Wednesday, January 25, 2017 2:18 pm
By Bola Bolawole
Our president is off again, the third time in a year, on medical trip to the United Kingdom! Usually, presidential spin doctors, in their vain efforts to pull the wool over our eyes, call the trips “short leave” and they will then drop the hint, as an addendum, that the president would take advantage of the short leave to also see his doctors for medical check-up. Whatever it is that they are trying to hide, it is obvious that such a thing is not hidden at all. The order of their story all the time ought to have been reversed, for the real reason why President Muhammaddu Buhari goes on these short breaks is to seek medical attention for a health condition that does not sit pretty with him. Is there any man who does not fall sick or take ill? Is there anyone of the age of Mr. President who does not nurse one ailment or another? As a soldier who had seen action in war situations, it is not unusual if the president is said to have hearing problems.
In 1992 when I was to be promoted editor of a national newspaper, a meeting whose agenda I knew nothing about was to be held. We three went to the meeting wondering what it could be all about. When the meeting started, we realised it was going to be about promotion and the greater surprise to me was when the promotions were reeled out. I went into the meeting as the Acting Deputy Editor supervising the editing and production of the Sunday edition but not officially signing it, and came out of it as the substantive editor of the daily edition! In those days, the same person took charge of the daily edition from Monday to Saturday, making a total of six days in a week. I had thought if at all promotion was coming my way, I would be made the substantive editor of the Sunday edition because there was a colleague of mine who was the Acting Deputy Editor (Daily).
Naturally, I had thought this man, far older than me in age as well as number of years in the profession, would step up to be editor of the daily while I would be editor of the Sunday. At that meeting, however, the order was reversed: He was made Editor of the Sunday (only one edition) and I, Editor of the bigger Daily (six editions). This man and I thought we did not hear clearly or, rather, that a mistake had been made but the Oga who made the decision told us nothing of such had happened; and that he meant exactly what he had just said. It was a mixture of joy and sadness for me. I was getting used to working on the Sunday title and loved the opportunity it afforded me to travel around the country ferreting stories and interviews. Seeing the paper grow to overshadow the Daily was a thing of joy for me. I had thought I would do that job for more years; fully establish the Sunday title as the best and largest selling newspaper before moving up. So, in a sense, I was sad.
Of course, I could not have been sadder than my colleague who thought he had been short-changed and he wasted no time to express his reservations. The Oga who was making the decisions appeared ready for him or any eventualities. For the 11 years that I worked in that organisation, only once did I see Oga taken in by surprise but not on this occasion. He said he could explain his action if asked to do so. My colleague demanded that he did and when he gave his reason, deep silence fell on the room. He said he had noticed that my colleague was hard in hearing in one of his ears and giving him the job of editing six titles in a week, which would entail an endless traffic of many publics, would stretch him beyond limit.
That was the very first time I would hear that this man suffered any such disability but he himself did not controvert Oga. Later, I confirmed that many of our other colleagues were also in possession of that critical information. It was as if I was the only one ignorant of it. My colleague’s misfortune, if I could call it that, arose from his being a soldier in the Biafra Army during the civil war of 1967 – 1970 and a bomb had exploded close to him during hostilities, which appeared to have permanently damaged one of his ears. To this day, I would not know which one, whether left or right, but those who claimed to know said whenever you talked with him from the direction of the damaged ear, he would not hear you. He had to turn the good hear to pick the message.
I have gone to this length to demonstrate that there is nothing unusual about anyone suffering in one ear; maybe the same civil war that affected my colleague’s hearing also affected the President’s. Even if Buhari’s ear infection is from another source, we can still understand. Thank God, without having to disclose his ailments during electioneering campaigns, he has already climbed to the highest pinnacle of power that this country can offer. What else is holding Buhari back from coming into the open and saying the truth? Grapevine sources say the president needs surgery and six full months out of the Presidency to treat himself to full recovery. He should go for it. These stop-gap measures simply will not do. Remember the late President Umaru Yar’Adua? Once bitten, they say, twice shy. As it is, grapevine sources say this ear infection is badly affecting Buhari’s performance in office. Nigeria and Nigerians are suffering for it; but for how long, if I may ask. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear!
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