Ministers who welcomed Buhari’s son have no shame left in them
Ministers and Governors did their best to be first on the queue as Yusuf Buhari returned home. Shame has taken a leave from Nigeria.
They were fawning sheepishly and unashamedly with outstretched arms like their lives depended on the boy's handshake. It’s the most sycophantic set of images you are likely to see around Nigeria this week.
First Lady Aisha Buhari listed the fawning government officials as Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau and Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello.
There were other top ranking presidential hangers-on in the building, make no mistake.
“We thank God for the return of our son, Yusuf, today after his medical trip”, Mrs. Buhari said.
“On landing at the airport, he was received by the Minister of Health (State) Dr. Osagie Ehanire, while at the Villa he was welcomed by family members, wife of the Vice-President, the Interior minister, Governor Yaya Bello and associates.
“On behalf of the family, I wish to express our appreciation for the goodwill and prayers since the unfortunate accident. May God Almighty bless all and continue to guide us all aright,” the president’s wife added.
There’s nothing wrong with friends and family making a beeline to welcome the son of a ‘big man’ who survived a ghastly accident. It’s only human to show empathy; to be around when someone we are close to is going through a difficult period.
In all Nigerian cultures, throwing parties for the flimsiest of reasons is really a thing. We celebrate life in Africa more than most. Recovering from an accident is enough cause for cheer and excitement. I approve of that. I also said a prayer for Yusuf. I wanted him back on his feet so badly, believe me.
But Dr Ehanire should have been sat in his office, comparing notes with Prof Isaac Adewole on how to fix our hospitals so that Yusuf and the rest of the privileged class do not have to travel abroad for medical care.
They should have been engrossed in a brainstorming session with other ministry staff, eggs on their faces and shame in their steps, asking themselves why our Doctors don’t get paid or why hospitals back home have become mere consulting clinics.
Instead, there was Ehanire grinning like there was no tomorrow.
Abdulrahman Dambazau is better known for putting his big foot out there whilst a police orderly wipes the sand from the soles of his shoes. On his watch, prisoners have carried out jailbreaks, our borders are as porous as ever and prison conditions remain horrible. He should have bigger fish to fry than showing up to welcome Yusuf Buhari. Surely.
Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has become the Governor of Abuja. He’s always found in and around the presidential Villa, smiling at Buhari and waiting for Buhari to smile right back. Aides say he is never in his home State these days. If you want to see the Kogi State Governor, they tell you, go to Abuja.
On Bello’s watch, civil servants are being owed backlog in salaries in the name of an unending biometric verification exercise. At least one civil servant took his own life after Bello’s government couldn’t pay salaries on time
You would think that Bello should be more concerned about fixing his State than waiting to welcome Yusuf Buhari But what do we know?
Getting a life
You would think that other professional praise-singers and hangers-on seen in those photos when Yusuf Buhari showed up; had better things to do with their time.
All these government officials were struggling to grab the best photos with the president’s son at a time when 110 Dapchi schoolgirls kidnapped 12 days ago by terrorists, remain unaccounted for.
We have a misplaced priority problem in Nigeria. Scratch that. We have an optics problem in this country. It says something about who we have become when no hospital in this country can be trusted to look after the president and his son; and when ministers who should be fixing those hospitals would rather go take selfies with the first family.
Like my friend Steve always puts it: ‘The jazz man wey do us dis kain thing for dis country, im jazz strong well well’.
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