price of oil per barrel-as far back as you intend is just a click away on the internet board? And then he was calling God to witness-witness to what? The lie that ‘Nigeria was getting 2.1million barrels at 100 dollars per barrel, every day, every week since 1999′? How can a President whose government has just been adjudged a ‘massively corrupt’ administration by the US annual country reports, call God to witness? How can any Nigerian leader who is complicit, by commission or contrived omission, in the relentless massacre of a religious segment of the Nigerian populace dare call on God to witness? Witness to human capacity for evil and wickedness? Witness to unbridled clannishness and nepotism? Witness to the Biblical truism that “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, the people groan”?
At the same VOA parley, we were treated to further dose of the trademark incompetence “You know in the North most youths are uneducated or school dropouts. If not because we had good harvests in the last two farming seasons the situation would have been deteriorated. “These youths even if they travel out of the North for greener pasture they hardly make it economically because what they earn as income cannot afford them to meet their basic needs or return home. “All these explanations I made, they refused to highlight them in their report and you know the media in Nigeria in most cases only do what they like”. This is the President controverting or qualifying his earlier reported comment on the Nigerian youth (and corroborated by his special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina). Pray where is the logical connection between this postulation on Northern Nigerian youths and his earlier denigration of Nigerian youths? And if it makes so much difference why didn’t Adesina include it in his corroboration of what was widely reported-other than the quibbling over the difference between ‘all’ and ‘a lot’.
The exception to the rule of the President’s incompetence is the we versus them demagoguery. At the commencement of his campaign for reelection in 2019 in Kano, Buhari characteristically set the tone for more of the same profitable trademark divisiveness-(as succinctly captured by Farooq Kperogi) “Even as President with a national mandate, Buhari can’t resist the unhelpful, needlessly divisive “we-northerners-versus-they-southerners” rhetoric. In this December 2017 video, Buhari thanked Kano people for coming out en masse to welcome him and said “saboda yan kudu su san har yanzu inada gata.” Rough translation: “… so that Southerners can see how famous I still am.”
From Kano he proceeded to Bauchi and pitched his polarizing dog-whistle campaign by inciting his Bauchi stronghold against the Yoruba ‘constituency’-employing Lai Mohammed and Obasanjo as the fall guys.
“Tonight, I want to remind you people of what Lai Mohammed did when a letter was written on our failure as an administration, Lai Mohammed was agitated about replying but I said no. I said no for two reasons: one, he is much younger than the person who wrote the letter and myself; two, he is from the same constituency as the person who wrote the letter”. We await the next Northern/Muslim voting bloc solidarity baiting in Dutse, Jigawa state. If you believe all these are mere coincidences then you had better stop reading this column.
LIMITS OF OPPORTUNISM
Under the pressure of seeking re-election, another dimension of the character of the Mohammadu Buhari presidency has crystallized. And this is the continuous demonstration of the affinity for a relationship of colonial paternalism in the engagement of President Buhari with our former colonial master, UK, and the United States, US. And it was all at the instance of our President.
Two years ago at an official function in London, British Prime Minister David Cameron said “We’ve got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain… Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world,” Asked if Nigeria was “fantastically corrupt,” Mr. Buhari responded: “Yes…And I am not going to demand any apology from anybody.”
Almost two years later, at a Commonwealth forum panel discussion on the theme of expanding the frontiers of trade relations among member countries, in London, Buhari literarily put his foot in his mouth and unload on Nigerians “We have a very young population; our population is estimated conservatively to be 180 million. More than 60 per cent of the population is below the age of 30. A lot of them have not been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria has been an oil producing country, therefore they should sit and do nothing and get housing, healthcare and education free”.
These two instances are as bad as they come and a sad commentary on the capability and preparedness of General Buhari to hold the office of the President of Nigeria in the 21st century. And it specifically speaks to his leadership poverty in grappling with the subject matters of foreign affairs and the economy. “Buhari is not a very hot person on the economy and foreign affairs” cryptically observes one of his mentors, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in what must pass as one of the remarkable understatements of contemporary Nigeria.
No good leader goes around the world to highlight and exaggerate the shortcomings of his own people, just as no good father makes a habit of gossiping with his neighbors on the unique capacity of his children for evil and waywardness. So far, the incumbency of Buhari has conformed to the governing neo-colonial culture of discredited factions of the African ruling elite who characteristically rush to the capitals of the Western powers to seek legitimacy and conspiratorial silence on their ruinous governance records and subversive desire to cling to power through means, fair and foul.
From the days of the colonial African factotum otherwise known as warrant chiefs and native authority who pride themselves the biblical chosen ones and delegated standard bearers of white supremacy to the tendency of contemporary African leaders to pander and kowtow to the neo colonial abasement of fellow Africans, not much has changed. Yet none of the Buhari obsequious forays have been as striking as the denigration of President Barack Obama in a most cynical and mercenary ploy to curry favor with President Donald Trump. Said the Nigerian Presidency, hours to the meeting with Trump:
“It is important that cooperation between the two countries have manifestly increased under the Trump’s presidency. If you recall sometime back, the President had reason to openly complain that we are not receiving as much as we thought we deserve in terms of support and cooperation especially in our fight against terrorism back then during the Obama period. And it will seem that quite dramatically and interestingly, a lot of the obstacles are being removed under the Trump’s presidency and doors are being opened and we are receiving far more support than most people had expected”
Yet when the history of the 2015 Presidential election in Nigeria is written, it is beyond doubt that the barely disguised partisanship of the Obama Presidency will feature as one of the critical decisive factors. From the role of David Axelrod to the vigilante hectoring of Secretary of state John Kerry and the international see no evil hypocrisy of looking the other way from the shenanigans that went on in the stronghold of Buhari in places like Kano, it was Sai Buhari all the way. As the counting progressed and the hints of a Buhari victory were coming into bold relief, the American and British governments took to stampeding their desired outcome into a fait accompli.
“So far, we have seen no evidence of systemic manipulation of the process. But there are disturbing indications that the collation process — where the votes are finally counted — may be subject to deliberate political interference,” a joint statement said. “The governments of the United States and the United Kingdom would be very concerned by any attempts to undermine the independence of the Electoral Commission (INEC), or its chairman, Professor attahiru Jega or in any way distort the expressed will of the Nigerian people,” warns another. But that was then and this is now.