A hotel room, by nature, is owned by nobody. You rent it, and after you, someone else does the same.
If there is no default by a renter, there are often no major problems. Among others, that renter can choose when his room is cleaned by hanging a sign on his door which says, “Do Not Disturb.” That means he can work or sleep or play without an annoying knock on the door.
Why? Because it is his right as a renter in good standing. If he is in violation of either financial obligations or etiquette, hotel officials can invite the police or even let themselves into the room.
This is the simple hotel rule that Nigeria leader Muhammadu Buhari pretends to believe he has the power to violate.
Let us remember: following Buhari’s often-declared anger about his leadership having been cut short, by his own friend Ibrahim Babangida in 1985, he ran repeatedly for the elective presidency until he got his wish in 2015.
We can confirm this point because last month in Daura, he said it himself: “I got what I wanted and will quietly retire to my hometown.”
I got what I wanted.
That was also the event at which he disbursed the infamous insult to Nigerians: “If they make any noise to disturb me in Daura, I will leave for the Niger Republic.”
Niger, for anyone who somehow does not know, is Nigeria’s neighbor to the north where General Buhari has said he has a lot of relatives. He has pandered to that country, at one point deciding on a head-scratching rail contract into it because he has cousins there, and at another spending billions of naira on cars for its officials. That government denied the gift.
It is that country and the comfort of his cousins, that Buhari suggests he will reject his green passport for should Nigerians insist that as leader, he betrayed them.
I will leave you and join my relatives in another country.
Of all the insensitive and most unpatriotic things a leader—particularly one who, instead of going to Niger just four years ago, insisted on running for a second term—can tell his country, this takes the lead.
The problem is that the hotel guest, having chosen the hotel, does not dictate the terms of his stay. Those are established by law, by the hotel and by practice. Buhari asked Nigerians for the privilege to lead them. He smiled, he begged, he prostrated.
You could say he became an actor: he took the hat off his head and the agbada off his body. He wore a suit and grinned into cameras. He hired good hands, such as the revered Ahmed Joda, whose principled report he then abandoned.
Because Buhari had lied about being principled. In effect, he lied about everything, and encouraged propaganda as an administrative craft. The administration lied so much that at his first anniversary in May 2016, he declared his real feelings about his talkative Information Minister:
“One of the men I pity is Lai Mohammed,” he said. “Every day he is on TV explaining our performance or lack of it.”
When the Hall of Infamy of the Buhari Era is established, Mohammed will join such names as Abubakar Malami, Babatunde Fashola, Zainab Ahmed and Rotimi Amaechi as being the most accomplished public manipulators since 1960.
Unless, of course, Buhari himself takes the microphone in the next one week during which he is constitutionally supposed to be of administrative relevance, to explain with persuasive data, the injury and deprivation that these eight years have been.
I speak of injury and deprivation of the Nigerian people and country, not of Buhari or his inner circle, who have all flourished. Nigeria has been grossly hoodwinked. Having confessed in 2018 that he reads very slowly, it appears as though Buhari has not even begun to read what he must act on in good faith, and yet it is all over.
Indeed, it is not an administration which reads at all, but one of those who once spoke up was Mr. Amaechi, who in a leaked audiotape in 2019 gave voice to the epic calamity of the Buhari administration, describing the unprecedented maladministration and Buhari’s aloofness.
But Buhari did well for himself. He traveled wherever he wanted, by whichever presidential jet, and spent what he wanted. His family lived where they pleased and could have the presidential jet of their choice.
Buhari claims to be a corruption fighter, but he may well be Nigeria’s most corrupt leader in 63 years, with many in his inner circle now set to ride off into the sunset shortly with a Buhari-autographed grin on their faces. Spokesman Femi Adesina once confirmed that Buhari could give an envelope of foreign currency to whomever he pleased. But from what account?
Buhari, remember, has also publicly been the recipient of at least one illegal gift: the N45 million gift from a so-called Nigeria Consolidation Ambassadors Network which paid for his presidential primary forms in 2018.
And remember that he has persistently disobeyed every anti-corruption court order, including in July 2017. He substituted emotion for justice, as the Sambo Dasuki and Ibrahim Magu cases demonstrate.
Every year throughout Buhari’s tenure, the US Department of State Human Rights Report said the same thing about Nigeria, including in 2023: “Massive and widespread corruption affected all levels of government…The bulk of anticorruption efforts [by the ICPC and EFCC] remained focused on low- and mid-level government officials…”
Consider also that until Buhari’s arrival, the Bureau of Public Procurement published an annual account of all federal government approved contracts. Until Buhari.
In 2018—remember—First Lady Aisha Buhari disclosed that politicians and business people had sent her huge “donations” totaling over N2.5bn but that her aide-de-camp, Chief Superintendent of Police Sani Baban-Inna, had withheld the largesse.
N2.5bn! She had the police arrest and rifle ruthlessly through his life, but no such money was found. “Donations” simply for being Oga’s wife is the definition of corruption.
But also in 2018, Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris illegally donated to the First Lady, for her “private engagements,” two SUVs. At her request. What and who else?
I got what I wanted.
In his eight years, Buhari is known to have deployed nepotism, characteristically neglecting those most qualified. He did what he wanted—not what Nigeria needed—but fears being “disturbed”?
What is also true is that he served Daura, his hometown, population, 337,432. According to a March 2022 story by Katsina Post, Buhari had by that time ferried 23 mega projects to his people. “Home Advantage,” the paper observed at that remarkable return rate of joy for his town. Why would a town’s favourite son abandon his home for another home abroad if home is not abroad?
In the early days, I wrote that if Buhari truly wanted to fix Nigeria, he needed no more than four years. It turns out, sadly, that Buhari’s love has neither form nor substance nor loyalty.
Buhari giving up his Nigerian passport may be a good decision. Because a hotel guest who breaches the air quality in an elevator full of people should not tell his victims not to throw up on him.
This column welcomes rebuttals from interested government officials
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