The quip by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, that the president takes him for a son has been commented almost to exhaustion. Let us take up some aspects that may not have been really touched. And one key part of it is the lack of appreciation, by both Osinbajo and commentators, that politics is less and less about people and more and more about forces or powers at work and play. And it is on record we have campaigned remorselessly in our books and articles for this understanding.
And there is the added angle which we have also repeatedly canvassed. It is that President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the elected president is not the father of the nation. President Buhari is the father of his children and nothing more in this department. Thus whoever has lost his father should let the matter lie or go to his god for consolation. President Buhari or any president anywhere in the known world, is not elected to be anybody’s surrogate father or foster guardian. And the matter has nothing to do with age. It is just that an office, whatever office, does not make or warrant one to be another’s father. Fatherhood is another business. Fatherhood is not governmental business.
So it is rather tasteless for a working vice president to accede to a dubious honour of being treated or joked at really, as a son. The errors are as follows. Even if Osinbajo is young enough to be Buhari’s biological grandson, the fact of his being vice president makes him a representative of forces and powers that are as ancient and aged, as those Buhari wields or represents. And as representative of forces, not his person, Osinbajo’s roles and speeches should be in tandem with that reality. He should not let anybody bewitch him into conceding ‘’sonship’’ to the protagonist’s ‘’fathership.’’
And as if to confirm Osinbajo opinion of himself as a son of his boss, it was thus within the remit of President Buhari to deem Osinbajo not grown up enough to run shop while the boss, sorry his father, is away. Osinbajo may thus only coordinate, not run the country while the boss-father is away. Of course it is in the interest of the family fortune that Osinbajo’s faltering hands should be girded by those of the cabal. The cabals are to be taken as Osinbajo’s uncles and small daddies. This is a standard familial precaution, lest he a son destroys the family vaults taking them for mere toys. That is rather than act as his father he is told to coordinate. His arms are too infirm, too fragile for the iron roles of the fathers’.
The other issue is that they have privatised and personalised the presidency, perhaps without intending or knowing it. If what Osinbajo attributes to Buhari is true, it then follows that Buhari treats Osinbajo as being Vice president by his, that is Buhari’s generosity. Thus it may be said that in the line of this thinking, the vice presidency slot is not considered a requirement of an institutional and impersonal constitution. Perhaps at the back of the mind of those who think this way will be a burning lore. It is that President Buhari may never have begged Nigerians to make him president, that is to make him a servant of the peoples of Nigeria. They may slip into a ‘’default mode’’ that Buhari is now our messiah. And that means that his election was not really by votes but by divine mandate, almost like of the kings of the old. That is to say that this macabre cocktail of coordinating, ‘’sonship’’ and ‘’fathership’’ is fraught with deeper dangers than is apparent. And these dangers rage against our very existence as a proud and free democratic peoples.
And one last fact on this. Whenever anything happens the television stations call up lawyers almost exclusively. Well lawyering is all permissive and touches on nearly all issues of society. But law is not everything. There are certain things that only the law cannot capture. So it is indicated that those who keep the media gate should widen it further. For instance, in this issue it would have been meet to talk to a retired bureaucrat, perhaps attached to the presidency, and get his perspectives on the guiles of drafting letters.
If one was invited, we are sure the mischief in the act and letter would have been proved. First bureaucrats are famous for taking no imaginative leaps. Save the circumstances are entirely new bureaucrats have model letters to pattern their missives. In fact, the matter is so repetitive that often times it is only the signatures of the desk officers and dates that change. And immediately the main body or trust of a missive deviates from the model then there must be reasons for it. A lawyer who perhaps has never been a bureaucrat may never get to know or imagine this. So it is not only the words, the registers that matter. To the writing and penning of writers in bureaucracies there are methods to the madness. There is a culture of copy, paste and be safe.
Minna becomes a new mecca
And Minna almost rivalled mecca as the place to be. What happened? Apparently, former dictator General Ibrahim Babangida was giving out the hands of his daughter in marriage. Thus if any of those big and famous names told you he was at Minna to bear witness to Babangida joining his daughter and his prospective son in-law in happy matrimony, he is telling you the truth. But he is not telling you the whole truth.
Minna was not just a conjugal mecca, more importantly it was a political Damascus. Political stalwarts went there not just to see and be seen. They went in their hundreds to change or be changed. And it is the embarrassing failures of the APC-led government upon Nigeria that is remaking IBB, that is Babangida as his admirers call him. Due to this APC-led disaster of the federal government, the IBB era looks and shines as our golden age. And the man himself is turning up something of a universal uncle and don’t believe it, a genuine sage. Genuine sage? Yes, after all what has befallen Nigeria he predicted in his coup speech. So going to Minna was a form of political pilgrimage. Folks went to confess their headstrong foolishness and beg for a new grace. Some went to ask the grandmaster: We are your children, guide us to new Eldorado. It is a pity things have turned this bend.
Even a leading minister in the present APC-led government conceded much – in a slip of tongue? The current Minister of Interior, retired General Abdurrahman Dambuzau was lavishly quoted as claiming that the rainbow gathering at Minna was proof that the country is now at peace. His thesis bears added urgency in light of a fact. It is the fact of his principal having left the country on health grounds That is with the gathering at IBB’s Minna-mecca and the president’s absence, there is peace in Nigeria. Perhaps you needed the absence of the one and the gathering onto the other to manufacture peace in Nigeria? Was that what the minister was trying to say?
But it was one of the participants who gave the sharpest insight of why they gathered to transfigure Minna into a mecca. For him they have come to Minna to celebrate a man who has an open and future-driven vision of Nigeria. This is in contradistinction to those, he implied, who run Nigeria today imprisoned by their past, who have self-rigged themselves with their primordial vision of everything. That was a jaw cutting uppercut on APC and all that it represents.
Of course many APC peoples were there. But feelers suggest that they are in clear regret of the tone of the present federal government. They thus came to buy in into the new Nigeria that is to emerge, if Nigeria as an entity is to survive at all. And that is where the Babangida model or moral comes in.
And what is the Babangida logic or model? It is similar to what Professor Pat Utomi has been canvassing. Apparently Professor Utomi never was given or himself found a chance to experiment his visions. The Utomi thesis, which he attributes to an American source is that it is better to have every guy in, pissing out, than some guys out, pissing in. In a word the best working policy is to be all inclusive. For whatever else is Babangida’s faults – which may many sins in the holy books – even his foes grant that he was a clubbable fellow. And that is speaking in power terms. He shared power or so it appeared like grandees share cognac, or better as the Igbo share kola. That is even the least guy is guaranteed a little. So in giving out his daughter Babangida caused men to remember things past and the tragedy urgency of now.
Certainly, on a backdrop of IBB’s reign, this APC-led federal government, is the worst others-excluding, most insular, most tribal, most terribly religionist contraption ever, over Nigeria. It is so bad, so tragi-comic, that Nigeria is run in the name of the father, and the son and a ruined country.