By Douglas Anele

PANDEF, Buhari, Osinbajo
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo

Whenever buharimaniacs led by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, boast garrulously about the economic blueprint of this government and throw around numbers purporting to show that the policies are working, I wonder whether they are living in a fantasy island far removed from the harsh realities facing ordinary people like myself. Everywhere people are begging; to even have two good meals a day is becoming very difficult for thousands of families, not to mention decent accommodation with modern amenities.

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The problem of begging is no longer restricted to the unemployed or physically challenged. Majority of workers both in the public and private sectors are poorly remunerated, while artisans and self-employed Nigerians running small businesses are complaining bitterly about the drastic reduction in their income due to low patronage. Moreover, rising inflation made worse by the border closure is corroding the purchasing power of the naira, which means that keeping poverty at bay has become more challenging than ever for the average Nigerian. Unfortunately, the President and sycophants around him seem to think that making optimistic statements claiming that things are looking up means that things are actually improving, which is a delusion.

Things are not improving for over hundred million Nigerians. On the contrary, the level of poverty is very alarming: since 2016, I have been receiving phone calls and text messages from total strangers soliciting for financial assistance. Nigeria is steadily turning into a country of beggars; yet those in positions of authority appear to be unconcerned about it. Now, despite Buhari’s claim that government will pull one hundred million Nigerians out of poverty in a decade, there is no guarantee that it can be done, nothing to show that the government is moving in the right direction. Poverty is spreading faster than ever before. Government officials who parade carefully distilled data that contradict the existential poverty pervading the country right now do not understand that statistics are like bikinis, what they reveal is interesting, but what they conceal is even more interesting. Everywhere one goes, one sees poverty and suffering on the faces of Nigerians.

Let me put the matter plainly: no amount of finagling with numbers can hide the fact that more Nigerians are poorer since APC came to power. But the issue of rising poverty is beyond partisan politics, although the ruling party must bear the heaviest burden of blame for the ugly situation. The political elite are mentally unfit to govern because virtually all of them are bulimic hypocrites stealing the resources that ought to be used to improve the living conditions of the masses. The most painful aspect is that they do not really need the billions and other material things they are accumulating.

The academics, senior journalists, politicians, and businessmen who packaged and repackaged Buhari as an ascetic disciplinarian immune to the attractions of materialism should be ashamed of themselves: they overrated Buhari and ignored the lessons of history. If Buhari’s government is really fighting poverty and Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world ahead of war torn countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen, then something is seriously wrong about its poverty alleviation strategy, including the so-called social intervention programmes. Overall, the most vulnerable segment of the Nigerian population which constitutes an overwhelming demographic majority is not experiencing the alleged positive impact of buharinomics. Instead, what we are seeing is the gradual normalisation of poverty and suffering nationwide.

A key component of deception and propaganda tool used by the APC was hyperbolic projection of Muhammadu Buhari as an anti-corruption crusader. Nostalgic references to the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) was the lodestar of the party’s presidential campaign in 2015, although it was not very effective and convincing this year compared to that year due to the mutation of corruption into more dangerous forms since Buhari became President. On the other hand, even if one concedes that WAI might have achieved some limited success from 1984 to August 1985, it was not a guarantee that more than thirty years later Buhari as a civilian President still had what it takes to fight corruption effectively. Of course, the War Against Indiscipline was flawed in many respects: it was arbitrarily selective, heavy-handed, and haphazard. The same shortcomings are evident in the current war against corruption, the major difference being that the flaws now are more malignant than they were when WAI was launched in 1984. This is not the first time I have argued that Buhari’s government is fighting corruption badly.

The point I want to highlight presently is that discerning Nigerians no longer believe that this government is serious and sincere about killing corruption before it kills the country. Moreover, some of them think that the APC is more corrupt than the PDP. Instances of corruption at the top echelons of government are legion, several of which I have discussed earlier in this column. But there is a special brand of corruption that APC has perfected in the last four and half years, namely, flagrant nepotism and deliberate harvesting of corrupt prominent politicians from other parties, especially the PDP. In a bizarre manifestation of the corrupting influence of power, APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, proclaimed that corrupt politicians will be forgiven once they join the ruling party. Yet, irredeemably gullible Nigerians still believe that the APC government is fighting corruption. Of course, not all Nigerians are naïve and stupid: some perceptive commentators have consistently drawn attention to Buhari’s negative triumphalist nepotism. For instance, in a rare moment of courage, one of the most outspoken foot-soldiers of Fulani caliphate colonialism, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, complained that the number of President Buhari’s relatives working in the presidency or Aso Rock is too high. Even more telling are the recent articles by Dr. Farooq Kperogi, Associate Professor of Journalism and Emerging Media at Kennesaw State University, USA. Incidentally, Dr. Kperogi was one of those intellectuals who naïvely thought that Buhari would be a better President than Dr. Jonathan, before the scales fell from his eyes. In two essays entitled “Buhari’s Nepotism on Steroids” and “Buhari’s Government of His Family, by His Family, and for His Family,” Kperogi disclosed the unprecedented familocracy of Buhari, which has meteorically catapulted his relatives such as Sabiu ‘Tunde’ Yusuf from the ranks of those managing to survive to the class of nouveaux riches. Kperogi also uploaded a video in which Mamman Daura, President Buhari’s nephew, was celebrating his eightieth birthday with more than thirty family members and top government officials at a posh London hotel while Nigerians wallow in poverty, disease, disillusionment and death. Reading through Dr. Kperogi’s writings, the overall picture one gets is that of an insensitive President unperturbed by the negative psychological effects of ostentatious wealth displayed by his family members on the suffering masses who defied so many odds to vote for him. According to Kperogi, this was the same person who, “before he was sworn in as President in May, 2015…publicly told his immediate and extended family members to stand back from his incoming government.

He even warned that any family member who used his name to peddle influence would face dire consequences.” Now, why should anyone be surprised by President Buhari’s philosophy of do as I say, not as I do, considering that he had tacitly abandoned most of his pledges shortly after he became President in 2015? The handwriting had always been clearly written on the wall but people refused to see what was before them, namely, that Buhari is probably a closet Machiavellian who is willing to tell messiah-hungry Nigerians what they want to hear in order to secure their votes, while his real intention is obscured in a carefully crafted smokescreen of integrity. Several examples can be cited to show that on many occasions Buhari does not keep his word, but two of them would suffice to make the case. First, after losing the presidential election for the third time in 2011, he told Nigerians with a voice dripping with anguish and disappointment that he would not contest for the position again. But what happened? In less than two years he allowed politicians like Bola Tinubu and Rotimi Amaechi to drag him into the presidential election once again. Two, during the 2015 electioneering campaigns Buhari lamented the frequency with which top political office holders embark on medical tourism abroad and pledged to do everything in his power if elected President to discourage the wasteful practice. We now know that Buhari is the medical-tourist-in-chief – he did not really mean what he said.

As President, he has surpassed even the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in seeking medical care overseas. Therefore, no one should be blamed for thinking that Buhari has been deceiving Nigerians all along to actualise his ambition of ruling once again after he was kicked out of office in August 1995.

However, It is not only the President, his family and relations that are caught in the web of opulent living: APC kingpins at all levels, depending on their positions in the party’s pecking order, are also beneficiaries of the aberrant system that tends to reward too much those at the corridors of power – or very close to it. There are several governors, federal and state legislators, political turncoats and carpetbaggers in APC whose fortunes have completely turned around just because they are in the ruling party, a party that pledged to do things differently from the unimpressive legacy left behind by the PDP. In many respects, Buhari’s and his cohorts seem not to have learnt any useful lesson from the errors of their predecessors. For those who chanted “Sai baba” in 2015 hoping that Buhari would keep his promise of running a lean, disciplined, financially prudent government with zero tolerance for corruption, what has transpired from May 29, 2015 to the present must be sorely disappointing. There is no way any leader determined to fight corruption would protect cronies facing serious, evidence-based, allegations of corruption, let alone enthusiastically welcome politicians from the opposition previously charged with, or convicted of, graft. To be continued.

 

Vanguard

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