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A Conversation In Washington

Posted: Jul 19, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


President Barack Obama of the United States will talk with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria at the White House tomorrow. I have generated the following conversation between the two leaders:

Obama: Welcome, President, to the White House. You came with a large delegation; I guess they’ve come to enjoy the summer here.

Buhari: No, they’re not here for the summer. In Nigeria we enjoy the summer all year round. I’ve come with the managers of strategic sectors of our economy to seek long-lasting trade and investment relations between our two countries. We’re worried, Mr President, that our currency, the naira, is depreciating fast in relation to the dollar. Before I was toppled as military head of state 31 years ago, N3 could buy $4. Now almost N250 buys $1. This is unacceptable, Mr President.

Obama: Well, I’ve not hidden my displeasure over your country’s steady decline both in its economy and in its leadership. I’ve invited you to Washington, DC, because I’ve seen hope in your leadership of this Black nation. Nelson Mandela was to redeem the image of the Black man; unfortunately, he hadn’t much time. You’re three or four years younger than Mandela was in 1994. So I expect you to work like Mandela for the next eight years. I’m leaving the White House in 18 months and wouldn’t be here to help you all the way. So what can I do for you at the moment?

Buhari: A lot, Mr President. First, we want the US to resume importation of Nigerian crude. Second, we want you to help us tackle Boko Haram by providing intelligence. Thank you for the $5m pledge your government made recently. We would have asked for more, but the assistance we need is greater in the area of information that could enable us to track and stop the terrorists’ sources of funding. We will no longer accept the arms and ammunition you refused to give us last year, because we want to discourage terrorists, not necessarily kill them with your military equipment. Three, we’ve come to see how you can help us recover over $500billion that greedy Nigerians have plundered from our treasury over the past 54 years and stashed in your banks and European banks…

Obama: Ah! President, you don’t expect me to run your country for you. I’m interested in seeing Nigeria grow, but not at the expense of America. I’m a Black man like you. I’ve risen to this height because this is America: Some people dreamt dreams, burnt the midnight oil thinking, toiled day and night to make America great. Go to your country and do likewise: hunt for talent, encourage your geniuses to thrive, invent things and America will help you to market them to the world. We stopped importing your oil because we were seriously pursuing fracking technology. You have the best brains in the world but you don’t allow them to blossom. That’s why the best of your brains are here – we’re using them to develop our country, to make the digital things you import, the cars, the airplanes, the iPads. Today, we’re marking the 46th anniversary of putting a man on the moon.

As to intelligence, you don’t expect us to know your country better than you do. What are all the agencies you’ve set up meant to do? Receive salaries? OK, let’s train them – the $5m pledge will go into their training here in the United States. When they return, they should be able to track the looted funds as well as the sources of terrorism funding.

Buhari: I understand all you’ve said, Mr President. Remember: I sat for my WASC and Cambridge in the year you were born. Despite the age difference, I’m here less than two months after my inauguration, though you’ve not visited my country since you came to office six and half years ago. You’ve visited some other African nations and are billed to visit Ethiopia and Kenya next week or so. When would we host you in Abuja?

Obama: I love Nigeria and would love to pay you a visit several times before I leave. You know I’m yet to visit even Kenya, home country of my father. But the president of the United States visits only when and where conditions are right. I’ll visit Nigeria when terrorism has been defeated, when the Chibok girls have been reunited with their families. You’ll host me when it’s safe to invest in Nigeria – when White people are no longer kidnapped for ransom. And I must add this: when you’ve repealed your anti-gay law.

Buhari: The last request is a no-go area, Mr President. The Nigerian people have spoken almost with one voice against same-sex marriage. That your country tolerates this evil doesn’t make it right. Gays in my country are lucky that I wasn’t in power when that law was enacted. I would have prescribed the death penalty for anyone caught…

Obama: You’re in the land of freedom, President. Watch your words. All men are created equal. Gays are human beings and they deserve all the basic rights enjoyed by non-gays.

Buhari: In Nigeria, we’re not yet convinced gays are human beings. They may be even lower than animals – at least, animals don’t mate with members of the same sex. In any case, Mr President, have you accepted Robert Mugabe’s proposal to marry you? Would you let gays marry your two beautiful daughters?

Fuel ‘Subsidy’ Must Go

A statement attributed to President Buhari last week must be discomforting for many. Buhari and all patriots have argued that no fuel subsidy exists. The proof is there. So how could he have said that the literature he had received on the need to end the subsidy regime had no depth? A former petroleum minister and former head of state, Buhari doesn’t need any lecture on the Nigerian oil industry. And nobody needs rocket science to understand how the subsidy scam is operated. Not when we were told that fuel subsidy took over N2trillion in 2011 alone and 123 private jets (all traceable to fuel importers) arrived in the country in the same year.

Common sense also teaches us this: In January 2012, after a brief removal of the “subsidy”, the pump price of petrol rose to N140 per litre. A barrel of crude then was about $100. Today, a barrel is $57; without a subsidy the pump price shouldn’t therefore exceed N87.

We consumers are ready to endure any inconveniences to which the subsidy vandals may subject us when the “subsidy” eventually goes. After all, in times of scarcity we pay N250 per litre.

Except as a decoy meant to beat the subsidy thieves in their own game, I see no other explanation for the presidential statement. My expectation is that no dime will be paid as “subsidy” after September, that is, at the end of the third quarter. By then, the four refineries would have improved on their performance. New marketers could then be hired to import limited quantities in order to make up for any shortfall. But, for God’s sake, the government should not allow N1trillion to go down the drains each year in the name of fuel “subsidy”. If there must be a subsidy, let it go to agriculture or education or other employers of labour.