Public Commentary

IS BUHARI THE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA?

No I haven’t been in coma.

And no, I’m not suffering from amnesia.

I know fully well that Muhammadu Buhari was the candidate of the APC in the last presidential election. He won the April 28th 2015 election, and was duly sworn in as president on the 29th of May 2015.

WHY THEN DO I ASK THIS “FOOLISH” QUESTION?
I ask because the remarks buhari has made about Nigeria, especially outside the shores of this country, compels me to distrust reality. I’m thinking maybe this is all one long dream and buhari is still tendering his fat cows in daura. He’s still leading an austere, anti-materialistic life in Kaduna. Maybe he was never elected president and he doesn’t live in Aso rock!

THE DANGER OF A SINGLE STORY
The problem with single stories isn’t that they aren’t true; It’s that they are unrepresentative- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

President Buhari thinks he’s being “honest” or “truthful” by telling the world how corrupt Nigeria is. But the question is who “honest” don epp? Nigeria is indeed a corrupt country, there’s no point arguing about this. But that’s not the only narrative about us. To constantly push this narrative about Nigeria being corrupt without balancing it with other alluring appellations is a great disservice to this country of 170 million people.
After the David Cameron “Nigeria is fantastically corrupt” debacle; a journalist asked buhari in London if he was embarrassed by Cameron’s statement and he said “NO”. The journalist then proceeded with another smart question “Is Nigeria a fantastically corrupt country”? President Buhari said “YES”. This was an opportunity to shoot down Cameron’s assertion and our president blew it. A tactful president would have said something like “although we’ve had problems with corrupt leaders in the past, Nigeria is not a fantastically corrupt country”. Simple as ABC. Nobody would have died if he said this.

Buhari is not alone in this name shaming drama, millions of Nigerians agree with him. “Oh don’t blame buhari he’s telling the truth they’d say. Or are you saying Nigeria is not corrupt”? And my reply to them is always the same: “Nigerians didn’t elect buhari to tell the truth”.
This is why he’s called “president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces” not president and commander of being truthful. Buhari is not a pastor or imam. Nigerians elected him to defend this country and announcing to the whole world, at every opportunity he gets, that Nigeria is a corrupt country is doing the opposite of that.

We all know the oath of office politicians take in Nigeria as they’re sworn into office is just for the laughs. The oath is taken only because it is mandatory. The words don’t mean anything to the governor-elect or senator-elect and their significance dies as soon as the swearing ceremony is over. But to show that the constitution agrees with me on what the role of the president is; here’s the oath of allegiance buhari took on May 29th 2015.

I MUHAMMADU BUHARI Do solemnly swear that I’ll be faithful and bear true ALLEGIANCE (emphasis mine) to the federal republic of Nigeria…………………..………..so help me God.

Section 19(1) of the 1999 constitution also states that “the foreign policy objectives shall be
(a) Promotion and protection of national interest.

I don’t see how telling the world how corrupt Nigeria is promotes or protects our national interest in anyway.

Let me tell you of a president, his name is Juan Carlos Varela. He’s the president of panama. Panama was recently discovered to be a secret tax haven where tax evaders, drug barons and corrupt politicians stash their money offshore. Bukola Saraki, David mark and Aliko Dangote also featured in these leaks. The #Panamapapers is the biggest leak in the history of journalism.

But when the president of panama faced the world media do you know what he said? He told them “panama is not a corrupt country, corruption is a world problem”. He could have told the world how “fantastically corrupt” his country is, but he chose to stand with his people. And that’s what presidents do.
If Buhari doesn’t cease from calling Nigeria corrupt at every opportunity he gets; it will get to a point that when people look at the map of Africa, and zoom in on West Africa: they’ll not see Nigeria’s name on the map anymore. They’ll see the word “corrupt”.

The names people call us can be dismissed as the product of ignorance, hate or envy. But the names we call ourselves will be taken seriously.

A LESSON OR TWO FROM AFRICA AND JOSEPH CONRAD

Perception they say is reality.
And this holds true for billions of people around the world. The things we hear about places and people shape our opinion of them, even though we have never directly experienced these things. This is why the average European or American still thinks Africa is a country, or that Africa is a place where monkeys wrestle with humans for a spot on the ATM queue.
This is because they have been misled over the centuries by racist writers like joseph Conrad who thinks Africa a doomed continent populated by savages.

Even after the death of racist, godforsaken authors like Conrad; this perception shows no sign of declining and even Google seem helpless to cure these people of their ignorance.

Now, if a single writer can deceive an entire generation of Europeans, feeding them with the wrong notion about a continent; imagine what a president calling his country corrupt can do.

Moral of the story: what people say about us is important, but what we say about ourselves is more important.

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3 thoughts on “IS BUHARI THE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA?

  1. The average nigerian works honest and hard everyday to cater for him/her self.we may have corrupt leaders,corrupt people in power but generalizing is way out of it

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  2. Nice piece and I must say there is merit in the position you have taken… Buhari ‘s frankness and brutal honesty is why Nigerians elected and thus his honesty on stuff like this is hardly surprising, but it is still disconcerting nonetheless… But we must all be careful of picking positions from throwaway sentences, without considering the contexts in which those statements were made. There is no time where Buhari ever said Nigerians are corrupt without him trying to provide some context to what He means. It would be the height of hypocrisy to scream “No You are a complete liar” any time the statement “Nigerians are corrupt comes up when the evidence of corruption especially from the immediate past Government is there for us to see. I get your point that ” Nigerians are corrupt” doesn’t make for good foreign relations but we must still put things in perspective, and not just pick throwaway statements we don’t like to justify our positions

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