Published On: Fri, Mar 17th, 2017

PMB, welcome back

On February 3, this year, I did a piece in this space entitled “Buhari and his hyena citizens”. That was barely two weeks into his medical vacation in faraway London. In that write-up, I drew an analogy to paint the picture of those who earnestly wished for his death. And the death wishers whom I described as hyenas were many… as many as those who voted against him in the 2015 presidential polls. Their number could even be more considering the hunger and anger in the land as a result of the bitter pills being administered to heal the ailing economy.

Remember that medications that are efficacious, like the malaria drugs, do not taste palatable in the mouth!
For the benefit of those who did not read the February 3 story, it will be necessary to do a quick rehash here. I had likened the president’s health challenge to an encounter a hyena had with a solitary hunter who was returning home after a fruitless expedition.

Resting his dane gun on the clavicle and holding it in place with his left hand, he swung his right arm by his side as he navigated his way. Midway, a hyena spotted him and trailed him furtively. The predator was intelligent enough not to challenge a seemingly frustrated hunter that was armed to the hilt.

The hyena, however, observed that unlike the other parts of the hunter’s body which were in place as he sauntered along, his right arm was dangling loosely by his side. In its animalistic reasoning, it believed that sooner than later, the semi-detached, swinging arm would fall from his body… for its dinner!
But the hyena began to have a rethink when the semi-detached arm refused to part with the rest of the body as the hunter approached the outskirts of the village. Sensing that it could risk becoming the hunted if it trailed a bit further, the hyena turned tail to wait for another day.

President Muhammadu Buhari had typified the swinging arm of the hunter. For close to 50 days, the Nigerian hyenas waited and waited, prayed and prayed and hoped against hope for the hunter’s loose arm to drop. In fact, they were dying to hear the bad news. Where it was not forthcoming, they decided to play God and “killed” him technologically. In this era of social media, you can kill, kill and kill using the instrumentality of photo shop.

Buhari suffered that fate. Rumours of his death began to make the rounds even while the engine of the Presidential aircraft that flew him to London was still warm. It got to a stage that I did not know what to believe again. At a point, I had to send a text message to my good friend and Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, in London. His quick response was quite reassuring… his boss was not only alive and kicking but would also return home soon.

In that February 3 piece, I recalled the hospitalisation of the former president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, for thyroid cancer in January 2012. Large pockets of prayer warriors converged on the hospital precincts not to wish her dead under the knife. No. They prayed for a successful surgery and God answered their supplications.

Those were people who loved their president and stood by her as she hovered between life and death.
The Argentina experience seemed to be a wake-up call for a nation in slumber. Suddenly, churches and mosques came alive. Prominent Nigerians, professional bodies, NGOs and the commoners got bitten by the prayer bug.

I take credit for that because prior to my write-up, very few folks, if any at all, saw the need to pray away the death WISH that hanged on his head like the Sword of Damocles. And God answered the supplications. For, last Friday, the “resurrected” Buhari flew into Kaduna amid wild jubilations and was helicoptered to Abuja. Not many jubilants across the nation believed he would arrive on the appointed day.  Take it or leave it, God loves this country.

And He disappointed everybody, so to speak… those who hate Buhari as to wish him dead and those who would have bayed for blood if he had been brought back dead.
In the spirit of “old soldier no dey die”, the gangling President returned to the saddle on Monday to continue from where he left off, thus bringing falsehood, photo shopping, angst and death wishes to an unexpected denouement.

Lest I forget, while Buhari was away on his medical vacation, all manner of stories asphyxiated the cyber space. There is no space to recall them here. But the one that stood out dangerously said he was poisoned. However, while giving an insight into the nature of his ailment, Buhari did not suggest that he was laced with poison as was rumoured by a cleric. He spoke about blood transfusion and warned against self-medication. Medical self-help is a primordial practice in this country.

Most of us practise it!
In fact, in Nigeria, everyone is a physician. Factors that promote medical self-help are legion. Among them are POVERTY (my emphasis) and high cost of healthcare services. They are part of the reasons why many patronise quacks who also dispense fake and/or expired drugs because they come very cheap. The President would do us a world of good if he dedicates his survival to freeing Nigerians from the killer jaws of medical self-help by ensuring accessibility to affordable medicare.

Welcome back, Mr. President, but take it easy. Your second-in-command, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, in whom you are well pleased, did a good job while you were away. Significant among them were the quelling of restiveness in the Niger Delta region which pushed crude oil output to over 2m barrels per day. Some whistle blowers also did an excellent job. What is more…the naira even firmed up across the board! You could not have made a better choice.

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