The Nigerian economy is in recession for the first time in over 20 years. President Muhammadu Buhari never passes up an opportunity to remind Nigerians that the profligacy of the previous administration was a factor in putting the country in dire straits.
However, Buhari’s hypocrisy has to be seen in order to be believed. Last night, he served up further evidence. At a time he is preaching the need to tighten belts, he hosted a lavish ceremony at the State House in Abuja to launch “Buhari: A new beginning”, a glossy pictorial book by his official photographer Bayo Omoboriowo.
It is quite instructive that a book about Buhari is just filled with pictures. For starters, the man himself has demonstrated quite clearly that he has no interest in reading. One of his aides said recently that the first thing he looks at in newspapers is the cartoons. It is no wonder the government is turning into a bad joke as the delivery of photo-ops has become a substitute for delivering programmes and policies that uplift Nigerians.
An administration that promised Nigerians “change” has just carried on with the same excesses of the one it replaced. Not that any discerning Nigerian expected much from Buhari in the first place – you only had to look at how vacuous he is. And he was in typical empty-headed form when he addressed a panel of people from the creative industry.
Watch it here (his address starts from around 1:04):
The president claimed that his administration will address infrastructure, power supply and security. It was important to keep the country secure in order to effectively manage it, he said. This must have come as news to the families of the thousands of Nigerians that have died since Buhari came to power last year from Fulani herdsmen violence. Their plight has been mostly ignored by the president, and nothing concrete has been done to address the terror of the herdsmen as they kill and maim with impunity.
Buhari showed why a commentator once said he is “an analogue president in a digital age” when he said, in reference to communications, that radio broadcasts were more important than TV because more Nigerians had access to a radio than TV. He also acknowledged that newspapers, at about 100 naira ($0.32) each, were priced beyond the reach of poor Nigerians. He may be right about radio/TV, especially in the north. But surely a more widespread communication tool in Nigeria today is mobile phones.
The president claimed strangely that there was “no infrastructure” when he took over. Without sounding like an apologist for the criminality of the previous administration, this is inaccurate. The infrastructure was crumbling in most places, but there didn’t seem to be much wrong with the infrastructure where this event was taking place.
Buhari then revealed why he may be the worst person to be in charge in an economic downturn, with an elementary maths blunder. While claiming that a survey showed that oil marketers committed fraud in about a third of their activities, Buhari said this was about 25%. A third is about 33.3% and 25% is a quarter. Nigeria is in big trouble and this is not even half the story.