There can be no depth of self-delusion that can surpass hiring of deaf, and perhaps dumb drummers as the king’s praise singers. In trying to extol and sing the praises of the king during public outings, such drummers are bound to render rancorous and jumbled beats that will confuse the king as he tries to display his regal steps. In a typical African traditional scenario that requires a king to display his skillful dance steps to the admiration of nobles and subjects during public engagements, the beats of dumb and deaf palace drummers will confuse the king, making his dance steps to fall out of sync thereby subjecting the king to public ridicule. I therefore liken most Nigerian presidential spokesmen that I have seen in my life time thus far, from the era of military dictatorships to fitful periods of democratic dispensations, to my allegory of deaf and dumb palace drummers of an African king. I understand that presidential spokesmen in Nigeria like elsewhere, are employed to convey words and thoughts of Nigeria’s successive presidents to the masses directly devoid of usual officialese and embellishments that often render such statements watery and odious. However, given the performances of most presidential spokesmen in Nigeria, their renditions on presidential statements, accounts and/or refutals end up being more embellished than other official sources; often reeking of outright lies, open perfidy and vexatious pretensions. I remember during the inglorious days of former military dictator Ibrahim Babangida, when his now late and former loquacious information minister that doubled as a presidential spokesman and chief propagandist of the evil regime almost plunged the nation into another civil war over June 12 election saga by mere words of the mouth. It took divine intervention to prevent Nigeria from witnessing another civil war on account of the words of a propagandist wordsmith. This illustrates how powerful words and actions of presidential spokesmen can be. We have had series of such over the years that had churned out variants of presidential lies and infamies that fell below their avowed calling and self-acclaimed reputations.
The latest of such is by Mallam Shehu Garba, one of the two oracles of President Muhammad Buhari that are permanently esconced behind Aso Rock fortress. His principal went on working visits to Katsina and Kano States recently. A group of miscreants and unruly youths were seen in videos that were widely circulated on social media throwing stones at the convoys of our President and burning APC’s campaign posters in both States during the visits.
These actions were meant to show open resentment and rejection of president Muhammad Buhari’s and APC’s poor governance records in Nigeria over the past seven or more years. Come to think of it, both Katsina and Kano States are strong political bastions that are very key to president Muhammad Buhari’s political ascendancy. For example, while Katsina State is Mr President’s home State, Kano State was the epicenter of his electoral victories in 2015 and 2019. Therefore, when open resentments of the person of our President and his political party the APC emanates from such places, it demands a thorough introspection. What a rational presidential spokesman ought to do in the circumstance too is to first establish whether indeed there was such open resentment of his principal as widely circulated on social media and other news sources globally or not. If there was, the spokesman should have told his principal the truth and thereafter offer public apology to indigenes and residents of both States specifically, and Nigerians generally; with a promise to do better if given another chance. Rather, Mallam Shehu Garba in his accustomed delusional and incongruous personage, chose to offer a shallow and half-hearted denial, stating barefacedly that no angry Nigerian or supporter of President Muhammad Buhari pelted his convoy in Kano State. The delusional spokesman elongated his perfidy by blaming Nigeria’s main opposition party, the PDP for being behind what he termed ‘false accounts’ of the Kano incident. He went further to describe what transpired in Kano as a minor skirmish between two feuding local transportation unions around the vicinity of a presidential engagement on that fateful day. I can’t think of any lie or denial that is more open or putrid than Mallam Shehu’s account of the Kano incident. It shows how both he and Mr Femi Adesina, another self-adulating presidential mouthpiece, compare to the deaf and dumb palace drummers that are busy dishing out cacophonous and confusing beats to their principal. I pity President Muhammad Buhari for his current predicament in the hands of his kinsmen and spokesman. There is no doubting the fact that most of the unruly youths may have been incited to commit the treacherous and reasonable act by certain disgruntled politicians; including members of Mr President’s APC. This is the nature and character of most Nigerians that are quick to identify themselves as ‘politicians’ and ‘youths’ in our country today. They throw decorum to the dogs easily and substitute irrationality for rationality quickly whenever a situation or circumstance does not favour, or seem not to favour them. Irony of it is that President Muhammad Buhari himself was once a proponent and beneficiary of this acrimonious contraption during his political adventure; boasting once that outcomes of the 2011 general elections would turn to a ‘bloody fight between dogs and baboons’ if results of presidential election in particular was rigged in favour of then ruling PDP. Indeed, the PDP presidential candidate won or was declared winner by INEC and true to candidate Muhammad Buhari’s threat, there were pockets of uprisings by machete and cudgel wielding youths in Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Zamfara and other parts of northern Nigeria that resulted in wanton destruction of lives and properties. This is the nature of Nigerian statesmen and their youthful followers.
Even when many well-meaning Nigerians condemned the pelting of the convoy of our President by irate youths in Kano, with the PDP rightly describing it as a ‘treasonable act’, Mallam Shehu Garba still want Nigerians to believe that the story or the act was the handiwork of PDP. Can discerning Nigerians now see why President Muhammad Buhari and his APC have performed so poorly in governance for close to eight years now? How can a President, no matter how well-meaning and upright he or she may have been, succeed surrounded by people like Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Mallam Shehu Garba and Mr Femi Adesina? To compound matters, President Muhammad Buhari decided to appoint and perpetuate in office, ministers from a retinue of his old friends and associates; some of whom are verging on senility like himself on account of old age. Again, nepotism and cronyism became working tools of President Muhammad Buhari’s government and these permeated the fabrics of Nigeria’s public service; including the Armed Forces of Nigeria with other security agencies under him. Unfortunately, his style of leadership benefitted only a small ruling and family cabal and excommunicated vast majority of his supporters. These, with real and perceived enemies of President Muhammad Buhari and his party, have borne the brunt of poor and corrupt governance over the past seven or more years. Therefore, if his supporters and cult-followers decided to turn against our President, it is because they are frustrated. It is as simple as that. However, it the manner of turning-against that rational and discerning Nigerians are against, even if Mallam Shehu Garba fails to acknowledge it. I was bemused to read in his somewhat watery and delusional refutal of the Kano event where he specifically alluded to PDP’s loosing of more ground and destined for another failure. My question over this is, between pot and kettle, which is blacker as it were currently? That Mallam Shehu Garba did not mention the momentous entry and surge of Obi-Dati movement or the insidious rise of Kwankwaso’s NNPP shows what may be giving him nightmares and sleepless nights lately. Nigerians and indeed the world shall know which, between PDP and APC, has lost ground after 25 February, 2023. For now let people like Mallam Shehu Garba and in his ilks in the APC continue to deceive themselves thinking that they are deceiving Nigerians. Also, let it be known to them that the resentful crowd that Nigerians saw in Kano during the visit of President Muhammad Buhari to the State recently is a reflection of how most Nigerians feel about our President and his APC party please.
OGACHEKO OPALUWA IS A FREELANCE JOURNALIST AND A PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR
HE CONTRIBUTED THIS PIECE FROM ADDIS ABABA