resident Buhari is in London once more, this time for medical tourism but also to attend a summit on financing the Global Partnership for Education (GPE, 2021-2025). The summit, according to the Presidency, would bring together Heads of State and Governments, as well as stakeholders and youth leaders, to define a path ahead in improving education systems in partner nations through the exchange of best practices.
According to the Presidency, the leaders will have the opportunity to make five-year pledges to support GPE’s work in transforming education systems in at least 90 countries during the summit’s discussions, which will focus on issues such as the power of education, transforming education for girls, priorities for transforming education in the next five years, and so on. Taking the one-day education summit at face value, it is good news, but advertising a virtual meeting as the reason for the President’s travel is misleading. This, however, should come as no surprise.
Buhari’s administration is a master- class in dishonesty. For example, during a Tuesday interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Femi Adesina, the President’s Media Adviser, stated his principal’s persistent medical tourism was due to the fact that he has been with the same doctors and medical team in the United Kingdom for more than 40 years. “He should stick with those who are familiar with his medical history, which is why he travels to London to visit them. For almost 40 years, he has relied on the same medical staff. Stay with the team that knows your history once you can afford it.”
To be candid, I could not agree any less with Adesina’s notion that anyone who can afford medical care should seek it wherever they can. Buhari, on the other hand, is not an ordinary person. Leadership is about ethics, aside from being the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s President. The word of a leader must be taken seriously. Uprightness entails keeping one’s word since, as the phrase goes, “My Word is My Bond… because it is all I have of value.”
Buhari promised, barely one year into his Presidency, in a speech to the Nigeria Medical Association in April 2016, that the government’s hard-earned money would not be squandered on treating officials overseas, especially in cases where Nigeria had the necessary knowledge.
In June 2016, when President Muhammadu Buhari flew to London to be treated for a “persistent” ear infection, the then-Vice-President of the Commonwealth Medical Association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, said it was a “national shame” that he not only broke his promise to end “medical tourism,” but also went for treatment in the United Kingdom when Nigeria has a National Ear Centre with over 250 Doctors who specialize in ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) treatment.
However, this is no longer a problem. As ironic as it may seem, if the only place the President feels “safe” seeking medical help is London, so be it; after all, Nigeria can afford to pay the bills. However, the hullabaloo surrounding the education conference is a little hypocritical.
On Thursday, Buhari is set to give a speech. In an interview with Channels Television, Adesina claimed, without providing statistics, that the number of out-of-school children in the country had decreased, promising that Buhari would brief participants at the Summit, which will be co-hosted by Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, and Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister, on the subject.
That assertion is false. What may have caused Nigeria’s embarrassingly low number of out-of-school children to decrease? On Tuesday, July 27, the eve of Buhari’s departure to London, the Kaduna State administration halted school resumption indefinitely. Governor Nasir El-Rufai explained his decision to stakeholders, citing an “ongoing vigorous military campaign against bandits in most sections of the state.”
While the jury is still out on why el-Rufai decided to launch an “aggressive military campaign” against mere “businessmen” – a.k.a. bandits – it is curious that no arrests are ever made by the same security personnel who have the know-how to track down the two advocates of separatism, Nnamdi Kanu, and Sunday Ighoho, in foreign countries in no time.
Following the mass abduction of children at the Bethel Baptist Secondary School, Kajuma, Chikun Local Government Area, El-Rufai ordered the closure of 13 schools he considered vulnerable to terrorist threats on July 6. He had surreptitiously removed his son from a public school before then in a frantic attempt to avoid kidnappers’ clutches. Terrorists kidnapped 121 pupils from Bethel Baptist Secondary School on July 5, 2021, two days before the President’s exit from the country, and released only 28 after their parents paid a ransom of N60 million, as reported, leaving 93 others behind.
While the lucky 28 endured 20 days in captivity with no intervention from the government, only God knows how long the remaining 93 will be held captive and whether they will all survive, given how awful the lucky 28 were when they were released.
136 pupils of the Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School, Tegina in the Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, seized by terrorists since May 30 were still in captivity while Adesina was boasting in London that the Buhari government had reduced the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria. The man, Kasimu Barangana, who went with six others to deliver N30 million ransom to the bandits but was seized over an alleged N4.6 million shortfall, finally regained his freedom on the day Buhari hopped into the Presidential jet to London to discuss education.
It was a saga of misfortunes. The pupils, in Nursery school, some as young as six years old, were in bad health in the 25 various camps where they were being held, according to Barangana. Why will they not be in bad shape after being abandoned for nearly 60 days in the jungle?
Despite the terrorists’ collection of N30 million, none of the youngsters were ever released. Instead, they are demanding five new motorcycles as a renewed ransom, according to Barangana, despite the fact that they had previously collected N25 million from the suffering parents, as revealed by one of the school instructors, Yakubu Idris, in an interview with Premium Times.
What was the source of the ransom money? Abubakar Alhassan, the School’s Principal, revealed that some parents had sold their landed properties and that his institution had sold a section of its land to raise the N30 million. Two of the parents who had had enough of waiting for their children to return have died of shock, according to reports. And we pretend to be governed. This is only possible in a Nigeria under Buhari’s leadership. It takes a high level of shamelessness and impertinence for a dictatorship with such gloomy records to flaunt its achievements.
Schools are being closed all over Northern Nigeria, and parents are pulling their children out of school. Who can blame them if El-Rufai, despite all the personal security measures following him about 24 hours a day, is able to withdraw his own son? Those who lack the financial means to pay private teachers, such as El-Rufai, would rather their children remain alive at home without receiving an education than send them to school with no certainty of returning home at the end of the day. This has further exacerbated an already precarious situation.
Despite this, Adesina claims that under Buhari’s watch, the number of out-of-school children is decreasing. Perhaps that will be part of Buhari’s presentation at the London Education Summit. He will explain how his administration’s nebulous school feeding program has resulted in a miraculous increase in school enrollment. Going to London for an education conference while hundreds of Nigerian children languish in kidnappers’ prisons is akin to laughing heartily while holding a hen corpse in one’s teeth. Such folly is frowned upon by Ndigbo.
The most tragic aspect of Buhari’s misadventure in power is not so much his incompetence and lack of capacity as it is his widespread use of deception as a tactic of governance.