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Buhari’s endless returns

By Obi Nwakanma

It is a peculiarly Nigerian thing to be governed from the capital of another foreign nation. The implication of this startling fact seems also generally lost to Nigerians. Nigeria has always defied logic. Perhaps it is not the public we should be worried about; perhaps there is no public worth its name – a national public consciousness demands an enlightened citizenship – perhaps it is just simply the level or lack thereof, of a general political consciousness, but the means of public enlightenment is fraught with its own profound contradictions.

Perhaps it is just simply that Nigerians no longer care about the nature of their own nation and sovereignty. Nigeria has been so battered, its public and political institutions so totally corrupted and bastardized that political action and political morality is no longer necessary in measuring the status of its nationhood. What is Nigeria? Nigeria is a sick nation stuck between its neocolonial status and its predatory condition? There is proof everywhere that Nigeria no longer belongs to Nigerians. That decisions about what to do with Nigeria is not taken inside Nigeria, nor does it depend on Nigerians.

Nigeria, since the end of military rule, has become effectively an effective neocolonial satellite nation, whose very existence is determined by forces outside of it. Power in Nigeria does not lie, nor is it given or indemnified by the people and for the people. Every so often of course, Nigerians pretend to elect a government in this sham democracy. But in actual fact, it is all for show. The people do not count. No one listens to Nigerians.

Those who occupy public offices in Nigeria have absolutely no respect for Nigerian people. They are not afraid of Nigerians because they suffer no consequence for their conducts. Nigerians themselves are far too benighted to do anything about the utter disdain with which these people whom the purport to elect to public office hold them. But rather than fight together, Nigerians are busy fighting themselves.

The long use of Machiavellian tactics and its politics of divisions has blinded Nigerians against their real adversaries, and their true obligations, which is to protect their national interests by seeking, and building common grounds, in order to find reprieve from these elite interests that strangle the land and its people; to insist on being governed by law and on the very principle of equality and justice agreed upon by the constitution; and to exact by common public action, the sanctions of law, where the courts fail. There has to be consequence for breaking the laws, and this must be irrespective of the office one occupies; their ethnicity; their gender or their social status. Nigerians must stop venerating these public offices, and creating personality cults of public office holders whose toilet habits are as primal as those of any regular Mgbeke or Mgbeafor. What is important is not who occupies these public offices, but the dignity, responsibility and significance of the office.

Devaluation of the office of the president of Nigeria as Buhari has just very publicly done must carry consequence irrespective of who occupies that office. While Nigerians suffer economic hardships and deprivations, loss of social status and cohesion, and insecurity, elected politicians continue to act with impunity, and with profound insensitivity against the public interest. It should for instance disgust any self-conscious, self-respecting, and law-abiding Nigerian to see the almost gushing reports in the Nigerian press about members of the APC and later seven elected Nigerian governors going on the junket to London, to visit Nigeria’s sick president, Muhammadu Buhari, who has abandoned his office for close to 90 days of sick leave.

These governors traveled, not on their own personal accounts, but on the public’s account, to London. Why should the Nigerian tax-payer pay for gubernatorial joyrides to the capital of a foreign nation, purportedly to visit an elected president in self-exile? It is action without legal mandate. This is the real meaning of corruption, and this must be emphasized again and again, that misuse of state power is corruption; the abdication of the responsibility of public office, outside of the recourse of given law is corruption. The Nigerian constitution established the seat of the government of Nigeria at its federal capital, Abuja, not in London. As a matter of fact, just a generation ago, people died in Iva valley, Zikists were jailed, Nationalist agitators were hounded, and a full nationalist movement pushed to bring the government of Nigeria home to people and to decolonize Nigeria, so that Nigerians will govern themselves by themselves from their own capital.

To move the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to London is a tragic, and problematic action. Okay, the elected president is sick. But he chose to leave all the doctors trained in Nigeria at great public expense; all the fine hospitals he and all those who had ruled Nigeria heretofore established in Nigeria, and all the facilities created in this country which ought to carter to the health of a sick president, to go to London, and be treated at public expense by doctors trained by the English people, and at facilities established by the government of the United Kingdom. The president has no business staying in London up to this point. Nigerians do not deserve to be treated with disregard, and to this circus of condolences, and visitations, and pilgrimages to an ailing president ensconced by a fireside in an English manor, when he should be either under hospice care in Abuja, or in his home in Daura, and this for two reasons: to protect the integrity of the office of the president, and to secure the dignity of Nigeria as a sovereign nation.

Nigeria is the only nation in the world which can allow her president to establish an extended stay in a foreign hospital, and still remain in office. That is why many Africans now think of Nigeria as a giant dollop of excreta, unworthy even of continental leadership. No serious minded African takes her seriously. If you conduct a vote today for which African nation to sit on the UN Security council, African nations will vote Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria, Sudan, over Nigeria. The reduction of the significance of Nigeria affects Nigerians in very important ways in international circles, where Nigeria is currently seen primarily as a “lap dog of empire” and also as a nation of very inferior leadership, many of whom, beyond publicly dressing like masquerades, have nothing else to offer. But far more grievous is that Nigerians themselves do not even believe or trust their own government which lies to them over and over again.

This visit of the seven governors with Buhari in London is the latest ploy to convince Nigerians that their president is recovering, all fit and humming, and ready to return to work. Buhari’s return has entered its own stage of mythology. It is a return that does not happen. It is now like the story of the Niger Bridge, and the killing of the Boko Haram’s Abubakar Shekau. As Nigerians now know, every year for the last ten years at least, the same contract is awarded for building the same second Niger bridge, and after every tepid operation in the Shangisha forest, the Nigerian Army often returns with the same elated news of the killing of Shekau, except that the second Niger Bridge never gets built, and Shekau never dies, is still alive, and appears regularly to taunt Nigerians. Still, that does not stop the fib-makers.

President Buhari’s “return” has now taken the same course. It has become its own industry, with people taking bets about wither, whence, or wherefore of the president’s endless return. This president is not returning anytime soon. And even if he does, he will be clearly unfit to occupy the office of President. As it is, he is already potentially compromised: a man owes loyalty to those in whose hands lies his life. President Buhari no longer owes absolute loyalty to Nigeria, and has become too vulnerable to carry on his duties as president. Let us put a stop to this tomfoolery: history beckons this 8th Assembly to do its duty: it must establish a board to establish the status and mental condition of this president, and must cashier President Buhari forthwith.

The man has a right to go home and take care of his health. Nigeria is far too complex, and too unstable to be left then way it is now. The lies about the President returning “soon” should be made to stop, and the presidency should stop insulting Nigerians with half-truths about the president’s situation.


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