The Pains of Buhari’s London Gaffe By ‘Remi Oyeyemi


During my days at the Great University of Ife (Great Ife), the Obafemi Awolowo Hall (popularly called Awo Hall) was always an interesting place to be. It was the melting pot of the campus politics. It was an effervescent environment for lively idealism. It was a pedestal where intelligence, smartness and brilliance were in perpetual contest. It was a potpourri where fragrant idealism constantly wrestled with inconvenient and stubborn reality. Self confidence were nurtured and sustained in that environment in those days. Awo Hall provided a context to test the theory of whether the University is going through you or you are just merely passing through the University.


Awo Hall was the shelter for the most radical campus newspapers. The career of many student union politicians was often made or marred in Awo Hall. The debate about campus politics was always as hot as that of the national politics or international politics. The debate about religion, its relevance or irrelevance to the advancement of man could not have been more contentious. When it came to sports, even the Sports Hall of the Great University could not compete with the vibrancy and fervor that were characteristic of, unique to and always very special to Awo Hall.


Many students of Great Ife share the belief that if you spent six months on that great campus and your life was not radically impacted; or your intellect was not radically impacted; or the way you think, see and view the world was not radically impacted, then something must be seriously the matter with you. Something must be seriously amiss in your psychology. The endless bubble on that campus, the liveliness, the enervating entertainment, the intellectual challenges in an admixture of rigorous academic tutoring were fantastic.


“The University of Ife is the melting pot of political radicalism in Nigeria. And we are going to break it.”    –   Jubril Aminu, Minister of Education under General Ibrahim Babangida


The Awo Hall Buttery had a special role in this never ending tutoring in socialization skills, sharpening of minds, building of confidence and preparation for the outside world. In Awo Hall Buttery, one of the areas of showing off your “brain power” was playing games with your peers. It could be Scrabble, Monopoly or the Yoruba traditional Ayo. But the most popular one was the draught. That interesting game invented by Napoleon Bonaparte the Great, the French Emperor in the early 19th Century. He had invented the draught as a means of planning military strategies to defeat his foes.


It was at this Awo Hall Buttery that these two guys were engaged in a game of wits playing draught. Both of them have been boasting about being the better player and have been challenging each other to a face off. This particular day was the D-Day. The two were engaged in this game and a lot of guys were watching with total attention. Both of them have been proving their mettle. Each of them was displaying wizardry and dexterity interchangeably, leaving the spectators in no doubt as to how prepared they were. At this point, each person had won one game apiece. It got to two apiece.


On the fifth game, because usually it was always the first to win three that would determine the champion, the contest was in a critical stage. Both players were being very careful and cautious not to make a mistake. There was silence in the entire proximity because everyone wanted to see who the winner and the one with a better “brain power” would be. Reputations were at stake. Boasting rights were at stake. Pride, regardless of how tenuous in this respect, was at stake. It was a test of wills. It was a contest of wits. It was an encounter of guts.


Then all of a sudden, one of the players took a very calamitous step as the spectators groaned very loudly in reaction. They could not believe he would make such a move. That move did not look smart. It did not speak well to his claimed “brain power.” It disappointed those who were his fans among the spectators. It was a consequential step. Many believed that it was a step that would make him lose the game. Some of his fans believed he could still redeem the game.


His opponent was very elated in a very sarcastic manner. He expressed surprise that the spectators were groaning about the move of his competitor. He wondered why they were expecting him to play beyond his “brain capacity?” “He can’t play beyond his brain. Don’t blame him. We are talking of brain power here. It is not his fault. His brain can only carry him so far!” Everyone busted into laughter including his opponent who was the subject of the barb.


The above scenario is analogous to what happened in London with President Mohammadu Buhari. The interview with The Telegraph in London was not the first revelation of the tragedy he represents to and for Nigeria, the consequences of which all would have to deal with in the coming years. Despite all the propaganda of the All Progressive Congress, (APC), it is becoming more than evident that Nigeria is saddled with a President who has limited “brain power.” No matter how much they package Buhari; no matter how much propaganda was deployed in his aid and support, he would never be able to function beyond his brain power!


It is evident that Nigerian is saddled with a president who is intellectually challenged. President Buhari’s across the board reference to and description of Nigerians in Diaspora as “criminals” is a manifestation of a challenged thought process. It is obvious that Nigeria is saddled with a president that is near autistic. It is clear that Nigeria is saddled with a president that was never prepared for the office he is occupying. Up till now, our president could not locate his West African School Certificate. May be by the time he leaves office, Nigeria would be presented with one.


“Some Nigerians claim is that life is too difficult back home, but they have also made it difficult for Europeans and Americans to accept them because of the number of Nigerians in prisons all over the world accused of drug trafficking or human trafficking.”

– President Mohammadu Buhari in an interview with The Telegraph (London)



President Buhari has never lived a challenged life. He has no idea what it means to live in want in the midst of plenty. He has no idea what frustration means. He does not know what it means for a parent to labour in poverty to send a child to the University and that child graduated without any form of employment. He does not know what it means to have the system rigged against you and your people. He has had it easy all his life. He was in his twenties when he was made a Governor because of his tribal pedigree.


His easy accessibility to power and influence, very comfortable living style through his life explains why he is mean, heartless and unfeeling several times in the way and manner he has dealt with Nigerians. It explains his odious arrogance and often deleterious condescension. It explains why he always felt he is above the law. Nigeria has been good to him all through and through. He did not need to leave Nigeria because everything was in place for him. This is unlike millions of Nigerians who had to bail out to countries across the planet to seek greener pastures.


His famed ascetic living is nothing but a tall tale. There is no iota of truth in it. There is no scintilla of evidence for it. This man rode in a convoy of eight to ten Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs). We were told he did not buy the vehicles with his money. We were told that they were gifts to him. But assuming that was the truth, if he was truly ascetic in his ways, he could easily have rejected such obscenely expensive gifts and asked them to be sold and the proceeds donated to his favorite schools, if he had any.


Nigerians were lied to that he did not have any property outside Kastina. Nigerians were lied to that he had no house in Abuja. Nigerians were deceived that he has not stolen any money. Nigerians were sold the falsehood that he did not believe in accumulative mentality. And then came the public declaration of property and  it became known that he had houses in Abuja, Kaduna and some landed properties in Port Harcourt!


Buhari’s asceticism was and is still a fake. It was not real. It was all part of packaging to remake him in the consciousness of Nigerians. It was one of the  tall tales told by his propagandists who tried to modify the image of an undesirable element who ran for the country’s highest office three times and was rejected at the polls, before Nigerians were manipulated and deceived to accept him the fourth time as their president.


The election of Mohammadu Buhari was made possible by one of the most effective propaganda in world history. Joseph Goebbels would be extremely jealous in his grave. But the lies would only last for so long. Very soon, the whole shady package would begin to unravel. Its implications and ramifications for the future of Nigeria is yet to be fathomed.


“Nigeria’s president has warned his fellow citizens to stop trying to make asylum claims in Britain, saying that their reputation for criminality has made it hard for them to be “accepted” abroad.”    –  The Telegraph (London)



Now, in his daftness, President Buhari has besmirched the integrity, dignity and the reputation of all Nigerians in Diaspora, labeling them as “criminals.” It is as if we have not had enough assault on our psyche as Nigerians. It is “our” president that is now leading the vanguard of blackmailing his own citizens, spreading falsehood against them across the planet.  I must say, if only for the purposes of emphasis, I AM NOT A CRIMINAL. And all the Nigerians that I know and mix with where I live in God’s own country ARE NOT CRIMINALS.


It was a sad day when Mohammadu Buhari became the president of Nigeria. No thanks to Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.


“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”

John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address January 20, 1961

Please follow me on Twitter: @OyeyemiRemi



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