Prior to the 2015 general election, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its then presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, had a very cosy relationship with the government and media of the United States of America.
America’s romance with the APC was understandable, following the obstinacy of former President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to turn Nigeria into another vassal colony of the USA.
The relationship between America and Nigeria came to an almost all time low when the then Jonathan administration took a definite stand against gay, homosexualism and same sex marriage when he signed the anti-same sex marriage bill into law. Jonathan rebuffed lobby and pressure from the Obama administration not to sign the bill into Act of Parliament and never gave a second thought to intense lobby to repel the law.
To punish the Jonathan administration, the United States boycotted purchase of Nigerian crude oil and took other measures, including refusing to sell arms to Nigeria to fight the Boko Haram insurgents.
Americans were in a hurry to see Jonathan out of office and the APC became the beautiful bribe to achieve that objective. The American media also played a major role to undermine the Nigerian government under the Jonathan administration as only negative reports about Nigeria got space in the American media. Even when Nigeria became the biggest economy in Africa, it was hardly mentioned in the American media. The romance between APC and America was given further boost when a prominent American political consultants, AKPD Message and Media, was engaged or seconded to Nigeria to work for APC during the electioneering campaign. The Chicago-based firm is best known for its lead role in President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
When the story leaked, with uncontroversial evidence that the All Progressives Congress has outsourced and engaged the services of the Americans to assist her in upstaging PDP, the party was left with no alternative than to acknowledge the speculation, despite the outcry from Nigerian media/Public Relations practitioners who were sidelined for a foreign firm.
In a statement by its immediate past National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said the Chicago-based firm was best known for its lead role in President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
“We have been working closely with AKPD Message and Media over the past few months and we shall leverage on the firm’s skill, experience and expertise throughout the upcoming campaign cycle,” APC said.
The honeymoon between the American media and President Muhammadu Buhari and APC continued after Buhari was sworn-in as Jonathan’s successor. However, when Buhari was preparing to go on official visit to the USA, Nigerians sent him a very strong signal that he will be stoned back home if he succumbs to demands of America to turn Nigeria into a satellite nation of the USA, especially over the issue of the same-sex marriage. Though Nigerians were told the controversial issues did not come up during Buhari’s visit to the US, latest media report from the USA indicates that the romance between Buhari and America is gradually waning.
Some days ago, a leading American newspaper, Washington Post, published a rather uncomplimentary assessment of the Buhari’s administration and lampooned him for being “too slow” and that Nigerians are already disenchanted with the President they elected less than six months ago.
Washington Post claimed the report was based on random interviews with Nigerians but obviously the media “selected” those that saw nothing good in the administration while conducting the POP.
The paper said “Five months later, there is growing disenchantment that the president has not delivered on his lofty promises, while taking an unprecedented amount of time just getting his government staffed.
“I think he’s too slow,” said Innocent Lagi, a Buhari ally and former attorney general of Nasarawa State in central Nigeria, who was interviewed by Washington Post. “He must have underestimated the problems of the country.”
The paper declared that “Six months into office, Mr. Buhari had installed just half of the cabinet and top-level appointments under his discretion, slowing the former army general’s ability to capitalise on his postelection honeymoon.
Recently, the Nigerian Senate approved the last of his cabinet picks, but only after the president admitted he hadn’t figured out exactly which portfolios his new ministers will be given.
“Mr. Buhari has complained that the country was materially and morally vandalised before he took power, but critics say that his slow start is undercutting the momentum to overhaul the government and economy in Nigeria, which Transparency International ranked as 136th — tied with Russia — among 176 countries in its Corruption Perceptions Index.
“The change was only in the new leadership,” said Mr. Lagi. “The courts, legislature and other institutions like the army, police, etc., have not changed. The President has no powers to fight corruption; the institutions do. He can’t take a corrupt person to court. He can’t arrest a corrupt person.
The reality is that the country hasn’t moved forward.”
Washington Post said “Inaction at the top levels of government has mirrored economic gridlock throughout the country.”
Another respondent interviewed by the American media, Hajiya Hafsat Musa, who runs a small clothing shop in Mararaba, a suburb of the capital of Abuja, said she has been losing money for months because the government has been slow in issuing paychecks.
Most of her customers are civil servants, she said.
“My customers no longer patronise me,” said Ms. Musa. “Some of them have not been paid for months.
The way the economy runs, if there are no ministers, everything is grounded.”
Her experience, Washiongton Post declared with finality, “is common throughout Nigeria, an oil-rich country that has long failed to live up to its full economic potential. In April, a month before Mr. Buhari took office, unemployment in Nigeria was 7.5 percent. In July, for which the most recent statistics are available, the jobless rate was 8.2 percent, according to government figures.”
While the dust is yet to settle on the report, the American media came up with a report on the anti-corruption war of President Buhari, especially the tango with former National Security Adviser, Colonel Dasuki Sambo, and compared the elected Buhari with the dictator that sacked the elected government of former President Shehu Shagari in 1983.
The Washington Post said Buhari fooled the American government and people when he told them during his US visit that he “would be “fair, just, and scrupulously follow due process and the rule of law, as enshrined in our constitution.”
For the benefit of Nigerians, the report is reproduced unedited below:
“With the glitter of fool’s gold, Nigeria’s recently elected President Muhammadu Buhari arrived in the United States in July, uttering time-worn democracy vows to President Barack Obama and his administration. Among other things, he pledged at the United States Institute for Peace to combat graft with procedures that would be “fair, just, and scrupulously follow due process and the rule of law, as enshrined in our constitution.”
“Skepticism is in order—a conclusion reinforced by the ongoing persecution of former National Security Advisor, Sambo Dasuki for alleged money laundering and illegal possession of firearms.
“Mr. Buhari initially tasted power as a military dictator, following a coup de tat in 1983. His dictatorship was earmarked by chilling human rights abuses. Take the word of Nigerian Nobel Prize laureate Wole Soyinka.
“Among other things, Mr. Soyinka highlights Mr. Buhari’s draconian edicts, exemplified by Decree 20 under which the judicial murders of Nigerian citizens Lawal Ojuolape, Bernard Ogedengbe, and Bartholomew Owoh were authorised. Mr. Obedengbe was executed for a crime that did not carry the death penalty at the time it was committed in violation of the universal revulsion of ex post facto laws.
“Soyinka adds that these crimes were executed in defiance of pleas from virtually every sector of Nigeria and the international community—a grisly precedent for subsequent dictator Sani Abasha’s hanging of Ogoni activist, Ken Sara-Wiwa, in contempt of international opinion.
“Mr. Buhari turned the nation into a slave plantation, and forbade the slaves from any discussion of their enslavement—especially a return to democracy.
He favoured the north over the south, dividing rather than unifying Nigeria after the convulsions of the 1967-70 Biafran War. He lent support to the introduction of Sharia law in the North—a major source of strife and disharmony.
“Mr. Buhari’s brutal military dictatorship was overthrown in 1985. Mr. Dasuki played a key role. Dictators do not forget. Fast forward to today.
“After celebrating fairness, due process, and the rule of law last July to win the good will of the United States, Mr. Buhari returned to Nigeria to mock all three in a vendetta against Dasuki, the immediate past National Security Adviser.
“He placed Mr. Dasuki under house arrest. He confiscated his passport. He charged him with firearms and money laundering violations. He sought a secret trial to prevent independent scrutiny.
“He opposed Mr. Dasuki’s pretrial application to the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja for permission to receive urgent medical treatment for cancer in London, but it was nonetheless granted.
“Justice Adeniyi Ademola explained that an accused is presumed innocent before trial, and that a citizen’s health is paramount before the law. Mr. Buhari was ordered to release Mr. Dasuki’s international passport.
“Mr. Buhari defied the order. He put Mr. Dasuki’s house under siege, a microcosm of the Bosnian Serb siege of Sarajevo. Mr. Dasuki returned to court. Justice Ademola reaffirmed his order, asserting “My own orders will not be flouted.”
“Mr. Buhari has not yet budged. As a military dictator in 1985, he similarly seized the international passport of Chief Obafemi Awolowo to thwart his travel for medical treatment, which caused his death in 1987.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
“Much is riding on Mr. Dasuki’s case. If Mr. Buhari flouts Justice Ademola’s order with impunity, judicial independence will be fatally compromised and Nigeria’s embryonic democratic dispensation will be stillborn. The judiciary is the only branch capable of checking limitless executive power—the bane of Africa.
“Members of Nigeria’s National Assembly and Senate have been reduced to playing the roles of extras in cinematic extravaganzas.
“Further, President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration accepted a peaceful transfer of power to President Buhari, a laudable landmark in African politics.
If Mr. Buhari is permitted with impunity to destroy his political opponents like Mr. Dasuki with tyrannical methods, peaceful transfers of power everywhere on the continent will become problematic. The incumbents’ risk of political and personal impalement at the hands of their would-be successors will be too high.
“The United States should be insisting on independent human rights observers to monitor Mr. Dasuki’s prosecution and trial, and demanding that Mr. Buhari honour his vow to follow due process and the rule of law.
The stakes are too high to remain silent.”
Political observers in Nigeria are of the view that though the American government has been silent on some controversial actions of the Buhari administration, the reports in their media are clear indication of the body language of the Obama administration.
Also, it is instructive that former President Goodluck Jonathan, whom the American government conspired to upstage, is now being invited to various fora in US and celebrated as the hero of democracy. Why the Americans are making u-turn on Buhari is still in the realm of speculation. For handlers of Buhari, it is about time they read the handwriting on the wall and brace up to the reality that the honeymoon between their principal and America is almost over.

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