When A Presidency Becomes “Wailing Wailer”

Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesin (left) in a handshake with his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari

By Ikechukwu Amaechi

President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, was credited with introducing “wailing wailers” into political lexicon in Nigeria.

The catchphrase was one of the resistance names adopted by the legendary Jamaican reggae virtuosi – Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailers – for their band in the 1960s before the name of the band was changed to “The Wailers.”

Adesina has no copyright claims to the catchphrase but nevertheless deployed it as a rhetorical pun to insult critics of the administration, no-matter how constructive. Aso Rock deployed the attack phrase maximally. Anyone who disagreed with any government policy was labelled derisively as a wailing wailer. Any attempt to proffer an alternative viewpoint, no-matter how well-intended, attracted most contemptuously the wailing wailer tag.

But the tables have turned. As insecurity spirals out of control, with governors warning that Boko Harm terrorists are only 200 kilometres away from Abuja and frightened senators weeping during plenary, Aso Rock has become the new wailing wailer. Suddenly, Buhari, the absentee president, has become Nigeria’s distracter-in-chief. Rather than assuring distraught Nigerians that his government is capable of securing their lives and properties, he is wailing that some unnamed people are plotting to overthrow his government.

On Tuesday, Adesina wailed that Buhari’s government was threatened. Curiously, the alarm came a day after the military pledged that it would not overthrow Buhari. Acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, assured a jittery presidency that the military has no intention of taking overpower again, pointing out, correctly, that despite tough times, democracy was the way to go and military rule was no longer fashionable.

The assurance came two days after the Department of State Services (DSS) made a similar pledge. But the pledges apparently didn’t assuage the contrived anxiety in the presidency. Ndigbo have a saying that a man adept at chopping off people’s heads is always uncomfortable when anyone wielding a machete stands, menacingly or otherwise, behind.

Buhari knows about treason. On December 31, 1983, he led a band of coup plotters to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Shehu Shagari. But why complain when all the government, which has the monopoly of the instruments of coercion, has to do since it claims to know the culprits is to arrest and haul them before a court of competent jurisdiction?

The fact that the so-called former leaders working with foreigners that Buhari accuses of orchestrating the subliminal plot to forcefully sack him from office have not been rounded up shows that the allegation is a mere distraction. The Villa wants to distract Nigerians from the existential threat his egregious leadership failings has orchestrated.

The government has no ‘unimpeachable’ evidence to prove that alleged disruptive elements are “recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians round the country, with the intention of convening some sort of conference, where a vote of no confidence would be passed on the President, thus throwing the land into further turmoil.”

If such evidence exists, Buhari should present it to the public. But come to think of it, why would a vote of no confidence in the president throw Nigeria into further turmoil? Is there any Nigerian who still has confidence in Buhari’s leadership? Everyone is waiting for 2023 when he will exit the political centre stage for good. Nigerians are only praying that the country survives these remaining two years of his presidency.

To intentionally misconstrue the call for a national conference for an attempt to pass a no confidence vote in him is an act of mischief intended to stifle patriotic agitation for good governance.

In any case, is a president sacked in a constitutional presidential democracy by a no confidence vote in the court of public opinion? That is a no-brainer. As Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, rightly noted, Nigerians don’t need to go that route to be persuaded that Buhari has spectacularly betrayed the oath he took to secure their lives and properties.

But the Villa was also impish when it claimed that the only way to change a democratically elected government was through election, which holds at prescribed times, insisting that “any other way is patently illegal, and even treasonable.” That is not true. Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution says the president can be sacked through impeachment. It is constitutional. It is legitimate. It is not treasonable.

But we all know that Buhari can never be impeached by the current subservient National Assembly (NASS), no-matter how roguish his regime becomes. So, why is Buhari rattled by an innocuous call by his buddy, Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka, Spiritual Director of Adoration Ministry, Enugu, for his impeachment over rising insecurity? How can such a legitimate call be treasonable?

Even the call on Monday by Robert Clarke, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), on Buhari to hand over the government to the military temporarily in order to solve Nigeria’s security and economic dilemma – as harebrained and insalubrious as it may seem – cannot be termed treasonable. Who plots treason on national television?

He didn’t call for the overthrow of Buhari. Whatever proposition he was making would be actualised with the consent of the president. But the fact that a man of Clark’s standing could even once again contemplate the idea of the military ever playing a messianic role in the polity after decades of their depredation shows how badly things have fallen apart. The nation’s lot has become so parlous under Buhari’s clueless watch that many are prepared to look up to the devil himself for succour. Citizens have become desperate in their search for solution to Buhari’s unforced errors.

Before the 2015 presidential election, many chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC), including Buhari, asked President Goodluck Jonathan to resign. Was that treasonable? If it wasn’t then, what has made it treasonable now? Rather than hound perceived opponents, which is what this distraction is all about, Buhari should go tough on terrorists.

If he claims not to know where the terrorists are, he should consult his brother and spiritual soul mate, Abubakar Gumi, to help him out. Rather than saber-rattle, Buhari should be ashamed that 29 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Mando, Kaduna State kidnapped since March are still in captivity.

It is a tragedy that 17 students of the Greenfield University, Kaduna State kidnapped on April 18 are still in captivity after the kidnappers murdered five of them and are threatening to kill the others unless a ransom of N100 million and 10 motor cycles is paid.

These are the issues. Terrorists are taunting the Nigerian State and the government is helpless. Buhari has failed the people. He has failed the country. He has failed the international community and friends of the country. And he failed because he came to power with an agenda that is anti-Nigeria.

If Buhari was serious about fighting terrorism, Gumi should have been a guest of the security agencies by now. Why should an Obadiah Mailafia, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), be invited by the DSS for claiming that an unnamed governor from the north is the leader of Boko Haram, while Gumi who has become the go-between for the terrorists is being treated as a sacred cow? That is the issue. Such double standard is putting the country on edge.

On Tuesday, a parent of one of the abducted students told Roots TV the shameful role Gumi is playing in the kidnap saga.

She said: “We kept going for meetings. They took us to Gumi’s house who said we should meet one Ahmed. A Fulani man was invited, we contributed almost N800,000 to him but he said the money was just for transportation.

“Then I started crying and pleaded with him that I am a widow, training my boy to become my helper in the future but he said that was not his concern. We kept begging him, but he insisted that we must pay N500 million.”

Why hasn’t the Buhari government invited Gumi to produce his Fulani agent who would use almost a N1 million to transport himself from one part of Kaduna State to another? Instead, on Tuesday, Gumi asked the CBN to pay the N100 million ransom demanded by the abductors of the Greenfield University students.

Buhari thought he could take Nigerians for a ride, but the kitchen is getting rather too hot for his liking. Those threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria are the terrorists that his administration is pampering.

Rather than looking for nonexistent treasonable felons, the questions that should concentrate the minds of Buhari and his co-travellers are: Why is the call for separation becoming so loud and urgent? Why are ordinarily sober and reflective statesmen becoming agitated activists? Why is the drumbeat of war getting louder?

The joke is on Buhari. His political wounds are self-inflicted. He is haunted by his crass incompetence, nepotism and wilful violation of the Constitution. To resort to coup scaremongering is sheer humdrum. Traumatised Nigerians should be spared these puerile distractions.

Amaechi, a highly respected media practitioner and the Publisher of TheNiche newspapers first published this article on Wednesday May 5, 2021

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