By Abimbola Adelakun
January 16, 2020
Now that the Supreme Court has nullified the election of the Peoples Democratic Party’s Emeka Ihedioha as the governor of Imo State and declared the All Progressives Congress’ Hope Uzodinma the winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the state, I owe it to readers of last week’s article to insist that God has nothing to do with the “prophets” that purportedly speak in his name. No God told Rev Fr Mbaka that Uzodinma would win at the court. More likely, this was what happened: To prepare the public for the electoral magic that would propel Uzodinma from his INEC-declared fourth position in the election to an eventual declaration of him as governor, Mbaka became a tool to “prophesy” it ahead of the day. The court judgment was not written on Tuesday morning; it must have been concluded weeks before the verdict was delivered, and a few privileged people must have had access to the information. They knew the outcome would be contentious, and that was where Mbaka and his penchant for prophetic controversy became useful.
By Tuesday when Uzodinma was finally declared governor, the public had become open to the possibility of his victory. The shock – and perhaps outrage – that could have accompanied the unexpected upturn of the 2019 election had mitigated. I suspect even Ihedioha knew about the looming judgment because of his jitters about Mbaka’s prophesy. Whoever came up with the Mbaka angle played the game well; they got people by their dog collar. Take a look around, and you will find that more folk have been carried away with the spectacle of Mbaka’s prophecy and are less invested in the “mathemagic” that produced Uzodinma’s governorship. That is how abracadabra works. The magician makes you look in one direction while they work their sleight of hand in the opposite direction.
As of the time of sending this piece in, a lot of information about the court case remains fuzzy. I am curious, for instance, how the other candidates fared in the 388 cancelled polling units that were restored to favour Uzodinma and why the apex court did not order fresh elections. I hope we can concentrate on analysing what matters instead of wasting time on debating whether Mbaka has telepathic powers or not. He does not; he belongs in the circles where he picks up privileged information. This time, it worked for him. He is now an oracle who will be mediating, not between God and man, but between opposing camps of desperate politicians. The administration that claimed they won the Osun State governorship election through a “remote control” might have just gained multiple victories at our collective expense.
…and Buhari is beyond morality
Last Thursday, Hanan Buhari, flew to Bauchi for a Durbar festival contrived as props for her nascent photography career. According to media reports, the Durbar was a “special” one because it was categorically organised for her by the Emir of Bauchi, Rilwanu Adamu. While there has been justifiable outrage about the use of the presidential jet for the President’s daughter’s personal purposes, I am even more confounded a festival was staged in her favour. What was so special about her photography that Aso Rock and Bauchi had to expend millions of naira to fulfil it?
Nigeria has a long and proud history of corruption, nepotism, abuse of power, and institutionalised shamelessness, but this comes top at many unethical intersections.
In April last year, then still the governor-elect of Bauchi, Bala Muhammed, lamented to newsmen about the dire conditions of the state: about 1.3 million children are out of school; public schools lack basic resources; the entire state has only 44 doctors to cater to a population of around seven million; high rate of unemployment; hospitals are understaffed, and they lack basic amenities such as drugs, beds, light and water. In short, Bauchi State is a dystopia. Yet, in that same state, they could commit an indeterminable amount of resources to the “honour” of someone who wants some photos for her studio?
There is a lot to be said about a rent-seeking Emir who threw a cultural festival for the President’s daughter, but ultimately, the blame ends at Buhari’s doorstep. If he were not an unethical leader himself, his subjects would not take the cue to fritter public resources on his daughter. This is another instance of the unravelling of Buhari’s character.
When people juxtapose Muhammadu Buhari’s pre-presidential promises with his presidential conduct, they conclude he is a hypocrite. His electoral promises to reduce administrative waste and promote a moderate lifestyle, compared to the present reality, give him away as an amoral character. The truth is, Buhari lacks a discernible sense of what constitutes virtue, ethics, fairness, or integrity, and that puts him beyond the possibility of acting morally. Nothing we say about his moral inconsistency will stimulate him towards reflexive self-correction. He is utterly incapable. This is so because he is a narcissist who sees himself as the epitome of incorruptibility and therefore, he considers everything he does right. I can bet that if you asked Buhari about the propriety of his daughter’s trip to Bauchi as a hypothetical question, he retains enough moral clarity to say, “That was wrong, that was corruption, and nobody should do that.” However, because his daughter was involved, he would shrug off the inquiry without further thought. To him, right and wrong do not exist because there is an objective measure that calibrates virtues. Things are right because he does them, and corruption is only corruption when someone else – and specifically, those whom he doesn’t approve – do them.
There is perhaps no circumstance that better typifies the Buhari’s personalisation of virtues than the manner he and his officials persistently assail medical tourism. From the latest instance where the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said Nigerians need to stop going abroad for medical treatment because the country could no longer afford it, to past cases where previous ministers of health such as Drs. Osagie Ehanire and Isaac Adewole made similar criticisms, their government demonstrates an incredible capacity to be blind to the irony of their official stances.
No President has sought medical help abroad as long and as consistently as Buhari, and ironically, no other government has publicly lamented about medical tourism as much as Buhari’s. In 2017, less than a week after Buhari returned from a three-month medical treatment from the UK, Vice-President Yemi Osinbanjo too moaned about medical tourism, saying the costs were “draining our reserves.” I do not believe they lack the innate capacity to process the irony of their statements; their attitude is that any action – regardless of its appropriateness – is legitimated by them.
The same Buhari who could not present his WASCE certificate – he hired 13 SANs to obfuscate the court case to compel him to do so – recently stated that Nigerians must provide “credible school certificates.” Lately, when he received the APC youth leaders from around Nigeria, Buhari enjoined them to never yield to the mischievous forces that want to divide the nation based on ethnicity and religion. That was what a leader should say, except that since he got to the office, Buhari has fed the twin gods of ethnic nepotism and religious bigotry until it became an untamable monster. There is an unbridgeable gulf between Buhari’s vision of Nigeria and his moral conduct, and that truth never seems to strike him.
Let us not forget that this same man who claimed that he was too poor to buy the application form for his APC nomination in 2014/5 is the one whose children have all schooled abroad. Hanan, for instance, is taking multiple degrees in Ravensbourne University, UK, where the tuition alone starts from N10m per year. During Buhari’s first term, his aide, Femi Adesina, told us that Buhari sold his property to fund his children’s education. They have finally dispensed with all those pretensions. They can no longer be bothered about what anyone thinks. There have removed all constraining moral benchmarks and turned Buhari into the standard. Now, everything is ethically sound as long as he and his loyalists are the ones doing it.