Absentee president Muhammadu Buhari, who disappeared from sight on May 7, showed up on Sunday in London, after 77 days to meet a delegation of governors, a minister (and former governor), and the chairman of his party.
It is not quite clear what the criteria was for selecting this devious delegation, but criminality must have featured highly on the list. Buhari’s wife, Aisha, wrote on Facebook a few weeks ago, in reference to the skulduggery behind the scenes in anticipation of her husband’s failure to recover from the unknown illness that has kept him off work for so long: “The hyenas and the jackals will soon be sent out of the kingdom”.
It appears it was the jackasses that were sent to go and see Buhari. Among them was Nasty Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State. If rumours are to be believed, the two-faced titch was probably there to assess for himself how long Buhari had to live. He is reportedly among those positioning themselves to replace Buhari in the 2019 (s)election. The alleged plan is for him to be appointed vice president, if the incumbent – Yemi Osinbajo – is elevated to top spot when it is established that Buhari can no longer continue.
For El-Rufai to be a current governor and have his eyes on the highest office in the land shows how failed the Nigerian state is. Here is a man that a Senate committee declared “is not a fit and proper person to hold office in a democratic setting” because he couldn’t account for 32bn naira missing from the coffers of the Federal Capital Territory where he was a minister from 2003 to 2007.
As if that were not enough to disqualify him from high office, El-Rufai, since becoming Kaduna State governor in 2015, has virtually looked the other way as Fulani herdsmen massacred thousands of people in the southern part of his state. People from that area widely believe he is biased in favour of the herdsmen as he is Fulani too. His actions and comments do not help dispel that notion.
Next in the delegation of deceit is Rochas Okorocha, an alleged former 4.1.9 (named after the section in the Nigerian criminal code for obtaining money through false pretenses)who became governor of Imo State in 2011. He has since proceeded to not only loot the bulk of his state’s allocations from the federal purse, but borrow billions of naira and divert it for his and his family’s benefit. His misrule in the state has been tagged a “familiocracy” by comedian Uche Ogbuagu.
Buhari came to power two years ago claiming to fight corruption, but he was accused of hypocrisy earlier this year by a senator from his own party, Shehu Sani, who said corruption by opponents was treated with disinfectant, while when it was from allies, the president used a deodorant. With El-Rufai and Okorocha joined at the meeting table with another “fantastically corrupt” ally – the former governor of Rivers State and current transport minister – Rotimi Amaechi, Buhari would have needed extra strong deodorant to cope with the stench of corruption in the room. There are multiple petitions against Amaechi with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission covering his eight years as governor. No further action is being taken because Amaechi reportedly bankrolled the bulk of Buhari’s presidential campaign. He is an untouchable right now – at least as long as Buhari remains president. Perhaps Amaechi’s interest in Buhari’s health was in relation to his own freedom from prosecution.
Others from Looters Inc adding to the stench of corruption in the room included the Kogi State governor Yahaya Bello, who since assuming office in controversial circumstances allegedly involving bribing the judiciary in January last year, has become a byword for corruption. He has already been pelted with stones and fruits amid chants of “ole” (“thief) in public outings in his state in his short tenure in office. Bello shares with Buhari a distrust for Nigerian healthcare (that they are both responsible for improving). The governor had eye surgery in Germany in September.
Also in this list of the coalition of the corrupt is governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nassarawa State. In 2014 about 20 members of the state’s House of Assembly drew up a list of 16 charges of official misconduct against Al-Makura, which included misappropriation of funds.
Lurking among the gangsters was John Oyegun, the chairman of their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). He was alleged to have taken bribes from some party bigwigs to ensure a favourable result during the APC’s Ondo State governorship primaries.
Buhari’s doctors must have been wondering whether exposing their patient to a combination of the pungent whiff of corruption and an overwhelming smell of deodorant needed to neutralize it, would harm his prospects of recovery.