By Godwin Etakibuebu
After one hundred and two days of being away from Nigerian soil in search of good health and life in the United Kingdom, President Muhammadu Buhari returned on Saturday 19, August, 2017 alive. That is the good news – he returns alive and even looking healthier than before. We, the Nigerian people who prayed for him fervently while his battle for life lasted, thanked the almighty God, the creator and keeper of life, for His infinite mercy for hearing and answering our prayers on Buhari.
We have every reason to thank God. The last time a Nigerian president was “evacuated” from Abuja to another country in search of good health and life, he did not return alive. That was President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, from Katsina State; the same State President Muhammadu Buhari hails from.
Musa Yar’Adua was two years in office when he was rushed to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment but never returned. Muhammadu Buhari comparatively was also two years in office before he was rushed to the United Kingdom, and the contrasting good news concerning the latter is that he has returned alive.
In a national broadcast yesterday [21-08-2017] a gracious and grateful President Buhari thanked Nigerians in deep appreciation for their prayers and love for him while his dark days of battling this unnamed sickness in the UK lasted. Thanking the Nigerian people showed a few things.
One, the thanksgiving broadcast revealed that the man is in a very good state of mental alertness. That itself speaks of a vastly improved health for a man that was much that sick and even rumoured to have died at one point by some cynics.
Two, the Nigerians he thanked may be only or about 97% of the population [because if the truth must be told, the possibility of having about 3% that never prayed for him may remain a likely fact] but this 97% population he thanked spread round the whole country – from north to the South. I believe that the President did not interpret, by any imagination of error, this population of 97% as representing those in the North/West and North/East that voted him into office during the 2015 Nigerian General Election. He could not have committed such episcopal blunder in the “thank you” broadcast.
Three, it means that, having appreciated all Nigerians beyond a parochial geo-political sections, he would, all things being equal, henceforth be more pragmatic to distribution of goodwill in appointments and related matters across all segments of the Nigerian society without any prejudice to tribes and religion.
Four, for the very first time in his presidency, Buhari mentioned, during the broadcast, Herdsmen as enemy of the Nigerian State that needed to be tackled as such – enemy. This exceptionally pointed to a “born again” President Buhari, who would have preferred, in the past, never mentioning of Herdsmen but instead, refer to Cattle Rustlers.
Five, he gave red-card to those propagating hate conduct and speech. It was like telling them that their days were over.
Six, he told those Arewa rascals, through the broadcast, never to gather in Arewa House in Kaduna ever again with the intention of serving quit notice, for non-Hausa to vacate what they wrongly believed is “their land”.
Seven, he spoke to those hoisting flag for a Biafran Republic that never was and may not likely be unless and until the constitutional due process of restructuring Nigeria fails.
Eight, still talking about the broadcast, he re-affirmed unassailable belief and confidence in a one indivisible unified Nigerian where equity rules – a country where religion and tribe do not decide the limit of ascendancy for the citizenry. That rekindled hope that Mr President is on his way of restructuring the face of appointments in federal government institutions in the country, starting with the Ministry of Internal Affairs which is presently [at the head of all the departments], to all intents and purposes, for only Hausa/Fulani Moslems.
Nine, there was joy in his voice as he spoke to Nigerians during that broadcast. There was no evidence of impaired or blurred speech while he talked. This was obvious from the airport as he came down from the plane. We saw Buhari, despite his age and in spite of the sickness, walked out [of the plane] elegantly with his traditional military swagger. He even added the enviable military arrogance to the whole show as he took the traditional military salute.
Ten, in the broadcast, while accepting the reality of the fact that Nigeria needs one major or fundamental “surgery” in the name of restructuring, he however, in a great show of ignorant naivety, ceded the assignment [of restructuring] to two federal institutions namely: the National Assembly and National Council of States.
No sir, Mr President, you got it all wrong by this expression [that the restructuring of Nigeria is the responsibility of those two bodies]. I need to exercise quality restraint at this point, at least not to continue “firing” my objection against your opinion on this subject of restructuring because the purpose of today’s work is welcoming you back home, knowing fully that God preserve you for a purpose – and that is [you] having another chance of putting Nigeria right. Suffice to draw the curtain today by telling you point-blank that any leader that objected to total restructuring of Nigeria will not only kill Nigeria but will give it [Nigeria] a non-befitting burial.
Godwin Etakibuebu, a veteran journalist, wrote from Lagos.
N:B – We could not continue with the “Atiku and the political storm of 2019 today because of the president’s arrival, we shall revisit the Atiku analysis in due time.