Monday 8 August 2016

Aisha Buhari: Governor Fayose and Ignorance 101

Following the recent fallout between Governor Ayodele Fayose and Aisha Buhari, a Nigerian, Abdulrafiu Lawal, has given an interesting insight to the matter.
In the last one-and-a-half years, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has taken governance to an undignifying level by always shooting before aiming. When he is not insulting former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he is either denying the fact that the Chibok girls are actually missing or attacking President Buhari and his wife. He has rubbished every iota of the respect, esteem and dignity associated with the office of governor as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Hence, many are avoiding him like a plague so as not to be dragged into the mud with him.
The most bizarre of these attacks are on the person of President Buhari and his wife, Aisha, which have become like a daily ritual for him. At the height of the presidential campaigns in 2015, he had said that Buhari would die in office. This to many was barbaric and incredulous for a human being who is not sure of when he will die, to wish another being whose destiny he is is in not position to determine dead. In Fayose, I see a psychopathic neurosis. This is considering the imagined hectic nature of the schedule of a governor in a lean economy, particularly that of a state grasping for breath to make the most basic of payments, such as the salaries of its workers, to now have time for this sort of “paraga” talk.
Recently, he upped his mischief by claiming the president’s wife is the one mentioned in the Jefferson bribery scandal of 2007. He added that she cannot visit the United States of America for the fear of arrest and prosecution. I understand the case is already before a court of law in Nigeria where Aisha Buhari has sued Fayose for defamation. For a governor, and the value on which the office he occupies places on his shoulder, I expected Fayose to know better. At least, he has several channels to get details and verify information before going public with this, such as in hiring a private investigator. In that way, he could hit his opponent – real or imagined – with incontrovertible evidence. However, Fayose subscribed to mischief and placed governance and politics on the a pedestrian, as if he were the American candidate, Donald Trump’s younger brother.
Should Fayose had chosen to go the decent route, he could have asked one of his sons to google the purported ‘Aisha Buhari’ and Jefferson case, which the New York Times had reported extensively on as far back as 2007. From his conduct so far, I doubt if he is Information Technology (IT) savvy, not to talk of being able to check e-mails. His accusation against Aisha Buhari epitomises ignorance at the highest level because he also mixed up two different cases – those of the Jefferson and Haliburton bribery scandals. The William Jefferson case concerns the convicted American congressman linked with one Aisha Buhari who is said to live in Virginia, USA and believed to be involved in identity theft; while the Haliburton scandal deals with Jeffrey Tesler, a lawyer from North London convicted for ferrying bribes to some Nigerian government officials as far back as 1994. His case can be compared to mixing up Amala/Ewedu soup and fried rice in one plate.
Meanwhile, the President’s wife has been in the United States for several days now without any problem concerning law enforcement. Surprisingly, Fayose seems to have lost his voice since the media reported her landing in Washington. Could it be shame or fear of the damage settlement the court will ask him to pay for his “diarrhoea of the mouth” that has made him loose his voice? Or is he planning another mischief that the water she showers with is fetched from Mecca with the presidential jet every week?
If Fayose had made this kind of allegation in a clime like the United States or United Kingdom where defamation cases make people go bankrupt, he would have known by now that a cup of tea is merely ordinary water, apologies to the Hausa people. This is because he may not be able to pay the damage that would be imposed on him by the court.
In case he does not know, two major factors in judging a defamation case are ‘truth’ and ‘intention’. I do not see how his team of lawyers can defend him in court because this is a bad case. What he has continued to dish out against Buhari and his wife is nothing but hate speech mixed with complex ignorance.
Fayose is suffering from what some psychologists call “complex ignorance”. This is a situation where an individual does not know, lives in self-denial about his ignorance and is not prepared to learn in order to take informed decisions. I sympathise with the people of the “Fountain of Knowledge” State being led by an individual who is better suited to running a motor park than being a governor.
Back to the US trip, if Aisha Buhari was the one sought after in the Jefferson case, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) would have come after her many years ago. After all, she has no immunity and this sort of case has no form of protection under the United States legal system, because it is a criminal case.
Secondly, the way US justice system works is that one’s Social Security Number (SSN), Tax Identification Number (TIN), date of birth, surname (last name) or last place of residence could be used by security agencies to verify if one is on the wanted list of the FBI or police.
Hence, if our First Lady Aisha Buhari was the one sought after in the Jefferson case, as soon as her plane took off from London, the security agencies would have obtained the manifest of the passengers coming into the US. Which is the way they are able to identify terrorists, wanted persons, sex offenders, drug traffickers with criminal records and any other person on the no fly or watch lists. Furthermore, as soon as she landed, the scanning of her finger prints and the data page of her passport by officials of Homeland Security would have quickly given her up.
Aisha Buhari may not be perfect, like anyone of us, but she is far better than the last two previous occupants of the office, Patience Jonathan and Turai Yar’Adua. She is refined and cosmopolitan, like I said in a previous article “Buhari’s Wife, Our First lady”.
She needs our support and encouragement in order to succeed. The likes of Fayose may not appreciate what some of us who live abroad experience. This is because some Americans may know little or nothing about a country or its people, but at least they know all the negative things associated with the country. At the height of the “There is God oh” story, an African American at the United States Postal Service (USPS) in Boston, Massachusetts had asked me in the midst of other customers on the queue if Patience Jonathan had ever seen the four walls of a classroom. For a moment, I felt the ground I was standing on was caving in due to the embarrassing nature of the question. I quickly put myself together and said she was an emotional person, but my interlocutor gave me the sneaky smile Americans use in mocking others.
Our lawmakers will do Nigerians a lot of good by heeding Nuhu Ribadu’s advise, given several years ago, that there is the need to create a law and process that evaluates the mental state of people before allowing them to run for elected public office. If heeded, this will save us the Fayose kind of episodes that have become a continuous source of embarrassment to Nigerians and the Ekiti people in particular.
In as much as some Nigerians will only vote people based on how much they are able to offer them during electoral campaigns, the country will continue to have the likes of Fayose in the corridors of power, keeping the country down relentlessly on all indices of Human Development.
- Abdulrafiu Lawal, a public commentator can be reached through Twitter: @AbdulRafiu19

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