"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation"- Oscar Wilde
The metamorphosis of President Buhari is one that is almost impossible to notice especially due to his continued relevance in the scheme of Nigerian governance, military and politics. He has maintained this visibility since the late 1960's and the transition from a young military officer and Head-of-State into the thin, visibly weak and aged image has not escaped the eyes of the Nigerian public. Buhari has always been with us. Is he still?
In what is the rave of the moment, Nigerian politics has started to heat with the effects noticeable in political conjectures, accusations, blackmail, propaganda and sometimes true releases that begin to enter the media in blitzkrieg fashion as soon as elections are near. Usually, lies are not left out in the bid to suffer damage to the image of the opponent before the public. Of course, there is also a recent renewed interest in the past of candidates especially certificates and scandals in a bid to dig out something filthy enough to change the public view. This past-sniffing has taken a major toll on notable politicians with some even refused participation in primaries and a cabinet minister forced to resign.
The narratives of the Jubrin-is-Buhari story circulated by little-known blogs and whatsapp outlets insinuate a recreation of the conspiracy theory that first surfaced in 2010 when Late President Yar'adua was sick. As at then, the information in circulation insinuated that Yar'adua was dead and there was attempt to replace him with a lookalike. However, the present narrative is that the switch has already been made and there is a Jubrin from Sudan who now occupies the office of the Presidency. So far, no one of note has attached his image to the spreading piece nor has any news outlet of serious reputation.
This Jubrin or Jubril in the epic narrative was flown to Nigeria after 'Buhari' had a shock upon sighting Nnamdi Kanu in court and died on his the way to healthcare in Casablanca where the plane had a stopover to pick a life machine. The camouflage of the story would give away quite cheaply with anyone who has had prior knowledge of Nigerian politics and how sentiments are whipped up towards elections. The story of Jubrin is one drafted to appeal to tribal sentiments(they claim a Northern cabal is the one behind the development and this creates ethnic suspicion), religious sentiment(the real Buhari according to the story was buried in Saudi, a country known best for being the centre of Islam), border-safety concerns and Fulani herdsmen crisis concerns(by claiming Jubrin is from Sudan, a country where immigrants and herdsmen are feared to come from into Nigeria).
It is a story pieced by a propagandist to appeal to electoral thinking-patterns and then use this result to create disaffection for Buhari. I doubt anyone can cover up an event of the scale of Buhari's death as it is nearly impossible to contain a leak of such news. Is it not Nigeria where even the most confidential documents can be leaked by journalists without sophisticated equipment and the security apparatus has proven itself incapable of being discreet very often?
At the same time, it would not be safe to conclude there is no Jubril in Aso Rock presently. A Jubril may in fact be there. We have witnessed as a nation the metamorphosis of a young military officer into a very aged civilian President. There is a President who has appointed dead men, who has made several errors in speech at various spaced events such as calling Germany - 'West Germany'(reflective of a mind that was at its most fertile several years back) and a degrading comment on the efforts of the youth populace describing them as having not been educated and expecting oil money. He has been detached from public view of late and his managers have chosen to substitute him in public with the Vice President at outings such as the national launch of TraderMoni and have even suggested same for the debates!
It seems there is a Jubril. The last stage of the metamorphosis of our Buhari. He is not from Sudan. He is the old Buhari. He is at an age where men rest and those who push him further may not be lovers of this nation. Perhaps, they find in him an image to queue behind that can rally sentimental northern ' talakawa' votes because of his popularity among the dust poor in the North. But in consideration of utmost national interest, should we kill a/an (un)willing horse?
Without recommending the supposed heroism of one-term Mandela style, Buhari is the old clothe that a man must stop wearing even if it is his favourite. It has began to lose colour and should be lined up for the museum. Buhari has reached where he should stop and head home to the comfort of peaceful retirement. There is no service that only Muhammadu Buhari can offer this country and new hands should come on board. The flaws are too visible and a burst of new life is needed in Nigerian governance.
There may be a Jubril. It is not the one from the sponsored foul political media. It is a Jubril created by age and general detachment of the President from those he leads. A quick reminder of Mugabe and the several old images that cling to power affectionately in Africa like children do to toys. It seems this continued presence at the corridors of relevance is their obsession. There is no Jubril. There is a Jubril.
Koye-Ladele Mofehintoluwa can be reached on [email protected] He is a frequent opinion writer on Nigerian(and international) politics, law and economy.