On Farooq Kper­ogi’s ‘hate’ for Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari

Sunday Trust - - VIEWS - By Mo­hammed Dahiru Aminu Aminu wrote from Bed­ford, United King­dom and can be reached at mohd.aminu@gmail.com

It is no longer news that I am very close to Pro­fes­sor Farooq Kper­ogi, who in his own words once said, was close enough to be counted as a mem­ber of his own fam­ily. I started read­ing his then Weekly Trust col­umn since the time it was known as “Notes from Louisiana”, and I never wa­vered in read­ing him even af­ter his col­umn meta­mor­phosed to “Notes from At­lanta” when he moved to At­lanta, in the US state of Georgia, from his pre­vi­ous base in Lafayette in the US state of Louisiana.

Be­cause of my dream to travel to the US for fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion upon grad­u­a­tion from the Uni­ver­sity of Maiduguri where I was hav­ing my un­der­grad­u­ate ed­u­ca­tion, I re­mem­bered send­ing an email to Farooq to let him know that I was a pas­sion­ate fol­lower of his weekly ar­ti­cles which then, mostly por­trayed his ex­pe­ri­ence as an African and aca­demic so­journer in the US. The re­ply he sent to me was en­cour­ag­ing. In his re­sponse, he wrote that he knew I would even­tu­ally ful­fil my dream of hav­ing a US ed­u­ca­tion if only my writ­ing abil­ity was any in­di­ca­tion of my en­thu­si­asm for schol­ar­ship. I later sent his wife, Zainab, an email to tell her how much I ad­mired her hus­band be­cause of his bril­liance and how much I was learn­ing from his ar­ti­cles such that I could safely call him a men­tor. Though Zainab did not re­ply my email, but when I had a chat with Farooq sev­eral days later, he told me that his wife told him she re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated the email I sent to her. Sev­eral years later, af­ter the death of Zainab in a car crash in Nige­ria in June 2010, I even got closer to Farooq. Farooq would later meet his present wife, Mau­reen, through me. Al­though my dream-and his wish for me-to have a US ed­u­ca­tion could not be re­alised, nev­er­the­less, I was op­por­tune to have ac­cess to a UK ed­u­ca­tion, which is ob­vi­ously at par with a US ed­u­ca­tion that I had dreamed of.

Hav­ing known Farooq this far, I do not be­lieve that he hates Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari-be­cause of his very crit­i­cal opin­ions about Buharisim­ply, and as his ac­cusers say, he only fo­cusses on the neg­a­tives, as op­posed to the pos­i­tives of the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion. From the pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions that I had with Farooq re­cently, if he hated Buhari, there are cer­tain nar­ra­tives that he would have since writ­ten about Buhari-which he re­fused to do, even af­ter be­ing en­cour­aged to do so by many peo­ple from Nige­ria. In any event, there are sev­eral pub­lished ar­ti­cles Farooq had writ­ten in de­fence of the pres­i­dent in the past, and a sim­ple search over Google is enough to vin­di­cate him.

That said, there is no com­pelling moral force that says that to be ob­jec­tive in your ar­gu­ments, you must strike a bal­ance be­tween praise and crit­i­cism. That, sim­ply is an ar­gu­ment for the un­in­tel­li­gent-how is pref­er­ence or spe­cial­ity a prob­lem, and how does this make a per­son less ob­jec­tive? We are at lib­erty to choose whether we want to fo­cus on the pos­i­tives or the neg­a­tives of ev­ery sit­u­a­tion in life. In fact, as it is ob­vi­ous to be­gin­ning stu­dents of com­mu­ni­ca­tion-of which Farooq is a pro­fes­sor in the dis­ci­pline-most of the time, nor­malcy (read pos­i­tives) is no news, ab­nor­mal­ity is. What, then, is there to re­port about the pos­i­tives of any gov­ern­ment in the world since they have not sent men to land in Jupiter for an eco­nom­i­cally prof­itable ex­pe­di­tion? For ex­am­ple, what is there to re­port if the pres­i­dent is con­struct­ing roads and hos­pi­tals for his sub­jects-a duty for which he swore to do, and for which he is be­ing paid to do, and for which, ul­ti­mately, our legal sta­tus as cit­i­zens grants us a so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity to hold him ac­count­able? What is ob­jec­tive, is, for us to be truth­ful in what we say and do about whoso­ever we choose to crit­i­cise or praise. There­fore, there are no prob­lems for me at all if Farooq fo­cuses on the neg­a­tives of the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­vided he is say­ing the truth about the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

I am not a diehard sup­porter of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari or ex-Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan. But be­tween Buhari and Jonathan, I am yet to be con­vinced that Jonathan was a bet­ter pres­i­dent es­pe­cially since I have seen how very ir­re­spon­si­ble the Jonathan gov­ern­ment was in their re­sponse to­ward the Boko Haram in­sur­gency in the Nige­rian north­east where I come from. On the day Mubi-the sec­ond largest town in my home state of Adamawa was taken over by Boko Haram in­sur­gents­there was not a sin­gle item on NTA news that re­ported the un­for­tu­nate event, but NTA was brazen enough to project an oft-re­peated ad­vert in favour of Jonathan’s sec­ond term pres­i­den­tial bid. Alex Badeh, a very un­charis­matic sol­dier, and the head of the Nige­rian mil­i­tary at the time, who is a na­tive of Mubi, had or­dered mil­i­tary he­li­copters-which were main­tained by Nige­rian tax pay­ers’ money-to evac­u­ate his ex­tended fam­ily mem­bers in Mubi on the day the Boko Haram in­sur­gents took over the town, so that all other Nige­ri­ans there can die. Thus, I must be very im­pru­dent to wish that Jonathan had won a sec­ond ten­ure to lead Nige­ria. By his thought­less per­for­mance as pres­i­dent, Jonathan, to me, had no busi­ness be­ing pres­i­dent of any coun­try in the world.

While Farooq is be­ing os­tracised to­day by the very peo­ple-mostly of north­ern Nige­rian de­scent-who used to praise him, and were even fond of the choice ad­jec­tives he had used in crit­i­cis­ing Jonathan, there is a les­son which we could learn from this turn of events. If any­thing, what we have learned from the Buhari and Jonathan ad­min­is­tra­tions are that in­tran­si­gent big­ots ex­ist from both the Nige­rian North and South. When you make Face­book posts or pub­lish ar­ti­cles against the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion, you have a bar­rage of likes and praises mostly from big­ots from the Nige­rian South who have sworn-for rea­sons best known to them-to never like Buhari in their lives. The same hap­pened dur­ing the in­fa­mous reign of Good­luck Jonathan such that your crit­i­cism for Jonathan be­came the in­dex for which you are en­deared to big­ots in the Nige­rian North. Big­ots from both sides have now been well iden­ti­fied, as by their fruits we now know them. In the fu­ture, se­ri­ous minded Nige­ri­ans should not take ei­ther the in­tran­si­gent Buharists or the in­tran­si­gent Jonatha­ni­ans se­ri­ously. There are bril­liant Nige­ri­ans with well-bal­anced sense of judg­ment from all sec­tions of the coun­try with whom you can en­gage with in a non­big­oted and civil dis­cus­sion about the events and the per­son­al­i­ties in con­tem­po­rary Nige­ria.

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