By Sufuyan Ojeifo
A number of dramatic incidents have been recorded since President Muhammadu Buhari came out on the hustings, preparatory to the February 16 presidential election. Those incidents have compelled a revisit of the Jubril el-Sudaniya narrative. Politicians’ imaginations are fertile in the making of propaganda and deployment of the same in demonising the other camp and its members.
To be sure, the narrative, as it had since been confirmed, was from the outset, nothing but a carefully-crafted tale by a doctor of spins about a celebrated impersonator in Aso Rock Presidential Villa who, in fact, resided in the prolific mind of the man who concocted the epic fiction. But the tragedy at the time was that the gullibility of Nigerians was assailed such that the issue was enjoying some hush-hush discussions.
I could not come to terms with the dangerous rumour until I saw on YouTube, an address by the leader of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, to a motley crowd at only-God-knows-where, talking authoritatively about a “Buhari-double” in the nation’s Presidential Villa. It was at that point I knew the source of the rumour.
Even at that, Kanu cut the image of an incredulous narrator. I never thought that any rational being could descend to that kind of odious level to sustain what came across to me as a wicked propaganda against the president and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Whatever the intention was, certainly, it was beyond politics. Kanu’s narrative defied humanity. It was at the base level. It caricatured our national security and discounted our national interest. That Kanu’s mind-game parodied our misplaced essence that verges on the salacious and the ridiculous.
It was not funny listening to timelines of events that presaged the rumoured death of President Buhari in London. The narrative also lampooned the British government and its security architecture in the movement of Buhari into London alive, perhaps, on Kanu’s imagined stretcher; and out of London, dead, to Saudi Arabia for burial, according to a variant of that narrative.
That was the picture Kanu painted. He claimed that Buhari collapsed on the very day an Abuja court granted him (Kanu) bail and was flown to London, but that the aircraft had to make an emergency stopover in Casablanca in Morocco to get an oxygen mask for the president who had lapsed into coma in order to sustain him on the flight to London.
Kanu claimed that by the time the president arrived in London, he had suffered a substantial brain damage. He said Buhari did not come out of the coma; that he died and a Buhari look-alike, Jubril el-Sudaniya, was flown into London from Sudan, for necessary plastic surgeries that made him look like Buhari.
In essence, what Kanu was driving at was that President Buhari that currently presides over the affairs of Nigeria is Jubril el-Sudaniya from Sudan and not our own Buhari from Daura who was voted into power by over 15 million Nigerians in the 2015 presidential election.
But when I considered that the Federal Government had charged the IPOB leader with treasonable felony before a competent court of jurisdiction, how he went to live in his family compound in Abia state, consequent upon meeting his bail conditions, and the circumstances that surrounded his escape from Nigeria during an exercise (Operation Python Dance) by the Nigerian military, I decided to treat Kanu’s ingenious story as coming from an embittered mind.
Nevertheless, the first thought that came to my mind in my attempt to reset what I believed to be Kanu’s illogical logic was the possible complicit role of the British government, together with its security, in the hushed manner in which a president of another independent nation, could have been brought into its territory in coma, “died” and flown to Saudi Arabia for burial, yet another variant of the narrative, while Jubril el-Sudaniya was flown in for plastic surgeries to enable him assume the look and position of the “dead” Buhari.
What was immediately inferential from Kanu’s narrative was that Britain was a collaborator in his fancied grand plot by a cabal in Nigeria to foist on Nigeria a Buhari-double. If it was true that Buhari had died, the British government would have known and would have weighed in on the sensitive matter. But Britain would rather keep its cool, perhaps, because it knew full well that there was nothing of such. That was enough for me to draw my conclusions that Kanu’s narrative was a tale by the moonlight, a piece of idiotic fiction that blossomed in his fictive mind.
Interestingly, Buhari was calm about the development. He did not initially react to it nor did the Federal Government consider it germane to expeditiously dismantle the Kanu narrative. But when Buhari did in Poland, he said jocularly that he was not a clone. That reaction was significant enough to have put paid to the issue.
But there were people who still believed that Nigeria was being ruled by Jubril el-Sudaniya. I had wished they would exorcise themselves of that propelling spirit of eerie belief. Indeed, many incidents have since proved that Buhari did not die in London, as claimed by Kanu. To be clear, the wish of Kanu and many others of his ilk who have an axe to grind with Buhari is for him to die so that they can freely pursue their individual agenda unfettered, unrestrained.
Buhari has busted their fancied narrative. It is instructive that this is happening in the final push on the homestretch to the scheduled February 16 presidential election. Although, some of the incidents involving President Buhari might appear negative from the perspectives of oppositional politics, they have proved that this Buhari is real-the original Buhari from Daura- and not Jubril el-Sudaniya.
Before now, those who did not wish Buhari well were questioning the rate at which he picked up physically after his protracted sickness that kept him away in London for months. They could not believe how Buhari would sit through public events, read his addresses, et al. They wanted to see a frail figure that would not be able to go the whole hog, possibly collapse and become incapacitated.
Now that the president is hanging in there, the opposition elements have capitalised on his obvious frailties at campaign rallies to insist that he is not fit to rule for a second term. They are no longer talking of a Buhari-double.
Whether Buhari should be voted for by Nigerians for a second term in office or not is not the purpose of this piece. Revisiting the Jubril-el Sudaniya narrative is an exercise at confirming the reality of the Buhari persona. This Buhari, who is campaigning in states of the federation, is the actual PMB. The opposition elements now believe that he is.
I notice that the opposition elements have since downplayed the Jubril el-Sudaniya narrative. Why should they not, after their hackneyed propaganda had lost its bite?
Indeed, I see those incidents in Lokoja, Delta and Kaduna as too fickle and feeble to clinically and decisively question the capacity and fitness of the president who, judging by his electioneering and the mammoth crowd in attendance, seems to be saying to other candidates and parties: ga fili, ga doki (see the field; see the horse), inviting then to the race!
That, for me, is the ultimate Buhari, not Jubril el-Sudaniya, challenge that other presidential candidates have accepted but which many of them are not capacitated enough to contend with.
Ojeifo contributed this piece via firstname.lastname@example.org