There were a few hair-raising moments as President Muhammadu Buhari presided over the last Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting of the 2015 cabinet.
Chris Ngige: “Buhari raises his legs when he laughs"
Dr. Chris Ngige says President Buhari should take up a career in stand-up comedy. Look away now, I-Go-Dye, Bovi, Alibaba.
For context, the ministers Buhari took six months to find, have been asked to submit their handover notes to Permanent Secretaries and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) before May 28, 2019, because the president would be inaugurated for a second term in office on May 29, 2019 and would probably have a new team in place.
At the valedictory meeting of the 2015 cabinet which held on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, various media reports described the mood inside the State House Council Chamber venue, as an admixture of emotions and wry humour.
From Ngige, with love
Let’s head to The Guardian then, shall we, were it was reported that Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige (remember him, don’t you? The man who said there is nothing wrong with Nigeria exporting its surplus doctors. Yeah, that one) advised President Buhari (1st of his name) to take up a career in stand-up comedy.
“When I tell people that the president cracks jokes and laughs raising his legs, many people don’t believe me, having the memory of a tough military officer he used to be,” Ngige was quoted as saying.
And then he went one better: “I suggest that the president should organise a social gathering where he will crack jokes, laugh and raise legs”, Ngige said, to some raucous laughter from other members of the cabinet.
Buhari smiled broadly at Ngige’s joke, it was reported. What else could he possibly do?
The Guardian writes as follows: “The president smiled. He did not wear the hard mien with which he has been associated as a retired general… this joke drew the smile from the president".
A laughing President
It is not the first time Buhari has been applauded for his sense of humour by members of his team.
Recall that one of the president’s senior media aides once gleefully announced that when Buhari grabs a newspaper, he first heads to the cartoon pages and then he would laugh and laugh and laugh.
“When he picks a paper, the first page he reaches for is the cartoon page. He laughs and laughs”, Mallam Garba Shehu, President Buhari’s Special Assistant on Media, tweeted in 2016.
When Vice President Yemi Osinbajo returned from a trip to London to see an ailing President Buhari in 2017, he let us know that the president’s famed sense of humour was intact.
“Buhari is in very high spirits. He is recuperating very well and we had a very long conversation. We spoke for well over an hour and his humor is all there. He is doing well and he is recuperating fast”, Osinbajo said.
In a May 27, 2016 essay, President Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, glowingly wrote the following about Buhari in a piece he titled “Buhari: Beyond the Iron and Steel”.
“This President enjoys good laughter, and, indeed, has a rich sense of humour”, Adesina wrote.
In a 2017 documentary titled “The softer side of Buhari” Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Matters, Mrs. Abike Dabiri said: “How I wish Nigerians know his softer and accommodating side. Very jocular. But it is our duty to tell them”.
In that same documentary, Osinbajo went on: “He gives you things to do and leaves you strictly to do those things. No interference at all, once he has confidence in you… And he cracks those jokes and manages to still keep a straight face.”
Kaduna Governor, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai said of Buhari’s humour: “When we were in the opposition, you needed to see how we rolled on the floor in his living room, as we laughed. Of course, we can’t do that again now.”
On March 1, 2019, Pulse had reported that “President Muhammadu Buhari left his cabinet reeling with laughter in his first Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting after a presidential election from which he emerged victorious.
“While receiving a congratulatory card on behalf of the civil service from the Head of Service (HoS), Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, Buhari joked: “HoS, it seems this card is taller than large”, generating raucous laughter from the hall.
Oh, what this nation would give for a president who would laugh her well into 2023!!!
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