Stranger than fic­tion

Sunday Trust - - FEVER PITCH - • son­[email protected] • @Son­alaOlumhense

Icrit­i­cize Nige­ria Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari a lot be­cause he is guilty of what I have char­ac­ter­ized as false ad­ver­tis­ing: what he is in of­fice is dis­ap­point­ingly dif­fer­ent from what he mar­keted to get in. But I can tes­tify that con­trary to a pop­u­lar the­ory, the man now an­swer­ing the ti­tle of pres­i­dent of Nige­ria is not a clone. Or a body dou­ble.

In fact, I can prove it. The Buhari who took of­fice in May 2015 is the same one who was in Poland last week for COP24, the United Na­tions Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence. The Real Buhari (TRB) is the one who was suf­fi­ciently wor­ried be­fore and dur­ing that visit to ad­dress the ru­mours dur­ing a town hall en­counter with Nige­ri­ans there.

There­after, TRB posted a video on Face­book in which he said the ques­tion about his be­ing a clone had arisen dur­ing his meeting with Nige­ri­ans dur­ing his visit.

“The ig­no­rant ru­mors are not sur­pris­ing­when I was away on med­i­cal va­ca­tion last year a lot of peo­ple hoped I was dead,” the tran­script swears he said, as he is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand on the video. “I can as­sure you all that this is the real me. Later this month I will cel­e­brate my 76th birth­day. And I’m still go­ing strong!”

De­nied like a true clone, or body dou­ble, would have cho­sen. Put an­other way: would an im­pos­tor have con­firmed that he-or it-was in­deed fake?

Buhari’s sense of mo­ment was ab­sent. It was a gi­ant comedic op­por­tu­nity to mar­ket him­self as an im­pos­tor pre­tend­ing to be Buhari-in­stead of Buhari deny­ing be­ing fake­but he didn’t seize it.

In­stead, TRB, choos­ing to speak for him­self in the mis­taken be­lief that would un­der­line he was whom he claimed to be, un­wisely ad-libbed into in­ter­na­tional farce, and in­stantly be­came a punch­line.

If you seek proof, you will find videos all over the In­ter­net of co­me­di­ans and au­di­ences in var­i­ous stages of hi­lar­ity about the de­nial.

But those who are laugh­ing must stop. I con­firm that the Poland Buhari is TRB be­cause TRB be­ing dis­trust­ful of Nige­ria and Nige­ri­ans es­pe­cially in Nige­ria, makes his big state­ments abroad:

In Iran, in 2015: he de­clared he would re­cover ev­ery penny looted from Nige­ria, “all that [of­fi­cials of pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments] took by force in 16 years.” Some of the per­sons in­volved are “hid­ing” within his party and gov­ern­ment.

In the United Arab Emi­rates in 2016, TRB signed a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing to aid the ex­tra­di­tion of cor­rupt Nige­ri­ans hid­ing stolen funds in that coun­try. Not one has been ex­tra­dited.

In Ger­many in 2016, he warned his wife: “I don’t know which party my wife be­longs to, but she be­longs to my kitchen and my liv­ing room and the other room.”

In the United King­dom last April, he de­nounced Nige­rian youth as lazy and un­e­d­u­cated peo­ple who think Nige­ria is a rich coun­try and “they should sit and do noth­ing, and get hous­ing, health­care, ed­u­ca­tion free.”

Thus the “Poland Dec­la­ra­tion” by TRB about TRB, dead or alive, man or machine, Muham­madu or Jib­ril, is con­sis­tent with this pat­tern of be­hav­ior, so I tes­tify he is whom he says he is. Jib­ril or a machine would have ad­dressed Nige­ri­ans in their own coun­try.

But as of­ten hap­pens with his gov­ern­ment, there was no thor­ough­ness of plan­ning. There was no strat­egy, and pre­dictably, the ther­apy has com­pounded the dis­ease. When a per­son’s story is so con­vo­luted that he seeks to per­suade by an­nounc­ing “this is the real me,” truth only re­duces ev­ery­one to laugh­ter.

What TRB needs to un­der­stand is that this mat­ter is not re­ally about a pos­si­ble in­ter­loper in the ex­ec­u­tive branch. The “body dou­ble” gained trac­tion in the first place be­cause TRB’s per­for­mance has be­trayed and vic­tim­ized the elec­torate. For ev­ery inch of progress since he as­sumed of­fice, Nige­ria has trav­eled miles back­wards in the other di­rec­tion, Nige­ria now run by the very peo­ple he swore to strip to their loin­cloths.

Look at the view from the “other room.” The day be­fore TRB re­turned from Poland, first lady Aisha pub­licly im­plied in Abuja that two per­sons in the gov­ern­ment were more pow­er­ful than her hus­band and were pre­vent­ing the gov­ern­ment from achiev­ing any­thing.

If this were not so tragic, it would have been hi­lar­i­ous: the scan­dal that a man with pres­i­den­tial pow­ers has some­how been taken hostage by two spe­cific ap­pointees and pre­vented from serv­ing the peo­ple.

It is the per­fect sum­mary of the tragedy of the Buhari gov­ern­ment: that TRB is not in con­trol but is be­ing ma­nip­u­lated. What kind of chief ex­ec­u­tive goes home to lament his frus­tra­tions to his wife that he has been emas­cu­lated?

The clone the­ory is there­fore that we have a four-year gov­ern­ment of ex­cuses which wishes to ex­tend to eight years. It ought to be a gov­ern­ment of apolo­gies head­ing for the ex­its with some pride.

Mov­ing into the fi­nal days of 2018, let us re­mem­ber that one of Buhari’s elec­toral prom­ises four years ago was “6,800km of mod­ern rail­way com­pleted by 2019.” That in­cluded the La­gos-Ibadan rail, which was sched­uled to be de­liv­ered this month.

But those wait­ing for it are in for dis­ap­point­ment. Last Tues­day, Minister of Trans­porta­tion Ro­timi Amaechi an­nounced that the line may now go into op­er­a­tion no ear­lier than Fe­bru­ary 2019.

To that end, he asked the con­trac­tors to make some­thing-any­thing-move by Fe­bru­ary, to give him “trans­port sense,” that is, sym­bolic trans­porta­tion.

“What I mean by trans­port sense is that, it must be able to carry pas­sen­gers from Abeokuta if not up-to Ibadan...” Mr. Amaechi ex­plained.

Nei­ther the tracks nor the bridges are ready. There are no trains. The prospects are so poor that by Fe­bru­ary 2019 when the project would have made per­fect “elec­tion sense,” the plea is for “trans­port sense.”

How did we get here in four years? Speak­ing at the La­gos Traf­fic Ra­dio lec­ture in June 2016, Amaechi af­firmed that the project would be com­pleted be­fore the end of 2018, as would the Port Har­court-Cal­abar seg­ment of the La­gos-Cal­abar coastal rail.

In Septem­ber 2016, he re­it­er­ated that the Port Har­court-Cal­abar line and the LagosKano mod­ern­iza­tion project would be ready this year.

Sim­i­larly, at the ground-break­ing event of the project in March 2017, Act­ing Pres­i­dent Yemi Os­in­bajo re-af­firmed it would be de­liv­ered this month.

In May 2018, fol­low­ing an in­spec­tion tour in­volv­ing stake­hold­ers, Minister of In­for­ma­tion and Cul­ture Lai Mo­hammed re­it­er­ated that de­liv­ery in De­cem­ber 2018 was “non-ne­go­tiable.”

Amaechi re­peated that prom­ise just three months ago.

But here we are, dis­com­bob­u­lated and in­co­her­ent: “There must be train on the tracks be­fore Fe­bru­ary…a train on the track that makes trans­port sense…it must be able to carry pas­sen­gers from Abeokuta if not up-to Ibadan…”

It is dispir­it­ing that even a high-pro­file project which has en­joyed such ex­ec­u­tive close-mark­ing for three years can­not be de­liv­ered on sched­ule. We are now left with ex­cuses and ex­pla­na­tions, and per­haps re-bud­get­ing, to fol­low.

Stranger than fic­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.