Before the exorcism -By Dominik Umosen

Filed under: Political Issues |
President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari


Considering the enormity of work, not to talk of risks involved in the esoteric art of exorcism, the uproar that greeted President Muhammadu Buhari when he regretted actualizing his presidential dream at the ripe age of 72, instead of in his 30s when he would have been fullyarmed with the boundless energy of youth, may have have been unnecessary.Soon after his inauguration, the president jetted to South Africa for an African Union summit. In a rare show of the leadership this country desperately requires, the president met with some members of the Nigerian community in that country.

During the meeting, he levelled with them, even admitting, frankly, that considering the enormity of work required in his self-appointed task of refixing Nigeria, he regretted becoming president at 72, instead of when he had the full complement of youth on his side, with all the advantages that youth confers.

Understandably, this frank assessment of reality exploded in a wave of hysteria, especially among his critics, especially the official political opposition which sensationally interpreted the president’s harmless statement to read as a subtle admission of failure to actualize what he promised Nigerians because of age. The objective of this unkind cut was to deploy hilarity to disparage by demanding to know why the president should have complained of age as if he did not know this before volunteering for election.

But in retrospect and considering the enormity of work involved in the grueling business of exorcism which is what ridding the country of the malignant demon of corruption amounts to, any reformer who volunteers for this role would definitely require more than the pristine vigour of youth to make an impact. And that was exactly what the president said, underscoring his pledge to refix the country with the reaffirmation that the unity of the country is unnegotiable , especially considering the supreme sacrifice which many patriots have paid.

Since that controversial statement in South Africa, the president has gone ahead to make further reaffirmations to make Nigeria work again, further incurring the wrath of those who say he has spent too much time posturing about fighting corruption than taking concrete steps to commence the grueling task of exorcising the malignant demon that corruption has since become. In this regard, the opposition has been most creative, even invoking the timeless Ibibio adage that the unwary dancer who dances himself lame during rehearsal soon finds himself unable to justify his relevance when the real dance begins.

Another version of this uncharitable cut is the allegation that the singer who sings himself hoarse during rehearsal often finds himself unable to sing in the competition proper. The implication is that the president has railed sufficiently at the monster in the foreplay preceding the anti-graft war to justify a halt until the trial of corrupt Nigerians commences in earnest. Justifying their pessimism, the proponents of this argument say that foreclosing the investigation of previous regimes before that of Dr Goodluck Jonathan for corruption circumscribes genuine optimism in the proposed anti-graft war which is the icing on the cake of the Buhari presidency.

This argument does not appear to be sufficient to drown the objection of his numerous supporters who reacted angrily to suggestions like that by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah who stirred the hornest’s nest with his suggestion that probing previous regimes, including that of Jonathan, amounts to an unnecessary distraction.

The quantum and depth of passion that greeted Kukah’s suggestion in the social media must have validated the president’s position that exorcism is not a turf to be ventured into without adequate preparation which, presumably, is what has been pre-occupying his attention, including the curious delay to name his cabinet.

Only those who are versed in the intricacies of exorcism can say what merit, if any, that exists in this argument. But I know, as I suspect that the president also does, that the arcane business of exorcism is a tricky venture outside the realm of charlatans.

For example, there is the story of the sorcerer’s apprentice who ill-advisedly set out to perform exorcism but ended up raising a vicious demon (actually, a poltergeist), that almost tormented him to death but for the timely intervention of the more-experienced sorcerer who arrived just in the nick of time.

This reinforces the fact that exorcism is a risky business that requires more than enthusiasm and adequate preparation. Whoever ventures into it, as President Buhari is set to do, must prepare well for it- in addition to knowing what he is up against!