RE: We ain’t Criminals, Your Excellency…

The truth is bitter. Nigerians prefer a windbag or someone that will sweet-talk them. Well sorry, your Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari is not known for mincing words. It is not his style as a notoriously ruthless former military administrator and now a reformed democrat to skirt around issues. He says it as it is.

When the interview he granted the telegraph of London was published on 5th February 2016, it went viral because he made a factual, infallible and unambiguous comment. He said: “Some Nigerians claim that life is too difficult back home but then again some Nigerians have also made it difficult for Europeans and Americans to accept them because of the number of Nigerians in different prisons all over the world accused of drug trafficking or human trafficking. I don’t think Nigerians have anybody to blame. They can remain at home. Their services are required to rebuild the country. If their countrymen misbehaved, the best thing for them is to stay at home and encourage the credibility of the nation”.

This comment was part of a full-length interview PMB granted the telegraph which evolved into an uproar and consequently led to the trend #NigeriansAreNotCriminals on twitter.

John Darlington Iyoha, who wrote the piece I am replying on 17th February 2016, and perhaps other few Nigerians probably failed to question the veracity of the comment. In addition, I doubt if you read the whole telegraph interview because if you did you will not emphasize that “You are doubly sure Nigeria’s ethics policeman would fail every integrity test in this regard though often whitewashed by his apologists and partisans.”

Warren Buffett, one of the richest men on earth admonished that it takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you will do things differently. How many Nigerians think about their perilous actions when they are in foreign lands?

Of course, there are plethora of Nigerians doing the country proud in Education, technology, sports, entertainment and business. Nevertheless, since bulky media outfits are controlled by the West and America, they tell us what they want us to hear. Unsurprisingly and most times, we hear about the dangerous and noxious crimes that Nigerians commit as well as their ridiculous asylum claims.

In Indonesia, where the reward for drug trafficking is death. Four Nigerians drug smugglers were executed by firing squad in April 2015. They are Martin Anderson, Jamiu Owolabi Abashin, Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise and Okwudili Oyatanze. Other Nigerians are languishing in jail in other countries that are infamous for their draconian law against drug trafficking.

More recently, the Daily Mail Uk reported on 16 February 2016 that mental health nurse, Florence Obadiru’s name has been struck off the nursing register, after serving a 2-year jail term for forcing a 23-year-old Nigerian woman to fly to Britain to become a sex slave under the threat of black magic curse. Olusoji Oluwafemi and Johnson Olayinka were also jailed as accomplices. They were part of an international trafficking ring.

We all remember how former governor of Bayelsa state, late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha disgustingly escaped from Britain, where he was facing charges of laundering 1.8m pounds, dressed as a woman. His people gave him a hero’s welcome. “Diepreye Alamieyeseigha returned to his home village a folk hero after apparently escaping Europe in a dress and on a forged passport reported the Guardian, UK of 23 November 2005. Nigeria was the laughing stock of the world!

Finally, the case of James Ibori, the former governor of oil-rich Delta state, who was treated with kid’s glove by the Nigerian judiciary, was jailed in Britain for 13 years by Southwark Crown Court for fraud totalling nearly $77m also can’t be sidelined. These are crimes and nuances that the President was talking about. Are these not Nigerians committing these heinous crimes?

Shockingly, you said Buhari will fail a corruption test. This is impossible and I can confidently tell you that PMB will pass in flying colours as a military administrator and a democratic president.

It is unfortunate and sad that he truncated a democratically elected government in 1983. But beyond that, his reputation was intact and untainted. To lend credence to his anti-corruption stance was the unsuccessful kidnap of a former Minister of Transport, Umaru Dikko, accused of racketeering in the distribution of rice. Dikko was a powerful member of Shehu Shagari’s cabinet and he was tagged Nigeria’s most wanted man by the Buhari led military administration.

Even the telegraph publication negate your submission that he would not pass the integrity test thus: “He pursued his vision of a more orderly Nigeria with single-minded ruthlessness beefing up the country’s secret police, prosecuting around 500 officials for corruption and throwing journalists and anyone who dared to criticise him into jail.”

Today’s PMB and his vice have declared their assets, and Nigerians were awed by PMB’s simplicity-he operates one bank account with Union Bank of Nigeria and has no foreign account. Why will such man not pass the test?

Meanwhile, your accusation that he is shielding some allegedly corrupt members of his cabinet and APC from prosecution has been dispelled severally by PMB. He stated in his first presidential media chat that anybody that have evidence against any member of his cabinet should come forward or take it to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Yet, nobody. So, who are the real criminals and who are the puritans-Dasuki et al, Nkonjo Iweala, Allison Maduekwe, Stella Oduah, Rotimi Amaechi, Kayode Fayemi, Babatunde Fasola and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan?

In between, you said that “Buhari’s behaviour and remarks were characterized by violently obtaining resources from others by use of brute force adding that If what happened (nothing unusual did) in 2011 repeats itself, the dogs and the baboons will be soaked in blood”. Recall that this comment was made in Hausa and it is subject to different interpretation.

The spokesman of the now dissolved Congress of Progressive Change (CPC), Rotimi Fashekun made a valid clarification on Politics Today, a programme on Channels Tv, that “The phrase was an idiomatic expression which does not give the exact meaning when the words are put together. The reference to soaking dogs and baboons in blood was not calling for bloodshed but a rather normal idiomatic expression regularly used in Hausa language.” I am waiting for you to tell me how Buhari violently obtained resources from others by use of brute force. To the best of my knowledge, he never did such.

Furthermore, I am flabbergasted that you still hold the erroneous view that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan won the 2015 presidential elections. My conclusion is that you are still living in the past. Change is here whether you like it or not. Jonathan may have conceded the election but it was pronounced and plain that he lost the elections and had no choice than concede.

Besides, why did the government hatch the plan to postpone the elections from February to march? It was because they were jittery. Nigerians were frustrated and fatigued by incompetence, and sheer celebration of corruption which were common features of Jonathan’s administration.

Nigerians had already decided-if you do not want us to Fe-Buhari (Love-Buhari), we will March-For-Buhari. Thus, the overwhelming vote.

Hence, anyone that thought the northern votes will go to Jonathan or he will win the election was in a reverie or dreamland. Unfortunately for Jonathan, he had lost the goodwill of the South-west which voted for him massively in 2011 and was only left with the south-south and south-east which combined, cannot win him the election. How can we forget the drama of Godswill Orubebe at the INEC headquarters in Abuja?

Elections are meant to be won and lost. PMB flawlessly defeated Jonathan with his anti-corruption facade. If you have the evidence, you can take up the case on behalf of the PDP, which scored an own goal with the appointment of Ali Modu Sheriff, a man accused of sponsoring Boko Haram as the acting Chairman of the party and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Despite all these shenanigans, this does not diminish the fact that Jonathan is a complete gentleman but he allowed his wolves to overwhelm him.

Since PMB took over, he has been making concerted efforts to clean up the mess that PDP enmeshed and entangled Nigeria and Nigerians. I am sorry for PMB because God always sends him to clean up the corroded faeces of Nigeria. The economic scenery that prevailed in 1983 when he was military administrator is the same playing out in 2016. He needs the support of all Nigerians whether PDP or APC, Muslim or Christian, Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo, to resolve this country’s deluge problems.

There is absolutely nothing wrong or damaging about his comments. It was like when he said he does not know the whereabout of the Chibok girls. Some Nigerians chastised him. Maybe they probably prefer a lying PMB at the age of 73. At that age, I do not think PMB is afraid to tell the truth. So, forget about any apology. He has nothing to apologise for.

This is because many Nigerians are ‘basejes’ (spoilers) when they travel abroad. They engage in nefarious, and unwholesome activities that have dealt a huge blow to the image of Nigeria. Why should a Nigerian be subjected to close scrutiny when he arrives at an international airport? When an immigration officer sights the green passport, he is doubly-alert and will almost undrape you because you are Nigerian. Honest Nigerians have been flagged because of the reckless and fraudulent actions of a handful of Nigerians.

Rather than criticizing PMB for his statement, we should focus on how to restore the international image of Nigeria. The basejes should know that their malevolent activities will not only destroy Nigeria’s image but also affect hardworking and diligent Nigerians who will be subjected to harassment and intimidation whenever they travel. Same goes for Nigerians residing in Nigeria. We all need to change our carefree attitude towards this country. Let us simply be patriotic Nigerians wherever we are. God bless Nigeria!

Reply darlington John Iyoha’s article We ain’t criminals, your excellency published in the National Mirror on Feb 17th 2016

Adeniyi Ogunfowoke