THE AILING PRESIDENT AND THE COMING CONFLAGRATION IN NIGERIA
By Prince Okparaibea
If the United Kingdom’s Foreign Minister, Boris Johnson, can describe the Leader of the Opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, as a “mutton-headed old mugwump” and an “Islington herbivore” how on earth should we describe our very own President Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria?
As each day passes he looks more and more like the colourful creature called Golum in J.R. Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ and behaves more and more like the goblyns and orcs in that same book.
This is a man who came back from the United Kingdom as an ailing and fading ghost and who, despite all entreaties and pleas from men and women of goodwill, has refused to resign.
Since he came back he has not been seen in any public function, apart from the usual Friday mosque prayers, and he has not presided over or been able to attend any of the weekly National Executive Council meetings in the last three weeks.
Worse still when his high profile and once very powerful Secretary to the Federal Government, Babachir “the Grass cutter” Lawal was asked what his reaction was to the fact that he had just been suspended and stripped of his job by the Presidency, he asked, in a contemptuous and condescending manner, “who is the Presidency?”
I worked in the Villa as spokesman to President Olusegun Obasanjo 13 years ago for three good years before I was appointed as a Minister and joined his cabinet and I recognise the import of that loaded question.
Simply put the SGF was asking the journalist that put the question to him who exactly had suspended him in the Presidency because, as far as he was concerned, the President was no longer in control and other individuals are now making unauthorised decisions in his name and on his behalf without his knowledge.
That is how badly things have degenerated in Buhari’s government as different forces and factions are attempting to grab the space and fill the widening power vacuum.
Again three curious events took place in the last few days which all confirm this dangerous state of affairs.
Firstly a Punch Newspaper reporter was marched out of the Villa by the President’s Chief Security Officer, without any reference to the President’s media team or aides, simply because he wrote a story suggesting that the President’s ailment was getting worse.
Secondly as many as 20 Ministers and the President’s Chief of Staff refused to attend the last Federal Executive Council meeting which was presided over by Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President.
This begs the following questions: was this a well-orchestrated protest and boycott or was it just holiday-time for all those Ministers that were absent?
Thirdly the lying Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, happily told Nigerians that the President “needed to rest” and would henceforth “not attend NEC meetings” but would instead be “working from home”.
He also said that from now on all files that needed to be treated should be sent to the Presidents sitting room!
Do we need to hear anything else before we can safely come to the conclusion that our President is no longer himself and is indeed on his way out?
Whilst all this was going on and the confusion continued to brew another complicated and dangerous mess was silently unfolding in the background.
This is of course the deadly, venomous and utterly shameful snake fight of double-speak, treachery and betrayal that is going on between Ibrahim Magu and his EFCC on the one hand and Ayo Oke and his NIA on the other with the National Security Advisor, Babagana Mongunu, dancing somewhere in between.
With accusations and counter-accusations from all sides they are all dancing naked in the streets like madmen and bringing shame and opprobrium to the institutions that they lead and to our nation and people.
This is indeed bedlam in its fullest and most pristine form. It is worse than the cacophony of the loud, strange and divided tongues that bellowed and screeched from the biblical Tower of Babel.
A situation where the intelligence and security agencies are merrily “Tarkaring” and “Daboing” themselves before the entire world and exposing one another’s dirty little secrets all in a squalid attempt to gain the upper hand in an unfolding internal struggle for power and supremacy, is not good for the country and is even worse for the government that they all claim to serve.
The bottom line is that the Presidency is in utter disarray and confusion and the health of the President, despite all pretentions, is obviously getting far worse and is degenerating by the day.
Last week one rather bold commentator went as far as to describe him as looking like a “bag of skin and bones” and described him as a “walking ghost”.
Many, including some of those around him, are wondering why he does not just resign, hand over the reins of power to his Vice President and go back to Daura to take care of his health.
Does he find it so difficult to let go? Has his desire to hold on to power at all costs become as obsessive, compelling and all-consuming as Golum’s “precious ring?”
Does our country not deserve to have a president that is physically and mentally fit and that is hale and hearty?
The fact of the matter is that for those of us that are not in the corridors of power but that are in the know, all this is very disturbing.
The truth is that the consequences of such confusion and turbulence for a nation that is not only suffering the worst economic recession in its history but that is also going through the greatest pain, trauma, division, strife, butchery, hardship and suffering since its civil war, are dangerous and unimaginable.
Yet sadly it gets even worse. The most troubling assertion that is making the rounds is that the President has lost it to such a degree and that he is so incapacitated by his health challenges that he is hardly ever lucid.
We are told that consequently the country is now being run by a small band of unelected, dark and evil men and obsessive, paranoid, unstable, dangerous, volatile, ruthless, power-obsessed, ethnic and religious ultra-conservative cabals who have simply refused to let him resign in peace and who are covertly making all the decisions and are actually running the country.
When one marries this explosive cocktail to the fact that many are fully aware of what will happen in our country if Buhari dies while on the throne it is enough to give us all sleepless nights about the future.
That fear is compounded by the utterly chilling and callous public comments made by one Inusa Saidu Biu who claims to be an officer in the Nigerian Police Force.
A few days ago he said that Buhari had been “poisoned by his enemies” (meaning southerners and Christians) and that if the President dies he would personally “shoot 200 people dead”.
His assertion and threat, made openly and publicly on his Facebook page, in full police uniform whilst carrying weapons and hardware, says a lot and invokes deep concern.
The truth is that Biu’s words betray the mindset and reflects the thinking of millions of people from Buhari’s core northern constituency, who think like him, who do not give a damn about anything or anyone other than Buhari, who see the President as their god and who are ready to kill for him at the drop of a hat.
There are literally millions of murderous and genocidal maniacs like Biu crawling all over the landscape and under the woodwork of the core north and who are waiting to vent their spleen and anger and shed oceans of innocent blood in the event of anything untoward happening to the President.
Sadly all this sounds familiar.
Does anyone remember what sparked off the genocide that took place in Rwanda in the 1990’s?
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It all started when the Hutu President was killed in a plane crash and the Hutus were told that the plane had been shot down by their rival Tutsis.
The result was that in the space of one month close to one million Tutsis were hacked to death and butchered in their homes by Hutu mobs who were motivated by nothing but hate and a desire to effect revenge.
The rhetoric of people like Biu points in this direction. Only they will kill far more than one million if given half a chance.
The truth is that we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder in this country and I sincerely hope and pray that the Presidents health improves and some measure of order, predictability, sanity, peace and stability is restored.
If this happens we will have the historic opportunity to organise ourselves and vote the APC out in a peaceful election in 2019 but if it does not and Buhari dies before the end of his tenure, no-one in his right mind should expect a smooth transition of power to the Vice President.
This is because the cabal and Buhari’s hard-line supporters and foot soldiers simply despise him and will not allow it to happen.
If the President dies whilst on the throne there will be chaos, carnage and destruction on an unprecedented and massive scale in our country because his core northern support- base will unleash mayhem on Nigeria and particularly on southerners and Christians that reside in the north.
What they fail to appreciate is that if that were to happen there will be an equally massive and unprecedented retaliation from the south and from the people of the Middle Belt and Nigeria will not survive it.
It is unfortunate that things have come to this but let no-one make any mistake: the will of the south must not be tested.
We are ready for the very worse and whether anyone likes it or not southern unity and solidarity is on the rise.
Gone are the days that our people will be butchered at will in the morbid quest for northern Muslim power and in an attempt to perpetuate Hausa-Fulani hegemony without a robust and equally devastating response.
We pray for our President: that God will forgive him of his many sins, grant him good health and spare his life but we also warn those that are planning to harm our people to sheath their swords before they set off a chain of events that will cause an unprecedented, historic and massive conflagration on the African continent, the likes of which have never been seen before.