By Farooq Kperogi
According to a viral audio clip from the BBC (Hausa Service), Mrs. Aisha Buhari is worried that the more than 15 million people who voted for her husband in 2015 would revolt against him because he has disappointed them by appointing “strangers” to positions of power, strangers who didn’t even work for his electoral triumph.
She is right about the potential revolt against her husband, but she is wrong about the reason for it. Most disillusioned Buhari supporters don’t care whether the president’s appointees are personally known to him—or whether or not they campaigned or voted for him. They are worried, instead, that many, perhaps most, of the president’s appointees are corrupt and incompetent, but are shielded from any consequences for their corruption and incompetence.
Let’s start from the president’s first major appointments: Secretary to the Government of the Federation Lawal David Babachir is so corrupt that he is now nicknamed “Cash and Carr” in government circles. He even once publicly bragged about receiving monetary gifts from the Ebonyi State governor and has been implicated in the N270 million “grass-cutting” contract scandal for internally displaced Boko Haram victims. The Chief of Staff to the President has been accused of accepting a half-billion naira bribe from MTN to reduce the telecom company’s NCC fine from N1.04 trillion to N330 billion, among other sordid allegations of corruption against him. And the man is incompetent and lazy, to boot. It’s the same story all around members of the president’s “kitchen cabinet.”
It took Buhari 6 months to appoint his ministers who have turned out to be the most questionable and underwhelming cast of characters to ever be in the Federal Executive Council. Among them is a minister of budget who doesn’t know Nigeria’s debt profile; a minister of agriculture (who, tellingly, is a former PDP chairman) who thinks the cost of rice is high because Nigerians consume too much rice; a minister of science and technology whose technological vision for the country is to start local pencil manufacturing in two years; a comically loud- and foul-mouthed minister of information who says dressing and undressing masquerades is a strategy of job creation; a minister of youth and sports who is so clueless he makes you want to cry; a backward, prehistoric minister of communication who wants to tax Nigerians for calls they make and texts they send; a minister of Niger Delta Affairs who was indicted for fraud by a government commission in the 1990s but still keeps his job even in the wake of this revelation; a minister of finance who hides her incompetence behind a Cockney accent. The list goes on.
Add that to the revelations of a series of secretive, illegal employment of the children and relatives of high-ranking political elites in this government, including Buhari’s, while millions of brilliant, hardworking but underprivileged people vegetate in misery amid a biting recession, and you know that Nigeria is wildly adrift. Neither the president nor his ministers have a clue. And they don’t care. If this trend continues, by the end of 2019, Buhari would be so unpopular that he would be chased out of Aso Rock with rocks by millions of his own erstwhile supporters. Aisha Buhari obviously doesn’t want this terrible fate to befall her husband. I don’t, too.