By, Israel A. Ebije
President Muhammadu Buhari has perfected the art and science of stealth, elusiveness amidst fabulous storylines that formed critical mass of supporters and detractors each time he travels for medication. He has eluded story tellers, doom prophets, agitators and indeed those who are on the speed lane to inherit his presidency. The president has again resurrected like a phoenix from the ashes of death to change his health narratives, which included dire prognosis and permutations.
The president may have laid low, distancing himself from his allies and appointees to let loose free for all stories from every corner of the country. Buhari may have remained incommunicado, seemingly unperturbed by critical views of Nigerians to study his “friends” and watch his “enemies”. All the dock and dive strategy of mr. president appears to be his master stroke in his political strategy under the circumstance of health challenge and critical views. Very crafty, but how instructive is what we must wait to savor.
When Femi Adeshina suddenly found ink in his pen to write the “Buhari and the descendants of Shimmei” piece, I knew there was more to it. He may have been told unequivocally that the president was not “incapacitated” and may soon return. For his image makers who are supposed to be authorities fit enough to parry blows from critics, this over 60 days threw a huge dent on their professional experiences. They were drowned by the myth around the health of their principal amidst voices of assertion.
President Buhari’s health myth may have strategic importance in sieving through his appointees to know friends from foes but it flipped in no small way creating bad energy with a critical mass set to almost explode before pictures of the visiting governors emerged. If not Buhari, I doubt if any Nigerian president would be given an open cheque to draw support even in daunting situation, which his health status brought upon him. Now I can cringe at his message of silence, knowing he could have spoken and shut critics up, knowing also he risked impeachment.
The political canvass has changed and may not be reflecting a painting of corpocracy a coinage of Fani Kayode of Nigeria allegedly ruled by a corpse. For the segmented cabals in the presidency and the APC, it is time for them to assess their role in the past 60 days. Already the wife of the president has declared the lion king (Buhari), will be back to deal with the hyenas and jackals (cabals). Certainly, the mythical strategy engaged by Buhari will haul undesirables in Buhari’s administration in a huge dragnet. How character, ambition of those to be weeded out will further development in the country when Buhari returns is another matter for discussion.
Haven considered the strategy of stealth, which created a myth around the president, it is instructive to intimate that Nigeria political tera firma has changed a great deal since the past two months. Just recently, the PDP has received a life line, APC goodwill wavered, regional agitators are throwing threats around, fight among fragmental cabals worsen. With less than two years to call it a wrap for the change administration, pundits believe he cannot pull through to put a real dent on the rot he met in 2015. Also, the senate is almost conclusive on granting amnesty to treasury looters. Already whistle blowers may find themselves behind bars if they are unlucky to use the whistle against “sacred cows”.
Buhari may not be a magician, but his political party made him look like a god. At first it was slow speed, later skewed war on corruption, regional appointments among others. While the likes of Muhathir Muhammed of Malasia, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and many more took more than two decades to change their countries for the best, the Buhari administration started with a trail of challenges, partly believed to be self induced.
Many Nigerians wanted the speed achieved by president John Magufuli of Tanzania. He came into government in 2015 with similar manifesto as Buhari. Already Tanzanians are seeing the changes. Sadly, Nigeria is still experiencing waste, corruption and very much of what many right thinking Nigerians voted against. With the available technologies of communications, it is needless to fly governors to London, to show he is healthy. The president could speak to Nigerians to prevent waste, which president Magufuli has done a good job of. It is told he once traveled 600 miles to attend a function, insisting the presidential aircraft was an unnecessary expense.
We can learn a lot of lessons from the Buhari undulating trip as president. Most importantly hate speeches, blackmail, vendetta, regionalism, which characterized APC campaigns and administrative position at the center has not helped any divide much. For the APC, they quickly ran out of everything, even the blame game flipped against them. The change quickly lost value among many Nigerians. Pundits recalled that the APC is bloating from a meal of karma, a reason why the likes of Fayose, Fani Kayode took vengeance to a whole new height (became reckless with words). We must say no to hate speeches and that must start now. Hate speech is for failures, those who have no craft or tact.
Ebije lives in Abuja, can be reached via: [email protected] or @ebijeisrael