Unbeknown to many Nigerians who haven’t heard him speak, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), President Muhammadu Buhari’s National Security Adviser (NSA) secretly admires self-styled Mr. Bombastic, Jamaican–American reggae musician, singer and Disc Jockey, Orville Richard Burrel, better known by his stage name, Shaggy. Suave and glib, with words gliding effortlessly through his mouth like okra soup skids at the slightest prodding, Monguno can electrify and disarm his audience, not with guns but with bombasts. A few weeks ago, Monguno addressed the press on what he labeled the Federal Government’s newfound resolve – after thousands of Nigerians had been killed by bandits, kidnappers and insurgents – to smoke them and their sponsors out of their hiding places.
Donning a straight-faced, stern and no-smiling visor, with cadences of a motivational speaker, Monguno thundered, in my paraphrase, that “enough is enough with activities of scoundrels and scallywags” in Nigeria. In their graves, the trio of Mbonu Ejike, Adelabu Adegoke and Agadagbachiriuzo of Arondizuogu and Maye of Lagos, Chief Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe, must have chuckled in their graves. As pre-colonial, post-colonial and First Republic Nigeria burnt with the fire of political intolerance, the three politicians electrified Nigerian politics with their bombasts and sent ribs cracking with their roof-shattering, highfalutin lexicons.
Elizabethan playwright, poet, satirist and pamphleteer, Thomas Nashe, in his 1859-published The Anatomy of Absurdities, described this inflated and turgid language as that of “braggarts (who) employ the swelling bombast to out-brave out-wit better pens.” While Mbonu, newspaper analyst and one of Nnamdi Azikiwe’s trusted political allies, enriched the political lexicon with his “boycott the boycottables,” Adelabu, also renowned for his Peculiar Mess thesis which later turned into penkelemesi, regaled his audience with his first bombast-sounding book, Africa in Ebulition, Mbadiwe, nationalist, politician, statesman and Federal Minister of Nigeria’s First Republic, as well as Nigeria’s first and only Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, was popularly known as one who authored the “Man of Timber and Caliber” and bamboozled his listeners with highfalutin coinages.
From the national campaign to institute zoning system to remedy slow national development, KO chiseled the bombast, “zoning to unzone,” and “handshake across the Niger.” As Minister of Aviation in the government of Tafawa Balewa and entrusted with the task to drive the initiative of the maiden Lagos to New York flight, Mbadiwe took Atilogwu dancers and Kano trumpeters on that flight which he called “Operation Fantastic.” The NPN/NPP alliance of the Second Republic, the original Mr. Bombastic called “accord concodiale,” even as he labeled political upheavals, “When the come comes to become, we shall come out.” In writing an epithet for Mbadiwe at his death on August 29, 1990, Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu said of him: “KO was grand, his actions grandiose; his speeches grandiloquent.”
As it is, NSA Monguno seems not to be only Mr. Bombastic, he is nooks. On Friday, while appearing on the BBC Hausa Service, he detonated a bomb which immediately reverberated through the nooks and cranny of Nigeria. Saying in Hausa, Kudade dai sun salwanta – literally, the money is gone, Monguno literally set the country on fire. “We don’t know where the money went to. The president has done his best by ensuring that he released exorbitant funds for the procurement of weapons which are yet to be procured, they are not there…Mr. President is going to investigate those funds. As we are talking with you at present, the state governors, the Governors Forum have started raising questions in that direction. $1 billion has been released, that and that has been released, and nothing seems to be changing. So I assure you that the president will not take this lightly. The funds are nowhere to be found and the weapons have not been seen and the newly appointed service chiefs have declared that they have not seen the weapons,” he said.
Nigerians will recall that, in 2018, the release of $1 billion for procurement of military equipment in fighting the Boko Haram insurgency was made by President Buhari. After approval by the governors, the sum of $1 billion was withdrawn from the Nigerian Excess Crude Account (ECA). Not long after this approval, snide comments and hushed tone whispers emerged that the $1billion was money sourced for the prosecution of the 2019 elections. In the thick of this, highly influential Wall Street Journal caused a furore when it alleged that over 1000 soldiers were secretly buried at night in unmarked graves at the Maimalari barracks, Maiduguri.
“The sprawling secret graveyard in Maiduguri and an official cemetery at the base, the operational command for the north-eastern front in Borno State, now hold the bodies of at least 1,000 soldiers killed since the terror groups began an offensive last summer,” the WSJ had written. Quoting soldiers, diplomats and senior government officials who said that soldiers’ corpses were surreptitiously transported in trucks from a local mortuary at the dead of the night, WSJ said they were hurled into “trenches dug by infantrymen or local villagers paid a few dollars per shift…(at the) Maimalari barracks.”
As the insurgency war deteriorates, with huge casualty on the part of our soldiers, lack of equipment and ammunition in fighting the insurgency has been blamed for the field of blood that the Northeast of Nigeria has become. Soldiers with big epaulettes on their shoulders are alleged to be profiting from the war, cornering huge chunk of armament budgets and seeking all means to make the war interminable.
But, not to worry, the presidency has spoken. QED. In a quick riposte to Monguno’s allegation, Garba Shehu, Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, deployed the usual suspect – quotation out of context – as the villain, in an apparent bid to deescalate Monguno’s bomb. “I want to assure you that nothing of that money is missing,” he told Channels Television’s Politics Today. “The reference by it in the interview with Hausa Service of the BBC by the National Security Adviser, I think, has been misconstrued and mistranslated.” Then he journeyed into a very big waffle on how the procurements that were made had not been fully delivered and that, about $536 million of the cost of the armaments was paid directly to the United States government.
The office of the National Security Adviser, a few hours after this explosive comment, recanted what Monguno said. According to it, “the NSA was quoted out of context” and “he did not categorically say that funds meant for arms procurement were missing under the Former Service Chiefs as reported or transcribed by some media outlets from the BBC interview.” The NSA office said that what he only did in the interview was to reiterate “the Federal Government’s commitment to deal decisively with insecurity and stated President Muhammadu Buhari’s continued commitment to provide all necessary support to the Armed Forces, including the provision of arms and equipment.”
Some critical questions emanate from Shehu’s waffle and the NSA Office’s peremptory denial. What is obvious is that they are both trying to be clever by half. The variance between what Monguno’s office claimed he said and what was attributed to him in the media are too diametrically opposed that no one needed to be told that someone had attempted to play pranks in this episode. It is too puerile to hold the translation process of the Hausa comment of Monguno to English as the culprit, hoping it will be “and they live happily ever thereafter.”
No. As a first step, those who attempted this abracadabra should not be allowed to go away with what appears to be blue murder. Good that the transcript in Hausa on the BBC is in the public domain. The verbatim transcription of it, availed the public by The Cable, has finally rammed the nails in, revealing that Monguno could not have been quoted out of context at all. My haunch is that, convinced that Nigerians are not thorough people and hold public fact crosschecking in terrible disdain, Aso Rock believes it could get away with this consequential Freudian slip which meandered into the public domain.
What the interview revealed to Nigerian is a Monguno who is at the periphery of the center of goings-on in the Villa. It revealed that critical security decisions are taken outside of the loops of the NSA. For instance, he claimed to be unaware that the governor of Zamfara State and Buhari had reached a mutual decision for 6,000 soldiers to be deployed to his state to stem the tide of banditry and kidnapping. Kudade dai sun salwanta may thus be an attempt to hit back at the system that ostracized him or an attempt to deploy the Samson option as response to the Villa’s lukewarm-ness to the security situation.
The truth is, Monguno is not an ordinary appointee of President Buhari. Though appointed by him, his responsibility to the presidency is only tangential. That office’s greatest responsibility is to Nigeria and its people. He owes Nigeria absolute and full disclosure of the byzantine arms purchase conundrum, even if it hurts the system. This is where the concept of national security comes in. What Monguno was appointed to secure is not Buhari per se but Nigeria. In securing Nigeria, he must stop the bleeding of our young children who are serially killed by insurgents, not because they do not have the skills but because of their obsolete weapons. We cannot afford to populate a snakes’ farm while depopulating our soldiers.
The second issue for consideration is that, no reasonable man can say that Monguno is a dunce. Or that he does not know the consequences of making spurious allegations. During a recent Cybercrime law sensitization in Aso Rock, which had Buhari in attendance, Monguno electrified his audience with his grasp, knowledge and power of delivery. That same man cannot be said not to know what he was saying. As coordinator of all the ambits of Nigeria’s security, key of which is the military, it will be foolhardy for anyone to say the NSA does not have information either. What Shehu, Monguno’s office and Aso Rock power apparatchik have not addressed their minds to or are afraid to own up, is that Monguno is a bomb which can self-detonate at any time. Shehu and the NSA office’s interventions were just fire brigade measures to shore up a sagging situation and save a corruption-ridden system from total collapse.
Pedigree-wise, throwing explosives and minding seldom whose ox was gored, is not new to Monguno. Bold, courageous and a risk-taker, with that BBC Hausa service revelation, Monguno was just on a home turf. In a leaked acidic memo dated December 9, 2019, the NSA had warned all the then service chiefs to refrain from taking further directives from Buhari’s Almighty Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari. He accused Kyari of undue and dangerous interference in matters that bordered on national security.
“Chief of staff to the president is not a presiding head of security, neither is he sworn to an oath of defending the country. As such, unprofessional practices such as presiding over meetings with service chiefs and heads of security organizations, as well as ambassadors and high commissioners, to the exclusion of the NSA and/or supervising ministers are a violation of the Constitution and directly undermine the authority of Mr President,” he had said. Not up to months after Kyari’s unfortunate death, facts which validated Monguno’s claim began to sidle out.
So how will the NSA not know that there were procurement problems in the weaponry allegedly paid for by the Nigerian Army? Worse still, is it conceivable that the NSA was unaware of a said diplomatic imbroglio between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that was claimed to be delaying the delivery of the arms? How would the Nigerian Minister of Defence hold a meeting with the Ambassador of the UAE to Nigeria, a la Shehu, on the alleged delay, without the knowledge of the NSA? It is a confirmation that he is probably sidelined, the naivety of which he displayed in the kudade dai sun salwanta interview.
If you properly articulate all the back and forth on the $1 billion withdrawn from ECA and place them side by side the weaponry disaster that has obviously led to hundreds of deaths of our soldiers who have been killed between the 2018 date of withdrawal of the $1 billion for arms purchase and now by insurgents, you will realize the need for Monguno to come clean with the facts. General Segun Adeniyi spoke about the paucity of arms to fight at the war front, despite this selfsame $1 billion withdrawal and was recompensed with military trial and demotion. Until Monguno thawed that ice, neither Buhari nor anyone in the presidency was bothered enough to ask questions. Even the Buhari lickspittle National Mis-Assembly was too supine to bother about such “trivia.” After summoning the ex-Service Chiefs to a forum where they could properly give accounts and they stubbornly refused to appear, the same National Mis-Assembly cleared them when the president nominated them for nebulous ambassadorial postings.
We must thank Buhari for giving us a man who is like nooks as NSA; a man whose stubbornness, probable loyalty to Nigeria rather than to the President, or because he is prone to frequent Freudian slips, give us periodic insights into the damp recesses of the Nigerian power architecture. We may however be dealing with intra-systemic rebellion. For the sake of our children, brothers and fathers fighting Boko Haram insurgents, literally with their bare hands, we must get to the roots of this arms purchase, mis-purchase or nil-purchase matter.
Economic Empowerments Initiative : Another First From O’ First Group
Saturday April 3rd , 2021 recorded another unusual event in the ancient city of Ogbomoso in Oyo state when scores of people were empowered by the Ogbomoso First Initiatives (O’First Group) with economic tools worth N50million for sustainability and wealth creation.
The group, which was pronounced the first community group to have established a Behavioural Action Care Centre in Nigeria by the Executive Chairman of the NDLEA , Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd) also scored another first as a non political group to Empower people with items of such magnitude.
O’First Group is a group of professionals, kind-hearted people who are determined to use their influence, God given wealth and opportunities as well as knowledge to have positive impact on the society and make it a better place for all to live. It’s major concern is not just about today’s healthy living but the future of Ogbomoso and they are making frantic efforts to ensure that the ancient community is drug and crime free.
The leadership of the benevolent group are conscious of the fact that, poverty and crime has deeply permeated the society, hence, the need to reduce its unholy influence is by making provision for the vulnerable and putting in place facilities than can correct and control the effect of drugs which is the root of the increasing crime rates in the society.
Beneficiaries of the economic empowerment programm are vulnerable members of the society including widows, Artisans and aged people with a low chances of survival in this the harsh economic situation in the country.
Items distributed at the event include, Industrial Sewing Machines, complete Unisex Saloon Kits, grinding machines, Motorcyles and bicycle Generator among others .
Folakemi, a middle aged widow with four Children said , ” I am grateful, I don’t know what to say but I know this will boost my income and I will be able to feed my children and educate them with less expectation from siblings and friends”.
Similarly, some members Ayotosimi Foundation Widow group were full of praise and appreciation to the leadership of O’first group for the support which they claim came at a time when its mostly needed.
Also, Ogbomoso South Police State and Ogbomoso Area Command were giving motorcycles to enhance movement of officers during surveillance and patrol for effective security.
President of the group, Barrister Olusegun Adekunle, a retired permanent Secretary from the Federal Civil Service , in his remarks informed that what motivated the free distribution of valuable equipments to the beneficiaries was borne out of the group’s numerous aims and objectives which included poverty alleviation, discouraging youths to eschew drug abuse, to remake the undesirable elements back into the community with a view to allowing them be useful to themselves through various empowerment programmes and vocational trainings
He added that the essence was to corroborate the efforts of the government to create wealth and tackle poverty in the country and as the name of the association implies ; Ogbomoso ‘First Group, the charity begins at home
Adekunle, who identified a nexus between poverty and crime and the need to tackle them said “we have a lot of people who are widows, helpless, vulnerable and we have to systematically uplift them in such a manner that it can lower the temperature of Insecurity and poverty. We can’t leave everything to government, the society, the Community must play its role, we must all come together”.
Òtunba Báyò Babatunde, the Pioneer President of the group, also implored all the beneficiaries to make the best use of the items cheerfully given to them and equally enjoined them to emulate the spirit of diligency and hardwork being displayed by one woman who was empowered by O-First about three years ago with a motorcycle but who has now enhanced her business by purchasing additional three of such motorbikes, due to her perseverance and dedication to duty, saying that, what the group just did is to resurrect lives of the needy in the spirit of the resurrection of Jesus Christ..
Professor Sola Adepoju, DG Forestry Research Institute, Bishop Morohunfolu Moradeyo, Engineer Muftau Open Salawu, Aresa of Iresaapa and others who spoke at the event, jointly commended the group for their ingenuity in lifting people out of poverty, just as they urged the beneficiary to make best use of the working tools.
Opinion: IBADAN, Honour to the undeserving | By Wole Arisekola
According to an American lawyer and politician, who served as the 30th president of the United States from 1923 to 1929; Calvin Coolidge, said ‘no person was ever honoured for what he received but honour has been reward for what he gave.’
All over the world, conferment of chieftaincy titles on deserving personalities is a way of expressing gratitude for impactful gestures of individuals that have through their magnanimity and benevolence benefited the awarding community whereby gratefulness of the people is bestowed on the beneficiaries of such titles in recognition of their irrefutable impacts with anticipation of continued purposeful living to further enhance the lots of the title awarding community.
Invariably, for conferment of chieftaincy to be worth the while, there must be convincing evidence of the presence and stupendous proofs of positive influence of title beneficiary widely felt and appreciated by the members of the title awarding community, otherwise, such titles become a scam.
The above depicts is the current trend in the award of Chieftaincy titles by the exalted throne in Ibadanland, Oyo State of Nigeria.
Chieftaincy titles come in different worths and diverse values. Some may be taken for granted while others must worth the status. The title “Agba Oye”, which refers to “High Chief”, is supposed to be preserved for an individual of perpetual influence who has grown through the ranks relentlessly providing shoulders for others to learn on and bringing widespread soccur to all and sundry remaining unwavering and unflinching in his positive impacts on the community over time without being found wanting over a reasonable length of time.
The Late Chief Harry Ayoade Akande, the immediate past Agba-Oye of Ibadanland, was known for enormous wealth. He lived in extreme affluence with a record of being rated one of the richest black men ever lived but never had any conspicuous impact on the community that awarded him with one of the most revered titles of the land.
As they say, once bitten, twice shy. If the most prestigious title of Ibadanland was given in error in the past, caution ought to be taken to avert the repeat of such a gaffe. A deserving personality for the esteemed title of Agba Oye of any community ought to be a man with a household name in the community with convincing impact and evidence of kind gesture is felt and acknowledged by all and sundry in the community.
Late Mufutau Ajadi Lanihun of blessed memory was never a big title holder but his name resonated with philanthropy, care for the downtrodden and peerless love for Ibadanland. Such is the worth of an individual deserving of a respected title in Ibadanland.
Curiously, the recent installation of Engr. Kola Karim as the new Agba Oye of Ibadanland leaves some questions unanswered – Who is Kola Karim in the social, religious, communal and philanthropic spheres of Ibadanland? What has been his credence in the Ibadan traditional council, his contributions to societal development of Ibadan city, his evidence of impactful living among the downtrodden not to talk of ingenious associations, the Olubadan palace itself and the central council of Ibadan Indigenes?
The Ibadanland ought to have outgrown ‘titles for sale syndrome’ whereby only the highest bidder takes the weighty honour of the land. This makes titles become cash and carry.
Conversly, the award of the revered title of Agba-Oye of Ibadanland puts the beneficiary of the title under spotlight to prove his worth as deserving of the title, otherwise the title is considered awarded in error.
Consequently, in order to redress the hideous trend, all concerned stakeholders and prominent sons and daughters of Ibadanland must be involved in the selection process of whoever is deserving of titles from the exalted throne of Olubadan since title holders are not only subjects to the Kabiyesi but also have the sanctity of Ibadanland to preserve and the interests of all and sundry in Ibadan to protect.
Aare Wole Arisekola writes from Ibadan.
The President Is A Sick Man: Buharis’ secret surgeries inside Oneida yacht
The President Is A Sick Man is the title of a book written by Philadelphia-born award-winning American journalist, Matthew Algeo. It is a chronology of the medical travails of President Grover Cleveland, lawyer, statesman and one of the most famous public speakers of his time. Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States of America, from 1885 to 1889 and 1893 to 1897. The book chronicles how inexorably linked the health of a president and the health of the nation are.
Cleveland was America’s first and only two nonconsecutive-terms president in history. He was also the first democrat to become the American president in 28 years. Famously renowned for always speaking the truth, he was regarded as a very virtuous man, so much that his most memorable quotation, ramped up into a cliché, was “Tell the Truth.” Like Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari whose minders ingenuously chiseled out an alias, Mai Gaskiya, of out of his simple lifestyle which, unbeknownst to the generality of Nigerians, was a façade that covers gross latitude for egregious corruption by the people who surround him, America was later to find out that, wrapped up inside that Cleveland shawl of “telling the truth” was the most untruthful cover-up in American history, far more scandalous than Watergate. What revealed Cleveland’s real persona was his battle with mouth cancer and an extraordinary, even if political cover-up of this infirmity that lasted almost a century, garnished with a successful attempt to keep it from the American people.
Cleveland had assumed the American presidency on March 4, 1885 as the second bachelor president in her history, after James Buchanan. Critics called Cleveland debauched, due to his penchant for “bringing his harlots to the vicinity of the White House.” However, on July 1, the summer of 1893, Cleveland suddenly disappeared from the radar and couldn’t be found anywhere in the White House. Or anywhere in America. It was a challenging time when America was embroiled in what newspapermen labeled, in oblique vernacular, “The money question.” America was teetering on the brinks of financial and social chaos. The economy was threatening to kiss the canvass; unemployment figures were competing with the firmament in height; banks and factories were shutting their gates with reckless abandon and stock prices were in a free fall.
On May 5, 1893, two weeks shy of his 56th birthday, the second day of his swearing in at the Capitol for a second term, Cleveland noticed a rough spot on the roof of his mouth which, by the prodding of his wife, Frances, prompted the invitation of the president’s friend, New York surgeon and Cleveland family physician, Dr. Joseph Decatur Bryant, to look it up. Bryant diagnosed oral tumour, malignant in nature, “an ulcerated surface with an oval outline about the size of a quarter of a dollar.” He called it a “bad looking tenant” that should be evicted post-haste.
Right from the 5 BC, cancer had garnered the notoriety of the most dreaded disease in human history. America of the 19th century was no exception, nor President Cleveland himself. He was thoroughly afraid. The dread was such that, even Greek physician of the Age of Pericles, Hippocrates, also known as Hippocrates of Kos or Hippocrates II, who was renowned to be one of the most outstanding personalities in medical history, was quoted to have urged that “It is better not to apply treatment in the cases of occult (internal) cancer; for if treated, the patients die quickly; but if not treated, they hold on for a long time.” The fear was that, if the cancer afflicting Cleveland had gone into metastasis, the lower part of his left eye socket would be removed during surgery and thus permanently impairing his vision.
On July 1, 1893, President Cleveland got lost inside the Oneida, his friend, Commodore Elias Benedict’s yacht. For five good days, he was declared missing. William Williams Keen, America’s most famous and celebrated surgeon of the time and a team of other surgeons, performed the surgery to remove the cancerous tumor that had grown dangerously and embarrassingly on the president’s upper jaw and palate. The most shocking aspect of it was that, one very enterprising newspaper reporter, E. J. Edwards, later got the information and reported the secret surgery. Cleveland’s Garba Shehus descended on the journalist with the highest acerbity ever. They even labeled him “a disgrace to journalism.” It was not until decades later that one of Cleveland’s surgeons exposed the startling disappearance.
I told this long story so as to be able to bring the Nigerian and African experience of the Cleveland disease – not the disappearance per se but the stunt of keeping ailments out of the people’s klieg by elected presidents, in focus. While some may argue that the Cleveland covert surgery legitimizes many similar equations in Africa, the fact that this happened in America, in the “dark age” of the 18th century, delegitimizes such argument.
Drawing shawls on the health status of African leaders today while they suddenly disappear to undertake their own surgeries inside Cleveland’s type Oneida yacht has a history behind it. It is the mentality of continuation of the great empires and monarchies of Africa where kings were perceived to be infallible, super-human and incapable of falling prey to the afflictions of plebeians and common people. African leaders, seeing themselves in same mould of kings and emperors, believe that they must not be heard having failing health, nor their health status made public. In what other way can it be said to them that, no matter one’s status in life, no one is immune to death and health failings?
This trend that I call the Kabiyesi mentality, has bred a pandemic of leaders of Africa who, almost like 19th century Cleveland, “abdicate their thrones” covertly to seek remedies abroad, without the knowledge of their people.
In October, 2016, that was how President Peter Mutharika of Malawi disappeared from the radar, at which time he was 76 years old, suddenly undertaking his own surgery inside Cleveland’s type Oneida yacht. He had gone to attend the United Nations General Assembly mid-September and didn’t come back until October 16. This provoked speculations in Malawi that he had died, with his cagey aides failing to divulge his whereabouts. There were later disclosures through the grapevine that he had vamoosed to some parts of Europe to attend to his health. Same was the story of Gabonese President, Ali Bongo, son of Omar Bongo. At a time in November, 2018, Ali was said to have been “seriously ill,” with speculations rife in the air that he had died after suffering from stroke. He was just 59 yearrs then. Findings however later revealed that he had not died but that was holed up in a Saudi Arabia hospice.
Oil-rich Angola’s Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, who ruled the country from 1979, also eloped to Spain to have his own surgery-inside-Cleveland-type Oneida yacht. He had sought medical remedy to an undisclosed ailment in May, 2017. It was after about three weeks of his noticeable absence from the public that his foreign minister, after pressure from the opposition, confirmed his unceremonious absence. Again, until his death at age 95, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe was always dashing in and out of Singapore hospitals. In the same vein, Benin Republic’s Patrice Talon was perhaps one of the rarest breeds of that African leadership caste to make public disclosure on what ailed him. After the 59-year old president, who took over from Thomas Yayi-Boni, disappeared from the radar for about three weeks, his minders, on June 19, 2017, released the information that he had undergone two successful surgical operations in Paris. He said doctors had found a lesion in his prostate.This further necessitated another surgery in his digestive system.
Last week, Nigeria took her own ample shares of African presidents’ unwitting communication of their superhuman status to the public. President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria had jetted out to the United Kingdom to undertake his own surgery-inside-Cleveland-type Oneida yacht, “for routine medical checkup.” In March 2017, the then 74-year-old president had suddenly appeared on the radar, after unceremoniously disappearing for seven weeks, from January 19. He had jetted to the UK to treat an ailment which till today is undisclosed, flakes from which stoked the general perception that his failing health had grossly been responsible for the ungoverned space that Nigeria had become for the period of his presidency.
It was so bad that some cynics wickedly alleged that the character that was flown back to Nigeria after the weeks of treatment in a UK hospice was a Buhari look-alike from Sudan and that the original had passed on. Buhari too didn’t help matters. Anytime his minders fail to put on the latch and he speaks ex-tempore, the president gives them public relations migraine, veering off course into irrelevances like a wandering spirit. This is why they only release him for photo-ops, taking care that he does not get any media engagement. For how long is this window-dressing going to last?
The only known communication of Buhari’s ailment by the presidency was the claim that he had an ear infection, an ailment that took him to the same UK in 2016. On May 7 of same year, Buhari went back to the UK for “further medical checks,” necessitating his before-now voluble wife, Aisha visiting him. His Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, acted as President during this interregnum and Nigerians, who had witnessed a previous Katsina kinsman of Buhari, Umaru Yar’Adua, dying in office, were wary of this continuous absence.
Whether he personally learnt his lessons from “the mistake” of temporarily dispensing power to his ngbati ngbati VP or that the Villa cabal felt threatened by Osinbajo’s superlative three months performance in office, it was obvious that they both dreaded such equation ever happening again. So, this time around when Buhari hopped into the presidential jet to his UK infirmary, his minders, seemingly emerging from sleepless nights of studying the constitution, obstinately announced that he would not vacate power to anybody, as the constitution allows him to spend his two weeks projected stay with medics in the UK.
There must be a genetic dysfunction in African presidents which necessitated them not disclosing their health status. Worse still, they try to hold on to power like an adhesive, in spite of and despite their failing health. Let leaders, especially African leaders, who have the tendency to be unduly secretive, disclose the facts of what ail them to their citizens. These citizens will in turn pray for their leaders’ recoveries. On the claim that the opposition would capitalize on the disclosure to torpedo them, let who is immune from sickness and death throw the first stone.
If the health failings of the presidents are such that they cannot function in office effectively, since presidency is not a birthright, let them step aside and their deputies step in. Of course, those who profit from the power stagnation arising from the incapability of ailing leaders would fight tooth and nail to continue to pad them up. Don’t they know that there is a metaphysical and indeed, physical link between the health of the president and the health of a nation? No one needs any peep into the Ouija-board to know that since Buhari came back from the infirmary in 2017, he had literally and figuratively ceased to be capable of administering Nigeria.
The most germane question to ask is, why hasn’t Buhari constructed a world-class hospice similar to the one he visits periodically and shamelessly in the UK, in his six years of being president? Is it naivety, inability or sheer incompetence? The billions of dollars voted to resuscitate an abiku Port Harcourt refinery will no doubt build twice of such and stuff it with world class medics.
Those who argue strongly in defence of Nigerian sovereignty should well know that that same sovereignty is seriously bayoneted by the Nigerian president being a captive patient in a foreign hospital, subjected to the medical suzerainty of UK nationals, on their own soil. There is no doubting the fact that all information about Nigeria and what ails her president would by now be in the hands of the United Kingdom government. So what sovereignty are we talking about?
Administering Nigeria has since been done by proxies. This is why Nigeria has been very sick, from all ramifications.
Consequently, all manner of afflictions, ranging from security, social to economic, have been attempting to down the Nigerian ship of state. Now imagine how many Nigerians have died, literally and metaphorically, due to the absence of firm, knowledgeable and perspective Nigerian leadership and presidential power since Buhari took ill. This is why many members of the cabal who forcefully make Nigeria’s presidential corpse to walk are spending blood money and occupying blood-encrusted offices. The blood of those who die or get incapacitated due to lack of grits of presidential power, in that un-Godly process, is crying for vengeance.