By Abdulwahab Oba
Week in week out, the mind of a columnist is usually filled with propositions, options and alternatives. Most times asking yourself, what next? Which course or subject? Some of the times, you are dried and hardly know what to write about. With a variety of propositions, this week is one of those dilemmatic week for me.
I have just returned from Lagos where I attended two great contrasting occasions; 80th Birthday of Gen. Olusegun Okikiola Obasanjo and candle night for three departed journalists, one of them, Kayode Atofolaki, a personal friend of more than 20 years. The same week, the people’s general, President Muhammad Buhari returned to Nigeria.
How great would it have been to celebrate the Owu war lord who has made tremendous impact on our nation’s body politics, or pay a final homage to our worthy departed colleagues? For Obasanjo, testimonies of four African presidents and renowned writers and columnists would suffice for now. And for Atofolaki and other departed colleaques, I would allow my interventions on Facebook and during the candle night suffice.
It would be an understatement to say that many Nigerians are truly delighted over the arrival of President Muhammad Buhari from his medical vacation. Until his arrival in the mornings of Friday, 10th January, there were still an insignificant fraction of the Nigerian critical mass that believed Mr. President would not come, either because he was actually dead or had become such an invalid that coming home would have exposed the ‘falsehood’ being churned out by those who surround his political life. While majority of Nigerians prayed for his safe return, there were others who never wanted the face of new Nigeria return. These are those privileged few who have legitimate questions to answer on their ignoble roles in getting us to the despicable lawn we found ourselves today.
The President’s medical trip exposed some of the ugly underbellies of Nigerian political culture. The one that really still rattles is the deliberate failure of many to believe what comes out from government officials. The issue of lack of trust in public officials must rank as one of the greatest undoing of our national political culture and which has continued to create fertile ground for sowing the seed of discord.
It was this bent to always disbelief official positions that gave room to speculations and rumours such as the ones we have seen about the President’s health scare. But it was unimaginable that at a time we are all witnessing the evolution of a positive change in the way things are done in Nigeria, some people could still concoct lies just merely to satisfy a warped desire. They even went to the extent of creating fake news site, just to discredit the truth, which thankfully though, is ever constant and has been made manifest with the arrival of Mr. President on Friday.
But we thank God that the President is back. I had stated on this page earlier that for those wishing the President dead, it was bad politics played ridiculously far. What would the death of Buhari bring anyone in Nigeria, at this point in time? Where was our sense of decorum? Where was our sense of brotherliness? Where was our sense of love? And where was our sense of patriotism that we suddenly created the impression that it was better to wish our leader dead than to pray for him?
We must never create an impression that our leaders are perfect, angelic beings who will not have challenges such as the President has just experienced. No one prays to receive a national call as he has done and then decides to abdicate the duty on account of ill health. If we do, then I dare say that we aren’t seen nothing yet, because there will continue to be varied experiences of health challenges for any one in public office, because they are not angels.
We should review our political culture and see our leaders, once elected into office, as national assets, irrespective of the political platform that brought them into office. We should depersonalize our attacks on office holders just because we belong to different political platforms because election is a mere vehicle for the enthronement of leaders who, once sworn in, must become our collective assets and treasures, until we change them at another election, if we must, or if we can.
So I sincerely welcome Mr. President back home. Mr President, the face of hope; the symbol of integrity, you are most welcome back to the country you love and gave so much for. You have, in deed, sacrificed your comfort, your energy and your prime for this nation. No matter their evil wishes, you will live longer to witness its progress and development.
We are not oblivious of man’s mortality, but our wish and prayer are for you to live longer for the seeds of accountability, progress and prosperity to germinate and ripe in your life time.
What you have to offer is what Nigeria needs now and that explains the massive solidarity the retired general has been receiving all over the nation since arrival. And that is why Kwarans from all walks of life also pray for Buhari; the man on whose shoulder God has placed the responsibility to write the impunitues of yesterday. “We have been choked for long, we have endured much pain and disappointments, we have been deceived as a people and now we are holding our destiny in our hands.”
Like the saying goes, no matter how much comfort one enjoys on a trip, the home treat is still the most enduring. I thank God who has heard the prayers of Nigerians of all faiths concerning his recovery and return. And we still continue to pray that God, who has helped him so far in recovering, will still handle the remaining aspects which he hinted in his speech to the nation.
I hope the arrivalput paid to the various speculations around his health and his person. But from what I have known about Nigerians, particularly those who see nothing good in government, the homecoming would still be greeted with a mixture of speculations. For those seeking to make political gain of the development, I wish them well, but I know that with the prayers of faithful people in Nigeria, their desires over the President would fail.
Mr. President, Mai Gaskiya, welcome Sir. Please do have some more rest until you are fully fit to continue driving the nation to the desired post.
**Oba can be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org