Opinion

Duplicity and the Buhari interview, By Chido Nwakanma

Access Bank

President Muhamadu Buhari continued the unveiling of the PMB Gauntlet on Thursday, 10 June 2021, by granting an interview to Arise Television. It was strategic in timing and import.

The PMB Gauntlet is a series of actions and statements over the last six months making clear the decision of Mr President and the Presidency to implement the prioritisation of cattle and cattle routes, the importance of the Fulani and the North and his disdain of Southern Nigeria with the South-East at the apex.

The interview revealed deep things that otherwise literate Nigerians miss and continue to misread the man. After years of staying away from interactions with the media, PMB agreed to do one. Why?

  • He could crow about the Lagos-Ibadan railway project as proof of his vaunted infrastructure programme.
  • He needed to unleash his venom on those he considered enemies.
  • It was a few days to 12 June; perfect for messaging the South-West and the South-East and mollycoddling the South-South.

The excitable have dismissed aspects of the interview wherein PMB seemed to go into the forest instead of facing the road in response to questions. To them it is proof of the sickness and intellectual vacuity of the president. Note that he did the same thing during his appearance at the United Nations in the recent past. He ignored a question and focused on reading a prepared text. The uninformed sniggered while intellectuals lamented our ill-luck in having such a “dumb” president.

Experts are coming out of the woodworks. They insist that some of his miscues represent a reputational risk for management by his communication team. Others claim that a man who has lost his onions is leading Nigeria.

Prof Farooq Kperogi wrote: “I’ve just had a chance to watch soul-depressing, dementia-plagued clips of Buhari’s incoherent, genocidal, and ethnocentric babble that passes for an interview, and all I’m inclined to say at this point is that people who believe in Nigeria can only hope against hope that the country survives the suspended animation Buhari instigates and presides over. Trying to make sense of Buhari is now completely pointless.”

The professor of mass communication gets it on “genocidal and ethnocentric.” On the contrary, Kperogi, we need now more than ever before to make sense of Buhari. A determined ethnocentric is leading Nigeria with a clear and evil plan.

Buhari’s answers at the Arise Interview showed articulation where he wanted and strange befuddlement as desired. He deliberately threw those bones of seeming amnesiac moments to the lettered, mainly Southerners. The goal is to keep them guffawing while he executes his plans. People forget that PMB is a military man schooled in the deception and feints of the miitary.

Following three failed attempts to return to the headship of Nigeria, PMB learnt to apply Taqqiyah and his military lessons. He played along with those who promised to deliver the crown to him. Unlike in 2011, for instance, he went to all parts of Nigeria in 2015. He agreed to appear in the attires of all Nigerian ethnic groups.

Some friends of mine worked for his campaign. They compiled those lofty campaign promises in a booklet. PMB showcased the brochure at a rally at the Teslim Balogun Stadium. Once he got into power, he disowned the publication in a statement Garba Shehu signed. We have in PMB a wily imperious emperor giving the impression of a simple-minded village bumpkin.

Over the years, PMB cultivated the persona of a simple, almost rustic and poor man. As a brilliant Doris Obi Enwezor has noted, “It allowed the educated to underestimate him and the poor to identify with him.” It yielded a passionate following. He then made a fool of the lettered and showed how shallow they are. He dumped all those who claimed political sophistication before his election, knowing they were irrelevant. PMB has created another category: persons to blame for his misdeeds and those who defend his every action.

He used everyone who willingly lent him their reputations. Many are still smarting from the deception.

PMB responded candidly to questions that he wanted to answer. He passed responsibility for managing insecurity arising from the carnage of herders and bandits to the governors though those ones have no control of any armed forces and PMB had denied other Nigerians of arms.

He reaffirmed his hate and fatwa on the Igbo. We are all members of IPOB to him, and our land is a mere dot with no exits. “We are going to treat them in the language they will understand. I have told the military and police to be ruthless with them”. Whether or not you spoke for or against IPOB, you are a secessionist and terrorist in the Buhari book of Nigeria. Moreover, he affirmed the allegiance of the South-South not only to him but to blocking South-Easterners.

He blamed restive youth for the declining FDI under his leadership rather than the absence of policy and enabling environment.

PMB confirmed his roots in the Niger Republic and stated, devil-may-care, that the investment in the rail line to Maradi is to link him with his cousins. It negates the constitution, but what is that in the Buhari world? Here he threw another bone at intellectuals. He wants us to interrogate the Partition of Africa between 1881 and 1914. Smart distraction.

Then he claimed disingenuously that his appointments relied on the merit criterion as well as seniority. Another example of the Buhari gauntlet thrown at Nigerians: what can you do about it anyway, knowing that it is untrue?

Welcome, Ozymandias. All roads hereafter lead to wherever Buhari desires. Or so he assumes. It is man’s eternal conceit, the Nebuchadnezzar Syndrome.

Chido first contributed this piece to ThisDay

 

 

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