On Saturday, December 17, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly celebrated his 74th birthday anniversary with a special birthday parade and inspection of the Guard of Honour mounted for him by the Nigerian army.
According to media reports, this birthday parade by the armed forces for Mr. President took place at fore-court of the Presidential villa, Abuja, and was reportedly witnessed by members of the top echelon of both the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigeria Army, in addition to other retinue of government officials: aides, Ministers, well-wishers and sycophants alike.
No doubt, President Muhammadu Buhari has every reason (as it pleases him) to celebrate his birthday or anything whatsoever and however it appeals to him.
After all, he has got both the wherewithal and, now (unlike before now), a bandwagon of friends to attend any event (including a birthday party) he organizes or so wishes to organize.
However, to say the least, it certainly boggles one’s mind how a President of a country (whose house is currently on fire and thus) weathering an unprecedented storms of economic recession could, in the midst of hunger, hardship, anguish and sundry other national misfortunes in the land, gleefully order/sanction that a Guard of Honour be mounted for him to inspect, in puerile celebration of his birthday anniversary (?).
Meanwhile, and more disappointing of all, this apparently misplaced priority in the form of a birthday celebration happened to be coming at a time one of his most important appointees and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, reportedly inflated and allocated stupendous sums of money to his ICT company as workmanship for the job of cutting grasses as well as allegedly executing fictitious contracts in a way completely antithetical to the dictates and demands of his office, thereby impoverishing further the lives of Internally Displaced Persons bivouacking in the Boko Haram ravaged region (all in his capacity as a key member of the Presidential Initiative for the North-East).
Incidentally, this roundly deplorable corrupt attitude of the SGF is best adjudged nothing less than sheer act of gross insensitivity and callousness of highest order.
Yet, unbelievably, all of this is happening right under the nose and watchful eye of a so-called anti-corruption crusader (?).
Until his election and swearing in as a democratic President, many a Nigerian had often lived in the illusion that the person of Muhammadu Buhari was not given to materialism of any kind;
– that he had no house in Abuja unlike the case of all the past Nigerian Heads of state;
– that he lived such an austere life style which seemed to endear him to the poor masses and the downtrodden alike;
– that he detested looting of public funds under any guise and, invariably, disliked all those who indulge in such a sordid act.
Arguably, though, and as some of his followers are wont to argue, all of this might not have been somewhat unfounded.
But then, juxtaposing all the foregoing with the news reports of a helipad being built for Mr. President in his home country (of Katsina state) and, now comes, a birthday party made spectacularly colorful by officers of the Nigeria army who mounted a Guard of Honour for the same man hitherto reputed, revered and/or regarded for ostensibly being averse to all sorts of goodies of life, smacks of a good deal of curiosity.
By analogy, this is in fact no less than the case of a Chichidodo – a Ghanaian proverbial bird that seriously dislikes feaces but likes eating maggots a lot.
Paradoxically, saving the cost of governance in Nigeria is always President Muhammadu Buhari’s talking point, yet living it out in times of need and in deed is practically impossible for him, so far.
As it were, if there is anybody in Nigeria today who should avoid and/or reject an idea of organizing a public birthday celebration because of the enormous task before him in this challenging time of economic recession, that person is no other than President Muhammadu Buhari.
Unfortunately, though, we live in country where anything goes – no thanks therefore to those who regard Nigerians and their incongruous modus operandi as an embodiment of animals in the zoo.
Onyiorah Paschal Chiduluemije, a Journalist, writes from Abuja & can be contacted via: +23407012130204