Up until President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife, Aisha, openly expressed her outrage and disgust at state governors and political party leaders whom she believed had taken advantage of Buhari’s ill health to play games in his absence, we didn’t experience the kind of unprecedented desire by just about all governors and duplicitous politicians to buy air tickets that would take them to London to see Buhari. They wanted to be physically present in front of Buhari to impress him that they were caring, empathetic and kind. That kind of hypocritical behaviour is not new.
The latest rush to visit Buhari in London has exposed the hypocrisy of state governors and leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Why the huge demand? Why is everyone keen to visit Buhari now? Could it be that the pilgrimage to London was sparked by Aisha Buhari’s stern warning that the “hyenas” and “jackals” and other classes of animals in government who had taken advantage of her husband’s ill health would soon be sent packing from the government immediately Buhari returned? Aisha’s angry remark must have triggered the rush of get-well-soon messages to Buhari and overflowing eagerness by party leaders and state governors to visit the president in London.
Perhaps Senator Shehu Sani was right when he alerted Aisha earlier about his observations that prayers for the president’s recovery seemed to have dried up and disappeared considerably following Buhari’s trip to London for medical treatment.
In the light of Sani’s alert, Aisha felt emboldened to issue the warning after she visited her husband and noticed he had made significant improvements in his health. There is no question that those politicians who pretended to be praying for Buhari’s recovery when he was still in Nigeria had withdrawn their supplications soon after the president travelled to London on an indefinite medical leave.
Not only did Aisha recognise Senator Sani’s concerns, she went one step further to forewarn duplicitous governors and party leaders about the impending earthquake that would follow soon after Buhari returned. Aisha’s warning was clearly an outburst but it was not a surprise. As someone who once disagreed with the president over the way he accommodated in his government politicians who contributed little or nothing prior to the 2015 general election, only a few would be surprised that she employed hard language in her remarks.
Aisha is a woman who had demonstrated previously the ability to work as an independent person. In that context, she calls things the way she perceives them, even if what she says would offend some people and gratify others.
Obviously, Aisha Buhari felt there must be a time in history when you have to stand up to grovelling politicians and put them in that basket of infamy intended for men and women of ill repute. She was no longer prepared to see two-faced politicians smile in her front and turn at her back to laugh uproariously over her husband’s ongoing medical condition.
On her Facebook page, Aisha wrote earlier this month: “God has answered the prayers of the weaker animals. The hyenas and the jackals will soon be sent out of the kingdom. We strongly believe in the prayers and support of the weaker animals. Long live the weaker animals. Long live Nigeria.”
Aisha’s fury rattled a lot of politicians. The comments opened the gates that allowed politicians at two levels to rush to visit Buhari, even as they shoved, groped, and wrestled among themselves for that frontline position. First, the governors and party leaders rushed to obtain the British visa that would facilitate their trip. Second, they also rushed to buy air tickets for their flight to London.
Even as the odd visiting governors and party leaders exchanged banter and poked fun at Buhari, the president, most certainly, was not fooled. And neither was his wife. Buhari might be ill but he has not lost his ability to analyse people and events around him. His sense of reasoning is still intact. The joke is on the governors and party leaders who have been queuing to visit London to show their love for the ailing president.
Charlatans live on their ability to sweet-talk their way into the hearts of their victims. When I looked at the photos of the governors displaying their brown teeth and grinning in front of Buhari, I shuddered. I am not going to join the debate as to whether the photos were spurious or genuine. My concern is the behaviour of the people in those photos. The smiles all around the table were phoney, indeed as disingenuous as magicians can be.
The performance put up by APC leaders and the governors when they visited Buhari in London represents what we call in our local phraseology window dressing. It was deceptively made to appeal to the home audience. Politicians surely know how to flatter Buhari but civil society certainly was not amused.
Buhari left Abuja on May 7, 2017, for his medical check-up and treatment. It was the second health-related trip he made to London since he was elected in 2015. During his first trip, none of the present team of pretenders, including those who have now assumed a new role as presidential media spokespersons, felt it was necessary to visit Buhari in London. Although Buhari’s first visit lasted for a shorter period than his current trip, there was nevertheless sufficient time for anyone who cared for the president’s welfare to visit him. During that first trip, Buhari was at a medical facility for nearly two months and no governor or members of the APC hierarchy bothered to visit the president.
While the traffic to London continues to grow, it must be noted that Aisha Buhari’s metaphorical reference to animals did not go down well with many citizens. People have questioned the appropriateness of the term “animals” used by Aisha in her outburst. People have also queried whether the president’s wife now perceives Nigerian citizens as lower animals. Public indignation at Aisha’s call was justified. Human beings are known to possess higher intellect over animals because of our ability to think, to reason, and to make decisions. In light of this, one would ask whether Aisha Buhari deliberately stripped Nigerian citizens of their inherent qualities and natural abilities when she used the word “animals” on her Facebook post. Regardless of what might have triggered the anger that led to the description of people in that pejorative term, it could never be justified.
The traffic to London has not yet eased but we are all entertained by the folly of state governors, APC leaders, and the confused leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).