Nseobong Okon-Ekong writes on the strange aloofness of President Muhammadu Buhari to plight of the average Nigerian
Nat King Cole’s classic, ‘Monalisa’ is playing on my mind as write. In fact, the title of this piece is inspired by that song. One of the lines says, ‘many dreams have been brought to your doorstep /they just lie there and they die there’. This is an apt description for the teeming number of frustrated Nigerians whose aspirations have suffered an unfortunate setback due to the many and enduring action and inaction of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Like Cole wondered about the humanity of Monalisa, I sometimes wonder if the President is made of flesh and blood. I will come back to other instances, but my immediate concern is the alleged poor treatment of delegates to the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Convention which recently affirmed the choice of Buhari as the party’s candidate for the 2019 presidential election.
This was supposed to be a happy event, a triumphant occasion for a much vilified man, who nonetheless was being given an overwhelming benefit of the doubt at a time when it is increasingly becoming a risk to identify openly with the President. While some may argue that it was not Buhari’s duty to ensure that the delegates were refreshed, was it beyond the President to go round and thank delegates for their support?
Some of these delegates have been reported to have died in different incidents of carnage on the road, while trying to return to their home states. Of course, it will be asking for too much to nudge the President to commiserate with them.
If he does feel the loss of his subjects who frequently attacked, maimed and killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen why should he bother a miserable party delegate, even if misfortune befell them when they came to ratify his position as the party’s presidential candidate?
In the APC elective National Convention that brought Adam Oshiomhole to office as National Chairman of the APC, Buhari was reading his speech when the widely reported ugly spectacle of violence perpetrated among delegates from Delta State occurred. Like clockwork, the President continued reading his speech to the end and left the podium without referring to it, almost as if he did not notice anything.
Many of Buhari’s die-hard loyalists like Pastor Usani Usani and High Chief Edem Duke in Cross River State are being rubished in their bid to become governor, but Buhari will not lift a finger to help them. Twice he has called a meeting of APC governors, since the highly accrimonious primaries. But indecisiveness is not helping the party. If the President seeks to be a respected mediator he should not be meeting with the governors alone. A stalemate definitely has two sides. How does he hope to restore normalcy when he is only talking to one side?
Increasingly, the President is being perceived and is actually acting as if he does not care if the who house collapses on everyone else as long as his little corner is safe. So he wants to win an election next, but he cannot call warring parties in party to order.
Recently, his wife, Aisha indicted the APC for impunity. The statement would have gone unnoticed as another case of bellyaching by sore opponents of it was coming from the woman in the President’s ‘other room’. More than once, Mrs Aisha Buhari has provided a mirror through which the President is seen by the larger public. As garrulous and reckless as former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, she never suggested by her statements that she may be chatting a different course from her husband. This is what Mrs. Buhari has done by unwittingly constituting herself to an opposition. On the flip side, it should be clear to discerning watchers that the President’s wife may be revolting to frustrations that she can barely cope with, meaning she is just as bewildered by her husband’s attitude as the rest of us.
One would have thought that if the presumption that the President was far-removed from the realities of the harsh economy facing the average Nigerian was correct, then it would be right to think he was being shield from home. Alas, Aisha has said time and again that her husband’s vision was being clouded by elements who are drawn to him for political benefits.
And we have seen the evidence in the prevarication of Buhari on issues that he ought to take a firm stand on. A President who lives in denial or is unconcerned about things that are happening around him cannot be said to be alive. It is within this contest that we can situate American President Donald Trump’s description of Mr. Buhari as a ‘lifeless’.
Indeed our President is dead to the feelings of his subjects. The malfunctioning barometer to gauge his capacities and performance are supplied by vindictive lieutenants like Governors Nasir el-Rufai and Ibikunle Amosun.