PERSPECTIVE – The proof Buhari needs

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President Buhari.

By Sonala Olumhense
President Muhammadu Buhari celebrated his 78th birthday on Thursday.
For the event, he could not have picked a worse location on the almanac or on the map: his hometown of Daura in Katsina State.
But only days after his arrival, the horrific abduction occurred of over 300 boys from a secondary school in Kankara, an embarrassing next-door replay of the 2014 abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, and the 2018 incident of another 110 in Dapchi, both in Borno State.
Kankara’s, in Mr. Buhari’s own Katsina, was perhaps the most eloquent testimony to the lameness of his rule.
Mercifully, six days later, on Buhari’s birthday, there was late-night release of the boys announced by Governor Aminu Bello Masari.
In Daura itself, the Nigeria ruler was having the time of his life: video reports showed him inspecting his cattle collection on his farm. He was even wearing a mask, thereby demonstrating his respect for the animals; at the presidential palace, he rarely wears any.
For his birthday, Aso Rock officials sent him choice bouquets of flattery, taking advantage of their offices to publish eloquent articles in the newspapers.
Spokesman Garba Shehu, for instance, continued to rehabilitate Buhari’s image, saying that he has been boosted as a military Head of State and an elected ruler by his “qualities of uprightness and incorruptibility.”
“With discipline and consistency, President Buhari has convinced a majority of Nigerians and his peers who have retained him as the continent’s anti-corruption champion that he is sincere, credible, incorruptible and that he stands for good governance,” he said.
The problem is that Shehu, like most of Buhari’s enablers, mistakes past tense for present. Even this writer once swore by Buhari’s qualities. Swore, I said: there is nothing in Buhari in the past five and a half years by which anyone outside of his inner circle swears.
“Now [Buhari] says, I follow the due process of the law,” Shehu testifies. Really? So why does he ignore court orders, including the two in 2016 and 2017 which ordered him to publish an account of recovered loot?
“Beyond that, [Buhari says]we will auction whatever we have taken from the corrupt, use the money to serve the people so that there will be nothing to be returned when others succeed us after the completion of our term.”
If so, why is he afraid to name the corrupt? Who benefits from his refusal to identify them?
“As I write, Committees under the Ministry of Justice have been set up to sell off all seized assets – aircraft, boats, cars, buildings, factories and so forth,” Shehu said.
Really? Having asked the Minister of Finance in April 2019 to sell the exact same assets, what is the committee under AGF Abubakar Malami hawking in Buhari’s closed-door bazaar?
“Beyond the unyielding determination to lead by setting examples, President Buhari strongly believes that there must be consequences for corruption,” Shehu also writes. Again, where is the evidence of either claim?
In spokesman Femi Adesina’s article which he airily called, “If we knew this President,” he offered the thesis that many Nigerians believe the wrong things about his principal because they do not know him.
He dismissed Buhari being called a religious bigot or a nepotist. Buhari, he affirmed, is Buhari, not Jubril from Sudan, as some people believe. He was an impressive and discipline military officer, is very patriotic, and is a kind man.
How “kind” is Buhari? Here is Adesina at some length, beginning with when he was to receive a traditional title in Enugu State.
“Courtesy demanded I tell the President. This man, who prides himself as ‘very stingy’ gave me a handsome amount of money to ferry my friends and family to the ceremony.
“And in May 2018, I was billed for China for a 12 days course for senior government officials from Africa.
“He said when the journey was two days away, I should come to see him. I did. Do you know what he said? “Adesina, I know that you don’t have money. But you are too shy to ask.” We both laughed, and he gave me an envelope which contained foreign currency.”
Funny that Adesina laughed at the wrong joke. Why did Buhari not offer a presidential jet for the shuttle to Enugu? After all, daughter-photographer Hanan received one for a mere photoshoot, and she is not even a government official!
And think about it: Buhari gave his Special Adviser, a man who was travelling on an official assignment, an envelope containing a large amount of foreign currency. The convoluted reasoning seems to be that a ruler allows an insider special access to the federal treasury, that is evidence that he is good and kind and patriotic.
But it is a corrupt practice if the President of Nigeria lavishes foreign exchange on his friends and officials. It is doubly-corrupt when one considers that at that time in 2018, a Special Adviser received eight hundred dollars ($800.00) per night in estacodes. In other words, Adesina was already taller than an Iroko with nearly ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) before he collected Buhari’s illegal envelope.
The point is that last week’s tributes by Buhari appointees publicly celebrating President Buhari confirm that there are two Nigerias.
In the first, the ruler is presented as a roaring success story: strong and mighty and capable and eloquent. But it is paid advertising.
In the second, the real Nigeria, there is such a brutal absence of leadership that Buhari can only be referred to as a ruler. There is pain and hunger and deprivation and hardship and insecurity. The economy is collapsing, and one dollar, which exchanged for N190 when Buhari took office, is now N500.
Although Buhari declared Boko Haram to be “technically defeated” five years ago, people are still getting beheaded in their villages and boys and girls are still being abducted by the hundreds from their schools. Roads are either unmotorable because they are bad, or because they belong to murderous herdsmen and kidnappers. Farmers are murdered, and their wives raped. The real Nigeria is slipping into anarchy and hopelessness.
In the first, image polishing and propaganda is Job #1 because spokesmen have nothing tangible to report. In the second, the ruler worships his cows and the military chief, his snakes.
The recent #EndSARS protests underlined widespread rejection of Buhari’s pretence, indifference, and incompetence. Nigeria is a country to be laughed at, and many are not hesitating.
That is why there is an official struggle to focus on the myth of Buhari rather than the essence of his leadership, including cronyism at the highest levels.
And they want to head off all the urgent new questions, including these: Is Buhari incapacitated? Can he speak for himself and answer unscripted questions in real time?
Prove it!
• Source: PUNCH

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