Editor's note: Former presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati has written on the controversial medical vacation of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Abati decried the fact that Nigeria now have an absentee president who has been in London for over a month, even as he chided those who are supporting the president, adding that they are now embarrased and ashamed.
When 15 million plus Nigerians voted for President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 General elections, their expectation was that he would be available to serve them 24/7/365, and that those who fielded him as their candidate had done their home work to avoid what is curiously becoming the Katsina problem in Nigerian politics. Katsina! But we have now found ourselves in a situation whereby our President is now in London, for more than one month sir, ma, and we are here, and we have an acting President, who according to everybody, including the extremists and the mischievous, and the politically partisan, is beginning to try his best, with his admirers, now praying for the worst.
For that reason alone, we have an emotionally, politically and spiritually divided country on our hands. Don’t mind what they tell you, and don’t deceive yourself, the Nigerian Presidency is in turmoil. It is not our wish. It is not what the voters asked for. But that is how democracy works. You cannot predict the results that democracy produces. Not even in America. Or Russia.
Now that we have found ourselves in this situation, anyway – an absentee President trying to remain relevant and an acting President struggling to put up appearances, and struggling harder not to be seen to be ambitious (sorry, Prof. I was your student but I have something to say sir, I don’t mean any harm – truth be told), where should the Nigerian people stand? For the past one month, we have all been trapped in a post-truth situation, pretending as if all is normal. We should stop pretending.
Those who supported and are supporting the APC that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power and office cannot talk. They cannot talk due to embarrassment and shame. They are busy putting up a face. But for how long can they do this? The Nigerian media is also on its knees, looking so pitiable, with the exception of a few blogs, newspapers that we can’t even trust, professional media consultants who are in disarray, a few bloggers and then some gentlemen: Pa Ikhide, Farooq Kperogi, Sonala Olumhense, Omoyele Sowore, Pius Adesanmi and Okey Ndibe who have since been specially illuminated as they journeyed to Damascus.
PAY ATTENTION: Get the latest News on Legit.ng News App
I will return to this subject some other day. But I think right now, we should begin to take the subject of the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari more seriously. Bukola Saraki, our Senate President has visited him in London, twice, within two weeks. I don’t think we should leave this business of visiting the President to party chieftains, the executive and the Federal Legislature. If care is not taken, Senator Saraki may be tempted to visit the President again next week. And the week after and he may even be tempted to travel with all the members of the National Assembly. There must be equity in this matter.
Figure it out as follows: we all know that President Buhari is now in London and he is the man Nigerians chose as their President in 2015. We cannot forsake him. He is in London on working leave, for more than one month now, and we don’t know when that leave will end. We have been told it will end soon. Later. One day. Whenever. We are not God. Let the leave end when it will. But we, the people, have a duty to stand by our President. This is the point of this article. We are Africans. We have traditions. We respect elders. We don’t joke with old age. The time has come, right now, for Nigerians to behave like Africans.
We should, therefore, not leave this business of visiting to Senator Busola Saraki alone. Party chieftains have visited Mr President. The leadership of the National Assembly has also gone to London to be part of President Buhari’s working leave. I think Vice-President-Acting-President Yemi Osinabjo should also visit his boss, this week, next week, or ASAP. Henceforth, he should be in London at least once a week. Let us stop pretending that the President is not in charge. He is. If Aso Villa is now in London, let us make it work. The Acting President and the real President need quality face time. If the acting President must go to London everyday, let him do so, but don’t let us run Nigeria by telephone or DHL. Am I making sense? I am not talking about common sense. I mean real sense. So, do I make any sense at all?
After the Acting President’s visit, all former Presidents should also start going to London to see the President. Those former Presidents are not as harmless as they pretend to be. They are projected to the public as advisers but they are more than that: they all left something in Aso Villa that makes them eternally powerful. It is like leaving your DNA in a woman’s body. They should be allowed or perhaps encouraged to visit President Buhari while he is on working leave. I think our Baba in Abeokuta, Ota and Ibogun should be the first to visit. That may negate the order of seniority, but trust the Ebora Owu to return from London with front-page news! After him, the others can start visiting and probably advise on the possibility of holding a Council of State meeting in London. As it were, the Nigerian Constitution does not insist that the Council of State Meeting must be held inside Nigeria. The main subject of that first historic, diaspora, Council of State Meeting should be phrased by OBJ in his own unique way: “Momodu: are you well or sick?”
There is something called the separation of powers. I don’t want to disrespect mi’lords but I think they too should go to London. The National Judicial Council (NJC) should put together a high-powered delegation of judges from every part of the country, from all divisions, and level, to proceed post-haste to London to visit, no, to confer with President Buhari on matters of judicial interest to the nation. But Sirs, don’t go there and talk about the welfare of judges, or the non-payment of your entitlements – if you try that, well, I won’t be in a position to tell you what awaits you on your return.
After the judges, okay may be the Nigerian Bar Association should also send a delegation, but I don’t trust many of our lawyers. They think they know the law, and they could go to London and say things that will disrupt the President’s working leave. To make that impossible, members of the NBA should be booked on an Arik flight to London, please. But if they get there, fine. The next delegation should be that of Permanent Secretaries. These ones should spend more than a week in London with the President. In fact, they can stay with him till he returns. If they also have medical issues, they should use the opportunity to ask for tests, with the condition that they must return immediately the President leaves London, notwithstanding the status of their own medical tests!
Once the permanent secretaries have been fully accommodated in London, the ministers, those who were once dismissed by their own employer as “noise-makers”, and who have proven to be no better, should also visit London. They can go ahead and make as much noise as they wish in London and even enjoy the benefit of a full Federal Executive Council meeting. I suspect that this will be a particularly productive FEC meeting. If the people in the foreign affairs ministry know what they are doing, however, they would arrange ahead of that meeting in London, a special meeting with Theresa May, Prime Minister of Great Britain, followed by a dinner with Her Majesty the Queen of England, with a proviso, please, please, please, that nobody should bring up the issue of Biafra or Southern Kaduna after shaking the Queen’s hand, and there should be a strict guarantee that President Buhari will be accompanied by his extremely beautiful wife, Aisha, and he will not, meeting the Queen, no matter how excited, make the mistake of referring to “za oza room”.
Stop laughing, my friend; this is how you people cause problems for innocent writers. What I am now trying to add having made all these points above, is that the Governors’ Forum should also visit President Buhari in London. The governors have already signified their intention to do so and that seems to be fine with the Nigerian public. The governors should therefore appoint representatives who should proceed to London. When they meet with the president, they should hold a special prayer session with three prayer points: one, that President Buhari will not work for another person to come and eat; two: that the demons of Aso Rock will spare and forgive him and his family; three: that President Buhari will return to Nigeria with his two feet. The governor to lead the prayer should be Peter Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state.
If he starts sounding as he has been sounding in recent times, Nasir el-Rufai should be asked to take the microphone from him. And if Nasir sounds like he is playing politics, as he has been doing, Adams Oshiomhole who will like to be there anyway, as a Governor ex-officio, should be given the microphone and asked to pray for the President as best as he can or as best as Trotsky could.
I have left out some people. In the past month, some Imams and ulamas and concerned relatives have been reported in the media, holding prayer sessions for a hale and hearty President who is just in London to enjoy the weather and do some quality check-ups, private and public. These prayer warriors have prayed and prayed in Abuja, Daura, Borno and everywhere else. The matter is so serious that nobody should be surprised if Rochas Okorocha or James Ibori organises a prayer session for Muhammadu Buhari. This is the biggest business in Nigeria at this moment.
I think, therefore, that we should also encourage the ulamas and the imams to visit. Let them go to London and pray for their President. We have been told they have been sending prayers through skype, WhatsApp and the air, the same channels that GSM service providers in Nigeria now want to block. Let the imams go to London then and let the verses of the Holy Quoran rain down. It will be unfair not to allow Christian leaders to go to London too. They are also anxious to go to London. Pastor Tunde Bakare, my beloved, secondary school senior should lead that team. His job should be to screen out any Pastor with Biafra, or Southern Kaduna or pro-PDP blood in him or her. I mean Pastors like Reno Omokri, Ebun Adegboruwa…. you get what I am saying? The prayer should be commissioned!
READ ALSO: Presidency not sincere about the true state of Buhari’s health - Adebanjo
Traditional rulers, bloggers, public intellectuals, trolls, and journalists! Oh, I almost forgot. I think we should also be invited to London to have tea with the president.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.
Your own opinion articles are welcome at email@example.com — drop an email telling us what you want to write about and why. More details in Legit.ng’s step-by-step guide for guest contributors.
We’re ready to trade your news for our money: submit news and photo reports from your area using our Citizen Journalism App.
Contact us if you have any feedback, suggestions, complaints or compliments. We are also available on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to Legit.ng Opinion page!