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Still on my navigators and a sick President

By Douglas Anele

Last Sunday when I published the names of those that made a positive impact in my life last year, some paragraphs in the essay I sent were not included because I wrote more than could be accommodated in my column, and the editor and his crew must have decided to expunge parts of the script for it to fit into the available space.

Moreover, although my frank admission that I must have left out some individuals in the testimonial mainly as a result of human fallibility, some of my friends that read the article and whose names were omitted expressed their disappointment to me – and rightly so. To be candid, a few of them actually made more valuable contributions to my life in 2016 than several of those whose names were included.

Therefore, I want to rectify this error of omission now, with the understanding that it is almost impossible for me to remember within a limited time all the wonderful people that assisted me one way or another within the period under consideration.

To begin with, I wish to thank immensely Bede Egbufor, Simon Tashie, Dele, and Joe Otogbolu. Professors Tunde Babawale, Iyoola Oni (Dean, Social Sciences), Ndubuisi Nwokoma, and Mike Ogbeidi (HOD History); Drs. David Aworawo, Ifeanyi Chionye, Obi Iwuagwu. Charles Ibeziakor, Dave Ekwoaba and Mr. Ngozi Chinwah – all of you in different ways made a positive difference in my life and I appreciate that. Jake Epelle and key members of The Albino Foundation nationwide, thank you so much for the great humanitarian work you are doing. To my brother, Emeka and his hardworking wife, Chinwendu, I appreciate both of you for being my eyes and ears in the village.

Finally, and on a sad note, I remember the painful loss of my sister, Ngozi Felicia Anele, who died about six weeks ago. She worked so hard but some evil men did not allow her to fully enjoy the fruits of her labour. The pain of her death still pulsates in my heart, but the passage of time will eventually take care of that.

From my sister’s horrible experiences, I advise women to disregard the exaggerated importance traditionally attached to marriage because it makes them vulnerable to bestial fraudsters who seek to steal and destroy with fake promises of marriage. Marriage is not a necessary condition for a fulfilled life – in many cases being married is actually detrimental. I strongly believe that my sister would have been alive today if she used her resources to enjoy and take good care of herself.

And talking about death, there was a story sometime ago that the President, Muhammadu Buhari, had died. Since then, a lot of hot air has been swirling around the issue of the President’s health condition. Lai Mohammed, an expert in verbal acrobatics, does not think that the same exacting demands he made about eight years ago when the medical condition of late President Umaru Yar’Adua was an issue should be made this time around.

At that time, as spokesman for the opposition, Lai Mohammed insisted that the minister of information should give Nigerians daily report about Yar’Adua’s health based on genuine detailed medical reports from his physicians. Now, Lai Mohammed says Nigerians should not expect regular updates about Buhari’s health status because Yar’Adua’s condition and that of his boss are dissimilar.

At first sight, his argument seems valid, but upon closer analysis it cannot withstand ratiocinative scrutiny. First, just like late Yar’Adua President Buhari is sick, and Nigerians that chose the man to be their President deserve to know what is happening to him in London: after all, his medical vacation is paid for from the public treasury.

Second, considering the uncanny similarities between the Yar’Adua scenario and the current one, many people are apprehensive that the drama that happened around the late President might happen again. Moreover, given that the current government has in my view performed below expectations since its inauguration, there is a widening credibility hiatus between the federal government and the people. Increasingly, Nigerians distrust Lai Mohammed.

In my opinion, media managers of the presidency accept the Trumpian bizarre concept of “alternative facts,” that is, the skilful manipulation of information in such a way that fiction would be presented as an equally truthful version of real events. However, that cannot work this time around because not all Nigerians are gullible.

There is a lot of hypocrisy particularly among prominent Nigerians on this issue. Some of them who, for selfish reasons, really wish the President dead or so obviously incapacitated that he would be declared unfit to govern according to relevant provisions of the 1999 constitution, are the very ones lambasting those they claim want the President dead.

Of course, members of his family and those benefiting from his government are praying fervently for his safe return. From the foregoing, it is unrealistic to expect everyone to have the same attitude in this matter. The hypocrites pretending to love the President even more than members of his family should know that whether one wishes President Buhari dead or safe return to the country, what will be will be: the life or death of an individual does not depend on mere wishes.

What should be uppermost in our minds is that Lai Mohammed and other government officials should tell Nigerians the truth about what is happening to the President. As a leader, Buhari has ceded most of his right to privacy to the people that elected him.

Consequently, to pretend otherwise or criticise Nigerians unfairly for demanding truthful information about their leader is disingenuous and inconsistent with the requirement of transparency which makes democracy preferable to totalitarianism.

The issue with President Buhari’s health point to a much larger problem of distorted understanding of the essence of leadership in Africa. African leaders are so intoxicated by political power that they are now suffering from sit-tight neurosis.

Sit-tight neurosis is a mental condition or psychological disease in which a President, Prime Minister or top government official refuses to leave office either at the expiration of his tenure or when there are good reasons for him to do so before the expiration of his term of office. “Good reasons” include physical or mental incapacitation (or both), persistent demand or outcry from the citizens against the leadership because of poor performance, and scandal involving a sitting President, governor or minister etc.

In mature democracies of Europe and North America, top government officials usually resign when their positions become untenable for any of the reasons highlighted above. But in Nigeria, people cling to power at all cost, thereby compromising the prestige and dignity embedded in the offices they occupy.

For instance, it is hard to understand why Bukola Saraki has not resigned as Senate President despite his on going prosecution at the Code of Conduct Tribunal on corruption or the President for that matter because it is becoming increasingly obvious that the whale-sized problems of Nigeria is weighing him down and jeopardising his health.

Buharimaniacs and Buhari’s loyalists can live in self denial from now till kingdom come: the fact remains that President Buhari was deceived by a group of avaricious agabta ekee politicians into thinking that he is the messiah Nigerians expect to pull the country out of self-inflicted black hole of stunted development.

To be candid, Buhari should have stuck to the pledge he made in 2011 not to contest for the presidency again. If he had done so, he would have avoided the severe headaches he is facing now. As things stand, he might eventually regret the decision to contest in 2015 because his electoral success might turn into a Pyrrhic victory.


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