Turning Our President To Chameleon – By Femi Akintunde-Johnson
Turning Our President To Chameleon
(When warriors and rumors rule the waves)
By Femi Akintunde-Johnson
Nigerians love their rumours…and for decades gossip has materialised into national pastime.
When President Muhammadu Buhari left our shores on January 19, 2017, we were told it was for a short vacation with a slight detour to the doctor’s office for a check up. Merely 10 working days! (see Femi Adesina’s “timelines” below).
But less than four days after his exit, the rumour mill began the usual swirl: oh, he was “rushed out of Nigeria”… his Maniere ailment (some exotic ear infection) had dived south, making him faint and disoriented. Any wonder, no one saw him leave (smoothly ignorant or disbelieving exit pictures of the gaunt looking grandfather lavishly flaunted all over the internet!)
By the first week of his absence, the Nigerian media space was in overdrive. Incredible photos and gists of his health deterioration escalated, and took on million pexels of fading Buharis. Then, care was thrown abroad, and cynical obituaries and “in-memoriams” littered the net. Creative in mischief and misogyny… A Buhari was seen wheeled into surgery… one whose cousin worked in a London specialist facility “heard” him scream after an unsuccessful surgery… then he was advised to resign before he slipped into coma…! Days later, the chief exponent of that drivel had his twitter account yanked off the platform which is home to nearly 1 billion people!
Back at home, the frenzy was equally electric. Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the quiet VP of the quieter ailing president was under the crush as some 2010-type cabal, (or was it the 19 northern governors ensconced in Kaduna?) was busy plotting the entrapment, and subsequent resignation of the former Lagos state attorney-general, so that another GEJ is not fatedly foisted upon us…
To each twist of the twirling tales, the Presidency information operatives strived to dilute and dissipate, to some avail. Pictures and paragraphs were churned out to show the maverick Mallam in languid repose, seemingly enjoying his break from the violent combustion that is daily life in Nigeria. Yet the best efforts of the Presidency were rain drops on the backs of firefighters decked in spacesuits….impervious!
The long-throated devotees of presidential tidbits cried for the “true situation” with the President’s health status, obviously unsatisfied with daily announcement of “no cause for alarm” drizzling from Aso Rock. An impasse had built up, where information and rumours merged, and every hour had its own “revelations”. Photoshop illustrator became the next i-better-pass-my-neighbour generator! And flailing presidential spokesmen soon changed gloves, sparing with fame-ric interlopers at any junction, including live radio shows!
The back and forth soon changed strategies… Men and women of notable appearance, even if opinions were split on their character, began a steady pilgrimage to “visit” the holidaying President (read that as “fact-finding mission”)… Several pictures and prose were enlisted to debunk or support, depending on who’s sharing them. The Inspector General of Police supposedly led a “spy team” (some are still awaiting their official report). Mrs. Daisy Danjuma allegedly led the womenfolk (surely, we are not told if Madam “Other Room” was involved). Govs. Ibikunle Amosun, Gbenga Daniel, Ashiwaju Tinubu, Baba Bisi Akande, etc left their “busy schedules” to help hyperventilating Nigerians understand “the problem” with the President.
Many reviewers were cheated out of the game, as it was becoming difficult to ridicule the august visiting presences….since they weren’t “ghost workers”… And none of them has refuted the pictorial evidence…. So the narratives zoomed on the medical tourist’s seeming “standard dress code” which like his frame is straightforward earthy and brown. Experts on body-language and sitting-positions thrived… Potential spokesmen began the patriotic sacrifice of thrashing current spokesmen, shuffling them under all sorts of buses for not getting “firm grips on the information flow” – in other simpler words, they would have done a much better job, even if they’d never spoken for anything more demanding than the neighbourhood watchmen!
Then, the bottom of the kettle dropped rancorously when the President missed his February 6 return date. Oh, my God! The “spokes” simply came out of the wheels, shattering the media space (both social and graphical)… All sorts of tantrums drowned the whining explanations of the spokesmen. To the army of unbelievers, it was the last thunder nail on the mallam’s coffin. Soon “condolence messages” started mushrooming like fufu wraps at Mushin markets: Mama Charlie, no less the Queen of England, “commiserated with bereaved Nigerians”… And the AU would not be found wanting: it also registered its sadness at the “tragic passing of a great African leader”…!
Many waited with peculiar knowing wink for the official roll-out of national mourning holidays, and another round of constitutional push-me-i-push-you. It was gradually shaping up to be a grand tragicomedy we are somehow blessed to reenact and deliver with all the flourish associated with producers and consumers of the invisible air!
Yet, the President has not returned. No guarantees that civility in public space will return soon enough either. We await the next trigger… to set our teeth on edge again!
INFO TUG-OF-WAR: FEMI ADESINA’S HISTORICAL FACEBOOK TIMELINE – JAN/FEB, 2017
PRESIDENT BUHARI PROCEEDS ON VACATION
President Muhammadu Buhari leaves for the United Kingdom today on a short leave, which is part of his annual vacation. He is expected to resume work on February 6, 2017.
During the vacation, the President will also undergo routine medical check-ups.
In line with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the President of the Senate, and Speaker, House of Representatives, have been duly communicated.
While away, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, will perform the functions of the Office of the President.
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
January 19, 2017.
PRESIDENT BUHARI WATCHING HIS S.A MEDIA ON CHANNELS T.V
S.A MEDIA AS GUEST OF CITY 105.1 F.M STATION IN LAGOS
S.A MEDIA AT JAMZ 100.1 F.M, IBADAN
S.A MEDIA AT BROADCASTING CORPORATION OF OYO STATE
PRESIDENT BUHARI EXTENDS VACATION, WRITES NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly today, February 5, 2017, informing of his desire to extend his leave in order to complete and receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors.
The President had planned to return to Abuja this evening, but was advised to complete the test cycle before returning. The notice has since been dispatched to the Senate President, and Speaker, House of Representatives.
Mr. President expresses his sincere gratitude to Nigerians for their concern, prayers and kind wishes.
FEMI ADESINA – February 5, 2017