DECEMBER 18TH 2015
Recently, one of the leading lights of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, took to his Facebook page, alleging that the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan spent N64 billion to celebrate independence anniversaries between 2011 and 2014. According to el-Rufai, Jonathan’s administration spent N13 billion in 2011, N15 billion in 2012, N14 billion in 2013 and N22 billion in 2014. His post followed the announcement that President Muhammadu Buhari earmarked only N70 million for the 2015 Independence Day anniversary.¨
No doubt the motive was to draw attention to Buhari’s much hyped frugality and prudent management of resources in comparison with the last administration’s propensity for waste and mismanagement. The governor’s Facebook post generated a major media buzz and those sold on change again used it to good effect to amplify their narrative of a new order. The mainstream media was awash with the report. In public and private discussions, and beer parlour gossip, it was cited as a fact with vigour and authority to buttress arguments because el-Rufai said it.¨It has now emerged that, that “gospel truth” according to our irrepressible¨el-Rufai was pure bunkum – a barefaced lie after all.
The information obtained from the Office of the Secretary-General of the Federation (OSGF) has caught him out, but the governor has not had the strength of character or found the need to admit he was wrong, and that he misled the public. Instead he has arrogantly carried on as if nothing happened. What a great guy for idle gossip!¨The OSGF in a letter made available to BudgIT Nigeria, an organisation committed to promoting transparency and accountability in public finances, apparently showed that the Jonathan administration spent N333.60 million in four years to hold Independence Day celebrations.¨
According to the OSGF, no funds were released for the Independence Day anniversary celebration in 2011. In 2012, N107.60 million was released for the celebration. In 2013, the sum of N45 million was approved and in 2014, only N180 million was spent. When you compare the N333.60 million, which was the actual amount spent to the N64 billion el-Rufai claimed was spent, you would freeze at the sheer audacity of his mischief.¨Naturally, the questions that follow are: where did el-Rufai get his outlandish figures from that he posted on his Facebook page? What exactly did he set out to achieve and why did he deliberately lie to Nigerians about the independence anniversary expenditure? Something must be wrong with an individual who tells a story that is nothing but a pack of lies just to undermine another person or institution of government. I think we’ll have to engage the services of behavioural scientists and psychologists to unravel the motivation behind otherwise accomplished individuals engaging in self-destructive acts, whose benefits are usually highly short-lived.¨
While we await experts’ opinion, we can glean from former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s assessment of his former Minister of the FCT in his book “My Watch” Vol. 2 page110 as a guide. Although the former president responded to the missiles hurled at him by el-Rufai on the issue of his third term bid, it does not in my opinion diminish the importance of his contribution to understanding el-Rufai. He described el-Rufai as follows: “… I should bring up Nasir el-Rufai here because of the greatest insults he piled on me in his book ‘Accidental Public Servant’ on the issue of third term. Nasir’s penchant for reputation damaging is almost pathological. Why does he do it? He is brilliant and smart…. I appreciated his brilliance and acknowledged his weaknesses, the worst being his inability to be loyal to any person or issue for long… I believe he can still be used for public service under guidance, making allowance for his petite size and his elephantine brain. He was described as a malicious liar.
He is more than that; he is a pathological purveyor of untruths and half-truths with no regards to integrity…..” Wow! That is pretty damning stuff from one’s former boss.¨And for the avoidance of doubt, a lie is a lie, whether told a thousand times or not. El-Rufai owes the public an explanation, nay an apology as his credibility is heading down a slippery slope that we would have to check the time properly any time he says “good morning”. ¨Just as I was ruminating over his N64-billion-to-celebrate-independence lie, I stumbled on a report in the media credited to the serving overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare.
The cleric expressed worry that key officials of the APC had started giving excuses why the promised change might be long in coming.â€¨He made specific reference to the comments reportedly made by el-Rufai, on the state of the nation. Bakare, who sometime ago disclosed that he was in Daura APC said: “I need to call your attention to the comments made by my brother and Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, who said Nigeria had sunk deeper than any human being could redeem. If the people in government, who promised us change, can say this, then where does our hope lie?¨“So, you can begin to wonder where the nation is heading towards.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) couldn’t do it, the people who promised change have started saying the nation’s problems are deeper than human beings could solve. Who do we turn to, to solve our problems? What they are saying is that we should turn to God to solve our problems. What we know is that Nigeria will work in our own time.” Those were Bakare’s words, not mine. ¨But is it not a great failure of the mind on the part of the people not to be more skeptical of the message and the messengers? Suddenly everything is now looking like a crumbled heap of misadventure on the part of the people, as these change messengers increasingly traumatise our hopes and expectations with excuses.
When did things suddenly sink deeper than any human can redeem? I refuse to accept that things have sunk deeper that any human can redeem.¨Now, recall that el-Rufai was one of the stalwarts of the APC who assured Nigerians before and after the elections that Buhari and the APC would solve our problems; and that Buhari was the right man for the job – a man he had once dismissed as having “nothing to offer” and who was “perpetually unelectable”. Seven months in the saddle, he is now telling the world that Nigeria had sunk deeper than any human being could redeem.
What does that mean? Is he now telling the whole world that he also lied to get our votes for his party? Is the gossipy public figure now saying that Buhari can no longer solve Nigeria’s problems? The APC was elected to find solutions to the myriad of problems besetting Nigeria and not to be giving all sorts of excuses. They told Nigerians they were up to the task and promised them change and that is what is expected of them.¨But wait a minute! Are we not missing something here? Obasanjo stated that the worst of el-Rufai’s weaknesses was “his inability to be loyal to any person or issue for long…” Are we now to believe that el-Rufai is already showing signs of fatigue, loss of faith and possibly, disloyalty to the issue of “change” his party promised Nigerians by stating that Nigeria has sunk deeper than any human being could redeem? I am still trying to process it.
But I am afraid, el-Rufai may not be alone in the APC which appears not to know what to do with power..â€¨Unfortunately, they are giving all sorts of excuses for their inability to give a definitive direction to the country. In this, they have found willing accomplices who are helping to amplify their litany of silly excuses, while living in perpetual denial of the obvious reality of the unpreparedness of Buhari and his party for power. Now, we hear again and again ridiculous deniability of responsibility remonstrations delivered with emphasis and certainty: “If you see the rot they met”, “ if you see the mess they met”, “Buhari should take his time”, “he needs time to clean the Augean stables “, etc. The irony here is that we don’t have the luxury of time to wait till eternity. Some people are even now lying to themselves that things are changing for the better.
They point to the economy as “doing well” despite the fact that all the economic indicators are pointing southwards and people are increasingly living under the crushing pressure of economic decline. But as it is said, excuses have a shelf life that expires very quickly. An article in Bloomberg last week titled, ‘Buhari Bounce Becomes Bust as Nigeria Policies Irk Investors’ quoted Jan Dehn, the Head of Research at Ashmore Group Plc, which oversees almost $60 billion of emerging market assets as saying he remained unconvinced that Buhari was up to the job. The fund manager sold all its Nigerian government debt in the past year.
He said: “So far, the Buhari administration has done all the wrong things. Not only has he been incredibly slow in taking any action, when he finally has taken action on the economic front, it’s been diametrically opposed to sensible policy. That is a major disappointment given expectations prior to his election.” It is difficult for any observer of this administration to fault that assessment except he is one of those who like the Ostrich, has buried his head in the sand.â€¨From hush whispers, to loud murmurs of misgivings about “change” and now consternation and a growing sense of disenchantment with it as woeful signs of a broken economy are filtering through.
The ongoing mass laying-off of workers – some of who ironically voted change, is a case in point. The atmosphere is enveloped by a mood of despondency and melancholy that leaves the people resigned to fate. No doubt Buhari is not the cause of the problems bedevilling the country but his lethargic handling of the issues of state especially the economy has exacerbated the problems. â€¨Now, let’s even look at security which was Buhari’s strongest selling point during the campaigns. His military background was sold as a recipe for ending the Boko Haram menace. His past “heroic” feats were advertised as evidence of his abilities.
He was feted by all his supporters and the international community as the man with the capacity to bring security, stability and hope to our beleaguered nation. Well, seven months after he was sworn in as president, things haven’t turned out as expected. The Buhari magic is fading; he has not only failed to stamp his authority on his party, he has failed to show that the much talked about change is not mere sloganeering and a hollow strap-line meant to get votes.â€¨The terrorists are even embarrassing him with their daring exploits.
The truth here is that Buhari and his generals are struggling to beat the terrorists just the same way former President Jonathan struggled to beat the terror group. The difference here is that unlike Jonathan who had no military background, Buhari has a rich pool of military experience and the support of that critical northern base plus the support of the entire South. Unfortunately, his military background has not counted for much.â€¨His party, the APC – then in the opposition constantly played up the exploits of the terror sect to undermine the last administration. It took advantage of every terror attack and regaled the nation with how the then Candidate Buhari would crush the sect. And it worked. But Buhari’s scorecard so far is spotty.
The brutal killings in the North-east have not abated. Only recently, according to reports in the media, the army suffered what may well be the single biggest human losses in its war history – the scale of which is enough “to hammer one into the ground” – 105 soldiers were allegedly killed by Boko Haram in battle and another batch of 34 soldiers from 118 Battalion were also killed, bringing the total figure to 139 military personnel killed just like that under an APC-led government. The December deadline set by the president to crush the terrorists is increasingly looking unrealistic despite claims that it remains sacrosanct by the military high command.â€¨Recall that this same APC sent its governors to Borno, marching up and down in Maiduguri in solidarity with the Borno State government and then splashed the photographs in most of the newspapers the next day just to score cheap political points with security matters against the Jonathan administration.
Why can’t they now repeat their solidarity march? One of the so-called “national leaders” of the party went to Kano to sympathise with the victims of terror who were lying critically injured in hospitals. And just moments after his visit, he called for amnesty for members of the very terrorist group responsible for inflicting mortal injuries on the very same people he had just gone to sympathise with. Fearing an angry backlash from voters, he later modified his position thus: “Those with no blood on their hands.” He never called for justice for the victims. They have all lost their voices now.â€¨Senator Mohammed Ndume who is on trial for terrorism-related offences and the late Senator Ahmed Zanna were always in the news shouting that Boko Haram had taken over substantial number of villages in Borno.
We haven’t heard Ndume lament the ravages of the sect in his native Borno since the APC took over power at the federal level. No doubt Ndume must have known that under Buhari, Boko Haram recaptured five local governments. But he said nothing about it. The Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima doesn’t say much these days either, other than to praise Buhari to the skies for the “progress” the country is making.â€¨Not too long ago, the federal government released hundreds of Boko haram suspects. What did Shettima do? He gave each of the suspects N100,000 for rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
Now, is there a mechanism in place to monitor all those released to ensure that they don’t rejoin or provide material support to the sect? â€¨There is a saying in the land of my fathers which eloquently captures our predicament: “To defeat the darkness out there, you must first defeat the darkness inside you.” The more the APC and its supporters shout change, the more things stay the same or even get worse. Nigeria – a giant crippled by a yearning desire for change now finds itself at a crossroads. Any wonder that from Sai Baba!!! Sai Buhari!!! What we are hearing now is Chei Buhari!!