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Buhari’s $1 Million Gift To Afghanistan

FOR an administration that is not exactly short on examples of moral violation, the decision of the Muhammadu Buhari government to donate the sum of $1 million to the Humanitarian Trust Fund for Afghanistan will go down as one of its most unsettling and, frankly, thoughtless acts.

Instructively, Nigerians would not have known of the donation but for the statement by the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Hissein Brahim Taha, commending the Nigerian government for its apparent generosity.

Just to be clear: we hold no grudge against the people of Afghanistan, who have endured untold deprivation, particularly since the collapse of the government of President Ashraf Ghani in August last year, following the withdrawal of American troops.

Nor are we opposed to the government giving money and material support to the country’s friends and allies. But this is a different situation.

First, donations, no matter how small, must be officially appropriated.

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There is no reason to believe that the donation to the Afghan government underwent due diligence.

Second, right now, Nigeria is hardly in a position to donate money to anyone, having relied on massive borrowing for its recurrent and capital expenditures.

You cannot give what you do not have.

Third, and perhaps most important, the Taliban government in Afghanistan is not just another government, but an ultra-conservative Islamist regime that has stopped women from going to school, continued to treat women like chattel, and repeatedly violated the human rights of ordinary Afghans.

It’s a barbarous regime with which Nigeria should have no relationship and donating money to it is no different from endorsing its human rights abuses.

Why on earth would President Buhari donate money that the country desperately needs for its own domestic problems to a government that the rest of the world, including other Islamic countries, has rightly consigned to the diplomatic doghouse? Where does the president get his policy advice from? If the president was in the mood to be generous, why not donate to any of the Internationally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs) camps that dot the northeastern part of the country?

Nigerians are understandably incensed that amid pervasive insecurity, growing starvation, extreme poverty, rising unemployment, not to mention the crisis in the education sector, the president would go ahead, and apparently without official imprimatur, to hand over cash to the Taliban. The statement by the Coalition of Southern and Middle Belt Youth Leaders Assembly denouncing the administration’s “financial recklessness” is indicative of the mood across the country, and we wholeheartedly identify with it.

Nigerians are genuinely fed up with the Buhari administration and cannot wait for it to run down its time and depart.

Not only is the president incompetent, he has shown time and again that he is also insensitive.

The criticism against the president when he was running for office in 2015 was that he was too sectarian and provincial, and that he did not have the imagination to run a local government, let alone a country as complex as Nigeria.

Sadly, time has proved those critics right.

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