Bill Gates said Nothing Wrong Abimbola Adelakun

aadelakun@punchng.com

After reading the speech Bill Gates delivered in Abuja that supposedly rattled off our leaders, I fail to see what he said that should be deemed controversial. Just to be sure, I read it twice and what I saw is a respectful engagement with Nigerian leaders. Gates came with facts and figures, and he demonstrated competence with his subject matter in a way that suggests that he is not a mere distant observer reading a lacklustre speech prepared by a detached aide. He appeared genuinely concerned about progress of Nigeria, and he magnanimously offered us his expertise and resources to be a partner in the growth and development that has long eluded us.
His observations are spot on, and they strike at the heart of human capital underdevelopment in Nigeria (and most African countries as well). Here is an illustration that buttresses his observations: In October, Gaje Zubairu, a 38-year-old woman from Katsina State gave birth to a set of quadruplets. Since the community she lived had never seen such multiple births before, she was celebrated for her biological feat. The same evening after the birth, one of the kids was snatched by death; Ms. Gaje herself followed some days later.
As the story unfolded, it turned out that the woman never attended ante-natal care while pregnant. Gaje and her husband were illiterate and too poor to understand why it was crucial. Two, she was malnourished throughout the pregnancy. Three, there were no clinics in the community where they lived, and when she developed complications during birth, they lost precious time while trying to get her to the hospital in the city. Four, she had had seven pregnancies before with her previous husband; the quadruplets made it 11 live births. She was also a grandmother of at least three children. Five, while the husband was a peasant farmer in his 40s, he already had four wives and 26 children before the birth of the quadruplets.
This story typifies the many problems of Nigeria: a population that is being rapidly grown without coordination, high level of illiteracy and its attendant baggage of overbreeding, inadequate health facilities, high mortality rates, and religious beliefs and poverty perpetuating poverty cycles. Gaje Zubairu’s story gives a human face to the morbid statistics to the data that Bill Gates reeled out when he criticised Nigeria’s human development index. Gates is someone whose philanthropy has taken him into the rural parts of Africa; places where even our leaders will not deign to go unless it is election time and they seek campaign photo opportunities. We can take it for granted that he knows what he is saying, and we can believe him when he says that he is committed to finding solutions.
After years of bringing powerful white men to Nigeria to say what we would like to hear, it is almost understandable why the one who did not join the rest of his ilk to parrot the mantra of “Africa Rising,” and raises a black power fist to celebrate us leaves our leaders unsettled. In March 2011 and February 2012, former US president, Bill Clinton, alone earned a total of $1.4m for what amounted to two days of speaking gigs in Nigeria. With that kind of amount (which would have been hard for him to earn even in the US), he brought what his audience would like to buy: his white cultural power and political capital. At the stupendous rate at which they bought his speech, he could not have rattled his sponsors or be heavy-handed in his criticisms.
Gates, however, is different from Clinton. According to Gates, he has invested $1.6bn in Nigeria, and when you are the one paying the tab, you have earned the right to make unpleasant observations. Nothing he said should be considered toxic even if the Peoples Democratic Party has now, hysterically, latched on to it to hypocritically heckle the present administration. Gates’ analysis, though refreshing, is not new. Nigerians have been saying what he said about prioritising human development to their leaders for ages. He talked about the high rate of maternal mortality, infant malnourishment and deficiency, lack of data to track progress, falling education and health standards, and overall, how to reverse the retrogression of human development index. Which one of what he said have they not heard before?
With a median age of 17.9 years, Nigeria’s future can do with the Gates’ kind of voice to amplify to our leaders the imperative of urgency in addressing our socio-economic and socio-political issues. The other part of the argument about human development is that we do not have enough resources to commit to our needs and that would also be true even if our leaders do not steal a dime. Nigeria, still reeling from the vertiginous effects of a post-oil price crash, has to deal with the reality of a burgeoning population and stretching her meagre resources to cater for the thousands of humans we produce daily adequately. We are too poor, too corrupt, too analogue to improve our fortunes. In 2017 alone, remittances to Nigeria from overseas amounted to $22bn. The national budget was in the neighbourhood of $24bn. This pattern has been consistent for years; it means that our country is not viable based on revenues we generate.
To add to our issues is the fact that our country has traditionally projected the future based on annual budgets and not a long-term projection that looks ahead for at least 10 years. The unstable nature of our politics conditions us to limit development to what is achievable in four years, a time too short to consolidate meaningful changes. What Nigeria needs to develop human resources includes a visionary plan that looks at what the country looks like now, questions what we want it to look like in another 25 to a hundred years, and designs how to stimulate the conditions necessary to achieve such a future. No, not another party manifesto that makes ambitious and empty promises but a multilateral plan that guides government’s regular conduct. Such a grand design will balance the necessary investment in human and physical development, and also be revisable according to contingencies to achieve the desired outcomes.
The truth stares us in the face: we are birthing many humans, but we do not have strategic development plans to provide for them. We need hospitals. We need health centres. We need to train health services agents and send them into the interiors where people lack birth control and excessively reproducing for want of other idleness. We need schools and more of them, more than ever. When we talk about schools, Nigerian leaders tend to think of universities, and that is why virtually every state wants to build a university. Lately, the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, said the state needs 20 universities to accommodate its growing population who need tertiary education. While university education is critical, a far more radical plan would be to provide elementary education that is both available to every child and qualitative as well. In other words, universities are not as urgent as primary schools.
Primary education is the foundation that needs investment, and not because it is not often prioritised, you have some children who get to university level who are barely literate, can hardly think critically, and cannot be said to have been educated in the true sense of the word. Gates was right that we are at a crucial juncture and if played right, our growing population can be our greatest resource. Yes, indeed. Nigeria cannot afford a population of malnourished people with deficient bodies and stunted mental acuity. A country can survive a nuclear bomb attack; no country in the world can survive the menace of a half-bred and half-baked generation.Thursday with Abimbola Adelakun aadelakun@punchng.com
After reading the speech Bill Gates delivered in Abuja that supposedly rattled off our leaders, I fail to see what he said that should be deemed controversial. Just to be sure, I read it twice and what I saw is a respectful engagement with Nigerian leaders. Gates came with facts and figures, and he demonstrated competence with his subject matter in a way that suggests that he is not a mere distant observer reading a lacklustre speech prepared by a detached aide. He appeared genuinely concerned about progress of Nigeria, and he magnanimously offered us his expertise and resources to be a partner in the growth and development that has long eluded us.
His observations are spot on, and they strike at the heart of human capital underdevelopment in Nigeria (and most African countries as well). Here is an illustration that buttresses his observations: In October, Gaje Zubairu, a 38-year-old woman from Katsina State gave birth to a set of quadruplets. Since the community she lived had never seen such multiple births before, she was celebrated for her biological feat. The same evening after the birth, one of the kids was snatched by death; Ms. Gaje herself followed some days later.
As the story unfolded, it turned out that the woman never attended ante-natal care while pregnant. Gaje and her husband were illiterate and too poor to understand why it was crucial. Two, she was malnourished throughout the pregnancy. Three, there were no clinics in the community where they lived, and when she developed complications during birth, they lost precious time while trying to get her to the hospital in the city. Four, she had had seven pregnancies before with her previous husband; the quadruplets made it 11 live births. She was also a grandmother of at least three children. Five, while the husband was a peasant farmer in his 40s, he already had four wives and 26 children before the birth of the quadruplets.
This story typifies the many problems of Nigeria: a population that is being rapidly grown without coordination, high level of illiteracy and its attendant baggage of overbreeding, inadequate health facilities, high mortality rates, and religious beliefs and poverty perpetuating poverty cycles. Gaje Zubairu’s story gives a human face to the morbid statistics to the data that Bill Gates reeled out when he criticised Nigeria’s human development index. Gates is someone whose philanthropy has taken him into the rural parts of Africa; places where even our leaders will not deign to go unless it is election time and they seek campaign photo opportunities. We can take it for granted that he knows what he is saying, and we can believe him when he says that he is committed to finding solutions.
After years of bringing powerful white men to Nigeria to say what we would like to hear, it is almost understandable why the one who did not join the rest of his ilk to parrot the mantra of “Africa Rising,” and raises a black power fist to celebrate us leaves our leaders unsettled. In March 2011 and February 2012, former US president, Bill Clinton, alone earned a total of $1.4m for what amounted to two days of speaking gigs in Nigeria. With that kind of amount (which would have been hard for him to earn even in the US), he brought what his audience would like to buy: his white cultural power and political capital. At the stupendous rate at which they bought his speech, he could not have rattled his sponsors or be heavy-handed in his criticisms.
Gates, however, is different from Clinton. According to Gates, he has invested $1.6bn in Nigeria, and when you are the one paying the tab, you have earned the right to make unpleasant observations. Nothing he said should be considered toxic even if the Peoples Democratic Party has now, hysterically, latched on to it to hypocritically heckle the present administration. Gates’ analysis, though refreshing, is not new. Nigerians have been saying what he said about prioritising human development to their leaders for ages. He talked about the high rate of maternal mortality, infant malnourishment and deficiency, lack of data to track progress, falling education and health standards, and overall, how to reverse the retrogression of human development index. Which one of what he said have they not heard before?
With a median age of 17.9 years, Nigeria’s future can do with the Gates’ kind of voice to amplify to our leaders the imperative of urgency in addressing our socio-economic and socio-political issues. The other part of the argument about human development is that we do not have enough resources to commit to our needs and that would also be true even if our leaders do not steal a dime. Nigeria, still reeling from the vertiginous effects of a post-oil price crash, has to deal with the reality of a burgeoning population and stretching her meagre resources to cater for the thousands of humans we produce daily adequately. We are too poor, too corrupt, too analogue to improve our fortunes. In 2017 alone, remittances to Nigeria from overseas amounted to $22bn. The national budget was in the neighbourhood of $24bn. This pattern has been consistent for years; it means that our country is not viable based on revenues we generate.
To add to our issues is the fact that our country has traditionally projected the future based on annual budgets and not a long-term projection that looks ahead for at least 10 years. The unstable nature of our politics conditions us to limit development to what is achievable in four years, a time too short to consolidate meaningful changes. What Nigeria needs to develop human resources includes a visionary plan that looks at what the country looks like now, questions what we want it to look like in another 25 to a hundred years, and designs how to stimulate the conditions necessary to achieve such a future. No, not another party manifesto that makes ambitious and empty promises but a multilateral plan that guides government’s regular conduct. Such a grand design will balance the necessary investment in human and physical development, and also be revisable according to contingencies to achieve the desired outcomes.
The truth stares us in the face: we are birthing many humans, but we do not have strategic development plans to provide for them. We need hospitals. We need health centres. We need to train health services agents and send them into the interiors where people lack birth control and excessively reproducing for want of other idleness. We need schools and more of them, more than ever. When we talk about schools, Nigerian leaders tend to think of universities, and that is why virtually every state wants to build a university. Lately, the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, said the state needs 20 universities to accommodate its growing population who need tertiary education. While university education is critical, a far more radical plan would be to provide elementary education that is both available to every child and qualitative as well. In other words, universities are not as urgent as primary schools.
Primary education is the foundation that needs investment, and not because it is not often prioritised, you have some children who get to university level who are barely literate, can hardly think critically, and cannot be said to have been educated in the true sense of the word. Gates was right that we are at a crucial juncture and if played right, our growing population can be our greatest resource. Yes, indeed. Nigeria cannot afford a population of malnourished people with deficient bodies and stunted mental acuity. A country can survive a nuclear bomb attack; no country in the world can survive the menace of a half-bred and half-baked generation.

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An Assessment of the Impact of School Mapping on Access to Non Formal and Adult Education in the Northwest Geo-Political Zone of Nigeria. By Namse Peter Udosen

Research Overview

Nigeria has experienced an exponential growth in population over the last ten years and has struggled to cope with the demands of providing functional education for a growing young population. Successive governments have not been able to accommodate various strata of the society within the educational system. As a result of which, Nigeria now has between 65 and 75 million illiterates according to a UNESCO report, 2017.
Non formal Education plays an important role in any Nation’s development. Out-of-school programmes in particular, are central to providing adaptable learning opportunities and new skills and knowledge to a large percentage of people outside the reach of formal education. Adult literacy in particular is relevant to development and reducing gender inequality prevalent in Nigerian society. It increases women’s participation in both private and public activities i.e. in house-hold decision making and as active citizens in community affairs and National development.
According to UNESCO (2010), non-formal education helps to ensure equal access to education, eradicate illiteracy among women and improves rural dwellers access to vocational training, technology and continuing education. It also encourages the development of non-discriminatory education and training and promotes life-long education. It provides emergency training to out-of-school children, youth and adults with educational activities that meet their needs and interests.iects relevant to their protection, well-being and psychosocial needs.
It supplements formal schooling of children and youth with subjects relevant to their protection, well-being and psychosocia. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as part of the “Education for All” program suggests an 80% access to basic education in order to achieve a sustainable level of learning skills by the larger population.

Boko Haram: Impact of UN aid workers’ killing – Punch Newspaper Editorial

Boko Haram extended the frontiers of its atrocities with the callous attack on an Internally-Displaced Persons camp in Rann, Kala-Balge Local Government Area of Borno State, early this month that left three United Nations aid workers dead. Such an attack contravenes the global convention that an IDP camp is a humanitarian centre. This places a burden on the Muhammadu Buhari administration to bring the perpetrators to book.

Two of the deceased represented the International Organisation for Migration, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, stated. The third casualty, a medical doctor, worked with the International Red Cross. The attack on the 55,000-member camp also saw the abduction of three aid workers and a UN nurse. The consequence was instant. The UN, which has 3,000 humanitarian workers in the North-East, immediately shut its operations in Rann, putting the IDPs in further distress.

Likewise, Doctors Without Borders, known by its French initials, MSF, suspended medical activities because of the attack. It said that 40,000 IDPs, who needed medical attention, were affected by its decision. “The latest attack is a stark reminder that it is the people in Borno who are paying the price of this ruthless conflict,” the IOM said. Indeed, Nigeria is paying a heavy price for the insurgency. Over 100,000 people have been violently slaughtered since 2009, when Boko Haram’s terror campaign began, according to the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima.

The UN estimates that the humanitarian crisis has grown to become one of the largest in the world. It has displaced more than two million people across the North-East. According to Kallon, 6.1 million people in the region are in need of food, safe water and medicine.

Unfortunately, the government is adamant that the Boko Haram insurgency has all but faded away. At the eighth National Security Seminar recently, organised by the Alumni Association of the National Defence College in Abuja, the President said the sect “is no longer a serious fighting force.” This is out of tune with reality. Juxtaposed with the horrific banditry it is still carrying out, the denial is akin to hiding behind a finger.

Apart from carrying out repeated suicide bombings since the turn of the year, Boko Haram regained global infamy on February 19 when it kidnapped 110 female pupils of Government Science and Technical Girls College, Dapchi, Yobe State. It is a repeat of the abduction of the 276 Chibok schoolgirls on April 14, 2014 in Borno State.

Having taken root for over nine years, Nigeria faces a formidable task to reduce Boko Haram to rubble. Although negotiations have yielded the return of about 100 Chibok girls, lecturers of the University of Maiduguri and abducted female police officers, Boko Haram is still waxing stronger. Buhari had made the same mistake in December 2015, when he controversially declared that the sect had been “technically defeated.” This was after the military high command said it had captured “Ground Zero,” and cleared the Sambisa Forest, the sect’s stronghold.

Before the latest attack, the insurgents, armed with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and gun trucks, according to the IOM, had raided the military formation at Rann. Damian Chukwu, the Borno State Commissioner of Police, said that four policemen and six soldiers died in the attacks. This shows that the group has not been weakened. At best, it is in retreat, which is the modus operandi of Islamist terrorism. Without saying so, Buhari, last December, asked the National Assembly to approve $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account to buy arms needed to prosecute the war.

Experts state that terror organisations mutate. They operate as the occasion demands, using asymmetric tactics, capturing territories or hitting soft targets with bombs. It is naïve, therefore, to assume that Boko Haram has been tamed because it is not currently holding territories, as it once did across Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

The incontrovertible evidence is that it is still a potent fighting force. One, Borno, not underestimating the Boko Haram threat, shut female public boarding schools in 25 of its 27 LGAs on March 12. “If the entire security situation is not addressed, one cannot be sure what could happen,” the state’s Commissioner for Education, Inuwa Kubo, said. “…in a situation where you cannot move to some parts of the state without an escort and you are hearing that, in some cases, soldiers are being ambushed, do you deceive yourself and say everything is okay?” Why, then, is Buhari underrating the Boko Haram menace?

Two, in a state visit to Nigeria on March 12, the then United States Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said the Boko Haram insurgency extended beyond Nigeria. “Boko Haram is a threat to other regions…in my discussions with President (Idris) Derby in Chad earlier today, we spoke about the threat of Boko Haram….” Put differently, taking Boko Haram for granted could be perilous.

However, being a former army general, Nigerians expect a lot more from the President. Yet, without overhauling the current security structure, the war against terror will linger more than necessary. The intelligence services – the State Security Service and the National Intelligence Agency – have made a mess of counter-insurgency. Along with the military, these institutions have to be reinvigorated.

This is how Saudi Arabia, which is leading the military coalition in Yemen, responded. It fired its security chiefs on February 27. The major shake-up ousted the key security and military brass. The President should infuse new ideas into the war, appoint capable personnel and give them targets, including taking out Abubakar Shekau (the Boko Haram leader) and tracing the source of the Islamists’ funding and weaponry, collaborate with our neighbours and seek financial and technical assistance from the US and Europe.

How to build Wakanda: Lessons for African leaders from ‘Black Panther’ By Taa Wongbe CNN 

Editor’s Note: (Taa is a Liberian Entrepreneur, Advocate and Philanthropist and the founder and CEO of the Khana Group, a leading social impact research and consulting firm in Africa. Taa has consulted with McKinsey, Deloitte and other consulting firms and was recently awarded the Business Leadership Excellence Award and inducted into the African Leadership Magazine’s CEO Hall of Fame. The views expressed in this article are solely his. )

(CNN)As “Black Panther” nears a billion in box office worldwide, many Africans have flocked to theaters, sporting traditional African attires with pride to watch their brothers and sisters portrayed as superheroes, a narrative that has been lacking in popular culture.

With the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects reporting that three of the ten fastest growing economies are in Africa, “Black Panther” provides a vision of what African countries could look like if some things are done right.

The movie is filled with many lessons that African leaders and government officials can take to promote sustainable economic growth, peace and prosperity to build their Wakanda. Here are five:

Empower and elevate women, and ensure you surround yourself with them.

There is no escaping the power of women in “Black Panther.” The newly crowned Prince T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, surrounds himself with powerful women, who he leaned on for guidance, wisdom and strength.

Africa has seen many women leaders — Winnie Mandela, Miriam Makeba, Wangari Maathai, former President Joyce Banda, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and my own former President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — who have played critical roles in shaping their countries’ destiny.

When women are empowered, they promote the well-being of society by championing health, education and peace. To build Wakanda, African leaders must put more women in positions of leadership.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education is key.

For me, Princess Shuri was the coolest and most inspiring character in the movie; no one could resist her intellect. She reinforced the power of STEM education. Because of the film’s success, Disney donated $1 Million for STEM education for young boys and girls in the US.

Education can change everything, and technology has the power to be the great equalizer. Because of this, African leaders should focus on STEM at an early age so Africa does not fall behind in the technology sector. Leading this charge for STEM education in Africa is Rwanda.

The country has a strategic plan to transform its economy by 2020 and STEM education is at the nexus. Investing in STEM education will not only confront the rampant unemployment challenges we have, but it will also address the gaps in human resources in Africa to build infrastructure, manage natural resources, and control diseases.

African leaders must take immediate steps to ensure STEM is included in national curricula.

Use natural resources to develop your country, and keep them in the people’s hands for today and tomorrow.

We have heard horror stories about the resource curse in Africa, but in Wakanda, Prince T’Challa and his late father fought to protect their natural resources. The Wakandans added value by developing technologies and did not export their resources hastily.

Few countries in Africa have avoided the curse, but one success story isBotswana, one of the world’s largest producersof diamonds. The nation has pursued economic diversification and has developed sound fiscal policies to regulate diamond wealth and government spending.

Botswana also invested diamond revenues for future generations using a sovereign wealth fund called the Pula Fund. Botswana is paving the way for their youth to become educated and empowered, and their society to prosper. Other nations must learn from this, it’s the Wakanda way.

Respect cultures and traditions while modernizing and allow them to coexist with the basic tenets of democracy.

Democracy is essential for every country to aspire for. But it comes in many forms — it is not a one size fits all system. In Wakanda, culture and traditions were important.

The Wakandans followed them while evolving their country. They did not simply accept a new form of government because it worked for other societies. Africa has seen charismatic leaders elected democratically and celebrated by the West only for those leaders to change the rules to fit them.

Democracy can be manipulated. We saw that recently in Rwanda, and in Uganda for years. Wakanda seems to embrace and exhibit some of the basic tenets of democracy while respecting their culture and tradition. For example, while there were no elections, certain citizens could challenge the king to win the throne.

This was their form of election and it was valued and respected. While we modernize and develop our society, we should remember the positive traditions and cultures that got us here and preserve them as we modernize. This is a firm lesson for African leaders.

Embrace the natural habitat of the land while developing and building up.

In Wakandan architecture, we saw red dirt and market places while alongside super railways and skyscrapers.

Many roads in Africa are built with asphalt which is highly expensive and difficult to procure. Wakandans built using the natural habitat, and fortunately, this is possible in Africa. For example, the Nubian Vault technique has been used since the ancient kingdom of Nubia, located in the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan. Environmentalists laud this as environmentally friendly and sustainable, and can help mitigate the effects of climate change.

African leaders must support architectural innovation with their natural habitat.

“Black Panther” inspired me to imagine what Africa could be if our leaders take some bold and collective actions.

It also inspired me that we should all be a part of this Wakanda-like development journey by developing leaders, specifically in the public service, that will passionately serve their people, protect their natural resources, embrace innovation and preserve cultures and traditions that are worth preserving.

Buhari, a serious president? No, I’m not aware by SANI MUHAMMAD UZAIRU

We are un-oblivious that the economy is sluggish despite alleged economic growth. But now we learn that the security situation is far weaker than previously understood. But that is not the only unflattering truth that has come to light. Our national unity is equally in far troubling shape than we thought few years ago.

It isn’t as if job growth isn’t even keeping up with population growth. It isn’t just that the federal government has effectively thrown in the towel and admitted that underemployment is at its all time low.

It isn’t just that the Federal Bureau of Statistics month after month, revises the jobless numbers further downward — making what was bad news then, even worse news now. It isn’t just that the previous quarter’s economic growth has not translated into economic development.

It isn’t just that in recent months more Nigerians have given up hope and stopped looking for work than have found a job.

It isn’t just that more than half of manufacturers and small business owners say that they would not have started their businesses in today’s climate. It isn’t even that well more than half of such business owners said that Ghana and Benin republic are more supportive of their small businesses and manufacturing than Nigeria is, of its own.

It isn’t just that the North East is in flames and people are killed daily and school children abducted in droves. It isn’t just that the herdsmen/farmers clash we were inexcusably unprepared for caught us flat-footed.

And it isn’t just that Buhari has been deceptive about our security situation, the actual cause, what the government has done to contain it, progress made so far, beyond the inanities of oft – repeated ‘technically defeated, terribly degraded, completed defeated’ and all other semantics.

It is all of these factors combined into a squalid mishmash of amateurish leadership, self-aggrandizement, childish blame-shifting, and blind adherence to failed ideologies.

But that is not all, Buhari mixes into the reeking emulsion of bitter partisanship, amateurish leadership, demagoguery, and failed policies, a fundamental dishonesty. He does not actually debate those with whom he disagrees. He simply and grotesquely misrepresents their position and tortures it beyond all recognition. Once he has created a dishonest and false “straw-man,” he then battles only the straw-man he disingenuously fabricated — carefully avoiding any serious debate with serious people, and never seriously discussing ideas or solutions.

It is not clear whether it is simply a function of his penchant toward grandiosity or his lack of intellectual rigor, but this is the man who allegedly said that his mere inauguration would stop the insurgency in North East. Today that statement is self-evidently absurd, but even on the day he first uttered it, it was inane.

On energy, Buhari has consistently lowered the nation’s collective IQ by dishing out rhetoric. As APC flagbearer, Buhari is said to have argued that his government will generate 20,000 megawatts of electricity in four years. But in his independence day speech on 1st October, 2017, he asserted that power is a huge problem.

That is simply not even close to being true. It is completely false and laughably absurd. If a high school student made an argument like that in a civics class, he would fail the assignment. How is it that a president was so misinformed, yet speaks so confidently notwithstanding his lack of anything useful or intelligent to say on the topic? Didn’t he realise that power was a huge problem when promised 20,000 megawatts as a presidential hopeful? What has changed since then? Let it be known that power is not and would never have been a problem. Our major challenge is clueless leaders like Mr. President that serve as cog in the wheels power delivery with its confused policies.

Buhari is intellectually lazy. He is, quite frankly, a lazy president. He likes being the president, but he doesn’t like doing the work of the president. He took a similar approach to being a head of state in the early 80’s, I would learn. Whilst in opposition, he was always coming into national discourse with shocking frequency. Once he arrived Aso Rock Villa , he had little interest in doing the work of a Nigerian president. Rather he almost immediately began making indirect statements about his second term ambition.

Once Buhari became president, he left the work of actually governing to Maman Daura and Abba Kyari. He only once lifted a finger to pass a budget in the last two years. His budget has always come with so much controversies that balancing the budget was apparently a laugh line for him.

The N- power welfare package, which clearly has not worked as promised, wasn’t even his work product — again, he left the heavy lifting to Osinbajo.

Buhari never rolled up his sleeves and worked to build compromise or consensus. As a result, he has unwittingly polarised this nation more than ever before.

It isn’t so much that Buhari is a bad leader, he simply is not a leader. When things go to his liking, he ungraciously claims the credit. When things go poorly, he blames others.

Buhari has hardly met with the economic team. It is shocking that as debt ceiling and budgetary issues loomed, he hardly met with the leaders of the National Assembly, to help forge an agreement , but for the proposed changes in the order of election which he viewed as a threat to his re-election.

Even days after killings in Plateau, Borno and Kogi, Buhari instead of arranging a national security briefing chose to attend Dangote’s daughter wedding in Kano. And for good measure, while on a condolence visit cum political rally in Plateau and Yobe, he resorted to playing politics. Yet the APC never saw anything ironic about him accusing a former president of displaying inertia albeit applauding himself of being responsive, while on a condolence visit. Simply stated, this is not a serious man and he has not been a serious president. He has been the absentee president — still effectively voting “present.”

And Buhari gets away with it, only because some shameless and dishonest ethnic and religious bigots cheer him as he tears apart the very straw-man he has so carefully crafted for precisely this phony show of intelligence and leadership.

There is almost always some rhetorical license taken by politicians when discussing the issues of the day or debating opponents. But Buhari does this in the extreme and to stunning new lows. He not only regularly crosses the line, he sprints enthusiastically to the side of rhetorical deception and outright dishonesty. If you examine his entire career, that is who Buhari is— a shady politician who speaks with the aid of a teleprompter in moving, glittering generalities.

So now after the thrill and excitement of “change” have worn off, we must face the cold hard facts. By any objective measure, Buhari is a failure. He isn’t a serious president. He spends more time blaming and lecturing others, than working on solutions.

Just as Buhari appears to be entirely detached from reality as he tells us he wasn’t aware that his IGP flouted his order, added to his minister of defence who told Nigeria and the world that communal clash is to blame for the killing of Benue people, he seems equally out of touch when he tells us that we are making progress on corruption fight and that we are on the right track and we just need to give him more time.

Time for what? More time to not meet with economic advisors or his cabinet? More time to blame others? More time to claim credit for any good news? More time to watch cartoons? More time to junketeer? Is this what Buhari and APC think passes for leadership or change?

Buhari has yet to seriously explain why and how a second term will be any different or better than the first. He doesn’t seem to think that is even necessary. Which is only one more reason to question his seriousness and his leadership. A serious leader would honestly assess where we are and where we’ve been, describe where we want to go, and explain how he will chart the course to get there. But then again, that is what a serious leader and serious mind would do. And Buhari is neither.

Uzairu is a political commentator and can be reached via smartbiochemist@gmail.com

Tragic Symbolic Blunders on Buhari’s National Sympathy Tour By Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D.

The president’s reluctant decision to compensate for insensitively celebrating with his privileged friends in Kano who luxuriated in obscene opulence at a time the nation was (and still is) reeling from a string of horrendous sanguinary tragedies by visiting the nation’s hot spots has lost its symbolic worth for at least three reasons.

Symbolic gestures are appreciated only when they are not forced, when they are given willingly, or unexpectedly. That’s why people don’t appreciate birthday gifts from their significant others if the gifts are given only after they are demanded—or only after the givers are reminded. The value of the gifts isn’t in their monetary worth but in the thought that goes into buying and giving them unsolicited. It’s the same with symbolic presidential visits. Their value doesn’t lie in the immediate problems they solve because they don’t solve any problems; their value lies in their symbolism. So Buhari’s forced tour of the nation is actually symbolically worthless, but it’s at least better than his accustomed aloofness.

Nevertheless, the president appears to still be smarting from being forced to visit troubled spots in the nation. He said he should “not be expected to always go out to the field to make noise and insult the sensibility of Nigerians before it would be known that I am taking actions against the killings.” Fair enough. But does he have to attend wedding ceremonies of his elite friends even in moments of national catastrophes? Can’t he be represented by a minister, the same way that he sends delegates to sites of national tragedies? Or is it only the tragedies of poor people that he doesn’t have to personally attend to?

What is worse, though, is that the president is vitiating, even undermining, the whole point of the tour through his indelicate and unpresidential pronouncements in Taraba. The media reported him to have said that more people have been killed in Taraba than in Benue and Zamfara combined, adding he has a way of gathering his “own information on all the crises and killings in the country.” Exactly what purpose does this insensitive hierarchization of needless and avoidable bloodletting serve?

The president was clearly attempting to delegitimize the pains of the people of Benue and Zamfara. Nothing can be more painful than to have one’s pains made light of, especially by a person whose duty it is to comfort you. Even a single death is a tragedy whose horror shouldn’t be attenuated by odious comparisons. As Vice Chancellor of ABU, Professor Ango Abdullahi was viciously excoriated in the 1980s when he said “only two” student activists were killed by police bullets during a protest.

Buhari’s gaffe is even more egregious. He has sworn to protect all Nigerians irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, or state of origin. So why give more weight to one tragedy than others?

Already, this unwarranted presidential gradation of tragedies has rendered the president vulnerable to charges of ethnic partisanship—and for good reason. In tense moments like this, the president should be a consoler-in-chief. He shouldn’t be seen to be escalating conflicts by playing favorites.

Another tragic gaffe the president made was his insistence that he had fulfilled his campaign promise to secure the nation. “Today, even our worst enemy can attest to the fact that the APC-led federal government has done well in the area of security,” he said. “We have decimated Boko Haram, while the fight against corruption is going on well.” If government has “done well in the area of security,” why is the president on a tour of scenes of bloodletting? Why do we have more widespread bloodbaths in the nation now than at any time in recent memory?

A president who doesn’t see the contradiction in flaunting his “success” in security while on a forced sympathy tour of several parts of the country that are drenched in oceans of blood lives in an alternate universe. He is completely disconnected from reality. And that’s scary.

I seriously doubt that Nigeria can survive a Buhari second term. The man simply doesn’t have the temperament, emotional maturity, and intellectual preparedness to govern a complex, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious country like Nigeria. Anyone who can’t see this is worse than blind.

Dapchi Girls: Buhari is Emboldening, Not Degrading, Boko Haram

The abduction of innocent school girls in Dapchi, Yobe State, is yet another evidence of the falsehood about Buhari’s “success” in downgrading Boko Haram. I have called out these lies several times in the past at the cost of inviting smears and ad hominem attacks on myself. But that’s an insignificant price to pay for standing for the truth.

Contrary to claims that his government has downgraded Boko Haram, Buhari is actually bolstering the group. For evidence, look at these facts:

As a reward for releasing 84 Chibok girls, the Buhari government paid Boko Haram a €3 million ransom, which adds up to more than 1.3 billion naira, according to the Wall Street Journal of December 4, 2017. “Several senior officials confirmed that the swap included the release of five captured militants and a total of three million euros, delivered in two drop-offs,” the paper reported. “To a threadbare insurgency that had been driven into the mountains, the two payments in 2016 and 2017 represented a timely windfall. Since the insurgents collected their three million euros, some Nigerian officials say an army that had struggled to feed itself seems replenished.”

Earlier in October 2016, the government paid the terrorist group what the London Guardian of October 14, 2016 called a “‘handsome ransom’ worth millions of dollars” in exchange for the release of 21 Chibok girls. “Millions of dollars” would add up to at least a billion naira. Again on February 11, 2018, the government paid Boko Haram an unspecified amount of money to free 13 hostages. In essence, Boko Haram now has a bigger, fiercer, more menacing war chest—financed from Nigeria’s public treasury— than the Nigerian military.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram’s ranks are being swelled by the same government. For instance, in addition to paying the group 705 million naira in 2017, five notoriously vicious Boko Haram commanders in the custody of Nigerian authorities were released. On January 15, 2018, the government freed 244 “repentant” Boko Haram members. How the hell did they know that they are “repentant”? And what does that even mean? A few days ago. the government freed another 526 Boko Haram members, according to CNN. There’s more, but that’s what I remember for now. Feel free to add to this.

When you add this to the fact that on at least two occasions (according to BBC Hausa and Daily Trust), our foot soldiers who came close to capturing Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau were told to back off by unnamed honchos in Abuja, there is little doubt that the Buhari administration is an enabler of Boko Haram.

What’s even more tragic, though, is the utterly irresponsible propaganda the government spews about “technically” or “completely” defeating Boko Haram, which has anesthetized vulnerable people into a false sense of security and made them easy targets of the murderous, nihilistic terrorists.