Due to popular demand, we are repeating this acritcle published last week on this page.
HASSAN Ayariga, founder of the All Parties Congress (APC) of Ghana, in a recent viral video, publicly reminded Nigerians that their country had become a butt of jokes in international discourses. Right before our very eyes, Ayariga rudely poked his hands into our eyeballs. Nigerians are, however, taking the insult in their strides because they know Ayariga had their balls in his palms.
“(President) Nana (Akufo-Ado) is 72 years old and weak already, sleeping every moment he gets; (he) cannot be the president and if he wins, he is not the one who can manage (the country)… Nana has a health problem; that is a fact. We all have health problems at this age, not to talk of a man who is 72 (years-old)… Nigerians have given their country to Buhari. Look at what is happening there. Buhari has killed the country. The country is dead. Nigeria is no more what it used to be. Are we bringing another Buhari in Ghana?… Nana would not have the power, the strength to manage. That means we’re voting Nana as a ceremonial president but in the actual sense, somebody is going to do that job,” Ayariga said in the video.
Interrogating the concept of geriatrics in government, Ayariga provoked a discourse that has engaged many Nigerians since President Muhammadu Buhari got to power in 2015. The Ghanaian APC founder brought out muck in Nigerians’ face which they are too frustratingly shocked to acknowledge, but whose externalisation outside the shores of the country drags them to their feet in shame. In simple summary, Ayariga tells Nigerians that Buhari’s absent presence in the Aso Rock Villa has dragged their country to the brinks. Warning Ghana not to make the fatal mistake that Nigeria made in cloning a Buhari again in Akufo-Ado, such mistake, he said, was capable of sinking the former Gold Coast into the abyss that Nigeria has currently sunk into. Last week, Nigeria’s opposition party, the PDP, stole Ayariga’s patent right and authorship of this thesis by claiming that Nigeria was dying under Buhari’s weak hold.
Closely related to the Ayariga submission is another which holds that, either arising from his sequestration by his health condition or a natural failure of his inner constitution, Buhari cannot separate a fight between two warring chickens. Indeed, someone, whose acquaintance with Buhari has spanned decades, claimed that the President’s queer phobia for peacemaking is so astounding that if he sat in his living room and his little grandchildren were in a disharmonious rancor, even to the point of exchanging blows, Buhari would keep at whatever he was about, say reading a newspaper. And if the spat got too discomforting for him, the peacemaking-phobic president would pick himself up and walk away from the din of the battle. Queer, isn’t it? If you then add the Ayariga frightening dissection of the Nigerian stagnant but regressing headship, the stasis in governance, and this psychoanalysis of the Nigerian president, you will arrive at a clearer picture of the chaotic problems that confront Nigeria daily.
This queer withdrawal syndrome attributed to the President, some say, is a medical malfunctioning. To the president’s retinue of minders, however, this reticence is an apt fit into the Daura-born military General’s nature, which to them is ennobling. In the last five years that Buhari has been in office, he had manifested not only a pacific disposition, a clear signal that he is absent from government but also a gross timidity to settle quarrels within and without.
A combination of a peacemaking-phobic nature and Ayariga’s thesis of a Buhari whose senescence has literally grounded Nigeria, have resulted in the reign of a ceremonial president who knows next to nothing about what happens around him. Or that he just doesn’t care. This is clearly Nigeria’s hugest burden at the moment.
Let us begin from even the nucleus of his family. Aisha, Buhari’s wife, has been publicly up in arms with Mamman Daura, Buhari’s Aso Villa-resident uncle and some members of those, in Ayariga’s thesis, are managing his ceremonial presidency. Even when a gun duel ensued in the Villa recently between the president’s Personal Assistant and Aisha’s security operatives, in the words of those who know, Buhari seemed too far away from this din to recognize that there was any spat.
Several other chickens’ fight have hallmarked the Buhari presidency. One was between the DSS and the EFCC; EFCC and National Intelligence Agency (NIA); Minister of Finance and the Minister of Power and recently, NIPOST and the Minister of Communications. Buhari is said to lack the capacity to ensure an armistice.
And this: Faced with morbid opposition from erstwhile Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and his former boss, the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, had booked an appointment to see the president in the Villa. Appearing in his well-starched babanriga for the usual photo-ops, Buhari and Obaseki were photographed in a smiling binge. Nigerians knew that Buhari would not raise a finger to stop the drift. And he didn’t.
Some analysts argued that while he held forte, late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, shawled this very disagreeable failing of the president’s from view. Rather than to the awkwardly aloof president, the warring chickens reportedly ran to Kyari to procure interventions. At his death, however, confronted with an academic replacement in Agboola Gambari, the chickens have taken to public spats and open advertisements of their sabre-rattling, many of them very messy.
In the last couple of months, the presidency had clearly become a messy house of commotion, or a pen of warring chickens without a peacemaker. The first clear signal that this queer model could not but dissemble was the spat between National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd) and Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai. While both hailed from Borno State, the epicenter of Boko Haram insurgency, it did not stop their chicken fight. Monguno had, in a leaked memo, leveled a very huge allegation of “undue and dangerous interference on matters bordering on national security,” – supplanting Nigeria’s presidency, in short – against his kinsman.
The rancorous, chickens’ fight din, became even more embarrassing and messy in the last few months. One was between the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) and former Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu. In a memorandum to Buhari in June, Malami had even unabashedly named his preferred nominees for the office. This was enough for a peacemaking president to wade in. Not long after, this spat became a public ridicule and a mess that tar-brushed the presidency as a home of sleaze.
The latest of these is the ongoing probe into the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by its House of Representatives committee. The stench emanating from the parliament in that regard is enough to bother any forward-looking government. Was that not why there is an Adviser to the President on his office’s relationship with the parliament? While odium from the probe reveals an executive/legislative corruption debacle that predates this government, the mess that oozed from it voids the mantra of the Buhari government as one persuaded to change the status-quo. The chicken fight was between a Joi Nunieh, flippant, yet reversible Godswill Akpabio who developed lily-liver immediately he was confronted with the House’s intent to crumble the House of Sleaze jointly built by the executive and the legislature and a rancorous legislative investigative committee which sounded like misdirected inquisitionists.
An analogy of the figurative pen of chickens without a peacemaker that this government has become came again last Tuesday. Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had honoured a House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the suspension of the management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF). Ngige began his submission by veering into the very mundane and, pardon this expletive, the irresponsible. His first bombast was the clearly unnecessary comparison of his own age with the members of the committee’s. He picked on James Faleke, a Bola Tinubu, APC National Leader apologist in the parliament and began a session of phlegm-spillage.
Members of the committee, Ngige said, were all his younger brothers’ age, but for Faleke whose age he put to about 60. Yet, in Ngige’s estimation, Faleke was a “small boy.” He spoke like a minor playing the fool in a game of bric-a-brac. Pardon me: Upon hopping into the conversation, I thought it was a drinking shack dialogue, with one of the parties drenched in considerable liquor.
This government’s familiar thread of a chicken tender who cannot separate two chickens in a spat has provoked two schools of thought. One holds that, a Buhari who cannot separate two warring chickens is desirable for the polity at this time. Why? While the chickens are embarked on their open, shameless disharmony, so says the school, Nigerians can have a peep into the kind of and quality of those who administer them. Strong-willed, no-nonsense leaders like Olusegun Obasanjo and even medium-willed ones like Goodluck Jonathan, effectively ensured that the maggots within the polity were shrouded from view through the leaderships’ peacemaking grips. That was why the Diezani Maduekes’ festering stench was kept from the view of the world until their exits.
A Buhari who cannot separate a chickens’ fight model, so reasons this school, is also advantageous in that, if Buhari had waded into the NDDC and NSITF probes, for instance, we probably wouldn’t know how repugnant, petty and disgraceful the thinking faculty of a Nigerian “Honourable” Minister was. Nor an opportunity to be told that 60 per cent of NDDC projects were frittered into the palate of legislators. And an opportunity to know that Minister Akpabio couldn’t maintain his spine, reversing self like a school boy caught stealing an akara bean cake, in a submission whose truth is self-evident to Nigerians,. So, kudos to the Nigerian President who cannot separate two chickens in a fight?
Buhari’s politics of memory
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, last week, rolled out a list of railway station corridors which were named after living and departed Nigerians, ostensibly with the aim of memorialising icons of the Nigerian state. The corridors are ones along the Lagos-Ibadan and Itakpe/Ajaokuta/ Aladja/Warri corridors.
He claimed that the Nigerians were so honoured due to the commensurate contributions they had made to the progress and development of their communities and Nigeria as a whole. If you ask me, a Buhari who scarcely bothers about what the rest of the world says, must have fought unsuccessfully for the inclusion of General Sani Abacha’s name on the list.
Anthropologists will be interested in the politics behind this memorialisation by the Buhari administration. In naming monuments after persons, Buhari seemed to be acting as a steward of the past and present, arriving at a potpourri broth of good names sprinkled with dregs and suppressors of the people’s will, for political advantage.
However, with the current mood sweeping round the globe, it is apparent that the correct and most enduring memorialisation is in good deeds. For instance, Buhari does not have to erect any physical monument in Awolowo’s memory.
He is etched in Yoruba people’s memories and will continue to occupy that space till the end of time.
Centuries-old statues perceived to have been erected to honour individuals who fought wars protecting the institution of slavery were recently pulled down. What that means is that, while Buhari has the presidential power to play politics of memory by erecting monuments in remembrance of people who catch his fancy, they will be pulled down long after we are all gone, when the correct reading of our memories are shoveled out.
In fact, users of the railway corridors may not affix to them the names decreed by the President. I cite two examples to buttress this.
The popular Ring Road named after MKO Abiola in Ibadan, Oyo State is seldom so referred, while the New Garage road, never named after anyone, but built by a former Oyo governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala, is so memorialised ever since.
Buhari himself should bother about what monuments would be erected in his own memory decades to come.
Perhaps in Daura where he has been a son-of-the-soil made good? Or in the Fulani nation where he had successfully muzzled merit into the dustbin to favour his ethnicity? In Daura, in Buhari’s very eyes, his monuments – billboards – were pulled down some months ago by his own people. It should tell him that memorialisation is done by the people and has no place for politics.
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