By Philip Agbese
All President Muhammadu Buhari’s media aides occupy a special place in my heart. It is not easy to discharge the arduous obligation of defending a leader who is deliberately and nastily persecuted. Of all the aides, however, Mr Femi Adesina and Mallam Garba Shehu have caught my endless admiration.
Each time I read their pieces and analyses of national issues, it gives me a feeling of soul-renewal and rebirth. Their catchy dictions, choice of words, simplicity, composition mien, conciseness and potency of the message expressed in a subtle ricochet of an otherwise, explosive national issue, disarms and impresses me infinitely.
Just on Sunday, Mallam Garba Shehu stole my heart again when he appeared on a Television Continental (TVC) programme. Mallam Shehu was expected to be all Greek to a question on his superior’s insistence on the current Service Chiefs. However, Mallam Shehu displayed bravery, calmness and aptitude with his response, stating that President Buhari sees what his critics don’t. It was a befitting reply that is not only true about a leader and his followers but an unassailable fact in every clime.
I know, some people hate President Buhari. The irony is that some of those who hate him cannot give any real reason. All they know is that some leaders must be hated; they must be despised and belittled. But my President does not care about it. He loves everyone and every Nigerian. He believes we all have a shared destiny in this country and everyone should act his part.
But in spite of his apathy to the invasive eruptions of haters and the indifference to their antics against his administration, others have chosen to become wailers. They are nervous that he does not care about their bellicose vituperations on him. So, this clan of Nigerians freely whine about President Buhari. They obtrude faces and cheeks with dry tears every now and then over his “change” administration. They condemn every of his decision.
Sometimes, certain people make me feel the democratic doctrine of the rule of the majority is an ass. But it is not! We cannot all perish with twine on our necks because of the silly and sinister indiscretions of others.
I know a few of the wailers. Where are the wailers now? The obsession now is with the Military and President Buhari’s discretion to retain the Service Chiefs. The wailers want them out by all means. We think President Buhari is brainless enough and so, must govern Nigeria with the template defined by each one of us. Where are those who want the military out of Borno? Where are the political jobbers who want the Service Chiefs sacked? The howling irony is that the campaigners fail to convince me and the man on the street over their verdict on the Service Chiefs.
They tell us the Service Chiefs have overstayed their tenures in office. This is too simplistic. The few sane ones say the Service Chiefs are not performing enough in quelling Nigeria’s litany of insecurities. Therefore, their sight is perpetually blurred to notice the much Nigeria’s Service Chiefs have done in securing the country.
But yesterday, the same scoffed Service Chiefs secured the freedom of the kidnapped Kankara and Mahuta schoolchildren. And today, it is public knowledge that the formerly invincible Boko Haram factional leader, Abubakar Shekau is crippled in the frontlines and cannot lead his co-fighters to battle against Nigeria. Today, Nigeria is no longer sharing any part of her territory with insurgents or terrorists. But our lips are too heavy to echo a simple and priceless “thank you.”
I am excited that the permanent wailers are silent now. They are hibernating in their cocoons and in shame. The Military has silenced them all. Our service chiefs have put all the naysayers to shame and conducted their mass “funeral”. And in conformity with our sworn idiosyncrasies, we have refused to recognize that the Chief of Army Staff and his men were fully on the ground throughout the last Yuletide/New Year festivities and thwarted all the plans of the enemies to cause us pains.
We never experienced the carnivals of bloodbath akin to such seasons. In Zamfara state alone, over 50 bandits were killed and several of their evil camps and dens, destroyed in less than 30 days by men of “Operation Sahel Sanity.” This milestone forced Deji Adeyanju, one of the paid critics of the Buhari administration to say, 2021 is a year of the Nigerian Army. Lt. Gen TY Buratai is doing the wonders. He is doing all the magic and performing the miracles on insecurities. He desires and labours to see all Nigerians sleep with two eyes closed.
Now, can we sight salvation at last or see the wisdom in President Buhari’s decision to maintain his Service Chiefs or forever remain blind critics. Like my brother and friend, Mallam Garba Shehu said; “it is indeed true that President Buhari sees what wailers cannot see.” The President knows the Service Chiefs by their names; he knows the traits of each one of them and he knows their professional competence. He knows the problem of insecurities in Nigeria and can still tell how best to resolve the challenges.
Not all valleys are decked by blue colours at sunset. The decisions of a leader may not appeal to the peripheral senses of some of us. But incontrovertibly, these actions are proven to be worthy with time, as the issue of Service Chiefs. No leader plans to fail; every leader angles to succeed. In the quiet moments of a leader, his mind is invaded with multiple incongruent thoughts; both genuine and fake. He must be imbued with King Solomon’s wisdom to break even.
Regrettably, unknown to a reasonable proportion of homo sapiens, the most dangerous and tormenting times, one’s life is the bubbles of undulating thoughts in sober moments. I initially underrated sobriety as merely one of the several mysteries of nature. But I have come to understand these moments as the most perilous of times in one’s life.
And it does not matter whether sobriety grips a leader, such as a President, Governor or parliamentarian. The unalterable truth is that sober moments are no respecter of persons, gender, marital status, biological roots or professional calling, urchins and even beggars. We find ourselves on the same plane.
At such lone moments, it becomes extremely difficult to filter from the surfeit of conflicting views, chaffs from the grain or perspectives which are genuine or fake. That’s when a man, especially a leader needs to be careful to allow his conscience and soul speak truth to his person. It’s worse for leaders, who are bombarded with irrationalities in the guise of advice and counsels. These advisory pressures emanate from disparate backgrounds and interests.
Any wrong step or decision automatically translates into an irreversible calamity proportionate to the prophesied apocalypse. Our leaders face this dilemma every day, they wake up and go to bed for a night rest. The faint-hearted hardly withstand these pressures; only the strong breed deflates them to the end in glorious ambience.
My heart is gladdened because President Buhari has overcome these leadership foibles. He easily wades off unnecessary pressures of lobbyists and critics. He sighted the treasures in the Service Chiefs and punched the pressures to retain them.
And like Garba inferred; “The engagement of the Service Chiefs is not a tenured appointment. There is no part of the law that says the Chief of Army staff must serve for two years. Then, after two years, he must go. He serves at the pleasure of the President. Now, the President has said he will make changes. When will he make those changes? It is entirely up to him. I think Nigerians should give him the benefit of the doubt.”
I am a proud nationalist and fully in support of the Armed Forces of Nigeria now. I am in support of Gen. TY Buratai and the Nigerian Army. I am a proud supporter of the Buhari Presidency. Nigeria must succeed. No turning back. And in 2021, the Nigerian Army will continue to conduct mass burial for its wailers and maligners. So help us, God!
Agbese is the Okanga 1 of AgilaLand and wrote from Benue State.