President Buhari

Presidential Broadcast and Other Stories

By Reuben Abati

“Baba don come oh. Baba o yo yo, Baba Bubu o yo yo”

“What is that?”

“Eh, o yo yo”

“If you are this excited about President Buhari’s return, then why didn’t you go to Abuja to welcome him when he arrived from England on Saturday.”

“I didn’t have to”

“After 104 days on medical vacation in London. You should have been there to show your loyalty, and your commitment to change.”

“There were other people there. They serenaded Baba all the way from the airport to the Villa. That is how you know a popular leader.”

“Don’t get over-excited, my friend. Those people were paid N2, 000 each. They shared money the same way the pro-Buhari protesters who challenged the Charly Boy group shared money. You should know when a crowd has been rented.”

“Whatever. We thank God that Baba is back. We are just waiting for those people who threatened to commit suicide if the President returns home alive to go straight ahead and do so.”

“Nobody said that.”

“But you know some people didn’t want him back.”

“On the contrary, everybody wanted him back. The resume or resign protesters wanted him back. They put him and his doctors under pressure. The President’s return is a kind of triumph for civil society. We can see that the people still have power. Once the Charly Boy group began to protest and the whole thing almost resulted in ethnic riots, I knew something was going to give.”

“Nothing gave. The President had said he would return whenever his doctors ordered him to do so and that was what happened”

“How naïve? Let me tell you. You will recall that when the #Ourmumudondo movement…”

“Those mumus. Baba will show them. Very irresponsible elements”

“I like their kind of irresponsibility because when the Buhari police decided to shut them down, with rented counter-protesters, and police brutality, they simply moved their protest to the UK, and North America. The people you call Mumus went straight to Abuja House in London and set up shop directly in front of President Buhari’s bedroom. One night vigil and shouts of Baba, resume or resign, the President had to suspend his medical vacation and leave London. He didn’t wait for another night vigil. People power. I salute the Mumus. Their Mumu don do, true true.”

“You are beginning to sound irresponsible. The President obeyed only doctor’s orders.”

“Okay, may be you are right. It is just that we don’t even know what the President is being treated for. He and his handlers won’t tell us. But they probably figured it out that if Nigerians in the UK are allowed to hold night vigil under the President bedroom in London, their noise-making will not allow him to sleep, and that could cause other problems. The noise could even affect his ears. Nigerians are very good at shouting, and in London, nobody will allow that kind of ethnic conflict that happened at Wuse market.”

“I hope you know Baba has promised to deal with political mischief-makers. You better be careful”.

“What have I said that is wrong? I am just saying that Baba’s London doctors gave him marching orders to resume because they know there is something called medical politics, or political medicine.”

“There is no such thing.”

“Where the health of a national leader is involved, there is always politics involved, international politics in this case. What if I tell you that President Buhari’s departure from London probably had the hands of the MI6 in it? What if the actual order to go and resume and return came from British Intelligence, through his doctors?”

“What is important is that Baba is well and all his detractors have been put to shame. Insha Allah, Baba will lead us in good health to the promised land of change. And if you want to be honest, you will agree with me that Baba’s return has stabilized the polity.”

“I agree with that. I am a honest man. In fact, I always prayed for the President to get well. It is in our collective best interest for President Buhari to be well, and for him to complete his tenure. We need him more than we think, if we want Nigeria to remain one and in peace till 2019.”

“Nothing will happen to Baba, insha Allah.”

“Amin”

“And now that the lion is back, every rodent, hyena and jackal in the forest had better beware. That much was made clear in the President’s broadcast. Let those who have ears listen and listen carefully.”

“I don’t like that speech.”

“What don’t you like about it?”

“It sounded like a speech written by an ex-soldier for an ex-soldier. “

“It reflects President Buhari’s style, how is that a problem?”

“The President’s return after 3 months on medical vacation is a great moment. But that national broadcast was underwhelming. The President failed to seize the moment. That speech was a routine speech. No literary flourish, too short, too cryptic, too contemptuous.”

“The President is back to the country to provide leadership, not to compete with Wole Soyinka in literature.”

“The speech is full of illogicalities, platitudes and non-sequiturs. Nobody will remember it.”

“The speech shows the President taking charge and warning all mischief-makers and irresponsible elements to beware. And that includes people who go to the social media and cross national red lines with useless comments, questioning our existence as a nation”.

“Is the President accusing some people of treasonable felony, because when he says national red lines, I don’t know what that means? Is it treasonable to ask for the restructuring of Nigeria?”

“Don’t rewrite the speech. The President says Nigeria’s unity is settled and it is non-negotiable.”

“Very wrong statement. Nigeria’s unity is not settled. It is certainly not settled. Since 1914, Nigeria has been a subject of continuous negotiation.”

“Baba has said his own. Terrorists and criminals who don’t want Nigeria to have peace will be destroyed.”

“Destroyed. That again is the problem with that speech. Too aggressive. Wrong message. Wrong timing. He goes on medical vacation for 3 months and the first thing he does is to issue threats.”

“The President took an oath to defend the Nigerian Constitution. Terrorists and criminals are enemies of the Constitution. If anyone is in doubt, one of the first meetings the President held was with the Security Chiefs. He has returned from London to restore order and discipline. Kidnappers, violent farmers and pastoralists, Boko Haram, ethnic gladiators, social media children of anger, Baba don come oh, Baba o yo yo.”

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“Baba says “destroy relentlessly, reinforce, reinvigorate.” He says there is a national consensus that it is better for us to live together than to live apart. Apparently, someone must have been lying to the President, misinforming him. There can’t be any consensus when Nnamdi Kanu and other Biafrans want to secede, Afenifere is talking about Oduduwa Republic and Arewa Youths have given Igbos an October 1 ultimatum to ship out of the North.”

“Those are exactly the irresponsible elements the President is talking about. That’s why he also reassured Nigerians that they are free to live anywhere without let or hindrance.”

“The President spoke for six minutes and he was talking tough throughout. I don’t think those he calls irresponsible elements are going to stop talking because he says government is ready to destroy. The President missed the opportunity to use that speech to full effect. If I had been asked to edit it, I would have written it differently. I would have made it the speech of a statesman, promoting and encouraging dialogue and patriotism. I would have commended Osinbajo and the security agencies. I would have inserted some statements about the achievements of the administration. I would have included a major policy move: like dissolve the cabinet and send a list of new Ministers to the National Assembly. The whole world was waiting for that speech!”

“You like to dream.”

“The President could have given the speech some historic weight and value. He failed to do so. He could have in fact, dissolved the cabinet.”

“I don’t think so.”

“But one of your people, Okorocha, the Governor of Imo State, even said something similar. He wanted the Cabinet dissolved.”

“You expect the President to sack all the Ministers who came to receive him at the airport and who visited him in London, organized prayers and supporters, the first day he resumes office? You are an irresponsible element. The President is a wise man. I stand with Buhari.”

“Keep standing. One of these days, your legs will start paining you. I hope you know that irresponsible sycophancy can give someone arthritis.”

“I am not a sycophant. I am a teller of truths. And I believe the President used exactly the kind of words Nigerians will understand.”

“My only response is that you are at least better than that self-seeking sycophant who is Governor of Kogi state. What’s that his name again? Can you believe the fellow declared a work-free day to welcome President Buhari back to Nigeria? What nonsense!”

“What’s your own? The people of Kogi and the state House of Assembly members are not complaining.“

“It is the height of irresponsibility. In case you are from Kogi state, you better tell that your Governor to get his acts together. When he is not quarreling with other politicians, he is building personal houses on public spaces, and now, he is declaring an irresponsible public holiday. I won’t be surprised if he declares a one-week holiday in Kogi state when he gets to hear that President Buhari has also resumed duties fully in za ozza room.”

“You always like to talk about the President’s other room. Your interest in that room will get you into trouble one of these days, and you would have used your mouth to declare yourself an irresponsible element. You could even receive punishment worse than that of terrorists and criminals.”

“I am exercising my right to free speech.”

“Free speech. Leave that thing. Those who engaged in free speech before you went behind secretly to go and apologise. Even Ojukwu recanted and went to Daura to apologise. He led the Biafran secession in the First Republic but in 2003, he went to visit Baba in Daura and agreed with him that Nigeria must remain one and united. Just watch what you say.”

“I don’t believe that Ojukwu tale in the President’s broadcast. It sounds like a tale by the moonlight.”

“Are you trying to say that the President is lying? Hmm. You know you are my friend, stop saying irresponsible things. I sincerely don’t want you to be destroyed. Even Nnamdi Kanu is beginning to lie low. He no longer wants to disrupt the Anambra elections in November and he has just been told that even his hero, Ojukwu later became an apostle of national integration.”

“Ojukwu is not alive to defend himself. It is always easy to say anything about the dead. The President could have made his point without dragging Ojukwu into his speech.”

“The way this speech is peppering you, you sound like you are looking for a speech writing job.”

“By the way, I thought I also heard the President saying the National Assembly and the National Council of State are the legitimate and appropriate bodies for national discourse. What exactly is he saying? Please educate me.”

“The President does not owe you an explanation.”

“Are you the President?”

“Anything Baba says or does is okay by me.”

“This is the thing. There is some kind of mass hypnotism eating people up.”

“Baba is back. Every irresponsible element will be dealt with and destroyed relentlessly.”

“You are evading my question. If you care to know, legitimacy is derived from the people, not from the National Assembly and certainly not from the Council of State, which in any case, is just an advisory body. The country’s sovereignty is in the hands of the people not their representatives and it is important to allow open dialogue and the freedom of expression. That is why the Constitution says “We, the people…” and not “We, the National Assembly and the National Council of State.”

“You know what?”

“What?”

“I think you should just calm down and not have hypertension. The President spoke for just six minutes. You have been squeaking and rumbling like a Chinco fan for more than 15 minutes. Easy, man.”

“I hope and pray that Baba will resume work fully, and not announce, after a few weeks, that his doctors have again ordered him back to London.”

“If he has to see his doctors, you can’t sweat over that. So, stop grumbling, my friend.”

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