H.How the hell do you sell a smelly animal like a skunk?
Not only does this animal travel with a putrid smell, but it can also turn around and spray you with a revolting liquid whose smell will stay with you for a long time.
Who can you sell such an animal to? I know who, but first let’s talk about how.
Consider: While seeking power in 2015, Nigeria leader Muhammadu Buhari said he would deliver a new national airline to Nigeria. With only six months before the Nigerians named his successor, the government has so far spent over N14.6 billion, producing only a name and logo … and but no airline.
On several occasions he has set a date for the airline to take off, but because the government has a bad image, no investor seems to be interested and time is up.
Previously, I advised the government to go back to basics: Buhari’s original statement that he would start the national airline with the plane in the presidential fleet.
“This is still the best option, if there is the will,” I wrote in November 2021. “Start with that small pool, manage independently, covering the Nigerian and West African markets and, in those top four years, it develops a strong, positive reputation. Otherwise call this airline “Buhari Air” or “APC Air”. Because it will evaporate just as quickly ”.
Somewhere out there, “Air Nigeria Minister” Hadi Sirika continues to spend billions, running frantically on her “Aviation Roadmap”. He never mentions by name, the previous government’s Aerotropolis aircraft plan rejected, the same fate is likely to meet his own roadmap.
You can use this same model to interrogate the administration’s infrastructural propaganda and answer for yourself why so many of its important claims have steadily vanished for nearly eight years.
Consider: Last week, the federal government donated $ 6.25 billion to Katsina state “for the establishment of cattle ranches in local government areas affected by banditry” in that state. The announcement was not made by the federal government but by Alhaji Mannir Yakubu, the deputy governor of the state.
As an advocate of breeding, I was delighted to hear the word R. He suggested that the federal government accepted open pasture farming. But why does one state, the president’s home state, get so much money but not others? Would these be local governments or private ranches? If they are to be managed by the local government, what does that mean and for how long has the federal government ordered those funds to disappear?
Consider: The National Assembly received a report from the Federation Auditor General stating that Nigeria’s foreign missions were plagued between 2010 and 2019 with financial infringements, including illegal spending and refusal to remit internally generated revenue . Some of them, acting on a directive from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), have also thwarted efforts to control their accounts.
If you had to take a look at the Ministry website (go ahead, why not?) Three images, including that of the Permanent Secretary, stare at you. They proclaim: “World-class and highly experienced diplomats (sic) are at the helm of our affairs.”
If you have ever been on missions overseas at any time during the reporting period, you must have doubted the meaning of the term “world class”. In presenting his report, the Auditor General criticized a culture of impunity.
In March 2010, when then MFA Minister Ojo Maduekwe left that position, he drew national attention to what he called his “financial recklessness and lack of transparency”. He was so upset that he invited the EFCC to survey the big five. “A zero-tolerance policy towards corruption should not only receive basic verbal statements, but must receive more robust implementation,” he said.
As a minister, Maduekwe certainly should have done better, but he was right, and today is the auditor general. But is this “world-class” cesspool now passing into the sluggish hands of the House of Representatives for Justice? Does the House intend to investigate and bring to the book “world-class and highly experienced diplomats,” many of them now retired? It is a ruse.
Consider: Buhari assured his APC party governors last week that he will not interfere in the 2023 elections.
It wasn’t necessary. Would any leader ever announce a plan to interfere or make up? At the federal level in particular, the ruling party never informs Nigerians, in advance, that it will deploy federal resources to maintain power. It is not in what is said openly, but in what is said or done behind closed doors or related policies.
Buhari has already signaled, for example, that he will only support APC candidates. But some of his election commission appointments have already been accused of corruption or partisanship or both. He appointed his brother-in-law to head the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company, which also prints for the election commission, an action denounced by the Nigerian Human Rights Association as a possible violation of the constitution.
On top of that, and even before the election campaigns began, Festus Keyamo, a minister in the Buhari government, became part of the PCA 2023 Presidential Campaign Council, as well as its official spokesperson. But of course it’s incestuous: using government resources for a partisan candidate. What and who else, particularly behind the scenes, is using the long reach of the Buhari government for private and partisan purposes?
Maybe I asked the wrong question.
The correct one is not how you sell a skunk, but: who can you sell such an animal to, and why should they buy it? Why would an intelligent and self-respecting person – his sense of smell intact – accept a skunk from a salesman?
Well, people sell all kinds of things. Sometimes, they rely on the magic of their own tongues, the ruthlessness and versatility of their lyricists who know how to make up a lie, or the overbearing Danfo-bus-medicine-drug-vendor abilities of their marketers.
They manipulate the potential buyer’s lack of smell, greed, stupidity, or gullibility.
This is how an otherwise normal person, who is otherwise able to sense and smell, brings home a skunk and even thanks the seller.
Maybe that’s not how we got to the bottom of the valley, but that’s how we’ve stayed here for the past few years, the farm sorted, devalued and destroyed before our very eyes.
A group of skunks is known, quite appropriately, as a stench. This month, as the election commission heralds the campaign season for the 2023 election, a stench is exactly what is heading towards you.
Mission: to sell you or to have sold you.
This column welcomes the rebuttals from the government officials concerned.
• @ Sonala.Olumhense