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The Nigeria-Prays-For-Buhari Competition – By Reuben Abati

After my “I want to go to London… to see Buhari” article, I received a lot of feedback from persons who were either amused or dead serious over the list

After the publication of my column last week, titled “I want to go to London… to see Buhari”, I received a lot of feedback from persons who were either amused or dead serious that they had been overlooked in my compilation of the list of persons who should go to London. 

One fellow asked:

“Abati, you left out the Miyetti Allah and the cattle herders of Nigeria.”

“Excuse me?”

“Yes, they too will like to go to London”

“With due respect, to go and herd cattle?”

“No, to visit the President and reassure him about the welfare of his cattle”

“My friend, are we talking about cattle or the health of Mr. President?”

“We are talking about everything and anything that can ensure the President’s speedy recover.”

“Speedy recovery!”

“Speedy recover!”

“My friend, it is speedy recovery, not speedy recover!”

“That is your problem. You spend too much time worrying about grammar and big words you don’t oftentimes know what to do. Look at you, you even left out local government chairmen. You left out an important organization like ALGON, the umbrella body of local government chairmen. You also did not insist that there should be a special resolution of the National Assembly in both chambers authorizing that a formal joint delegation should be sent to London to see the President, instead of the Senate President and the Speaker sneaking to London, behind everyone else’s back.”

Candidly, I didn’t know what to say.  But just about then, I received a text message and a phone call.

“Abati”

“Yes?”

“I don’t like that your article. An old man is ill, and you are mocking him with your pen.”

“No. You are misreading the article.  That is not my message. I understand that a President is a human being. No President has supernatural immunity. It is not unusual for any human being to have a medical challenge.”  

“I didn’t get that message. You sounded like you were having fun, with your article dripping with cruel sarcasm. You have to be careful how you come across.  You were just busy throwing yabis up and down. Are you Fela?”

“Calm down. My point is that the President’s stay in London should not become an opportunity for eye service, which is the biggest enterprise in Nigeria. Before you know it now, everybody will start trooping to London to see the President, and that will create too many leaking buckets, a lot of waste. I tried to use the vehicle of humour and laughter to ridicule and stop that.”

“I have said my own. Maybe you should re-read the article. When they decide to do something about you, don’t just say your friends abandoned you. If you want to be a standup comedian, make up your mind.  But this one that every time you carry your pen, you’ll start making jest of serious national matters in the name of writing, well, na you sabi oh.”

No writer should be placed under pressure to explain his own message.  Language is invariably embodied, iconic, symbolic, semiotic and hence open to interpretations relative to levels of perception.  So, I gave up on that conversation. But I was vindicated a few days ago. Another friend called, also anxious to discuss the most important subject in Nigeria today: President Buhari’s health and absence. 

“Ore, ki la ri wi, ki l’on sele, ewo lewo, omo boy”

“Abati”

“How are you?”

“Have you noticed something?”

“What?”

“Since you wrote that article on your plan to go to London, people have stopped going to London or they have stopped them. When last did you see anybody posing for a photo opportunity with Sai Baba in front of Abuja house?”

“They are probably still going. London is Nigeria’s new Holy land. It may well just be that they are no longer publicizing the visits.”

“If there is no publicity, then very few people will go. A handshake with the President shown to all Nigerians, while the President is on medical exile, can open many doors for many people.”

“Medical exile. I like that phrase.”

“Forget that. I am not here to discuss grammar.  I have a business idea that I think we can discuss.  What you don’t know is that some people are already exploiting the business opportunities involved in Sai Baba’s absence.”  

“How?”

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