By Lukman Olabiyi Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed October 16, to rule on whether or not to discharge a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA ), Patrick Akpobolokemi, who was charged with N2.6bn fraud. The court fixed the date Friday after hearing…
For three times, candidate Muhammadu Buhari had sought the votes of Nigerians to be their president. For three times, the citizens said no. And in some intuitive vision, Buhari swore and promised himself and the public that he was finished with wanting to be president of Nigeria. These are matters of history and fact.
If candidate Buhari had kept to his words, it is not unlikely he would have been adored by history and common peoples alike. This is simply because Nigeria in the foreseeable future will remain largely ungovernable.
The fact of the Nigerian state being ungovernable is a direct result of the misadventure of the military in governance. These military boys have so restructured the nation that good governance may never be part of the flora or fauna of Nigerian national existence. Today, Nigeria as is, may only endure if we stumble upon unearned prosperities. The typical example is the crude oil bonanza that gave the illusion that the era under the tyrant General Yakubu Gowon, was a golden era. In fact, Nigeria being ungovernable started with and was instituted by the same Gowon. It was Gowon that cut and designed the states, not to be self-sustaining units, but as tributary arms of a monster Federal Government. The implication of this gowonism is that if there are no free bonanzas, Nigeria will burn, as it presently does. And this national fire, aka corruption, IPOB, Boko Haram, OPC, etc., is all in the faux pas that states are designed to exist on life support provided by the federal might from Abuja. That is, Gowon designed Nigeria to be an internal colonial government or an empire not nation state.
That is, with a Nigeria that is designed never to know good governance, citizens would have looked towards citizen Buhari with nostalgia. Where and whenever he is sighted, men would point and say, here is the messiah who would have saved us. But our accursed nationals snubbed their very deliverer and messiah. That is, Buhari would have escaped into history as a bleeding genius, who was wasted by his own country, his own people. Perhaps, like Ezeulu, the priest king in Achebe’s Arrow of God, Buhari would have lived the rest of his life in haughty splendour. He, perhaps, would have in justice been disdaining the rest of us for not knowing what is best for them. Perhaps, again, Buhari, like Awolowo, may also have earned the epithet, the [second] best president Nigeria never had.
But for reasons that are not very clear, the then candidate Buhari threw out his words and promises like a bad vomit. Maybe, it was the sly interests of political fixers, who convinced him that he was the only one who is to be messiah or Nigeria will go to pieces. Perhaps, they hid from him that the nation, which may be saved by only one man is never worthy of being saved in the first instance. And Buhari threw in his hat into the ring and won. And his tragicomedy or the tragedy of the nation began.
As we write, things have gone so bad with Buhari that the halo that was left of his romantic and romanticised days of dictatorship is completely gone. Nearly everybody, except the courtiers, who feed off the Presidency, is certain this Buhari is at best an old face, wearing a new mask. In fact, the idea is gaining ground that General Ibrahim Babangida saved the nation by conducting the palace coup that threw away the Buhari dictatorship. That is to say, if Buhari was left to run [his] military dictatorship, Nigeria would have been worse for it. It is a pity.
And the long list of those saying so is impressive for length and variety. Newspaper columnists, editors, political operators and professors, who were all pro-Buhari in the 2015 election, have jumped ship. From Dr. Junaid Mohammed, to Eniola Bello, to Professor Farooq Kperogi, these former admirers are giving up on the Buharimetric hope. It is a pity. A once golden boy, it has been revealed, is completely wooden. That is certainly not the way to run or end a career. Well, while Buhari can go on medical or related vacation, history is forever around, is never on vacation.
And the rumours?
And we come to the rumour of his death. I think the whole process was mismanaged by his media handlers. First of all, like most Nigerians, they misunderstood the Internet. The Internet as a media space, is both an unpoliced slum and swanky GRA kind neighbourhood. It carries shit and shiny gold palaces. Like in all such mishmash abundance, prudence calls for choice and selectivity.
Today, for instance, it is feasible for the rantings of a drunken fellow at his beer joint to be given worldwide currency like it was the thoughts of a Professor Wole Soyinka. That was not feasible before. The only way to confront this, is by a careful management of the media, especially the social media. If the Presidency tries to take on the gossip sites one on one, toe to toe, the Presidency will lose out. First, the gossip makers have no need for decorum or decency. And despite our pretences, junk sells, salacity sells. It should not be a part of the duty of the Presidency to add petrol to the fire sales of social media, by taking notice.
Simply put, spokespersons of presidents need not be replying to any and everything. A key part of their job is to reach out and hire, repeat hire or retain outsiders, third parties to mediate. There has to be a media architecture to defending the interests of the president. It is not enough to know what to say, how it is said and who says it are as important if not more so. The key plank of this is that these third parties or outsiders are able to do so as independent parties, or apparently so. And because of this, they are more believable. And the president is left above the fray and smells like roses. The point tragically is that there is too much of the Presidency in their PR media. They are apparently getting the mix wrong. They, for their own sakes, will need other parties for a great deployment of media powers. Of course, we are not admirers of any parties and are not in for hire. We are just thinking aloud.
Also, a little humour or self-deprecation can help. In America, presidents have come under humiliation or taunting, even of the racial types. But they one and all kept officially cool. For instance, Obama or his wife has been called names [the worst gangster to have emerged from Chicago], and racial slurs thrown at them [she looks a monkey]. But the White House never responded. And when Reagan was maligned for his age, he took to humour and made his way through. For instance, he joked that when he goes on his medicals, they don’t ask him his age. ‘‘They just carbon date me.’’
Yes, the Presidency may not hold the talent within but nothing stops them from hiring one from outside. The Americans do the same too. A Basket Mouth or an Alibaba consulting for the Presidency won’t be an oddball.
As if wishes were horses!
The bile in the president getting sick or dying really shows we are an ‘‘indigenous people’’. While the spreading of rumours of one’s death is a matter we are not equipped to comment on – not being lawyers – but on wishing persons ill or good, the defenders of the president got it wrong. There is nothing legal or illegal or even morally right or wrong in wishing any person anything. First a wish has no substantiality in life or in law. And no one can establish what another is wishing. The important thing is that like a prayer, a wish has no validity in reality. If prayers worked, Nigeria by the help of imams and pastors would have overtaken China, an officially godless nation, to become a superpower.
And since wishes have no substantiality, they are of no import or impact whatsoever. However, in being ‘‘indigenous peoples’’ many of us believe that wishes really have effects. We are still like children who believe that if one said snake in the dark, a cobra might come from nowhere and strike. So, we speak of rope not snakes in the dark. Our imaginings are vain and unscientific.
So, the issue is not who wishes Buhari well or ill. The issue should centre around; is the man getting the best medical care due to him? That is all that is needed. And whether we remain kids in our minds, the point is that no amount of death wishes can make a Buhari or any man become sick, not to speak of dying. The ancient English saying is absolutely correct. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride to heaven. You can’t wish yourself into a horse ride or another into poor health or death. So, why worry your poor souls?
For our information, in many advanced countries, media houses have canned obituaries of all significant persons. That is New York Times, The Guardian of London, etc. have obituaries of Buhari, Obama, Trump written and ready. They are neither wishing nor not wishing anybody dead or alive. If that was tried in Nigeria, all hell would be let loose. Perhaps, somebody will ask: Do you want him dead? How dare you write a [draft] obituary of a living man?