By Mideno Bayagbon
ere is the news: I have been ordered to join the 2023 Presidential race. This is authentic. It is, as it were, from the horse’s mouth. And I have no choice. Consider it a fait accompli. I have been ordered and it is compulsory that I obey; no questions asked. The order has come from quarters no man in his right senses would disobey. It has come from the one I sometimes call, head of government or Amebo Deno!
All I can say for now, is that you, my dear friends, and enemies alike, get ready. Get ready to give your widow’s mite. Get ready to pound the streets, knock on doors, shake every hand, and take the message to all the hamlets, villages, towns and cities of this country. It is urgent, it is incumbent. No excuses. No dilly-dallying. We will win the race without the billions of stolen funds politicians have stacked.
Yet I did not, even in my wildest dreams, think of going into Nigerian politics. I have over the years resisted every attempt to co-opt me into it. I have rejected appointments up to the federal level and refused serious attempts to drag me into contesting for political offices. Yes, yet here I am, now fully into the race and I am starting at the top. I am now ready to give all the Tinubus, the Amaechis, the Anyims, the Atiku Ababakars, the Sarakis, and so on, a run for their money. And I will triumph, beating them silly, even in their homesteads.
With a government like that of President Mohammadu Buhari, which has messed up all that we hold dear in this country, it is easy to draw up an action plan and raison d’être. It will be easy to draw up the campaign messages: the hunger in the land, the massive insecurity, in all their gory dimensions, which have enveloped the nation; the governmental incompetence which has catapulted the nation into the poorest nation on earth. These are all tools which will resonate with the average Nigerian whether in Kafachan or Lokoja; Jeddo or Opobo; Obolo Afo or Enugu Ezike; Oke Ipadi or Oke Afa. North, South, East or West, we are guaranteed foot soldiers. The campaign promises will be based on the lived reality of the average Nigerian.
Someone may ask: what has changed. Why this sudden interest in politics and in contesting for the highest office in the land? Some may wonder if this is the handiwork of some latter-day prophet. Or if it is some well-hidden life ambition I’m just letting to come to the fore now. Yet others may wonder, though I have passed the age if I am having a late mid-life crisis. Or, they may even wonder, if I have suddenly come into some stupendous inheritance from the late billionaire, Steve Jobs or a long lost grand uncle. As we all know, running for office in Nigeria is a money guzzling venture only gamblers, corrupt politicians and their ilks are tailored for.
Moreover, some may even wonder why a good, principled and God-fearing Christian is aspiring to soil his name, reputation and faith in the murky waters of Nigerian politics. My answer is simple. Apart from the general good one can do to drag the nation back from the precipice which the Buhari government and career politicians have pushed it, It is an opportunity to be the difference, to be the donkey who will attempt to redirect the economic, social and political courses of the nation unto the right port.
Moreover, I am a man under authority. I have been ordered and I am obliged to compulsorily obey. This is more so when it is taken into account who gave the order. Maybe I should at this stage take a step back and lay all the cards on the table.
Like they say in Waffi, my gbeghe started when the news came, and video evidence flooded the social media space, that wives of Nigerian governors and their usual retinue of Friends of the Office, had gone to Dubai. Accompanied by an enviable entourage of the creme of female Nigerian politicians and hangers-on, the first ladies very graciously banded together in one accord to go and felicitate with the wife of the President, Aisha, who for almost two years now has made Dubai her permanent abode.
Cakes, flowers and gifts in hand, they thronged the palatial Dubai home of the Nigerian first lady in exile, singing lusciously an enthralling happy birthday song. It was such a pleasing sight to see all the beautiful first ladies, from all divide, showering love on the wife of the President. How elated and proud I was to be a Nigerian.
My joy did not spring from only the fact that Aisha is so loved. Or that so much Nigerian love was being shown to her in the Nigerian annexe city of Dubai, where, for her peace of mind and safety, I will assume, she has found a home. I was proud and joyful because once again, we have shown to the world that we are not a banana republic. Don’t mind the jealous bodies which classify Nigeria as the poverty capital of the world. How they must be green with envy when the bevvy of Nigerian first ladies flooded Dubai. Shame to all the bad people.
Thank God we are blessed with the spirit of high-class living. We know how to flaunt the nation’s wealth in our private enjoyments. I must be the first to say that the about N2 billion the first ladies and their entourage spent on first-class air travel; the barely manageable $1,440,000 ($720,000 for the first ladies and $720,000 for their entourage); or so allowance and all the additional expenditures, no one alive in the United Arab Emirate, especially its commercial capital city will for once forget, how we truly honour and celebrate our rulers and their spouses. Even those fortunate to fly the same airline with them must have wondered why they simply didn’t commandeer private jets to fly them instead of the inconvenience of a N6.5 million first-class cubicle. Such humility is unacceptable, by our standards.
With which eyes did the friends of the First Ladies, who accompanied them, as part of the entourage, which included the ADCs to the First Ladies, their other security details and protocol officers, manage to bear the shame of a N4.5 million business class ticket? If the First Ladies have asked me to consult for them on how to truly mount a memorable birthday train to Dubai, I would have suggested they each get a private jet to carry their likely entourage of ten persons. Imagine 36 private jets landing in Dubai at about the same time. How high our nation’s profile and reputation in the comity of nations would have risen.
Thank God they still have another opportunity next year, the last year Aisha will celebrate her birthday while her husband is president. It will also be the last time some of them whose husbands’ tenure will also come to an end next year will have such a great opportunity to show the world how much love, denominated in whatever currency, they have for the Nigerian First Lady. They must correct the glaring errors of being unduly modest when we are such a great nation which can afford an annexe Aso Rock Villa in Dubai.
Should they still fail to do it properly even then, they should not trouble themselves too much. This is because December 24th of 2023 will be a great opportunity for them to adequately begin expressing their uncommon love for my wife, who has ordered that I must be president so that she too can be Aisha-ed at her birthday. The only difference is that no Aso Rock mafia will be strong enough to chase her from the president’s matrimonial bed to far away Dubai; or some other exotic city. She is made of sterner stuff than that.
Fortunately, too, there is no way I will allow her to even dream of it. As wife of the president, she will live in Aso Rock. I won’t fund it and will never use public funds for such frivolities. It is true, no one has told us so far how Aisha is funding her lavish stay in Dubai. Who is paying? is it the president from his private purse or the ordinary Nigerian?