I listened to Mr. President’s very first speech after he was declared winner of the April 11, 2015 Presidential election. He was effusive and full of praise for everyone, including his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan, in their contributions towards making the elections free, fair and largely devoid of the much-expected post election rancor. As I listened, I realized that Mr. President was really trying hard at being humble and at being reciprocal in his acknowledgement of these contributions from friends and from foes.
But there was one acknowledgement that I found slightly patronizing and eminently condescending. It was his recognition of President Barack Obama, US President, contributions to the Nigerian elections. I did not understand the extent to which Mr. Obama contributed to the success of the Nigerian elections, and why Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari, was acknowledging him. If my records are correct, Mr. Obama has visited close to eight African countries since he became president – Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa (twice), Ghana, Senegal and Tanzania. But he has never come here, Africa’s biggest economy and home to the largest concentration of black people anywhere on the face of the earth. The best he did when we were preparing for the elections was a political science lecture, straight from the confines of his office and sent through to us via YouTube. My friends who wasted their time to listen to his phonetics were excited at that insult but he added salt to the injury when he sent a secretary of state and a spent basketball star to President Buhari’s inauguration.