Farooq A. Kperogi: Buhari’s Last-Minute Provocations of Tinubu
After failing to stop him from emerging as APC’s flag bearer in 2022 and mounting steep hurdles for him in the 2023 election, Muhammadu Buhari increasingly comes across as intentionally charting courses of action designed to provoke pre-inauguration confrontation with Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Or am I missing something?
Take, for example, Buhari’s request to the National Assembly, just days to the end of his term, to approve an $800 million loan for the purpose of distributing “N5,000 per month to 10.2 million, poor and low-income households for a period of six months with a multiplier effect on about 60 million individuals.” This would have been comedic if it weren’t for the tragic, broad daylight official theft that it is.
Even Senate President Ahmed Lawan whose notoriety for pliancy to the presidency is unmatched in Nigeria’s democratic history couldn’t suppress a hearty burst of laughter when he read Buhari’s request in the Senate. Lawan was particularly tickled by Buhari’s assurance that the dispensation of the money to the poor and the vulnerable in the country would be above board.
“In order to guarantee the credibility of the process, digital transfers will be made directly to beneficiaries’ account [sic] and mobile wallets,” Lawan quoted Buhari to have said in the letter, which inspired bouts of scornful laughter not just from Lawan but also from other senators. The disdainful giggles suggest that senators knew this was an audacious, unsophisticated, tragicomic attempt at last-minute pillaging of the public till.
Most Nigerians who are so poor that a monthly N5,000 welfare gift will make a difference in their lives have no bank accounts or digital wallets. That was precisely why Buhari’s politically motivated and ill-conceived naira recoloring policy was harder on the desperately poor, particularly in rural areas, than it was on the middle and upper classes. They couldn’t partake in electronic transfers of funds because they had no bank accounts.
Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Journalism & Emerging Media at Kennesaw State University and author of Glocal English & Nigeria’s Digital -Diaspora.
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