As I write this piece, forgive my optimism, but I am hoping that it will be the one article the president or someone quite close to him reads and says to him, there is something here. A meeting is called immediately to discuss the state of the nation, and after hours and hours of deliberations lasting through the night and into the better part of the morning, a decision is reached.
The decision reached? The president decides to put his legacy above the interest of his traducers. He decides he can be the Mandela of Nigeria, or even bigger. He will not be contesting the 2019 presidential elections anymore.
He says to those in the meeting, majority of whom had been telling him only what he wanted to hear all night, and urging him to hang in there until 2023 because it was his right to do so, that their party, if it wanted to capture the hearts of Nigerians in the next elections, must field someone else.
He then says to his shocked inner circle members, that he would not interfere in the conduct of the party primaries or try to influence its outcome, but if he had a say in the matter, as he should as leader of the party, he would throw his weight behind a much younger candidate.
The president suggests to them to look for an open-minded, healthier, very competent and progressive man or woman that can withstand the rigours of the office and is innovative, so it is not much of a challenge anymore harnessing and channelling the abundant talents and resourcefulness of the youths of this country that may be lost in his generation and the next if things remain the same.
When pressed by his kinsmen for the reason behind this shocking decision, when they on their part had pretty much cleared the way for him to be the only man standing on the podium in Eagle Square on the 29th of May 2019, the president is silent. He clears his throat and admits to them, because these are men from Daura he could trust completely, that he had not delivered on his campaign promises of 2015 and that four more years would make little or no difference in the way Nigerians now perceive him.
Speaker after speaker tried to assure him that it was not that bad and that he should not lose any sleep because of what little children and attention seekers on social media, who did not even have their PVC and would not bother to use it if they did, wrote about him. They insisted that the negative stories making the rounds were opposition-funded propaganda. But the president’s mind was made up.
Citing his recent trip to America as an example, the president reminded them of how poorly Nigerians thought of him, and how some people even wanted him to embarrass himself while overseas, just for likes and shares on their social media platforms. Those in that category did not mind that by wishing the worst for him, they were wishing embarrassment and shame on the entire country.
However, on that trip, he was happy that he held his own before Donald Trump, who even publicly declared that Nigeria was a “very beautiful country.” Coming from the American president, it was a huge compliment because anyone familiar with Mr. Trump would attest to the fact that he was not given to quick praise or exaggeration.
The president thought he handled himself very well before the Americans. His public speaking was on point and he even had a very smart, diplomatic and non-committal response to the “shit hole” question from that overzealous reporter during the joint press briefing in the White House. But people would rather pick holes in everything he said or did, rather than praise him for not forgetting to say fake news to everything he did not know the answer to, as his preparers had asked him to do.
Even when Trump kept hammering on Christians being attacked and killed under his watch, he made sure to duck that one deftly by blaming it on an enemy of America, the late Muammar Gadaffi and Libya again because muddying the waters was a sure-fire way of getting the 12 Tucano aircraft he paid $496m for without the approval and appropriation of the National Assembly as demanded by the laws of the land.
Still on the America trip, he added that he got what he wanted out of it, without having to suck up to Trump like Emmanuel Macron of France did when he visited earlier, but Nigerians did not want to acknowledge that fact and give him the accolade he deserved. Perhaps when the aircrafts are finally delivered to the military in two years’ time and they are used to decimate Boko Haram and other perpetrators of the bloodbath in the country once and for all, people would see the wisdom in his decision to circumvent the provisions of the constitution for the sake of ending this infinite war.
He told his staunch loyalists, that Nigerians were too impatient, and it was starting to get under his skin. He did not like that when his presidential jet made a quick “technical” stopover in London on his way back from the US; Nigerians chose to believe the worst. Instead of showing genuine concern for his wellbeing, because anything could have happened, they chose instead to speculate about his health.
Why did they have to make everything about his health and draw parallels between him and Senator John McCain who was foolish enough to disclose the true state of his health to the world just because he recently visited America? He did not think that it was anyone’s business to inquire about his ailment and if being on the campaign trail would mean talking about it, then he would rather leave quietly. After all, no other Nigerian, including those attacking him publicly, has gone on TVC to disclose their medical history.
He did not like that people could just talk and ask questions, something they would not have dared when he was Head of State in 1984. He did not like that he had to wait for a very antagonistic Senate and House of Representatives to say what he could or could not do or spend money on.
In a public statement issued the next day by Garba Shehu who needs no introduction, the president announces to the Nigerian people that, upon consultation with friends and well-wishers and in consideration of his wife’s body language and the untold hardship being reported daily by the free press, he would not be seeking re-election.
Call this wishful thinking, but is a man not allowed to dream?
Photo Credit: Information Nigeria