SUNDAY NARRATIVE: Let’s Go See Our President-elect
IF you have not gone to see our President-elect since Nigerians put a smile on his face and our faces on March 28, it could be said that you are not being patriotic. If you did not make it to Daura, his hometown in Katsina State, and you also did not make it to his home along Sultan Road, Angwa Rimi, Kaduna, as well as his office in Jabi Road, Kaduna, all this while, then chances are that you may not meet Gen, Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) one-on-one, before he is inaugurated president of the Federal Republic. Not meeting him and having a handshake and smile with him before the doors are shut could mean that he might not remember you or what your face looks like. If you have not appeared in any newspaper photograph with GMB, and not likely to do so before May 29, then you have missed out big time.
After the presidential elections, Buhari stayed back in Daura for the governorship and state Assembly elections. In that process of waiting, he played host to a good number of patriotic Nigerians, who fell over one another just to have a glimpse and perhaps, a handshake, with this great man. It was a great assignment receiving the horde of visitors and a great deal of energy on his part. Crowd control was also a headache and there were reports that some well-meaning Nigerians who did not get to Daura early enough were told to go back home.
That was the report we heard, that some para-military chiefs went to see the man in Daura, but were turned back. The media arm of the presidential campaign organisation of the All Progressives Congress denied that story. It is part of the assignment of the team to deny such stories even if they were true. And that is not even the point here. We are saying that it was a blunder on the part of the visitors to have missed a golden opportunity. Why for God’s sake will you get that far to Daura and you will not seize the opportunity to behold Buhari and take a few shots with him? I think they did not wake up early enough, especially, that Civil Defence man. The man was told to go and monitor elections, but he ended up in Daura. He was not even smart enough to meet Buhari one-on-one, maybe that was why Jonathan did not fire him. If he had met Buhari and send out the pictures, that would have been sufficient material to fire him. I think he was lucky.
For those who are not appointees of the outgoing Federal Government and have no need to fear, there is still opportunity to see Buhari before the doors of Aso rock are shut against you. Between now and inauguration, we are told Buhari will be in Abuja, to continue the assignment of receiving visitors. But you have to be smart, because his handlers are trying to be smart too. We are told that his whereabouts is no longer a subject of public knowledge, not because of anything else other than crowd control. Handlers, who either sell dummies or refuse to sell anything, routinely beat even journalists in this game of trailing Buhari. If your editor sends you to cover GMB, you have to be smart to know your way around.
For others, there is always a way to go around it. There are some APC chieftains who know where to see Buhari. Hang around them and they will take you to the man. Rotimi Amaechi has taken some to see the man in Daura. We saw the pictures. Again, if you a member of the defeated Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and you are worried that hunger will kill you in the next four years, look for an APC chieftain and confess to him. He will take you to see GMB. You could also go to Rochas Okorocha, who is in charge of the APC in the Southeast. The man can facilitate a meeting between you and Buhari, just like he did for one Imo PDP chieftain, who lost the governorship primary to Emeka Ihedioha. Better still, go to the Jagaban, Bola Tinub, and tell him you want to have a handshake with Buhari. Jagaban is a good man and he will take you to Daura or Kaduna. He is a major stakeholder in this new arrangement. Abubakar Atiku too is another stakeholder. These people can arrange for you to see Buhari before close of business.
There is one other man who could take you to Buhari and that man is Olusegun Obasanjo. OBJ can take you to anywhere, even to see the indeterminate Boko Haram Shekau. The man is influential and everybody in power listens to him. The only problem with OBJ is that, his taking you there does not guarantee you anything because he goes there with his own list. Grapevine says the man wants to have input in the new deal and that is his priority.
What we are talking about is a serious matter; we are talking about the president of the Federal Republic, a powerful office where limitless favours are waiting to be dispensed. If you are shy about it, it means you want to die in hunger. You have to be smart about it. You may not even go to Buhari, go to chief Odigie Oyegun, national chairman of the APC. He too is very influential in the party and he can make a case for you. A former national chairman of the PDP has visited Oyegun at the APC headquarters in Abuja. This same man was the one who prophesied that the PDP would rule for 60 years. His prophecy has been abridged, but that does not make him lose face, after all, many prophets do get it wrong in Nigeria. All he needs to do when he formally joins the APC is to modify his prophecy to mean 60 divided by three minus four. We are the ones who didn’t understand what he said then. And life goes on.
Many cooks, they say, spoil the broth. Could this be the situation with the APC as we speak? Many hands went into cooking the APC dish and sharing the spoil is getting even harder. Nearly one month after the March 28 victory, APC stakeholders are bickering and fussing over basic issues of getting started. They find it so tasking to name a transition team to take over the notes from the outgoing government. They are bogged down by the Nigerian factor of national character and national cake sharing.
Nigeria’s version of democracy is proprietorial, it confers some fake sense of ownership and if care is not taken, the APC will foist another imperial presidency on all of us. That was what OBJ left behind. He was the State and the State was him. In the process, he emasculated the opposition and nearly turned the polity into a one party state. You must go and do veneration at Aso Rock so that the State can give you some oxygen to survive. When he left Aso rock, Yar’Adua’s family, including a poor old woman, had to go to Ota or wherever to thank OBJ for surrendering the presidency to their scion, Umaru. When Yar’Adua passed on, Jonathan’s clan from Otuoke and the Diaspora had to go do obeisance in Abeokuta to propitiate the one who gives liberally and withdraws violently.
And now, we are trouping to Daura, Kaduna and Abuja, to be associated with success. Thank God Buhari is well schooled in Bohemianism and its Spartan attributes. He does not come across as one who is given to fawning and the flattery of coquettes. This is the same Buhari, who survived in the opposition camp for many years and was not dehydrated. He opted out of any government of national unity that could compromise the opposition. He did not beg anybody for anything. Hopefully, he does not have many obligations to render, apart from those of his party.
Delegations are coming from states and regions and the President-elect feels obligated to every camp. He keeps making promises. He should realize that the campaigns are over and keep his eye on the larger picture. There is work to do and these same visitors have been visiting Aso Rock since 1999. They will keep coming. Buhari should expect more delegations of failed politicians, traditional rulers, market women, farmers and cattle farmers. They will keep coming because it is the tradition that has been in place.
Democracy can equal development if we make attempts to get serious as a people. When Obama was elected president, we did not see any self-serving delegations throng his privacy in order to press home some advantage. Whatever needed to be done was done before and during the elections. Thereafter, the man deserves some space to think out the programmes of his party and what he was personally bringing onboard.
But if you insist on seeing our President-elect, come see me first.