By Ochereome Nnanna
LET me seize this opportunity to bid our President, Muhammadu Buhari, welcome back from his medical trip to the United Kingdom. I am happy he is back on his feet instead of lying inside a life support machine even dead as earlier rumoured.
We Christians are taught to forgive our transgressors and pray for our enemies. We are not taught to kill them. Faith is the personal right and affair of all human souls for which we account to the Creator when the time comes. I believe that anybody who wishes even his enemy dead has killed him because he would do so if given the chance. It is a singular act of foolishness to wish bad things to befall your enemy because he is your enemy today but what of tomorrow when things suddenly turn the other way round? That is the wisdom in Christians being asked to pray for our enemies to repent of their wickedness.
Buhari is not even our enemy! He is our President, duly elected by a majority of Nigeria’s voters in 2015. That some of us might not have supported him is neither here nor there any more. The majority have spoken, and they must have their way for the constitutionally-prescribed four years. It only remains for us to pray that the President carries out his mandate in a way to unite the nation and rally its peoples behind him to improve the lives of everyone.
Has he done so? Unfortunately, no. Up to the moment he took off to London in January 2017, Buhari was a very divisive leader, whose style woke up many dormant demons both ancient and modern, including the pro-Biafra groups, Niger Delta militancy, the Shiites and armed Fulani herdsmen. All these added to the ongoing Boko Haram devilry to make Nigeria a boiling cauldron of violence, with the Army and the security forces deployed more massively than at any other time outside the civil war period. Buhari’s wrong approach to governance ran down an economy already seriously compromised by fallen oil prices and systemic corruption.
During his nearly two-month absence, our thesis that Buhari has added to the problems of the country with his faulty mentality was proved beyond reasonable doubt. His Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, approached his Acting Presidency with the reversed mentality of a peace ambassador. He made a series of whistle-stop trips to the hot spots – the Niger Delta, South East and some parts of the North, calming frayed nerves and sowing seeds of hope.
It was during Buhari’s absence that the anti-Buhari protests took place. Though the Police successfully frightened off an arrowhead of the #IStandWithNigeria protest, Tuface Idibia, it still took place peacefully and successfully. Osinbajo even received the Labour group that conducted their own independent march with a message to Nigerians that the Federal Government had heard their complaints. Nobody was killed or even arrested. There was no breakdown of law and order because the Federal Government under Osinbajo did not roll out the Army to kill and bury protesters as they did to the Shiites and unarmed pro-Biafra groups.
With a calmer and more peaceful polity at his disposal, Osinbajo functioned effectively. That should be a lesson to Buhari, as he resumes his captaincy of the Nigerian ship of state. If even if you see some people as your enemies, just treat them well and give them a sense of belonging. Some of them might even come to your side.
Now that Buhari is back, he has proved beyond doubt that officials of this regime lied shamelessly about the reason for his trip. The only truth told about his journey to London came from his Spokesman, Femi Adesina, who hinted us that Buhari would see his doctors, which implied he had medical issues. The same Vice President Osinbajo that many people are giving thumbs up for holding the country so well behind Buhari was, unfortunately, one of those liars. Pastor Osinbajo said Buhari was “hale and hearty”. Information Minister, Lai Mohammed (predictably) lied that Buhari was neither sick nor hospitalised.
When Buhari returned he told us the truth: “I have never been so sick in my life”. Much of the mockery heaped on the President in his hour of need instead of prayers from his countrymen owed to these cocktails of lies which the All Progressives Congress, APC, political movement used to win election and still uses to rule.
If we had been told the truth, we would only have criticised the foreign treatment which negates APC campaign promises. We would also have queried it in the face of the billions of naira allocated to the Presidential clinic last year alone. But many of us would have overlooked all these to sympathise with our President on humanitarian grounds. That would have been far more honourable, but then, who bothers about honour in Nigerian politics so long as selfish ends are met?
Now that it was been established that our President is challenged by serious health issues which compound the usual frailties that come with old age, I think it is better for him and the nation that he takes it easy from now henceforth. He should stop fighting real and imaginary enemies, especially his “5%” Nigerians. No matter how strong a man is, he cannot fight any section of the Nigerian populace and win. They will always outlast him.
Secondly, he should continue to delegate most of the mentally- and physically-challenging presidential tasks, especially to Osinbajo (or Ossy Bobo). He should pay more attention to his health and take as much rest as his doctors direct.
Finally, he should ignore the chants of sycophants (like SGF Babachir Lawal) about running again in 2019. He is not physically fit to run again. In fact, his health has been a burden on Nigerians in the past two years. He should give way to younger leaders to move the nation forward. There is nothing wrong in Buhari “doing a Nelson Mandela”.