By Godwin Etakibuebu
Joe Frazier [born on January 12, 1944, and died on November 7, 2011]; that legendary boxer, would always go after his opponent with ferocious venom in his days. He is not to be remembered for giving his opponents any breathing space until he knocked them down.
And he did exactly so to many of them, until Muhammad Ali, formerly known as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr [born on January 17, 1942, and died on June 3, 2016] turned the table against him in the trilogy fierce battle tagged “Thrilla in Manila”, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 1, 1975. He; Joe Frazier, was the first in living history to earn the acronym “smoking”.
In Nigeria, there had been emergence of some world acclaimed Boxers, fighters that could easily be referred to as boxing legends. Yes, we have quit a few of such names but none have gone with the acronym “smoking”. Let us consider just a few of them.
We cannot forget in hurry the like of Hogan “Kid” Bassey – MBE [born Okon Asuquo Bassey on June 3, 1932, in present day Cross River State, and died on January 26, 1998]. He is the first Nigerian to become a world boxing Champion; who once told me when l met him about twenty-five years ago in his house at No 39, Kofo Abayomi Street, Apapa-Lagos, before his demise, that “don’t think of winning against a white-man on points in my days because all the judges are white. For that reason you can only become a champion by knocking your opponent; always a white man, down or out”. He, as great as he was, was never given the name “Smoking” Bassey.
What about Dick Tiger [born Richard Ihetu on August 14, 1929, in Amaigbo, present day Imo State, and died on December 14, 1971, in Aba – Abia State] who held both World Middleweight and World Light Heavyweight Championship Belts at a time? A very humble man outside the ring of boxing but deadly ferocious against his opponents inside the ring, losing only 19 out of his total fight of 82, with 27 on KO, was never called “Smoking” Tiger.
Even going back to the greatest of them all [talking of the boxing world], Muhammad Ali [remember his book – The Greatest, and appropriately named as the ‘Sportsman of the Century’ by BBC?], was never called “Smoking” Ali, despite the fact that he “stings like the bee and dances like the butterfly” in the ring.
This acronym “Smoking” ascribed to Joe Frazier made him the only man in the sand of history to be so called. I say kudos to his memory.
In Nigeria, it is looking most certain that another “Smoking” personality is emerging, with a twist in the tale anyway. The twist is that this emerging “smoking” personality is not in the boxing world, neither in the wrestling world. The person is not from the Political Arena of “men of Juggernaut or Timber and Caliber”, in the words of the late political icon; Dr Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe, though Nigeria have produced quite a number of firebrand politicians in the past and still producing them. The emerging “smoking” personality is not even a male gender. This is the twist in the tale.
With all due respects and with permission of all Nigerian citizens, it is with the loudest ovation that l present the one and only “Smoking” Aisha Buhari; wife of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as the Nigerian emerging “Smoking” personality of our time.
She has justifiably earned or earning that great acronym [or should l call it title?] of “Smoking” for all reasons and intents. Permit me to present her qualifying resume below.
Very recently, Aisha Buhari fiercely criticised the Social Investment Program (SIP) of the husband’s administration, saying there was little evidence to show that a good chunk of its budget was judiciously utilised. She said the initiative has failed to reach its intended beneficiaries in at least Adamawa and Kano States. Although the program was designed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; who has continued to coordinate its implementation, Mrs Buhari blamed a presidential aide, Maryam Uwais [wife of former Chief Justice of the Federation, who is an indigene of Kano State] for its shortcoming.
“I am sure that my husband decided to put somebody from Kano because of the population and political impact it made,” Mrs Buhari was reported as saying, during a State House function with women some weeks ago.
She said she learnt from other administration officials that 30,000 women in Adamawa would receive N10,000 each, but only a few people have benefitted despite the program being in its third year. Aisha Buhari revealed how she discovered that key aspects of the program were not properly implemented in Adamawa and Kano States.
Mrs Buhari said she had long been uncomfortable with the program’s implementation, but she had been reluctant to speak up about it for fear of being labeled a talkative. Listen to her lamentation below.
“Recently, I saw a 74-year-old man selling petty things in Kano. I asked him how much is his capital and he told me it is between N3, 000 and N4, 000. Do not forget that we have campaigned to give the poorest of the poor N5, 000 every month.
So I don’t know where the social investment is working or maybe it worked out in some States. In my own State, only a local government benefited out of the 22. I did not ask what happened and I do not want to know but for it to fail woefully in Kano, it is not a good sign and it is not a good thing,” Mrs Buhari concluded.
Aisha Buhari also faulted the amount of money spent on the purchase of mosquito nets. “They have spent $16 million buying mosquito nets. I did not get it, but maybe some people have gotten it. I didn’t get it. But I feel that, that’s my personal opinion, $16 million is enough to fumigate Nigeria,” she averred, as she did not also agree with the method adopted for the program. “I was expecting the social investment program – N500 billion – to be utilised in a different method; in order to achieve the aim. But I don’t know the method they used. Most of the Northern States did not get the money. I don’t know – my State didn’t get the money. I don’t know if your State got the money.”
This could have only come out of someone actually “smoking”, more so when that someone is the wife of a sitting president. This is the first time we are seeing her type. Not one before her; from the wife of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe of the First Republic, to her immediate predecessor, Mrs Patience Goodluck Jonathan, has the temerity of criticizing her spouse’s government. She has created a niche for herself in this field of audacious daring, albeit the establishment, mostly an establishment she is a bona fide member of. Let me mention one or two instances before rounding up this exercise.
The other day, on October 9, 2017, right there in the Presidential Villa, in the presence of the then Minister of Health; Professor Isaac Folorunso Adewale, and the Medical Director of Aso Rock Villa Clinic, Dr Husain Munir, the President’s wife revealed how the X-Ray machine in the clinic was morbidly moribund. She revealed at the same time that there were no syringes in the Villa’s Clinic, so also Panadol.
The most audacious aspect of her revelation was when she told the Medical Director that the money budgeted for the Clinic by the National Assembly must be accounted for. She “Smoked”.
Sometimes in 2018, this woman of substance stunned the whole world when she shouted out that about two or three men had hijacked the government from her husband in the name of a Cabal. She challenged ‘Nigerian men” to rise up and rescue Nigeria from the Cabal. What she actually said, in interpretation, was that the husband lost governance of the country to a Cabal.
Yes, Aisha Buhari talks intelligently, with facts and figure and she does it coordinately with remarkable impact. If that is not going to be called “Smoking”, then one will find it most difficulty to understand what smoking is.
Where is this woman politically heading to in her smoking voyage of discovery? I can only guess, having successfully established her antecedents in audacious and courageous daring with pure heart; the type of human’s heart the Nigerian people would want to have with them at all times, in anticipating what her future mission really is, and the most likely route of arriving there. Do you want to know my guess?
You may have to wait till next week.
Godwin Etakibuebu; a veteran Journalist, wrote from Lagos.
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