Daily Trust

A perennial presidential escape from paradise

President Buhari reminds me of my late colleague, Joel Omoeye Gure. A pleasantly cantankerous individual, Gure could argue with a fly for taking to flight or perch. The man who goes by the sobriquet of ‘Comrade’ never takes his vacation for granted. In the days when most Nigerians would trade their leave and its allowance for non-stop ‘service’ to motherland for the money, Gure never travelled that road. He once told me that buying one’s vacation is a crime under international labour law. A hard worker deserves his rest.

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Naija is blessed to have a hard-working president. Our hyra-headed problems could tire a man whose declared age makes him a decade younger than his younger sister. Ask Obasanjo, there is a natural age and a military age. And for all the trouble that Naija gives him, our president never fails to take his leave. In fact, his enemies would say, even before it’s due, something ungrateful presidential hecklers never stop to beat him for. If you ask Jones Abiri, PMB is different from GMB. PMB does not pay attention to barrackers. He is busy transforming Naija. 

Not long ago, a media aide borrowed from Jerry Gana’s media tour by organizing a Project Tour. On the eve of another presidential election, they are eager to convince doubting Thomases why we need to show eternal gratitude for the magnanimity of this government in carrying on (and completing) projects initiated by the most corrupt administration before it. But jeerers are busy berating this president for lack of innovation. Our elders were right – wetin man go do wey pesin no go talk? You can’t please people. 

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Projects are being completed left, right and centre. Buhari is delivering on the paradise he didn’t promise. Compared to other national ruiners, our president is a saint sent from Jannah. Jeerers won’t admit what the international community already approved. Trump calls Buhari’s Naija an amazing country, a clip I hope both NTA and FRCN should be repeating every hour. The AU, a coalition of similar continental transformers endorsed our own Mai Gaskiya as the thunder that fires corruption. Only a week ago, ECOWAS gave the crowning glory, crowning an agile Sai Baba the Chairman. No Naija leader since Lugard turned to dust has been so garlanded. 

The outpouring of honours could be tiring when placed side by side with the spate of defections that have left the Alliance of the Profoundly Corrupt stronger than it ever could be. Overwhelmed and pretty tired at the end of it all, President Buhari has chosen to take another leave. 

Clowns are all over the place asking why a paradise-maker would abandon his own nirvana and scurry off to London again. London; where riots could break out at any moment. Where nobody is safe from heat wave. London where terrorists could mow down innocent strollers with rented vans. In London, anything could happen. Ordinarily, we shouldn’t entrust our most treasured citizen to the claws of England’s uncertainty. Theresa May would not think of coming to spend her holidays even in secure Aso Rock. 

Well, I’ve nothing but admiration for our president for showing all those who fear that the foundation that brought him in four years ago needed purging. Arrant nonsense. If defectors are bailing out in droves at Fajr or the dawn prayer, and thousands are decamping at Magrib, by Allah’s grace APC shall say nothing but Alhamdullilah by Isha’a. 

While London keeps stumbling blocks against every Chukwu, Amina and Bode from polluting Britain, it’s still the unofficial capital of Naija. Only fools doubt that. No other country is allowed to park its presidential jet on the British tarmac for 104 days at tasere money or pure goodwill. No other leader is allowed free medical consultation in London like Sai Baba, not even Saraki with his privileged status as a Naija/European. No African leader hibernates in London as Sai Baba does. None has been granted audience with UK’s leaders – from David Cameron to Madam May; from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Queen Mother.

Nobody should heckle Sai Baba for taking a deserved vacation in Naija’s alternate capital. There, electricity is constant. Security is not just at Number 10, but relatively everywhere. The hospitals work and doctors are on call. The streets may be boisterous but relatively safer than Abuja or Mogadishu. As he said when challenged about his children studying there – he could afford it or as we all know, our economy could withstand the bill. 

‘Democrat’ Saraki transformed Kwara into a paradise but negotiated a retirement package that includes medical tourism to London for himself, his lovely wife and their children. You see, sometimes when paradise is too sweet to benumb, a visit to hell is a fantastic memory juggler.

As we say in Kano, yarda aka je lafiya, Allah ya sa a dawo lafiya. Naija’s heaven could be truly monotonous. If you live outside the rock, have no access to orderlies; Buhari’s paradise could be uncannily accommodating. Among them are decampees, kidnapping, murder, Boko Haram, and herdsmen versus farmers, Biafra, Niger-Delta militancy and cultism in one nation. Even the privileged class hear the noise. Generally, even presidents need leave from the problems they fail to address – not necessarily ours though, such a hardworking man.