By Ahmed Yahaya Joe
I do not know why the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) chose a day after President Buhari’s national broadcast on the Covid-19 pandemic to demand N1.1 trillion from the FG for the “revitalization” of the Nigerian university system. It is truly apalling with the current economic situation!
But then, this is Nigeria where any proof of life speech by the leader in standing position is breaking news. We are indeed a cynical federation! as ours is breaking news. While the periodic distraction that the national speculation on the whereabouts of Mr President might be temporarily strategic it has a cumulative effect in the progressive bastardization his political legacy in the long run. Being a president is not a call to be an expert. Rather it is simply being in charge which in an internet age is not a picnic.
The contents of President Buhari’s speech in overall context commendably covered all the relevant issues. That it was short on details is perfectly understandle. This is because unlike President Trump that briefs his nation daily on the pandemic, ours only addresses his national constituency “after hours and hours of rehearsals, which nonetheless unmasks his declining cognitive faculties” as his leadership template is apparently that of “presidency by absenteeism”
The world we live in is a global village. From Uganda, a young lady Kenyangi Bale tweeted at 7.58am Kampala time on March 27, 2020 just 2 days before President Buhari addressed us ” I know Ugandans deserve better. But, our president, Museveni has addressed this nation the 5th time in 2 weeks on the COVID-19 pandemic. You guys needs to visit Nigerian Twitter. They are looking for their president. He is no where to be found”.
Last night (Nigerian time) Mr Trump started his usual live briefing by announcing that the US Navy hospital had sailed into New York ready for medical battle. The former oil tanker was converted to a hospital ship in 1987 has 1000 beds, 12 operating theaters, a dental clinic, 4 X-ray machines, CT scanner, 2 Oxygen production plants, Optometry lab, 5000 unit capacity blood bank, daily 300,000 gallons fresh water plant, helipad and morgue. According to the US Navy, the hospital ship that is the equivalent in height to a 10-storey building and 3 football fields long was due to sail for New York in 8 days but when the Army Corps of Engineers was drafted in it sailed in 5 days.
Meanwhile, it took 35 days between when the first Covid-19 case was announced in Nigeria and when President Buhari addressed the nation. In India it took an Indian academic, Virologist Minal Dakhane Bhosale 42 days to develop an indigenous test kit. She unlike her Nigerian counterparts was not on strike, rather as soon as she finished her project headed for the maternity ward to deliver a bouncing baby girl. What is the difference in distaste between Mr President and ASUU?
Anyway soon after Mr. President addressed the nation a disturbing video started making the rounds on social media showing an obviously distressed Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, the CO of Operation Lafiya Dole apparently addressing, his boss the army chief.
“We have been met with very strong resistance – from more than pockets of Boko Haram. From every flank not less than 15 gun trucks were facing us. I’m standing here with Sector 2 Commander; the armed helicopter has just come to hover our air, the instruction I gave them was that anything they see moving they should engage because most of my gun trucks are not moving. Like I said earlier, the three battalions are fighting as deployed — nobody is running” He went on “But what we have here, I will give you some estimates. Boko Haram has fired more than a hundred mortar bombs at us; they have fired 80 to a hundred RPGs at us; in addition to eight to 10 gun trucks firing at us from all sides. We have not run, and the soldiers are not misbehaving or disobeying orders.We have casualties. I will come and see you in person on what we need to do. But we are not running. We lost about 20 MRAP tires here. We have changed close to 250 Hilux tires due to the terrain.”
According to a report that accompanied the viral video “Several wounded soldiers could be seen crying in the video while bodies of their colleagues was scattered all over location. Recall that Boko Haram recently ambushed troops in Borno and killed more than 50 soldiers during that attack”That such a highly classified communication is being circulated in the public domain is shocking. It however means the video was perhaps deliberately leaked by whistleblowers in service to alert the nation on the deterioration of affairs in the North East.
Nigeria’s security and military apparatus cannot afford to be distracted because elsewhere in the world either by hook or by crook according to the newspaper Times of Israel in its March 27 edition; “The Mossad intelligence service on Thursday helped bring another 400,000 CoronaVirus test kits to Israel from an undisclosed foreign location, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said. That was in addition to the roughly 100,000 test kits the spy agency brought to Israel last week. The PMO, which is responsible for the Mossad, said the intelligence service had imported the chemical reagents needed to perform approximately 400,000 tests. The swabs needed to carry out the task are being sourced both internally and from a number of foreign countries. The PMO refused to comment further on the matter, specifically on the country or countries that sold it the testing components, leading many to assume that it was a country that does not have strong or formal ties with Israel.
In another report in Blomberg.com dated March 19, 2020; “Earlier this week, the Shin Bet (Israel’s) domestic security service was authorized to use a technology developed primarily for counterterrorism purposes to identify who infected people may have come in contact with”
So on one hand, while in our country the military is besieged by a seemingly endless insurgency in others the armed forces and security are being used to assist a national effort in medical health care delivery. No doubt it is all about a coordinated leadership that has purpose and direction. Ours unfortunately is mostly about an “absentee presidency” If so what is the way forward? It is all about to be seen to be in-charge. Leadership is mostly about effective presence without actually saying much or being an expert. Just be there!
Law 16 of 48 Laws of Power recommends “Use absence to increase respect and honor. Create value through scarcity” There is however a caveat “Absence is dangerous – instead of fanning the flames, it will extinguish them. In the beginning, make yourself not scarce, but omnipresent. Only what is seen, appreciated, and loved will be missed in its absence” It is against this background that Law 6 is instructive; “Everything is judged by it’s appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, or buried in oblivion. Stand out. Be conspicuous, at all cost. Make yourself a magnet of attention”
By Ahmed Yahaya Joe