President Muhammadu Buhari granted an interview to Al Jazeera English while on his official trip to Qatar. The interview was aired on Saturday, March 5, 2016 to the chagrin of Nigerian around the globe. Here are six quick notes:
• On why he should continue to fund his children in foreign schools while restricting foreign exchange for most families that have pupils in schools abroad, Buhari acknowledges its “tough luck”.
• On presenting the “worst budget” ever, Buhari blames it on sabotage by technocrats, and also denies knowledge of details of his budget when challenged on specifics, such as amount budgeted for books for the VP, and the Aso Rock Clinic. He accused the interviewer of assuming better knowledge of his budget.
• On security votes, which had been source of corruption, which we had been told were scrapped. he defended the need for the security votes, and promised to punish anyone found misappropriating the funds.
• On why no convictions since his much vaunted fight on corruption, he queried the motives of his critics, and why similar expectations were not made of previous administrations.
• On whether Nigeria will join the Saudi Arabia led Islamic Coalition Force Against Terrorism, he said YES, which is in contradiction to what we were previously told. When asked if this decision was insensitive to the desire of Christians that make up 50% of Nigeria’s population, Buhari retorted [with hate] that Christians complaining should “Go fight terrorism in Nigeria, or fight militants in the South”. Those complaining Christians he referred to as religious bigots.
• On Buhari’s promise to defeat Boko Haram, he was declared a “failure”, to which he angrily declared “I haven’t failed, I haven’t failed, I haven’t failed…”. His rationale was that Boko Haram now only has capabilities to attack and kill only civilians, but not police posts and military institutions. What low value placed on Nigerian lives by the President charged with the responsibility of protecting them. By the way, Boko Haram bombed a police headquarters in Adamawa last month.
• On the killing of IPOB peaceful protesters by Nigeria’s armed forces, Buhari wickedly refused to watch the video when offered. He accused the movement of “interfering with movement of troops and the economy”, and declared the movement as “joking with Nigeria’s security and Nigeria will not tolerate it”. He then cajoled them, since we are in a democracy, to organize and vote for a “state within a state”
The level of inconsistencies, ignorance, and insensitivity displayed by this president, for lack of better word, is pathological.
The video of the full interview is below:
Edward Oparaoji is a professor of pharmacy and chairman, Nigerian-American Leadership Council, a Washington DC Based think-tank. He is a member of the Editorial Board of The Trent, one of the most influential online newspapers in Nigeria. Connect with him on Facebook.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.