by Farooq Kperogi
Buhari apologists say I have never praised Buhari since he came to power. Well, I am no praise singer. I am a scholar. But I have defended Buhari many times in the past when I thought he was unfairly attacked. For instance, in 2012 when news and social media pundits—and Jonathan’s media team—tore him to shreds for saying “kare jini, biri jini” [Hausa for “the dog and the baboon will be soaked in blood”], I vigorously defended him. Read my May 27, 2012 article titled, “Idioms, Mistranslation, and Abati’s Double Standards”.When, in 2015, he was ridiculed for saying “President Michelle of West Germany,” I also defended him with all the resources of logic and erudition I had. I explained to Nigerians that Buhari wasn’t “clueless” but was suffering from age-induced memory lapses called “senior moments.” Read my June 20, 2015 titled, “Criticising Buhari Over ‘President Michelle of West Germany’ Gaffe is Ignorant”. Also read my June 27, 2015 sequel titled, “Obama and Buhari: Comparing their ‘Senior Moments“.
Even when he visited the US in July 2015 and made his infamously unwise comment about not giving a care about people from the south who didn’t vote for him, I defended him because I thought he realised his error and retracted what he said in the same speech. Read my July 25, 2015 article titled, “President Buhari’s Grand Moments in America”.
I can go on, but that’s irrelevant now.
Here is the deal. If Buhari apologists want my “praises”—and those of other disinterested, politically unaffiliated people of conscience who criticise this mean and incompetent administration— let their idol do the following and they won’t be able to contain rapturous applause he will get not just from me but from millions of Nigerians:
1. Assemble a sound economic advisory team to help him tackle our economic malaise. You can’t have 5 media aides and have only one diplomat as an economic adviser (who is pushed to the VP’s office) in a time of recession and think people won’t call you clueless and unprepared.
2. Truthfully declare his assets and not the insincere, half-hearted job his media team did. No one forced the president to promise that he would publicly declare his assets. On February 20, 2015, Buhari said, “I pledge to PUBLICLY declare my assets and liabilities, encourage all my appointees to publicity declare their assets and liabilities as a pre-condition for appointment.”
3. Sincerely investigate and prosecute the corrupt people in his administration. David Lawal Babachir has been accused of all kinds of shady deals, including callously shortchanging IDPs. Abba Kyari has been accused of all manner of corruption. Irrefutable documentary proofs of Buratai’s corruption have been published on Sahara Reporters. Not a word has been heard from the presidency in response to any of these accusations. Amaechi has been accused of bribing judges. No one has investigated him. But corrupt political opponents are hounded in the name of “anti-corruption” fight. An invidiously selective anti-corruption fight is itself corruption.
4. Punish people who “padded” the 2016 budget and not merely transfer them to another ministry like Buhari did.
5. Stop the social apartheid that allocates billions of naira to Aso Rock Clinic while public hospitals that serve millions of everyday people are underfunded.
6. Obey his own directive to stop foreign medical treatment for government officials. On April 27, 2016, Buhari said, “While this administration will not deny anyone of his or her fundamental human rights, we will certainly not encourage expending Nigerian hard earned resources on any government official seeking medical care abroad, when such can be handled in Nigeria.” About a month later, he went to London to treat an ear infection. On December 2, Abba Kyari, Buhari’s Chief of Staff, was flown to London because he had “breathing difficulties.” Even with more than 3 billion a year budget, Aso Rock Clinic couldn’t treat “breathing difficulties.”
7. Investigate and overturn the unlawful, clandestine appointment of the children of politically connected people in various agencies of government.
For more, read my column this Saturday.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Farooq Kperogi, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Journalism & Emerging Media at the School of Communication, Kennesaw State University, USA. He blogs at www.farooqkperogi.com and tweets @farooqkperogi.