Updated: February 28, 2021
By Wole Olaoye
“The true identity of the man in the Villa that claims to be Buhari will only be made known after he is defeated and steps down from power. When that happens Nigerians will be shocked to the marrow….”
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That was Femi Fani-Kayode’s (FFK’s) tweet last week. It quickly attracted 957 Retweets and 1487 Likes. Since then, many elements of the leading opposition party, PDP, have bought into the conspiracy theory. Outlandish as it is, several commentators suspiciously motivated by either hate or political partisanship, furthered the fable.
Supporting Fani-Kayode’s tale, one @BiafraHouse said, “Buhari died in 2017 in London (following the Strange illness he contracted from Asorock aircon) and was buried secretly in Saudi Arabia. #Fulani and #APC then recruited Buhari’s Lookalike from Sudan by name Jubril Aminu Alsudani to secretly replace him in @asorock! #Nigeria”.
I think this is the limit of political propaganda and idiocy. How dark must be the mind that conjures up such goebellian tales in place of concrete campaign issues! I will never understand the ways of politicians no matter how much I try. How does wishing Candidate Buhari dead improve the chances of PDP in the next presidential elections?
Some Nigerians decided to take on the strange tweet headlong. One @AjaWereypaid FFK back in a similar coin: “This is not FFK; the real FFK died in EFCC custody and was buried in a shallow grave. We will reveal the impostor’s real identity when Buhari wins the 2019 election”.
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Another said he was sure that IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, died during the Operation Python Dance in the South-East and that the fellow posing as Kanu at the Wailing Wall in Israel was but a hired impostor.
But for Kemisola Adekun (@KemisolaAdekun1), Buhari’s bouncing back from serious illness was a sign of God’s grace which she wasted no time in claiming for herself in an invocation: “May the Lord transform me so much that my enemies will begin to say they are not sure I’m the one”.
Why would anyone wish the president dead? One APC partisan, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, tried to enter into the minds of the fabulists. He argued that the authors of the narrative had hoped that the president would not return alive from his prolonged sick leave abroad, but were shocked to see him back healthier and stronger. “These misguided fellows, who are products of the dismantled looting system that looted our common patrimony with impunity, would have loved to see President Buhari dead so that the efforts to recover their looted lot will be impossible”.
Eze has some posers for Fani-Kayode and his ilk: “How could a foreigner come in to act as the President of Nigeria without either the wife of the President or his children raising alarm? How could he have known both the president’s home in Katsina, recognise all the political actors in Nigeria, including his ministers and governors?”
Even Paul Joseph Goebbels, the German Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda (who propounded the theory that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes believable) would have been hard put to produce a double of Buhari that would fool his wife, children and grandchildren, his clansmen in Daura, the ministers and service chiefs, fellow politicians, the archbishop of Canterbury who is his close friend, and the international community.
It is pitiable that at a time when the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, should be telling us what it hopes to do differently and how it will take Nigeria to where the country needs to be, partymen and women are burning valuable weeks insulting people, whipping up hate and doing everything except debate concrete issues to show how they are better than the ruling APC.
Elections are won by convincing the electorate about the viability of one option over the other, not by wishing the opponent dead.
Deanna Watson, editor of the Times Record News, was horrified when she read someone’s post on Facebook in which the writer wished President Obama dead because Obama did not attend Mrs Nancy Reagan’s burial.
“I can’t wait for Obama to die so I can skip his funeral”, the Facebook stranger posted.
“That’s awful’, Watson replied. ‘No matter how you lean politically, he is someone’s father.”
“It’s a joke. It’s satire”, someone else wrote below Watson’s comment.
“Wishing someone dead is never a joke. There’s nothing satirical about wishing the ultimate grief upon another. Don’t wish someone dead. That’s never funny”.
Meanwhile, it’s only 88 days to the presidential elections. In the past, I had talked about how PDP needed to rebrand and focus on issues if it hoped to make a good showing in the next elections. I had also counselled APC to reinforce its brand and step on the gas in terms of quick win projects. But PDP has reverted to default mode — diatribe, ignoring elephantine issues and scrounging for crickets in imaginary holes. The sickest — and most tendentious — of all its jokes so far is Fani Kayode’s claim that the man to beat, President Buhari, is dead.
This is not the kind of politics Nigeria needs now. As presidential campaigns commence, let’s discuss concrete issues: the economy, education, health, agriculture, transportation, urban infrastructure, devolution of more power to the states , etc. Death is not a viable campaign weapon.
The problem with being delusional is that what you fear most may eventually overtake you.
While you’re trapped in the dreamland manufacturing fables, the man you call dead may just breast the tape before you recover from your fantasia.