Mr. President, Both The Rich And Poor Are Crying

There is one vice that is distinctively African with African politicians apart from the notorious ‘Big-Man’ and arrogant tendency. This distinctive character about the African politician and especially the species that are holding high profile political positions- insensitivity. African political office holders are often secluded and isolated in the cocoons of their make-believe paradise of the goodies of life and ostentation in the midst of mass squalor and unforgiven cocktails of poverty afflicting clearly the largest percentage of their own people including their own direct kinsmen. This insensitivity often make the discerning minds amongst their people to also alienate themselves from playing active role in politics which in a way plays into the overall calculations of these heartless, selfish, deceptive minded political office holders who relish in the belief that the less in number they are within the privileged class, the merrier contrary to the universal adage that says ‘the more happier people, the merrier’ or what is known of UTILITARIANISM which preaches that delivering the greatest happiness to the greatest percentage of people is the goal of governance.

But in the case of the contemporary Nigerian politician, they are not only insensitive but they relish in robbing their mindless attitudes and pretentious ‘I’m hollier than thou’ tendencies in our faves and thus directly daring us to do our worst. Infact the governor of Kaduna State was quoted in the media as telling those who are not satisfied about his governance modus operandi in Kaduna State to go jump down in the Kufena Hills.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State was reported by Vanguard newspaper to have lambasted his critics who accused him of lopsidedness in political appointments since he assumed office.

El-Rufai while answering questions at the 4th Town Hall meeting in Kaduna Central, said he could not  give appointments to persons who did not vote for him during

the governorship election, adding that anyone not happy with the situation should go and commit suicide.

Recall that El Rufai has been criticised for appointing his close friends, family members and non-indigenes into top positions in the state.

The  former FCT Minister was also accused of recommending his cousin, Hadiza Shamsudeen,  as a ministerial nominee in Buhari’s government.

His words:  “If you are not happy with appointments made, you can go and climb Kufena mountain, fall and die.

“It was what you voted for that you got, because we are aware that there are people who did not vote for us, in fact, they worked against us.

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“But now they claim to be APC members and loyal to the party. We know such people. And so there is no way they would expect anything from us.”

The same insensitivity of the peculiarly wicked and mean hearted governors in Nigeria resonated in Edo State and the same wicked statement of ‘go and die’ also came into play. Mind you these governors after serving for two tenures of 8 years retire into opulence and their kids are not often schooled in the Country like every other kids of the poor. The President is not different from the other politicians in terms of sending their kids to foreign schools. He is even in a worst case because he doesn’t believe in the local hospitals since he often spend long periods of time in one hospital or the other in London. Also, the Son of the Presidebt Yusuf organised a lavished wedding in Kano with the daughter of the Emir of Bichi whereupon all the political office holders left their works to attend and to show face to the President the father of the groom. This wedding happened whilst over 100 kidnapped school children from Kebbi, Katsina and Zamfara States were still held hostage by Fulani terrorists.

As I was saying earlier, the then Edo State governor did exactly what his party member Nassir Elruffai did in Kaduna.

As aforementioned, Mr.  Adams Oshiomhole, governor of Edo (as he then was)  was in the eye of the storm following his shabby treatment of a widow which was filmed and has been spread over the internet.

According to widespread reports, the woman was selling wares in a prohibited area, by a busy roadside and it was this act that attracted the anger of the governor.

The petit Oshiomhole was leading a task force which was responsible for dealing with such offenders. The governor as captured by the reporters had reportedly intensified efforts to rid the state of roadside hawkers, much like his Lagos counterpart, Babatunde Fashola. The Federal Capital Territory is also another hell of a place for poor hawkers because the taskforce members robb these poor women of their wares and also physically and sexually harass them. Some of these women are raped and extorted before they are freed. Understandably, as observed by a reporter the crackdown on the hawkers has spread nationwide with many states outlawing the practice and linking it to accidents and the piling up of refuse on roads and in drainages which is not exactly correct.

As stated, the video that trended showed then governor Adams Oshiomhole ostensibly leading officials of the state to sanitize the city of Benin, the Edo State capital.

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In the course of his tour of duty, he came across a roadside hawker. The poor widow knelt before the imperial governor, a former labour leader, begging for her little means of livelihood to be saved.

In what could be regarded as the most unkind cut of all, the governor said the widowed woman should “go and die”!

Afterwards he stood for some seconds looking indifferently on how the officials took the women’s belongings away, and he left the scene of the drama.

He would later apologise publicly and even gave N2 million to the poor widow when his crude statement gained notoriety and got a lot of backlash. But contrary to expectation that the centre may be different from the States, Abuja’s seat of power is as cruel and wicked as are the governors most of whom think they are emperors who are above being criticised and above the law.

The media spokesperson of President Muhammadu Buhari Mr. Femi Adesina perhaps exhibited a callous outlook towards critics of his boss when he perjoratively called them wailers. The information minister has been busy manipulating the National Broadcasting commission to clampdown on independent briadcasters in the Country because the government does not feel comfortable hear the suffering masses complain. And yet President Muhammadu Buhari claimed that he has the interest of the poor at heart? Far from it. The contrary is the case and indeed even the rich with no political connections to Abuja are also crying due to mismanagement of the economy by the federal government.

But this is not even why I’m writing this piece but it fits into the larger picture of political callousness that I’m out to write about which was instigated by the dishonest statement made few hours back before the African Union in Addis Ababa Ethiopia by President Muhammadu Buhari.

President Muhammadu Buhari during whose varnishing and inglorious administration the purchasing prices of foodstuffs and petrol skyrocketed and Nigeria became the poverty capital of the World with over 90 million absolutely poor people, larger than India with over 1 billion population and Nigeria with less than a quarter of that population  of India, said that for the remaining few Months he has up until he retires into his Daura farmhouse in May 29th 2023 that his policies will focus on addressing the mass poverty in Nigeria.  This is being economical with the truth.

The President said he has always thought of the poor since he came on board in the year 2015 as elected President in a civilian garb after he took over power through the barrels of the gun in the mid eighties and ruled until his Northern kinsman General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida in a Palace coup unseated him.

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President Muhammadu Buhari Friday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said the poor and vulnerable in Nigeria remain top priority for protection and lifting from the poverty cycle, assuring that social safety nets will be further sustained, while access to education and opportunities will be expanded.

Speaking at the virtual official presentation of the Country Review Report of Nigeria to the 31st Africa Peer Review Forum of the African Union, President Buhari said the government will also take advantage of Information, Communication and Technology to ensure inclusiveness, access and create more opportunities.

“Your Excellencies, Nigeria’s strategic focus, as we set out to achieve the objectives of the African Union Agenda 2063, has been around the following: Building a thriving and sustainable economy; Enhancing social inclusion and alleviating poverty; Enlarging agricultural output for food security and sufficiency; Attaining energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products.

“Expanding transport and other infrastructural development, business growth, entrepreneurship and industrialization; Access to quality education, affordable healthcare and productivity, social cohesion and security; and, building a system that fights corruption and improve governance.

“Nigeria remains resolutely committed to achieving these set goals despite the challenges that the report highlighted, including the COVID 19 pandemic.  The government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria remains committed to providing social safety nets for the poor and most vulnerable in our society, while also taking advantage of the huge opportunities offered by the information and technology sector,’’ he said.

How does the President intends to achieve this pro-poor policies now that his administration has impoverished over 90 million citizens and exactly now when his administration can’t even pay salaries of civil servants without borrowing from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund? Just how does President Muhammadu Buhari intends to achieve what he has just read out to African politicians in Addis Ababa Ethiopia when corruption has become hydraheaded right under his nose and Nigeria has further shrunk in the transparency rating and has become the second most corrupt Country in West Africa? Just how?

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA and was a NATIONAL COMMISSIONER of the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission.  

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