Abba Kyari’s self-serving condemnation of foreign intervention
Abba Kyari, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, wrote an impudent,awkwardly error-ridden, and mind-numbingly platitudinous screed titled “Tomorrow Never Dies.” That’s an ironic title in light of the well-known fact that he and others misgoverning Nigeria on behalf of physically infirm Buhari are already murdering Nigeria’s tomorrow.
Kyari has an unflattering reputation for physical and intellectual laziness and for down-the-line duplicity, so his hackneyed, intellectually malnourished harangue didn’t surprise me. Nonetheless, the false, exaggerated, and opportunistic appeals to patriotism and the hypocritical denunciation of foreign intervention that constitute the core of his essay need a response and a reality check.
Kyari griped about Bukola Saraki’s alleged hiring of an American lobbyist by the name of Riva Levinson. “We are meant to believe that Ms Levinson, like the others who are paid by one of the contestants, wants only to promote a free and fair race,” Kyari wrote.“And that it is only a coincidence that this language for hire is identical to what we hear from accredited diplomats!”
I have no clue what thought Kyari wanted to express in that tortuous quote, especially the second sentence, but it’s apparent that he was taking issue with the hiring of an American to help the opposition with today’s presidential election. Well, I too resent it and have written several columns in the past to denounce what I have called Nigerians’ knee-jerk xenophilia, which I have defined as the tendency to uncritically celebrate and valorize the foreign. Nevertheless, Kyari’s APC isn’t immune from this disease of low self-esteem.
From December 2013 to 2015, according to influential American online newspaper Politico, the APC paid for the services of AKPD Message and Media, a political consulting firm owned by former Obama campaign manager David Axelrod.“AKPD’s Nigerian work has already drawn media attention in the U.S. and Nigeria, including reports of leaked emails that discussed the firm’s recent work for Buhari’s party,” the paper wrote in its February 14, 2015 story titled “Democrats working both sides of Nigeria’s presidential election.”
The same sorts of pronouncements from Trump administration officials that Kyari and his gang of philistines in the Presidential Villa characterize as evidence of foreign interference were also made by Obama administration officials against Jonathan in 2015. When President Goodluck Jonathan postponed the presidential election in 2015, for instance, then Secretary of State John Kerry said, “It is critical that the government not use security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process.”
Several other influential American political players made statements that the Jonathan administration interpreted as covert endorsement of Buhari’s APC. For example, following Kerry, Jennifer Cooke, director of the Africa programme at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a Washington think tank, said, “There is a great deal of anger about the postponement of the election and suspicion among opposition supporters that the delay is a deliberate ploy to subvert the democratic process.”
I can give more examples, but the point is that in 2015 when US, UK, and EU officials issued statements that benefitted Buhari’s APC and censured Jonathan’s PDP, Abba Kyari and the band of farouche provincials he is speaking for now didn’t see any “foreign interference.” In fact, when Buhari visited the US in July 2015, according to the Associated Press of July 20, 2015,“he said Nigeria would be ‘ever grateful’ to the U.S. for its support of free elections in his country,” and added that“U.S. and European pressures to ensure the election was ‘fair and credible led us to where we are now.’” He repeated this sentiment on several other occasions. And Jonathan, on the other hand, has blamed his electoral loss on foreign, particularly American, interference.
Even after getting into power, the Buhari regime has been more obsessed with getting favourable public opinion in foreign lands, particularly in the West, than it has been with its perception in Nigeria. That is why Buhari gave all the consequential press interviews of his presidency to foreign media organisations—usually on foreign soil.
In addition, a September 20, 2018 Premium Times investigation found that Justice Minister Abubakar Malami “hired two American lobbying and public relations firms to plant opinion articles favourable to the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in American newspapers.”
So, for Buhari and his no-good puppeteers like Abba Kyari and homicidal executive thugs like Nasir el-Rufai, foreign interference is good only when it favors them and condemnable when it calls out their incompetence and duplicity.
I won’t lie that when I read statements from foreign countries cautioning, warning, and threatening our leaders to be of good behavior or risk punishment, my national self-pride is often bruised. Sadly, it is only this sort of infantilisation that can compel our leaders to be of good behavior.
I have pointed out in previous interventions that most Nigerians would seem to be held hostage by a debilitating and deep-seated inferiority complex. This complex consists in the internationalization of a mentality of low self-worth and an inordinate reverence of the foreign, especially if the “foreign” also happens to be white.
It is this xenophilic inferiority complex that allowed low-grade US diplomatic officers to extract treasure troves of sensitive national secrets almost effortlessly from well-placed Nigerian officials, according to revelations from WikiLeaks in 2011.
What I’ve found particularly instructive from the US diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks squealed in 2011 is that our perpetually lying politicians suddenly become truthful, honest, and straight-talking people when they talk to Americans. You would think they were standing before their Creator—or at least before a stern, omniscient, no-nonsense dad who severely punishes his kids for the minutest lie they tell.
For instance, Nuhu Ribadu, the wily airhead who had told the world that he thoroughly investigated former President Olusegun Obasanjo and found him squeaky clean confessed to the Americans that Obasanjo was more corrupt than Abacha. The same Ribadu had lied that the EFCC he headed never investigated Mrs. Patience Jonathan over money-laundering allegations. However, leaked US diplomatic cables quoted him as telling US officials that he indeed investigated Patience Jonathan for money laundering.
Nasir el-Rufai, the thuggish governor of Kaduna, had also publicly denied any debt to Atiku Abubakar for his political rise, but he confessed to American embassy officials that Atiku indeed gave him his first public service job as head of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, according to WikiLeaks.
Many Nigerian leaders—and followers— seem to have an infantile thirst for a supranational paternal dictatorship. The United States is that all-knowing, all-sufficient father figure to whom they run when they have inter-elite troubles. We learned from the US embassy cables in 2011 that our Supreme Court judges, Central Bank governors, national leaders, and state governors routinely ran to the American embassy like terrified little kids when they had quarrels with each other. They only preach “patriotism” in the open when they are publicly chastised by their masters.
I can bet my bottom dollar that even Abba Kyari will squeal like a canary if he is “honored” with an invitation to any Western embassy. Don’t be deceived by his fraudulent pretense to patriotism.