By Emmanuel Aziken
One of the major revelations of the COVID-19 lockdown was the emergence of the social distancing protocol as a way of modern-day life.
For politicians, whose inclination is to work the crowd, the COVID-19 social distancing rules were especially touching. Some, like Donald Trump, just dumped the procedures leading to dire consequences for him and his country.
President Muhammadu Buhari, however, did not need much prompting. Ensuring Buhari’s safe distance from the pandemic was reportedly an issue with his caring wife, Aisha.
The First Lady was reported to have picked up a fight with one of the president’s favourite Personal Assistants who took a private flight to Lagos at the height of the lockdown and reportedly refused to isolate after his return.
Indeed, for the first four months or so the nation was locked down, President Muhammadu Buhari was hardly seen and did not come out of the Presidential Villa. On a few occasions when he received briefings, it was easy to see the effort that was made to put a distance between him and his guests.
When the president eventually stepped out of the villa after four months on July 23 for the inevitable trip to Mali for a summit of West African leaders, he raised a lot of excitement on social media.
Many were awed with his good looks as the photographers got closer shots of him. Despite the old age, that handsome and fetching physique easily won him plaudits among those who look to such things.
Many also paid encomiums on his photographers including the one Senator Enyinninya Abaribe claimed to be the only Igbo person allowed among the dozens of domestic aides of the president!
After then, the president has reportedly only stepped out once when he attended a function at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna in October.
The new phenomenon of the president sitting or standing in the offices or halls of the Presidential Villa to open conferences, inaugurate railway stations or whatever, initially amused your correspondent.
But becoming a way of life for the Buhari presidency bears some somber reflections.
Following the #EndSARS protest, as the president unbent, he decided to send his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and other aides to meet the people on his behalf.
It was a missed opportunity. Irrespective of the integrity and transparency of his aides, it is stupefying how such aides would convey the emotions of the people to the president. Why can he not meet his people even if under social distancing protocols?
Undoubtedly, the nadir was the president’s response to the killing of the rice farmers in Borno State last weekend. About this time last weekend, fellow Nigerians working hard to eke out a living in the rice fields outside Maiduguri were picked up and one by one slaughtered!
The president’s response to send a delegation to Borno over the atrocious development must be bewildering to all.
Except Senator Abaribe’s ‘lone Igbo man’ in the Villa is deceiving Nigerians with photoshopped pictures of the president, it is inexcusable to say that our leader in good health would sit back and wait for a delegation to tell him the emotion of his wailing citizens.
Of course, as was reported, one of the bereaved mothers asked of the message that should be passed on to the president replied “nothing!”
President Buhari has gotten to the stage that Nigerians and even his supporters are not wasting words and emotion on his detachment from them.
It is shocking that the revulsion against Buhari is starting from Borno, a state that had even more than his native Katsina State stood with him in his political adventures. The latest and undoubtedly harshest criticism of his administration by his boys in the Senate was remarkably initiated by Senator Kasshim Shettima, a man who had in the past put his all for Buhari.
The sorry state was underlined by the fact that he became the first president in the annals of the Fourth Republic to say yes to a summon from the House of Representatives.
Of course, his acquiesce came after his former loyal boys from Borno State initiated the motion for him to appear before the House.
No doubt, Nigerians have for long believed that Buhari means and meant well. But in the face of an apparent national meltdown, once solid support bases of the president are turning against him.
Senator Ahmad Kaita who represents Buhari in the Senate was unsparing earlier this week saying that the president has tried but that his best is not good enough for Nigeria.
it is a damning verdict, and as it is, the mystique that was all about Buhari just a few years ago is now smouldering before us.
He need not burn up all the good that had been said of him in the past and burn the nation. If only he would heed the sound counsel and reposition himself and his legacy in the positive side of Nigerian history. If he does that he would not be isolated by history!