Buhari, Monkeys, Snakes and Termites
Nigeria is a huge crime scene. It has at all strata A-List criminals holding court. And these are very ingenious people, who routinely stun the world even in yarning stupid excuses for their felony. Before I proceed, can I be permitted to serve a particular folk song (you may have heard it before if you are Yoruba). Here is the song:
Kí’ledún gbé – what did Edun steal?
Owó, owó l’édún gbé -it was money that Edun stole
Kí ló fi se – what did he do with it?
Àso, àso ló fi rà – he used it to buy cloth
Àso kí e wà – what type of cloth?
Yéèye yéèye òsùgbó- the dangling muffler of òsugbó (the esoteric)
Kí l’edun se – what did Edun do?
Edún jalè ó fòru lo – Edun stole and left before the break of dawn
That is it. It should really start competing with our National Anthem.
There can never be a dull moment with us as a people. If there is any area where the lethargic and lousy government of General Muhammadu Buhari will be scored on a positive side, it is in the area of the daily comic reliefs it supplies to ease the pains and pangs of the complete mess the Daura retired General has made of governance. Methinks the government deliberately shuns out its theater of the absurd, every now and then, in a bid to ensure that Nigerians don’t turn suicidal by the deficits of the administration in all facets of life. The most beautiful thing about the Buhari presidency is the fact that those who supported the coming into power of the languid government and those who fought vigorously to avert the current disaster from happening through their opposition to the 2015 presidential bid of Buhari, are now operating on the same level. The shame, failure and the pains of the Buhari government spare no one; supporters or non-supporters. The Buhari government is indeed what my elders call eji- rain- which has no friend nor foe. Rain beats whoever it sees without discrimination.
The greatest weapon in the hands of Buhari handlers in the build up to the 2015 presidential election was propaganda. Everybody involved in packaging the Buhari rotten tomatoes as freshly harvested ones appeared to be disciples of Paul Joseph Goebbels, the chief propagandist for the Nazi Party and Reich Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945. As the spokesman for the party, Goebbels became Adolf Hitler’s closest man. He deployed his oratory to the advantage of the tyrant such that many educated Germans believed irredeemably in the propaganda of the brutish government. One of the best quotable quotes of Goebbels is the one which talks about the tendency of repeated lies to become the “truth” with time. Hear him: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”. This is exactly what the ruling All Progressives Government, APC, which in 2015 was an opposition party, deployed to hoodwink Nigerians into believing in the false white garment of Buhari and his gang of power seekers. The most potent de-marketing strategy against the docility of the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration was to paint the government as the most corrupt In the world. While that strategy was the exclusive preserve of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, after the 2014 conspiratorial merger of the musketeers: ACN, the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, the Congress for Political Change, CPC and a few members from the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, the ACN propaganda machinery became very virile in the newly formed APC. Within months, Jonathan and his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had become a pitiable sight that nobody would want to behold from a mile afar. While Jonathan was portrayed as corrupt and “clueless”, Buhari was projected as the Mai Gaskiya (the honest man) and the man who could fix the rot of “corruption”.
To nail the political coffin of Jonathan and route him out of the Aso Rock Villa, like Goebbels of Hitler’s epoch, the APC looked for the best of intellectuals to help drive home its propaganda. Some months to the all-important 2015 presidential election, the deposed Emir of Kano and former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, came with his tale by the moonlight of a missing $20 billion US dollars from the vaults of the then Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. All hell was let loose. The Jonathan government fought spiritedly to ward off the stain and Sanusi, even when all documents tendered proved that he was wrong, stuck to his gun. The APC went to town with the story. Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the current minister in charge of Information and Culture, was at his best addressing one press conference after another. Jonathan was a sight to behold in one of his TV appearances on the matter. The Otuoke, Bayelsa State-born politician became so confused such that when he had no more explanation to give, he volunteered that there was no way $20 billion US dollars would be missing without the USA knowing. We all laughed at the silliness of the response. We asked if the USA was our treasurer. Then Nigerians voted him out of power and brought in Buhari and his gang. The rest, as they say, is now history. While Jonathan retired to his Otuoke country home, from where he has been operating in peace, Nigerians, especially the masses, are today lamenting the mistake of 2015. It is not only that money is missing daily from our treasuries, the styles of their disappearances are equally comical.
Nigerians have come to realise that Buhari is no way near the Mai Gaskiya they projected him to be; but that he, most unfortunately, lacks the capacity to tame the wave of corruption in his government. A fellow engaged me and said: “Buhari, as a person, is not corrupt but the people around him are the ones that are corrupt”. I laughed at his reasoning. I asked who are the people around Buhari? How many of such corrupt people has he punished? Why is he comfortable with “the corrupt people around” him? I probed further by asking the fellow to tell me the difference between ogi (starch corn) and its water. If Buhari is not corrupt but keeps the company of corrupt people, who then is Buhari? The 2015 propaganda had to do with a “missing” $20 billion US dollars. Today, the Buhari government has taken the baton to the next level. Human beings have stolen from the Mai Gaskiya’s government and are tired of stealing. They have yielded the space to animals.
In 2018, Nigerians woke up to the tale of how a mystery snake sneaked into the accounts office of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, in Makurdi, Benue State, and swallowed the sum of N36 million kept in the vault. The sales clerk, under whose watch the snake “swallowed” the money, Philomina Chieshe, told us that she was as shocked as we were, when she discovered the activities of the mysterious snake. I know a little about snakes from the African Traditional Religion, ATR, perspective. Snakes hardly bite, unless they are threatened. But, they can be “sent” on errands. When on that mission, they deliver with military precision. So, I understood Chieshe, when she said: “It was a mystery to me too. I have been saving the money in the bank, but I found it difficult to account for it. So I started saving it in a vault in the office. But each time I open the vault, I will find nothing. I became worried and surprised how the millions of Naira could be disappearing from the vault. I began to interrogate everybody in the house and office, and no one could agree on what might have happened to the money. I continued to press until my housemaid confessed. She said that the money disappeared “spiritually”. She said that a “mysterious snake” sneaked into the house and swallowed the money in the vault”. There are so many of such snakes in the Buhari government. But Buhari does not have the power to discover the “spiritual” snake pit in his government. That too I can understand. Snakes are crawling reptiles; very sly in character! Oh yes; it takes birds of the same plumage to flock.
We had hardly halted the laughter the snake episode elicited when another animal jumped into the fray. This time around, it was an animal that is close to humans in nature. On February 21, 2018, while speaking on why Senator Abdullahi Adamu was removed as the Chairman, Northern Senators’ Forum, another senator from Kaduna State, Shehu Sani, said the sum of N70 million belonging to the Forum, was stolen in Adamu’s farmhouse by monkeys! Don’t laugh! I believed him. Monkeys are impulsive thieves. That, as a matter of fact, is the etymology of the song relayed in the opening lines of this piece. It is a proposition/call and response song. This is how Sani, who was then in APC with Adamu, reported the “missing” N70 million: “There are some things some of my colleagues will not say but I’m not used to holding back. When he assumed office, Senator Ahmed Lawan tendered the sum of N70 million to the 8th Senate. That N70 million was money gathered from the 7th Senate. It was handed over to northern senators of the 8th Senate. The rumours going round, which I don’t know whether it’s true but I believe other senators know, is the fact that there were allegations that some monkeys raided the farm house of some of the executives of the northern senators forum and carted away some of these money. I think, this country is becoming a huge joke. First of all, it was the rodents that drove away the president and then we now have snakes consuming about N36 million and now we have monkeys raiding farm house…” The man at the centre of the N70 million Northern Senators Forum money is the current National Chairman of Buhari’s APC. He became the AC National Chairman because Buhari endorsed him. Human character is like smoke, it can never be hidden. It follows the carrier wherever he goes. On April 27, 2022, the sum of $75,000 US dollars was alleged to have disappeared from the National Secretariat of the ruling APC, during the party’s collection of expression of interest and nomination forms for the presidential primaries. Again, like my interlocutor argued, Buhari only harbours a shonky gang, while he remains stainless himself! If you want to know the ways of the monkeys, pay attention to our introductory folk song. Monkeys are not only natural thieves, they are shameless about the act!
Being light-fingered is not the exclusive preserve of reptiles and monkeys in the Buhari government. Insects have their own assigned roles. And they are the best one can imagine. While snakes and monkeys go after millions, the insects in the government are on a high pedestal. On August 14, 2022, the news hit us all that some termites, living ostentatious lifestyles, stormed the storeroom of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, and ate up vouchers totaling N17.128 billion. The “eaten up sum”, represents the documents of transfers from the NSITF accounts in its Skye and First Bank accounts into “untraceable accounts belonging to individuals and companies from January to December 2013”, as reported by the media. The discovery was made by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts headed by Mathew Urhoghide, when it interrogated the NSITF management. The Managing Director of NSITF, Dr Michael Akabogu, told the committee that the vouchers and other financial documents that could help in tracing and tracking the N17.128 billion were kept in a “container” that had not only been beaten by rains over the years, but eaten up by termites! Phew! You need to study the ways of the termites. They are the most destructive of all insects. They are not called “silent destroyers” for fun. They leave tears behind them. It is no surprise that the NSITF chose the termite metaphor to explain the disappearance of vouchers for a whopping sum of N17.128 billion. Termites, like locusts and palmerworms eat all, leaving nothing tangible that can be of help. That is the message from the management of NSITF to fable-loving compatriots that we all are . The rots in the Fund did not start with Buhari. That we all know. But we were told that Buhari will come and clear all the mess. He even threatened that he would probe Sanusi’s magical figure of $20 billion US dollars. Buhari has done seven years and three months. He has just nine months to finish his tenure. The question is, what has become of his anti corruption war cry of 2015?
Check out the features of the animals “missing” money (permit that Niger Delta variety of the Nigerian English) in the Buhari Government. They are very unique and metaphorical. Humanity lost its mortality to the sly nature of the snake. Nothing is straight about the reptile. It is as long as it is venomous. The monkey is a congenital greedy animal. It takes delight in taking what does not belong to him. The termite is destructive in nature; and eats all. Think about the trio – snake, monkey and termites. Then think about how the Buhari handlers deceived all of us to queue behind the Daura General. Remember the snake and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Think about how the government Buhari leads has taken away our decency and sanity. Again, take a census of our national life and tell me, which one the Buhari government has not destroyed. Are you still wondering why snakes, monkeys and termites are the accoutrements and totems of this regime?