28 May 2019
President Muhammadu Buhari sat down last night to an “interview” on the government-owned NTA last night. But calling what followed an “interview” would mean rewriting the meaning of that word.
It was a cringeworthy exercise in lickspittle obsequiousness from reporter Adamu Sambo, who seemed to be just grateful to have been granted an audience with “his excellency”, and desperately keen to avoid any question that could remotely embarrass the president. So viewers were served with the softest of soft balls lobbed in Buhari’s direction, possibly provided to him beforehand. Any half-competent person would have batted those questions away with relative ease, but not the bumbling Buhari.
Watch the interview below:
The president claimed that his biggest achievement was “degrading” Boko Haram in the northeast. He has apparently been advised to “degrade” his previous claims of “technically defeating” the terrorists.
Buhari also declared victory on food production: “We have virtually achieved food security”. This is clearly untrue about most of the northeast that has borne the brunt of the Boko Haram insurgency. But an even deadlier conflict involving Fulani herdsmen has heightened food insecurity in the north-central region. The April 2019 update by the Farming Early Warning Systems Network challenges the president’s claims: “The farmer/pastoralist conflict and communal conflict in the north central states persists with substantial fatalities, displacement and infrastructure damages. Several communities have their livelihoods impacted recently in Kaduna, Nasarawa and Niger states. Limited access to farming land and harvest theft and destruction are causing crop losses.” More detail is available here: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/NIGERIA%20FSOU_April%202019_Final_2.pdf
On insecurity all over the country, the president blamed “community leadership and the police”, whom he claims have “failed”. There was no sense of responsibility from him, even though the Nigerian constitution makes the security and welfare of Nigerians the “primary purpose” of government. All Buhari offered in terms of solutions was to “continue to do my best”. Many would argue that his so-called best is not good enough.
Buhari then tripped himself up by claiming, in response to a question about security chiefs, that “security depends on a strong centre” since the country doesn’t have state police forces or state armies. After blaming local communities for crimes in their areas, the president was recognising inadvertently that security needed strong leadership from the centre that, as the person with ultimate responsibility, he is neither providing nor is capable of providing.
Buhari then said his “message to Nigerians” was for the to “expose criminals in their neighbourhood”, adding “you can’t accommodate criminals in your neighbourhood and start blaming government”. This a bit rich from a president whose cabinet and party are riddled with several politicians that have a long list of corruption petitions against them. Buhari has not only shielded them from prosecution, he has given them high profile positions and relied on their largesse, from looted funds, for his reelection.
The interview ended just as it started with more servile questioning. Sambo said the president has been described “differently” by many people and only listed what the praise-singers were saying. This helping from NTA was a disgrace to journalism and a slap in the face for the millions of Nigerians suffering under the yoke of Buhari’s misrule.