When I publicly voiced my concerns in 2018 that Muhammadu Buhari was too cognitively and physically ill to have the capacity to govern Nigeria and that the country was being ruled on his behalf by an unorganised and unelected gaggle of corrupt cronies and family members, some people didn’t believe me.
But his wife’s unprecedentedly stinging public censure of presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu and Mamman Daura, Buhari’s nephew, on December 11, 2019 provides evidentiary grounding for what most of us have always known and said: that Buhari is too weighed down by dementia and physical infirmity to even control his immediate family, let alone rule a country of nearly 200 million people.
In my January 19, 2019 column titled “Buhari’s Physical and Mental Health is now a National Emergency,” I noted the following:
“On November 23, 2018, for instance, I tweeted that a doctor who has met Buhari during a personal, non-medical visit told me he was troubled that Buhari appeared to evince tell-tale symptoms of dementia (of which Alzheimer’s disease is a type), which is often characterised by repetitiveness, unawareness, mental deterioration, impaired memory, diminished quality of thought, slurred speech, and finally complete helplessness.”
“A friend whose dad has dementia and who has also met Buhari in the recent past had earlier told me Buhari reminded her of her dad whom she forced to retire, adding, sadly, that Buhari’s dementia is way worse than her dad’s is. She was, and still is, concerned that Nigeria has no president. She’s right, and the evidence stares us every day. Buhari barely has any awareness of his existence, much less the requirements of being president…
“People around the president are intimately familiar with his considerably diminished sentience and his notoriously declining short-term memory.
As a consequence, he is being taken advantage of by several people close to him. Aso Rock insiders say Buhari doesn’t remember anything, so no one even obeys his instructions–if he gives any at all. The last person to see him gets him to do whatever they want. Someone from the Presidential Villa told me it’s precisely because of this fact that governors frequent the Villa several times in a week; they are in a race to be the last people to see the president before he takes decisions and signs off on them.
“If you think with Buhari as president Nigeria has a president, you should sue your brain for non-support; you’re NOT thinking! We have a national emergency on our hands. Buhari appears infirm both in mind and in body. Without a doubt, other people are ruling on his behalf, and his own wife hinted at that when she said her husband’s presidency had been hijacked by a three-man cabal.”
Aisha also told TVC’s, “Journalists’ Hangout” that she doesn’t have private conversations with her husband. “There is no pillow in the villa,” she said. “No, because we are always busy listening to one story or another. I think the people he puts in the cabinet, they should just sit up and do the needful. That is why it is not good to have godfatherism.”
A lot of people were flustered by the revelation that she has no access to her husband. But I am not.
I actually hinted at that in my October 22, 2016 column titled “Aisha Buhari and the Evil Aso Rock Cabal.”
Here’s what I wrote:
“This [her BBC Hausa interview chastising her husband’s government] can only mean that although Aisha is formally married to President Buhari, she is actually isolated from him. This is consistent with what I’ve heard from inside sources about the relationship between the first couple. Buhari is held hostage by an evil, sneaky, corrupt, vulturous, and conniving cabal that ensures that his wife doesn’t see him even in the ‘kitchen,’ the ‘living room,’ or ‘the other room.’
“The BBC interview was Aisha’s vigorous ventilation of pent-up anguish against a cold, calculating, and corrupt cabal that has made Buhari a stranger to his own wife.”
And I had written about Aisha’s December 11 revelation that Garba Shehu and other Aso Rock media aides have no access to Buhari and take directives from Mamman Daura and other unelected Buhari cronies and family members.
In my August 26, 2017 column titled “Garba Shehu, Presidential Villa Rodents and Bad PR,” I wrote the following, which Aisha just confirmed:
“First, it’s obvious that both Adesina and Shehu don’t have a robust, direct access to the president. Directives don’t seem to always come directly from the president to his media aides. It’s usually, it would appear, from the president to a tortuous labyrinth of surrogates before it gets to the media team. Most of the times, it’s actually influential people connected—or thought to be connected—to the president who dictate what the presidential media team says to the public.
“I recall an incident in late 2015 that left me in no doubt that the president’s media team members don’t enjoy the respect usually accorded to presidential spokespeople. I was having an argument with someone close to the Buhari presidency over something, and he suddenly said, ‘I will tell the president’s media team to issue a statement to clarify this.’ A few hours later, a statement was issued expressing the exact sentiments of my interlocutor who isn’t even officially a part of the government. That blew me away.
“So, basically, the presidential spokespeople are mere errand boys of Buhari’s shadowy surrogates and a motley crowd of official, semi-official, and unofficial power brokers who pull the levers of power in the presidency.
“No public relations person, however smart he might be, can function optimally in the kind of politically toxic and factious environment that the Buhari presidency exemplifies.”
I warned Nigerians in the run-up to the 2019 election that if they voted APC, they were voting Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari, not Buhari who is barely aware of his own existence. People who thought I was merely being mischievous are now coming to terms with what I said.
For selfish reasons, Aisha won’t reveal the true state of her husband’s health, but she’s opportunistically railing against someone who is taking orders from people who hold the real power. As they say, nature abhors a vacuum. If Buhari can’t exercise power, others will exercise it on his behalf and in his name.
If Nigeria weren’t the dysfunctional theatre of the absurd that it is, the revelations from Aisha Buhari would be regarded as a national emergency.
The National Assembly would have constituted an independent team of medical experts to examine the state of Buhari’s physical and mental state.