TUESDAY FLAT OUT
The North’s Old Weak And Sick President
By Suyi Ayodele
(Published in the Nigerian Tribune on Tuesday, August 10, 2021)
There is a deity in my native roots. It is called “Olua Li’ Miro”. Imiro is one of the sixteen quarters that make up my home town. Each year after the Olua festival, the deity makes predictions about things to happen to each of the sixteen units. After his predictions, the deity ends up with a refrain: “I am always happy when people come back to me next year to say that I warned them”. The deity usually says this because he knows that no matter how stridently he warns, some of the people would ignore him, only to come back to the shrine when the repercussions become too unbearable.
This is exactly my emotion about the failure of the Buhari presidency. In warning the people within my circle of influence then about investing their goodwill in Buhari, my concern was not about his age. I was also completely ignorant of his failing health then. My reason was based purely on his defective character; the content of his being. I was convinced that his northern, nay Fulani hegemonic propensities would never allow him to do anything nationalistic in scope. I was convinced that he would never do anything on merit; but rather, his judgments would be pigmented by ethnicity and religion.
Like Olua Li’ Miro, the deity, I am happy that everything has played out the way I envisaged. The northern youth share the same feeling with me. It is true that a man’s enemies are members of his household. The Holy Book is eternally right. I love the North’s definition of the Buhari Presidency. It would have been a different ball game if any other part of the country had defined Buhari in the same manner his people have done.
In its reaction to General Ibrahim Badamosi Babagida’s postulation on the age of our next president come 2023, a group of northern youths have stated the qualities of the next president of their dream. They told us all that they would not bargain for an “Old, Weak and Sick President”. What a definition! Argue with your reasoning that they did not mention Buhari specifically. However, no one needs to consult the crystal ball to decipher that the northern youth were referring to General Buhari and his Presidency. There is a saying in my place that every man knows each proverb that touches the sore aspects of his body. Only the lazy and the weak pretend not to know when a proverb addresses their situations.
The qualifiers “old, weak and sick’ describe Buhari in all materials particular. Only those who fall into Femi Adesina’s stratification of “ignorant people” will pretend that they don’t know that the northern youth had Buhari in mind when they uttered those words. In age, Buhari is old and spent. In terms of weakness, Buhari and his presidency exhibit how not to behave as a strong-willed individual or institution. Health wise, his health pilgrimage to the United Kingdom speaks in high decibel. Even now that the entire Health Care Delivery System is paralysed by the strike called by the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, Buhari is in one of the best hospitals in the UK attending to his health challenges which have curiously been shrouded in secrecy in spite of the fact that the public till has borne the brunt of the seemingly unending treatments of the intractable health issues.
But never worry about that. Femi Adesina had already explained that Buhari has been consulting the same London doctors in the last forty years. The rest of us should resort to trado-medicine as long as our president is attended to by the best hands in the UK, ba magana!
IBB’s postulation about the age of our next president does not sit well with me. Babangida, as we all know, is too intelligent to come out openly to confront the powers- that-be in Aso Rock. Otherwise, we all know that he was indirectly referring to Buhari and his Methuselah age in that Arise TV interview. But for me, the issue of age is inconsequential. For instance, the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, is in his 40s but the disaster he has wrought in Kogi State couldn’t have been worse if he were 100 years old! And we have many of them in that age bracket of 40 to 60, who are governors and senators, and who are also monumental failures. How old was the now Deputy Senate President, Omo Agege, when he “moved” the mace during the 8th National Assembly? Pardon my euphemism here; in the Niger Delta, we have our own neologism.
We would rather say “move” instead of “steal”. Hate or like Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he was in his late 40s (so he told us and so we believed him) when he established the template for the development of Lagos State. One, of course, admits that the costs of those projects can be contested in some quarters but it remains incontrovertible that others who were also deemed to have inflated contract figures had very little to show for the contractual sleaze. In the community of the blind, the one eyed man is the apparent king. The one angling to be our next president from my home state has only renovated a town hall and a SUBEB-run primary school to show for his almost eight years of governorship.
He is not even 60-IBB’s prescribed year of wisdom and political maturity yet! So, what has age got to do with it? We cannot excuse Buhari’s failure in governance on account of his age. Though, it would be equally wrong to blame his turbulent state of health for his abysmal performance. The fact that he knew how weak he was health wise and still sought to be president four good times, places a huge question mark on his integrity. Deceit is the height of corruption and those dressing Buhari in the robe of Seriki gaskiya are as corrupt as the principal they are promoting.
I have never believed that Buhari has failed to perform only because he is old or sick. If I were the sole decider of the 2015 presidential election, there was no way I would have allowed Buhari to be a councillor of a ward! I daresay that the retired general’s major hubris or impediment is his character. The content of his character is weak, old and grossly insipid. Unfortunately, he knows it, his promoters know it; but they all pretend not to know it. An older sister who lives in the north once told me how an average northern youth saw Buhari in 2015. She said many of them were told that once Buhari became president, helicopters would begin to drop Naira from the sky. One particular youth, she said, told her that he wanted to buy a very big container to provide more room once the helicopters began to drop Naira notes.
Laughable as that seems to a schooled mind, such was the height of manipulation that motivated the bandwagon voting pattern of that era. Now, the same northern youth have become wiser. They are now the ones going about with the message of “old, weak and sick president” and the same ones donning “Buhari must go” vests. The northern youth were not the only gullible elements in 2015. We had and unfortunately still have such an army of dimwits down south, especially in the otherwise sophisticated South West. They were as gullible in 2015 as they were credulous in 2019.
Majority of them can be described as a group of imperceptive people who allowed an obnoxious thunder to strike twice on the same spot. They were, and still are in every family. For instance, what do you make of Femi Adesina’s invectives on “those who believe that Buhari is tougher on secessionists than terrorists”. Read again his flowery defense of his principal’s war against terrorism and you would be excused if you began to wonder if Adesina is talking about the same Nigeria that we all live in. Check out those who said six months were enough to fix the nation’s power problems in 2015. Ask what has happened to the same power sector six years after that incomprehensible verbiage was uttered by the same people who have since carried on as if they never uttered such an impotent statement. One or two of them are even angling to be president come 2023. Take a look at the Kaduna State governor, Nasir EL-Rufai, and his submission on security under Goodluck Jonathan for instance. Now ask him how secured small Kaduna has become under his watch. The bitter truth is that Buhari and his promoters are birds of the same colourless plumage. My own personal consolation is that I joined a tiny minority to warn about the monumental disaster that was about to be foisted on the 200million-strong population.
My neighbour who told me that he would rather vote for a goat than for Jonathan to win the 2015 election has since realised that some native goats are truly more intelligent and could be more productive than the present predicament. This is why I think, when we remove the age parameter set by IBB, Nigerians should begin to set the 2023 agenda. Many thanks to the northern youth who have said that an old, weak and sick president would not be acceptable to them. Our thinking should start with that position. If my imagination is not running riot, I think there is a deeper meaning here. The northern youth appear not to be looking forward to a president that is not of northern extraction in 2023. And or, they are probably saying that any candidate from the south who is “old, weak and sick” will not be welcome. This is a verbal brickbat and only the lazy and the weak will pretend not to know the direction of that shot. Whatever it is, the northern youth have set their own agenda and others are expected to follow suit.
The big question now is: will Nigerians allow thunder to strike the third time on the same spot? Are we going to make the same mistake again? Are Nigerians, come 2023, going to listen to the old rhetoric of “change, life more abundant, security for all and power supply without stress”? What do we do as a people concerning security, for instance, before 2023? Methinks that the Buhari Presidency and his hangers-on are deliberately allowing the state of insecurity to fester. At the risk of sounding “ignorant”, a la Adesina, I daresay again that if Buhari applies the same force to the issue of insecurity as he does when it comes to IPOB, Sunday Igboho and their agitations, the nation would have become a lot more peaceful, secure and progressive.
If the state of insecurity and the lethargic attitude of the presidency is not deliberate, then something concrete and impactful needs to be done, and promptly too. At the risk of sounding like a pessimist, I have doubts that 2023 would ever be if we continue with this lack-lustre attitude to security and its allied matters. How do we hold elections when people cannot move freely? If the elections fail to hold, what happens? An extension of tenure or a doctrine of necessity that will allow the Senate President to act? The two options are leprous and cancerous at the same time and are sure to further compound the fate of our already haemorrhaging nation. The most unfortunate thing about it all is that there is no single viable and vibrant opposition to the Buhari lethargic disposition to the issue of insecurity. Even as the possibility of a non-election in 2023 stares us boldly in the face, the opposition PDP is busy dancing the macabre dance of external death occasioned by rudderless leadership. Truth be told, if the disbanded ACN, and the now ruling APC had acted the way PDP is acting in opposition, there would have been no Buhari presidency.
Today however, is not the day to discuss the PDP and its uncoordinated Wadata House. Needless to say that the party has been a bigger let down in opposition than it was while in power. May I also, like the deity usually warns, say that whatever games the Buhari presidency is playing with 2023, if the end negates the desire of the people, it will not augur well for the nation. Like the maverick Patrick Obahiagbon (Igodomigodo) would say, the disaster that will follow should anything be done overtly or covertly to shortchange Nigerians in 2023 “is as clear as the Biblical Mene Mene Tekel Urpharsin”. May we not come to the deity only to be told: “did I not warn you”?