The daughter of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Hanan, has been caught up in a political controversy surrounding her first class travel on British Airways between Nigeria and the UK, where the 16-year-old is a secondary school student.
President Buhari has decreed that his ministers should not fly first or business class on official duties.
The opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which has accused the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) of a witch-hunt against its members, revealed on social media that Hanan flew first class – contrary to the modest means that President Buhari portrayed of his family when he declared his assets last September.
It was on this basis that he launched his anti-corruption campaign, which members of the PDP claim is aimed solely at them.
On the British Airways website, the price of a first class return ticket to Abuja is almost £8,500 ($12,400) – a far cry from Nigeria’s GDP per capita of $1,091, according to recent World Bank figures.
Hanan’s elder sister, Zahra, is understood to be studying Medical Microbiology at the University of Surrey in the UK, where she will be paying very high fees as an international student.
Not surprisingly, debates have been raging online about this situation that appears to be contrary to President Buhari’s edict to his ministers about foreign travel.
But an economist in London told the GNA: “This is not surprising because what we are seeing in Nigeria is what happens all over Africa – where members of the elite enjoy different standards of living and levels of accountability compared with the rest of the population.”
Nigeria’s Labour Movement has not made it any easier for President Buhari as he pushes ahead with his much maligned war on corruption.
During May Day celebrations in Lagos and Abuja, leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria were unanimous in their message to the government: their members were beginning to lose faith in the change mantra of the APC government.
For a normally divided Nigerian Labour Movement the unity shown was telling.
Trade union members from the different factions unanimously condemned increasing poverty, unemployment, insecurity, erratic power supply, fuel scarcity, and called on the government to urgently address the mounting hardship and frustration in the country.
Joe Ajaero, one of the faction leaders of the NLC, spoke of the anomaly of fuel shortage in a major oil-producing country: “It is a shame that we have continued to import petroleum products.
“It is also a shame that we have also privatised it so that the products have become inaccessible to majority of the citizens, causing serious distortions to our economic processes.
“Fuel scarcity has persisted far longer than ever, foisting on our people the most horrendous of sufferings ever meted out to them by any ruling elite in our nation’s history,” he added.
Buhari’s Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, reading a speech on behalf of the president, said: “I make no excuses as this government of the APC is determined to tackle, headlong, all socio–economic ills that have troubled our nation and we shall evolve solutions to emerging threats to our well-being and the realisation of sustainable development as well as growth anchored on equity and social justice.”