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President Buhari and the tale of the woodpecker

President Buhari

By Osondu Ahirika

Is the audio recording  with the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, released by the Presidency, via which  President Muhammadu Buhari was heard felicitating with Nigerians on the occasion of Eid-el Fitr still generating controversy? I will be saddened if we are still stuck with sterile and wholly unprofitable debate on the propriety, or otherwise, of his electing to render the address in Hausa, rather than the official lingua franca, being English. Methinks, we should have veered beyond the peripheral to the kernel of that outing.

First of all, it was heartwarming to hear the voice of Mr President again after 48 days of absence, during which, Sahara Reporters averred that, he had suffered speech impairment. That was reassuring, even for me who is a well known wailing wailer under his watch.

But believe me to be most frank, when I say that,  even though I am not a Buharist, my heart skipped when I heard his voice. No! Not that it riveted with hope,  or that it’s orchestra revived my now, sullen view of Nigeria since the adventure of ‘Change’ commenced. Neither was I pained by the genetic melancholy of his tone. Fact is, tears found a free fall from my eyes, for I saw the undying soldier spirit in the General, who is waging his toughest battle ever, with health and the vitality of life.

That President Muhammadu Buhari still stands strong and dares the odds of nature, to exercise his franchise is a study in how to conquer life.

On May 30, I journeyed home to visit with my beloved father, who has been putting up a brave brow with incapacitating health issues for about two years now. June 26, is the birthday of my aged father. That he is still alive after all I have seen him afflicted with in the last two years is the eighth wonder of the world.

When I stepped into his room, where he is virtually confined, except we get him on his wheelchair and move him about town, he could hardly recall my name, recognize or speak audibly to me. I kept repeating myself introductorily, to his, equally, replay grunts of, ‘Onye’?, translated, ‘Who’? I can’t recall for the few hours I spent, warming up to him, giving him shower and dressing him up, that,  he really knew it was me. All I left with was the gratifying joy I saw radiating from his countenance and the accompanying, but  muffled, ‘God bless you’ he kept uttering.

Leaving him to return to Uyo, I saw the regret of a father, who even as an Octogenarian, still weeps that he is shackled from performing his duties of fatherhood to me and my siblings. It remains a marvel to me that, even as a father myself, who by God’s infinite Grace, can cater for my family and dependants, my father is still waging a war on his condition and believing, he will bounce back and nurture us and his grandchildren to greatness. Many times, he weeps when I take the children to play with him and his hushed elocution,  is restraining that desire he voiced, to tell them bedtime stories.

Did I digress? Pardon me. I didn’t. I just meant to draw a ‘synonym’, to President Buhari and his zeal for Serving his fatherland. There was no greater ambition for Buhari, than to be the father of a new Nigeria. It was an objective he saw as a divine obligation. As an Army Officer  he transgressed the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to achieve his goal. It was aborted.

He relentlessly pursued the same mission as a civilian through the ballot, and was fourth time lucky in 2015. Riding on the mantra of,  Change, as chanted and charted by his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, President Buhari won a popular mandate and realized his life long dream to lead Nigeria again.

He promised so much. His political will and courage to deliver was not in doubt. His messianic rhetoric on killing corruption before it killed the beleaguered nation roused us all to rally around him. Alas, things took a turn for the worse and Nigeria soon found herself tottering again in hopelessness. Something was not right.

On June 17, 2015, less than  a month after he took over, President Buhari shocked the world. Speaking  with Nigerians resident in South Africa, after taking part in the 25th assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union   in Johannesburg, President Buhari admitted what will be his eventual undoing. “I wish I became Head of State when I was a governor, just a few years as a young man. Now at 72, there is a limit to what I can do”, he confessed.

That has unfortunately defined his reign up until today. We cannot blame him.

He faces the same dilemma Jesus Christ submitted to, when he lamented that, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (see Matthew 26:41).

I don’t blame Mr President anymore, than I can’t blame my father, that he barely recognizes me and can’t move mole hills for me in his present state. The same man who literally moved mountains and giant ‘icebergs’ for me to help me make a headway in life. I simply liken the impotence of their current imposed plight to the tale of the woodpecker, which my father told me.

Should I share it with you? OK! Thanks for giving me leave to do so.

Isla,  the woodpecker,  vowed that she will break the record books by chopping down the tree with the hardest bark, the day her mother dies as a mark of honour. Finally the day came and the mother woodpecker died. Every other bird  gathered to watch Isla’s avowed and much anticipated performance. Lo and behold, Isla was suffering a sore beak. The pain was such that she could neither pick nor swallow a morsel, much more,  peck on any wood no matter how soft the bark. Every bird went home disappointed,  more in their gullible deference to Isla, than she was for her embarrassing blip.

Folks, this is reason we should stop the rage over the address of Mr President. He doesn’t need that distraction, neither does the nation. Let us simply pray for Nigeria and Mr President’s quick recovery. We should not hold this descent of our nation against him. God knows better. Lord live Nigeria!

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