OP-UNEDITED | One Presidency, Two Branches! – By Abraham Ogbodo
By Abraham Ogbodo
What is happening? Why is everywhere so quiet? President Buhari has been away in London since May 10 to follow up on the treatment of a yet to be known medical condition by British doctors and nobody has visited to relay back home stories of how the President is doing. This is not good enough. It did not happen like this the last time. Then, people flew in and out of London with the same ease that civil servants living in Kubwa go to and return from work in Abuja.
Even Lai Mohammed is not saying anything. Now, nobody is able to tell if the President is hale and hearty and has only decided to work from London in spite of the inauguration of a Coordinating/Acting President. Nobody has stepped forth to relay details of a telephone conversation they had with the President.
There is danger in this kind of ominous silence. Enemies like some PDP politicians can cash in on it to spread dangerous rumour. For instance, apart from wild rumour of the President’s death, the Chief Army Staff Tukur Buratai mid last week announced that there had been pressure on the military from sundry quarters to do something. He did not fully elaborate and what followed was a cocktail of wild interpretations with some saying the warning from the army chief was a clear call by some politicians on the military to stage a coup.
Aaaah! Coup ke? The last time that word was used to describe political events in Nigeria was on November 17, 1993 when Chief Ernest Shonekan who was head of the then Interim National Government (ING) announced that he was stepping aside to allow peace to reign. The ING was a hurried contraption by former military President Ibrahim Babangida as he fled the presidency to stem anarchy after a mismanaged and failed transition. As it turned out, Chief Shonekan did not step aside on his own accord but was asked to do so by General Abacha who stepped in immediately to become a maximum ruler and there was nothing Nigerians could do about him until death intervened.
After Abacha, the usage of the word – coup – had not been too rampant except on one occasion at the Senate in the 1999 – 2003 dispensation when a certain Senator Joseph Waku whose last name rhymes with coup openly canvassed for the overthrow of President Olusegun Obasanjo on account of some imagined infractions against the sound principles of democracy by him (President Obasanjo). In fact, I am doubtful if young persons under age 25 understand the word. We have had some democracy or government without uniformed persons running for 18 years without the interruptions of coups!
It has never been this good before in Nigeria. And so, if the head of the army is saying things that sound like call to oust the ailing President and thereby derail the hard-earned 17-year old Nigeria’s Fourth Republic and re-introduce coup in the national political lexicon, I think enough grounds have been provided for every Nigerian to get worried. For a start, as many well-wishers as possible should go on a pilgrimage to London to reassure the President. This is one pilgrimage that can be officially sponsored without the usual controversies. In fact, the National Assembly should recall and rework the 2017 budget to make provisions for the London Pilgrimage.
Although Femi Fani-Kayode has said; “if anything happens to Buhari, nothing will happen and Nigeria will move on” I am still very worried. Apart from the Buratai’s warning, something else in the air calls for urgency. A body called Northern Elders has promised to defend Buhari’s Presidency at all costs and against all invaders. I don’t understand! Is Buhari’s Presidency (as if the presidency has become a personal estate) under any threat of invasion? If it is, who are the invaders and are they internal or external and do they include death caused by old age or other natural factors? And where was it decided that the defence of the presidency is a matter for only Northerners?
In between, another Northern elder called Junaid Mohammed warned that the North has decided to keep the presidency under Buhari or any other northerner until 2027. He sounded so authoritative and real that after reading him, I asked around to be reassured by others if democracy was still on course in Nigeria or something I wasn’t aware of happened somewhere along the line to change the rules and make leadership recruitment under a democratic structure the express wish of one man.
I don’t need answers as such. Right now, the presidency has two branches in Abuja and London and in the face of ongoing rhetoric by the Northern elders the need to bridge the spatial gap in spite of the copious challenges and consolidate the presidency under Buhari has become even more urgent. After all, the presidency is not a commercial bank that operates branches. It must remain consolidated by fire, by thunder! I can tell that it is this seemingly absence of nexus for a whole two weeks between the London and Abuja branches that is agitating the minds of the elders from the North. Lai Mohammed should make it a duty, at least thrice a week, to make public the transmission of instructions from Abuja House London to Aso RocK Villa Abuja.
This time, Lai doesn’t have to lie about anything. He should do well to source dramatic photographs of Buhari in telephone communication with men on ground in Abuja; namely Yemi Osinbajo, Bukola Saraki, Yakubu Dogara, members of the indeterminate cabal and other persons of consequence, including Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and cause same to be generously exposed in national dailies. It is a national assignment and I promise to do my part diligently. Aisha too can be encouraged to say a few things occasionally to support the claims of Lai Mohammed.
This is the only way to tell those Northern elders that the presidency is one and Buhari is still in charge. Above all, the approach will remove unnecessary pressure from the shoulders of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who is being seen as an undeserving usurper of the Northern throne. Let us try and be kind to this innocent man. He was doing well as a law teacher and practitioner before this whole wahala of being deputy to an ailing and absentee President and the arising task of having to expand vertically almost too often to sustain operations in a substantive status.Osinbajo only bargained to be Vice President in 2014 without deep consideration for the exigencies of the moment. But in the context of the failing health of President Buhari, part of the Northern establishment is seeing Osinbajo as a deliberate calculation by the Southwest to snatch back the Presidency so soon after Obasanjo’s eight years; between 1999 and 2007. It is a fallacy that has been elevated to mainstream thinking of the Northern political establishment.
Unfortunately, in the obsession to undo Osinbajo and the Southwest, no Northern elder is referring to the clairvoyant projections of Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, who painted the current scenario well ahead of time. It was left for all sides to exercise caution but none did because there was a big prize – the presidency – to be taken. The prize was taken but the fulfillment of victory appears lost in the aftermath. Ultimately, the chickens are coming home to roost and time has come for the main fixer of the APC power deal namely Ashiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the Jagaban Borgu to rise to the defence of democracy in Nigeria. It is not beyond him; he can do it.
Abraham Ogbodo is the Editor of The Guardian
Inspired by Steve Biko’s ‘I Write What I Like‘, OP-UNEDITED is the citizen opinion segment of SIGNAL. All opinions posted on the OP-UNEDITED page are unedited and the raw opinions of the writers.
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