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Professional Excuse Makers, By Professor Moses Ochonu

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Professional Excuse Makers, By Professor Moses Ochonu

NEWISSUES, Abuja

Professional excuse makers are enablers of bad governance. We dealt with them during the last administration. We’re dealing with them yet again in this one. Yesterday, I posted a simple inquiry about why President Buhari was going to the US to attend a nuclear non-proliferation summit when Nigeria has no civilian or military nuclear industry. The silly excuses started pouring in, muddying the reasonable ones.

Someone even said that as the most populous black nation, Nigeria should attend the summit. What blackness and population has to do with nuclear non-proliferation is not spelt out.

For several people, the fact that Nigeria was invited was enough, meaning that Buhari should attend every international meeting Nigeria is invited to regardless of its relevance to Nigeria’s national interest. And by the way, it is Nigeria that was invited, not Buhari, which begs the question of why he had to go himself.

Other commenters speculated that he may be going to observe and learn about nuclear technology, since Nigeria plans to turn to nuclear technology for power generation in the future. Two retorts to that. First, the press release announcing the trip simply stated that he was attending the summit and did not mention why he is doing so, leaving Nigerians scratching their heads, wondering and speculating. This same chain of events occurred when the presidency announced that PMB was attending a charity event to raise funds for Syrian refugees. Without the release specifying what Nigeria had to gain from such an event and why the president was helping to raise funds for refugees from a distant war when our own refugees are reeling, Nigerians rightly concluded that the trip was a wasteful misplacement of priorities, a misguided product of xenophilia.

Second, even if Nigeria must attend to “study” proceedings, why not send the minister of science and technology or the top federal official with oversight of that sector?

Other excuse makers said the president went to the US to “get permission” or approval for our planned nuclear power generating plants. There is no official document stating that, so this is another overzealous defensive speculation, but setting that aside, you don’t get permission or approval to establish a civilian nuclear industry from a non-proliferation summit. You do so by working with the IAEA. There are elaborate steps, replete with IAEA inspections, that culminate in a certification.

At least two commenters said Nigeria was blessed with uranium and other radioactive minerals. Perhaps this is so but I’m not aware that Nigeria possesses uranium deposits in commercial quantities. Even if we did, should that fact alone necessitate the president attending a conference to discuss non-proliferation when there is no uranium mining in Nigeria? This is probably the silliest of the excuses.

Nigeria is blessed with minerals of all kinds. Should our president then spend our hard earned Forex to attend every event dealing with each of these minerals? What then is the job of the Minister of Solid Minerals or the permanent secretary in that ministry? Why not send officials in the solid minerals, energy, and nuclear research sectors. These are the folks who can make sense of the proceedings, report their findings, and then see how these findings can be applied to their sectors.

The president has no business attending a nuclear non-proliferation summit in the US when his country’s citizens are groaning from the shortage of fuel and electricity, Forex crisis, runaway inflation, and security challenges, among other problems.

Enough of the excuse making. Some people are still making excuses for Ibe Kachikwu’s magician comment even though the minister has apologized for it. Some are still defending and excusing the arrogant comment of Femi Adesina that those who are crying about the absence of electricity should invade the creeks and fight vandals who are destroying pipelines. Another cyber mob of excuse makers has similarly risen to the defense of Abike Dabiri, the President’s Adviser on Diaspora Affairs, who angrily and arrogantly told a complaining diasporan: “and who is asking you to come [to Nigeria]”?

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