Tattered Presidency

Tattered Presidency

Saturday, May 6, 2017 8:57 am

Bola Bolawole

By Bolanle Bolawole

The vexed issue of the health of President Muhammadu Buhari has become a recurring decimal but Gov. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state would say he told us! We were the one who refused to heed Fayose’s warning. We also had antecedents to fall back upon but, in our collective wisdom or foolishness, we ignored them all. Buhari would be the fourth or fifth leader of this country that has reportedly ailed while in office, beginning with self-styled military President Ibrahim Babangida, who suffered from radiculopathy. IBB’s ailment was hidden from the public until it could no longer be hidden and he frequented France or wherever for treatment before his ignoble “stepping aside”.

In recent times he has become a recluse of some sort and until we see him in public again, we will not be able to confirm or discard the rumours making the rounds about his “radiculopathy”. The dark-goggled one, Gen. Sani Abacha, had health issues that were hidden from the public and he died in office in circumstances that were never officially explained. The health status of Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, who succeeded him, was discussed in hushed voices throughout his short tenure but as God would have it, the one who was dubbed “sickly” survived and is still kicking hard to this day. Not only did Umaru Yar’Adua, the terminally-sick two-term governor of Katsina state that former President Olusegun Obasanjo literally single-handedly imposed on the country die in office, his health issues were deliberately managed in such a disastrous manner by the cabal that held him hostage that it nearly imperilled the country. And now we have Buhari, whose health issues – and the cost of his treatment at public expense – are being treated as state secret, such that a State House correspondent who commented on it was declared “persona non grata” and harried out of the Presidential Villa by a power-drunk Chief Security Officer to the President.

The expulsion added a new, dangerous, and frightening dimension to the dangers the nation is being subjected to by the many independent, competing, and conflicting “presidencies” within the Presidency who are taking advantage of the ill-health of the President to foist their own rule on the nation. We should take note that the power-intoxicated CSO expelled the correspondent without recourse to the President’s media office, and, possibly, without recourse to any other higher authorities or the President himself. The expelled journalist did no wrong other than reporting the activities of the Presidency and holding the government accountable to the people as enunciated by the nation’s Constitution.

This confirms what we have said repeatedly that competing and conflicting cabals are those ruling the country, taking advantage of the ill-health of the President. Recall, also the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David Babachir’s sarcastic but fully-loaded salvo of “who is the Presidency” when journalists asked him to comment on his suspension from office. There are many strongmen in the Buhari Presidency who are exploiting the lacuna created by the President’s ill-health to act and behave presidential. They are holding the President hostage and will not allow him go abroad to take care of his health. They hide under the cloak of his ill-health to issue orders and directives under the subterfuge of “the President has directed” when, in actual fact, the President knew nothing of such directives.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr, Femi Adesina, said the Media Office of Mr. President knew nothing about the expulsion of the PUNCH correspondent, Olalekan Adetayo. Except for a power-drunk and audacious CSO, how can so far-reaching a decision, having national and international implications, be taken without the knowledge of the Media Office, which is the professional arm in charge of such matters? In addition to the many “presidencies” within the Presidency that was obvious to all before this sordid and unsavoury event, we must now add the “presidency” of CSO Bashir Abubakar! His action, unfortunately, is bound to portray this country in bad light to the international community that respects freedom of the press. According to Adesina, “President Buhari is committed to press freedom”. This being the case, the prompt reversal of the expulsion is not enough – the offending CSO must himself be booted out of the Presidency to serve as deterrence to others. Otherwise, we would be right to believe, like Babachir insinuated, that there are sacred cows within the Presidency; it could also mean, if not now but very soon, a return to those terrifying days of Decree 4 of 1984 when Buhari as military dictator took away press and peoples’ freedom and imposed his dictatorship on Nigerians.

Did you take notice of ex-Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode’s comments that the embattled Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ayodele Oke, confided in him (Femi) that he wanted to act as fall guy for a former governor now Minister on the issue of the billions unearthed in a Lagos luxury flat by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) but that he (Femi) advised him not to, warning that he would be used and dumped? Can this be true? The NIA D-G is on suspension while a probe into the matter, headed by Vice- President Yemi Osinbajo, is on-going. The probe panel should not just invite, it must compel Femi to attend. Did Oke make the statement he was quoted to have made by the ex-Minister? Will Oke own up under interrogation or will he give the lie to the Ex-Minister? The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth must be brought to the public. One thing is sure, though: At the end of this investigation, it is either the final nail is driven into the coffin of the anti-corruption war or the tottering war receives a new lease of life.

Talk of death and that of the first civilian governor of Osun state and serving Senator, Isiaka Adeleke, aka “Serubawon” (“Frighten them”) was shocking and frightening. He was not sick – at least, not any known to the public. Adeleke hails from Ede, in Osun state. I was at his Ede country when my friend and professional colleague, Wale Ojo, was his Media Advisor; Serubawon had just been appointed chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Calabar then. As the race for the 2018 governorship election in Osun state begins to shape up, Serubawon was one of those who had reportedly indicated interest in the contest. By rotational permutation, the next governorship candidate of Osun on the ticket of the so-called progressives should come from Osun-west, which is Serubawon’s senatorial district; if we consider that Bisi Akande represented Osun-central and the incumbent governor, Rauf Aregbesola, represents Osun-east.

Now that Serubawon has been eliminated by death – we hope it is by natural causes and not by foul means as some of his supporters and relations are alleging – a big void has been created in Ede in particular and Osun-west in general. In political parlance, a huge political threat has been eliminated, creating great opportunities where none hitherto existed. One man’s loss is another’s gain; as unfortunate as this is, it is the reality of life. We witnessed it at the national level when President Umaru Yar’Adua’s loss became Jonathan’s gain and in Kogi where Audu Abubakar worked for another to eat.

Some deaths can greatly trouble the polity; Kogi is yet to recover from Audu’s and Ede/Osun-west may not recover from Adeleke’s for some time to come. Yar’Adua’s nearly scattered the country. So, it is understandable why the country is in panic mode over the President’s health. Playing the ostrich is not the solution. The cabal around Buhari should let him take good care of his health. Half word is enough for the wise!


I admire your intrepid and truthful exposition of the above subject matter of April 2, 2017 (Between the Presidency and National Assembly). In different parts of Nigeria, people know that the war on corruption can hardly be won by the present Federal Government because it is discriminatorily executed. Regrettably, we are too docile as nationals of this country to protest the abuses of the Executive and Legislative arms of Government. I also read your article of April 9, 2017 (Too big for Oyegun’s feet). Frankly speaking, PMB and Oyegun have destroyed the APC. Your suggestions for the party are good but do you believe that the members of the President’s kitchen cabinet will allow the suggestions to work? I perceive that many Nigerians are waiting for 2019 to say goodbye to APC. I am not amazed that Oyegun is not performing as the National Chairman of APC. When he was governor of Edo State for a brief period, he performed woefully. I have always rated him as the worst Governor of Edo State since its creation. – Deacon Dapo Omotoso, Ado Ekiti.

What I enjoy most in your write-ups is the blunt truth you speak, not minding whose ox is gored – but do these people ever read you? The Buhari presidency cannot be easily identified because it is ambiguous or amorphous. May God give us a godly Presidency that will lead the nation with divine direction! Kindly remember my request that you turn your searchlight on Kogi state whose governor started with screening and ended it only last month! He has not paid civil servants, teachers, and local government workers in 15months. That is the truth! – Adeoye Ajadi.

I quite cherish your piece of Sunday 2nd April (Between the Presidency and National Assembly). When you said in your introductory paragraph that you have 1001 reasons to weigh-in on the side of the National Assembly, I was taken aback but I prompted myself to read on and, behold, you got it spit and spat. The contents were factual and the delivery exhibited rate courage. I also agree absolutely with your write-up of Sunday, 16th April (On EFCC: When silence is golden) that the Buhari administration is “opaque and disrespectful to the electors”. Indeed, your closing paragraph gives me (and, I believe, other well-meaning Nigerians as well) a sense of foreboding – 07088548496.

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