By Gideon Onyedi.
It is common knowledge that when two brothers fight, a stranger easily breaks in and is preferred by the antagonizing siblings to each other.
Without much rhethorics and preamble, as my intention is solely to communicate and not to entertain, I need to say that the statement above is what is playing out in the present political dramaturgy between the camp of President Buhari and the allied opposition in Nigeria.
With reference to the so-called revelation by the Financial Times Magazine, on the purported description of President Buhari as ‘lifeless’ by President Trump of the United States, many political gladiators in Nigeria, especially of the opposition, have come to celebrate the ‘internationalized authentication’ of their age-long avowed position on the fitness or otherwise of President Buhari to hold, remain or continue in office.
To prove to the world that they have all been correct all the time on this health and fitness issue, the comment credited to President Trump has received great applause here.
I am a supporter of the Republican Party in the U. S because I believe it is the party that truly upholds the original American dream. America today is adulterated by infiltration and immigration that many who want to have their say about the governance and future of America, (as partly from the stock of beneficiaries of the immigration generosity of America since the 1990s or others), may not lose much if America loses its greatness. This is a researched story for another day.
As I said, I am a strong supporter of the Republicans, and I am an ideologically informed supporter of President Trump, and do wholeheartedly wish him success in office.
But, on this comment about President Buhari, I take an exception (to this). I am neither a member of the APC nor a fan of President Buhari. But he is my President. He substantively, constitutionally and of course legitimately occupies the exalted office of the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Anywhere he goes, he is Nigeria personified. It is not about what or how you feel about him. It is about who and what he is officially. A ridicule on him is a ridicule on all of us, especially when it is coming from the outside. It is a mockery on us, and we would be very foolish and ignorant to celebrate such aspersion on our leader by an ‘outsider’.
A wise man would rather reprimand his kinsman by himself than watch a foreigner do that. Our foremost novelist (of blessed memory), in Africa captures it in his appreciation of our much-celebrated African philosophy of ‘chasing away the fox and coming back home to reprimand the hen against wandering in the bush’
There is nothing to celebrate about in the comment of President Trump about General Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s President. The comment is an international indictment on all of us.
Yes. On all of us, because there is nothing anyone in Nigeria today knows about President Buhari that they did not know before voting for him in 2015. So, if truly President Trump called Buhari a lifeless President, Trump is saying that it takes a lifeless citizenry, a lifeless electorate, a lifeless political class, a lifeless nation, to produce a lifeless president.
So, should we exhibit our ignorance and foolishness by celebrating a high-profile indictment on our sensibility and intelligence as a people and nation. Yes. It is us he referred to. It is about us. Do you know why? According to Joseph de Maistre, a Savoyard philosopher, writer, lawyer and diplomat (1753 – 1821): ‘Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.’ This is translated to mean – ‘Every nation gets the government it deserves. ‘
It is obvious that our level of education and civilization can neither afford us a government better than what we have nor allow us to accommodate a government better than what we have if it ‘accidentally’ comes into place, until we have learnt our lessons.
Is a nation where the blood of the innocent flows ceaselessly to irrigate the arid field of our polity not a lifeless nation? Is a nation where politics is played without ideology not a lifeless nation? Is a nation where ethno-religious sentiments and consideration take the place of fairness, equity, justice and merit not a lifeless nation? Is a nation where there is no respect for the rule of law and Human Rights not a lifeless nation? Is a nation where our education system is almost dead, and uneducated and holders of questionable certificates hold sway in public and private places and governance not a lifeless nation? The list is endless.
If therefore President Trump refers to our duly and constitutionally elected leader, our dear President, a veteran of Nigeria’s unity, and a perceived fighter of corruption, as a lifeless president based on whatever his experiences with him might have been, which experiences and knowledge we all have had about him and even more, since 31st December, 1983, and still went ahead to elect him in 2015, it is then obvious President Trump is rightly or otherwise indicting Nigerians as lifeless, because we should agree that it takes ‘the dead to bury the dead. ‘
The dead is incapable of critical thinking and therefore cannot make progress. Let us stop celebrating such a disrespectful and despicable comment of President Donald Trump (my hero, except on this), on our President, because it is a statement made on all of us. The electorate, all senators, all representatives, all governors, all kingmakers and retired generals, all defectors and cross-carpeters in 2014-2015, and 2018-2019, all political jobbers, all members of the corrupt intelligentsia , all political religious leaders, all hungry, visionless and compromised civil society leaders and NGOs, all compromised security operatives – Nigeria in general.
Someone might be quick to point at the diplomatic blunder angle of the comment. My response: Don’t expect a diplomatic grace if you cannot package yourself as a nation gracefully. Again, It is possible President Trump did not intend or expect that his comment would be as public as it is today. Error of judgement, may be.
My regrets – I wish we had judged ourselves before this indictment.
Gideon I Onyedi,