I woke up last Friday to find on my handset messages with strange questions: Is it true that people bath with blood in Aso Rock?
Are there demons in Aso Rock that make leaders take decisions that are not in the public interest?
Did you ever notice anybody walking head to the ground at the villa?
Is strange death a common phenomenon for people who work in Aso Rock?
Can you still perform your bedroom functions as a husband?
The questions, which I considered rather weird and ridiculous, kept coming in torrents; and even when a few made allusion to Dr. Reuben Abati, I honestly didn’t understand what the whole hoopla was all about.
That was until I got a mail from my friend, Wale Adebanwi, an associate professor at the University of California, Davis, United States.
Wale’s mail read: “Hi Sege, I trust that all is well.
“I am sure you’ve read Reuben Abati’s latest piece making the rounds about his experience when in office.
“Do you think there is a pattern to this that fits your own experience?
“As a student of power in Nigeria, I am wondering whether these are “isolated” experiences, even if meaningful, or if they constituted a consistent pattern of experiences over the long term; and, of course, the implications for public rule and governance.
“Did you “notice” similar “evil” during your time in the Villa? (I know you’re a deacon, so maybe you “rebuked them in Jesus name”!)
It was Wale’s mail that gave me a clue and I went to read Reuben.
I can say very quickly that his experience was different from mine; even when I will not discountenance his narrative.
But before going further, I need to respond to some of the specific questions. One, it is public knowledge that my boss died in office even though I have always attributed the fate that befell him to medical reasons.
Having confirmed that, the illness being managed at the period was of a terminal nature and it started long before he was elected president.
Two, to the glory of God, I lost no member of my family while in Aso Rock and none of my staff died.
Three, I had three children before I went into Aso Rock and I still have three children today. But that is not because I “cannot get it up” after leaving the Villa.
That last explanation is particularly important given what transpired last Sunday afternoon.
I was at Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja for the Open Day of my children when I got a call from the editor of THISDAY, Ms Ijeoma Nwogwugwu who asked “Shegs, are you okay?”
It was an unusual question to which I responded in the affirmative. But the moment she mentioned Reuben and started giggling, I knew what Ijeoma was driving at.
I simply passed the mobile handset to my wife who happened to be sitting by my side at the time.
It must have been an interesting conversation between the duo given the way my wife kept laughing.
When she was done, she narrated the exchange to me.
Ijeoma was not content with the fact that my “instrument” is still working, she asked my wife to compare and contrast, in full details, my “performance” before Aso Rock and now!
While it will be an interesting research topic to ascertain what happens “down below” to people who go to Aso Rock and return to tell their stories, it is important to deal with more substantive issues:
Did I make mistakes as presidential spokesman? For sure, I did and I accept responsibility for them.
Did my late boss take some decisions that turned out to be wrong in the course of his illness-punctuated stewardship? Yes, of course.
But so did practically all former heads of state, state governors and even school principals.
Would I attribute such decisions to witchcraft and demons lurking within the precincts of the Villa—where, by the way, I stayed with my family in a two-bedroom apartment? I will not.
Interestingly, Basil Enwegbara, in dismissing Reuben’s thesis, added his own theory by locating the “problem” at the doorsteps of the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA):
“Rather than some so-called evil spirits, it’s electromagnetic fences that discharge miraculous microwaves that turned the Presidential Villa into what it is today: a kind of psychiatric warehouse.
“The CIA has since built what’s known as electromagnetic fences around Nigeria’s Presidential Villa and by beaming the ‘right’ electromagnetic microwaves on those living and working there, with particular emphasis on one or more persons of critical interest, they are able to change their behavioural patterns by blocking specific brain circuits with the goal of creating those neurological discharges that lead to anti-masses and anti-patriotism and anti-development personality behaviours,” he wrote.
It is possible those CIA “fences” were built after my tour of duty at the Villa!
By sheer coincidence, Reuben’s piece was published on the same day Mrs Aisha Buhari joined Nigeria’s growing army of “wailing wailers”.
Mrs. Buhari had publicly criticised her husband in a BBC Hausa Service interview which prompted the president to issue a chauvinistic counter in Germany that his wife’s business does not extend beyond his kitchen and “the other room”.