Malami/Magu drama isn’t worth my time

People have asked for my thoughts on the ongoing drama between Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami and suspended EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu. My opinion is, it isn’t worth anybody’s time. When a fundamentally dishonest and morally tainted dissembler like Malami is tormenting a dizzyingly feather brained fraudster like Magu who pretends to be fighting corruption but who is actually steeped in unimaginable sleaze, why should that bother me? I have no dog in the dog-eat-dog food fight between two dogged scammers.

Anyone who takes a moment to listen to Magu would know that the man has neither the intellectual preparedness nor the moral stamina to understand, much less police, corruption. He is no more than a remote-controllably poodle of his benefactors. He barks only when his remote controllers command him to—and looks away when he’s told to.

In other words, Magu is a classic metaphoric police dog whose loyalty is only to his handlers. When police dogs are old, unhelpful, or injured, they’re retired and replaced with another one. It is supremely symbolic that all EFCC honchos are, by law,police officers. The next EFCC police dog won’t be different from the previous one. So don’t expect Mohammed Umar, the new acting EFCC chairman—or whoever replaces him— to be different from Magu.

Historicising the soft racism in Campbell’s Pro-Buhari image laundering

By Moses E. Ochonu


Last week, Farooq Kperogi’s Saturday Tribune column compellingly debunked Ambassador John Campbell’s coy defense of President Muhammadu Buhari and his inner circle against credible allegations of corruption. Kperogi demonstrated that, contrary to Campbell’s claims, neither Buhari nor members of his inner circle are free of the stain of corruption.

I do not intend to re-litigate what Kperogi has analysed persuasively. Instead I’d like to extend his analysis by establishing that there is a historical pattern to Ambassador Campbell’s pro-Buhari treatise, and that the man has a history of using his platform and perch at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) to propagate a pro-Buhari agenda rooted in a deeper discourse tradition.

Take Campbell’s recent claim on Buhari’s austerity and the absence of a credible allegation of corruption against Buhari, for instance. This is a recycling of a claim Campbell made in a CFR video posted to YouTube on June 1, 2015, in which he stated that Buhari “has never been tarred by credible allegations of corruption.”

In the same video, Campbell claims that prior to 2015, Buhari lost elections in questionable circumstances, insinuating that in the previous elections of 2003, 2007, and 2011, Buhari could and should have won. This, of course, betrays Campbell’s ignorance of Nigeria’s recent presidential electoral dynamics, which, prior to 2015, marooned Buhari to his northern Muslim base as an unviable provincial candidate incapable of winning national electoral contests.

This pro-Buhari disposition has now morphed into pro-regime activism, activating in Campbell an impulse to attack and discredit Buhari’s critics. This, in turn, is grounded in a paternalistic zeal to protect and defend the regime from what he sees as the criticism of traducers.

One thing is discernible in Campbell’s writings on Nigeria; he believes that southern Nigerians are out to get Buhari, the allegedly honest, austere Muslim president. That’s the context in which he made the recent claim that widespread corruption in Buhari’s inner circle “is a widely held trope in Southern Nigeria.”

There is a method and a pattern to Campbell’s proverbial ‘madness’.

The former ambassador projects himself as a friend of the Northern ruling class, of which Buhari is the present embodiment, and advances himself as a paternal defender of the North.

In a March 2015 lecture, he attempted to answer the question of“where did Boko Haram come from?” by repeating the discredited claim that Boko Haram was a Northern protest against bad governance and corruption!

In 2014, he signed a letter to then US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, urging her not to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization, a move now widely considered ill-advised at best and catastrophic at worst.

At the heart of Campbell’s commentaries on Nigerian affairs then is a pro-regime loyalty that is part of a broader public intellectual profile that purports to protect the North from allegedly unfair Southern Nigerian and international actions and narratives. Accordingly, Campbell seeks to delegitimise criticisms of Buhari’s incompetence, corruption, nepotism, and provincialism by ascribing malicious and primordial motives to them. In Campbell’s simplistic terms, a critique of Buhari’s failures is a plot by “Christian” Southern Nigerians and their Western sympathisers to get at the Muslim North through Buhari.

Every opportunity he gets he burnishes this public persona of defender of Buhari and the North. Writing in the Atlantic in June 2011, Campbell and Asch Harwood claimed that then President Goodluck Jonathan’s “outreach to the North has so far been disappointing.”

They were suggesting that Jonathan had been unfair to the North in appointments, a dangerous rhetoric that stoked the grievances of the North against Jonathan, a Southerner, and exacerbated Nigeria’s regional and religious fissures. What’s more, it was not even factual, given how inclusive Jonathan’s administration was in comparison to Buhari’s clannish and unprecedentedly nepotistic regime.

If Campbell’s hypotheses about Southern Nigerian assault on the North and a Northern president sounds conspiratorial, that’s because it is. Not only are Northerners now fed up with Buhari’s failures and not only are they some of his most vocal critics, the idea that there is a Southern Nigerian trope of Buhari’s corruption and incompetence flies in the face of the mess that Buhari has made of Nigeria, a fact which enjoys pan-Nigerian currency and provenance.

Campbell has always postured as a “friend” of the North, but northerners do not need those who condescendingly defend the current corruption and incompetence, of which they are the primary victims.

Either Campbell harbours animus against Southern Nigeria or his is an incorrigible impulse to defend a North that can and does defend itself robustly. The last thing the North needs at this time is some foreign “expert”telling them that Buhari, who has failed to protect their lives and treasure, is an honest, austere leader who is being maligned by Southern Nigerians.

What are the historical and ideological antecedents of this pro-Northern pretentions?

For those of us who study Northern Nigerian history for a living, Campbell’s attitude and commentaries reveal and recall the British colonial attitude of patronisingly extolling the “authentic Islamic and African” virtues of northerners while denigrating southerners as troublesome, rabble-rousing radicals who were allegedly corrupted and separated from the restraining influence of African culture by Western education and worldly ambitions. Campbell is still operating in that avuncular colonial racist frame.

In colonial times, Frederick Lugard and other British colonial officials barred Christian missionaries from setting up schools in the Muslim North. They regularly discussed the need to protect northern Muslims from the alleged dangers of unbridled Western education and from the contagion and criticism of the Southern Nigerian intelligentsia. They were determined to protect the North, a region they “loved” because they claimed it had order, authority, and hierarchy.

Their alliance with Northern emirs and aristocrats further intensified this determination to protect the North from both Western modernity and Western-educated Southerners. The effect of that policy and that colonial attitude exists today in the Western educational gap between North and South.

Colonial officials would lash out at Southern Nigerians who criticised the failures and rapaciousness of the Northern aristocratic and political classes. They would in turn venerate the North and its aristocracy.

This was a paternalistic racism that infantilised Northern Nigerians, making them out to be naïve, impressionable, vulnerable, and contaminable children who should be protected from the influence and attacks of Southern Nigerians.

Colonialists were not “protecting” Northern Nigerians because they were less racist towards them but because the North’s sharply stratified society was more amenable to their rule than the South.

This is the historical colonial discourse that Ambassador Campbell is resurrecting. Campbell’s pro-North and pro-Buhari pronouncements are the postcolonial iteration of this colonial avuncular racism.

Today, this project grows out of several impulses. One of them is white liberal guilt and the accompanying desire to protect supposed Muslim victims of an alleged Western and local Christian Islamophobic conspiracy.

The other motivation is what scholars of Africa call the white saviour complex, a phenomenon in which liberal white “experts” feigning sympathy and empathy for Africans are always looking for vulnerable African groups to “save” and “protect” as a do-good, feel-good endeavour to assuage their conscience.

The third motivation is what is called the soft bigotry of low expectations, a benign, sometimes well-intentioned, racism in which a Western actor considers African interlocutors to be so incapable that he/she believes that it is better to hold them to a lower standard of leadership, ability, and performance than one would impose on a white person or a black person considered “white” in character, skill, and learning.

Campbell’s insistence on defending Buhari’s incompetent and corrupt regime and on ignoring Northerners who have demonstrated the ability to fight their own battles and hold their kinsman president accountable shows clearly that he is operating in this patronizing neocolonial mode.


Ochonu, Professor of African History and Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in History at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA, can be reached at



PRINCIPALS of secondary schools nationwide under the aegis of All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) have also expressed surprise over Minister of Education, Mr Adamu Adamu’s announcement on Wednesday withdrawing all the SS3 students in all the 104 Federal Government colleges… Read Full Story
AS the investigation into the corruption allegations levelled against the embattled acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, entered its fourth day on Thursday, the secretary of the anti-graft agency, Olanipekun Olukoyede and some of its directors have appeared before the panel … Read Full Story
President Buhari will on Friday sign into law the revised 2020 budget of N10.8 trillion passed by the National Assembly last month… Read Full Story
Ten of the aspirants who picked the All Progressives Congress (APC) Expression of Interest and nomination form ahead of its July 10 primary in Ondo State may boycott the election… Read Full Story
The Speaker of Zamfara State House of Assembly, Alhaji Nasiru Mu’azu has said the ongoing renovation works in the assembly complex will not hinder the lawmakers from passing laws that will be beneficial to the… Read Full Story
Pan- Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has kicked against Federal Government’s decision to withdraw Nigerian students from writing this year’s examinations conducted by West African Examination Council (WAEC), on account of ravaging COVID-19, describing such move as amounting to the country being burdened… Read Full Story
FOR much of his life, Abdul-Halim al-Akoum stashed away cash in hopes of one day travelling from his Lebanese mountain village to perform the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims who can are obliged to make once in their lives. He was all set to go this year until the coronavirus pandemic forced Saudi Arabia… Read Full Story
Olusina Ajayi Olatinwo, who is over 60 years of age, recently got united with his family in Ibadan, after spending 21 years in different prisons across the South-West, on a wrongful conviction that led to a death sentence. YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE reports that it was a bitter-sweet experience for his family who had… Read Full Story
GOVERNMENTS, religious and social organisations and the citizenry should all see COVID-19 as a common enemy and work individually and collectively to tackle its menace with a view to ensuring that it does not constitute a permanent threat to safety and the economic, spiritual and social well-being of the human society… Read Full Story
IN a video released on June 23 which went viral on the internet, Lance Corporal Martins Ndakpini of Eight Division, Nigerian Army, Sokoto, criticised the leadership of the national security and defence apparatus, including the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-General Tukur Buratai, other service chiefs and the National Security… Read Full Story
Damilare Johnson, popularly known as Dami J, is a new act in the Nigerian music industry but his unique sound and artistic versatility are steadily making way for him in the front row… Read Full Story
It may be shocking to many seeing a decorated female Nigerian police sergeant mount a party stage as a DJ, but this is what Odiase Selimot Adejoke is generally known for. Now known as Dj Sexy Jin around entertainment circles, she recently relocated to the United States of America to join her husband… Read Full Story
You might also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. AcceptRead More