Buhari And The Jubrin Mystery By Ken Tadaferua

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It is wildly preposterous, the rumour trending on social media and across the country, that the man presiding over the nation from Aso Rock, is not the elected President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

The troubling assertion is that a Buhari doppelgänger called Jubrin was conjured up to replace our president, who rumour mongers passionately insist had passed on to the fluffy realm of spirits. This is the stuff of horror movies. To give vim to the ghostly tittle-tattle, death certificates of the General are on sail, floating amidst the flotsam of the Internet.

 

Meanwhile the single-name- surname-less Jubrin reportedly from Niger Republic is said to so resemble Buhari (except for a cleft ear, broad nose bridge and teenager fresh hands) as to totally fool family and aides. Perhaps Buhari had a twin brother tucked away in some remote hamlet in Niger Republic for the over seven decades of their lives, waiting just for this opportune moment, this preplanned opportunity, to pop up and take over his dead brother’s place as president. That’s what a really long term strategy execution is about. But this is more like a cartoon movie storyline.

 

It does seem the only folks privy to the mysterious Aso Rock presumed human exchange deal, are select members of Buhari’s inner caucus, a tight-lipped concentric circle of conspiracy. These few hooded men, like mafia dons, are said to have executed the diabolic, high wire, high tension swap of Buhari with Jubrin, in a devious gamble and desperate political jig to remain in power, after their principal’s demise.

 

But the rumours, no matter how embellished, the whispering insinuations, no matter how persuasive, are nothing but what they are: a narrative out of the fertile imagination of a vile propagandist. A load of dangerous and toxic propaganda, if you ask me. Yet, there must be a purpose for this silly morbid tale. To discredit Aso Rock power brokers as diabolically dubious? Or to satisfy a ghoulish desire to be rid of Buhari, even if only in the virtual world or as a hologram? Which is funny, because the real Buhari is so hardcore analogue that it is impossible to fit him into anything digital.

 

Still, it is hard to blame many folks who are a tad hesitant to outrightly dismiss the rumours. In Nigeria, the zest for political power can be ruthless, macabre, diabolic. Arsenals deployed by politicians include vicious religious/ethnic hate campaigns, massacres, assassinations, kidnappings.

 

Throw in the consult of the occult, shrines, marabouts, voodoo priests. Then top it with hideous animal and human sacrifices (remember the Otokoto ritual saga of 1996 and Abacha’s rumoured burial of live cows in Aso Rock?) Anything to get power or retain political power. But it really isn’t only about power.

 

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In a country that runs a unitary system where the political centre controls national resources and revenues, political power is that sure source of the sweet sauce: Easy, unearned, billions of dollars in personal pockets.

 

This is one reason why folks are skeptical and slow to shake off, no matter how far fetched, the tall tale that Aso Rock’s power brokers organised a Buhari double or doppelgänger to continue control over political power and free loot.

 

If, therefore, Nigerians are hesitant to dismiss the rumours of a dead Buhari and the emergence of a Jubrin in Aso Rock, it will not be out of foolhardiness. The Yar’Adua saga is a clear precedence of the diabolic capacity of Nigeria’s power brokers to be utterly immoral, vicious, manipulative and ruthless worshippers of the very dark arts of greedy, selfish power.

 

 

Here’s another reason. Only eight years ago in 2010, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was pronounced dead after long months of speculations about an illness that led to his being flown, in November 2009, to a Saudi Arabia clinic. And after one of the most vicious and dangerous power intrigues in our history. A small knot of family and close knit power brokers held the nation to ransom. They totally blacked out information on the nature of the president’s illness. There were no updates on treatment progress. There was no word on the wild rumours flying around that Yar’Adua was already dead in Saudi Arabia.

 

Exploiting the information blackout and acts of secrecy, Yar’Adua’s own circle of conspiracy ran the country and the free loot from oil. Key documents including the appropriation bill, were signed, supposedly by an incapacitated and dying, if not, already dead man. The Aso Rock mafia conjured and created magic. In February 2010, the mafia, still bent on clinging to power, secretly flew in Yar’Adua (dead or alive? We don’t know) under the cover of night and empty, blacked out, airport darkness, directly to the seat of power, Aso Rock.

 

The intrigues brewed. The rumours flew. Some dignitaries reportedly visited the ailing president and announced with awada kerikeri gusto that Yar’Adua was recuperating fast. Was he? But there were no words from him. Nothing. The country was mystified. Perhaps after loading their goodie bags and following a rising civil uproar over the state of the president, the Aso Rock mafia dons finally pronounced the president dead on May 5, 2010.

 

This was not long ago. History is a teacher. If, therefore, Nigerians are hesitant to dismiss the rumours of a dead Buhari and the emergence of a Jubrin in Aso Rock, it will not be out of foolhardiness. The Yar’Adua saga is a clear precedence of the diabolic capacity of Nigeria’s power brokers to be utterly immoral, vicious, manipulative and ruthless worshippers of the very dark arts of greedy, selfish power.

 

Fast forward to February 2016. Another president, this time Muhammadu Buhari heads to London (Saudi Arabia was wisely avoided this time) on a six-day medical vacation. A concerned citizenry asked questions about their president’s illness but Aso Rock flippantly declared Buhari was “fit as a fiddle” and snapped shut on details.

 

In June 2016, the “fit as a fiddle” Buhari was again off to London on another ten day medical vacation. In January 2017, he jetted off yet again to the London hospital, from where he asked for extension of his medical leave. He returned after 51 days in March 2017. Just before you are able to take a breather, he goes off again to his hospital bed in May 2017 to return after a world record 104 days in August 2017. He made the fifth medical trip in May 2018.

 

The president returned from his medical treatments looking gaunt and sickly. Yet in the five medical trips spread over two years until today, there was and still has been no word on the nature of his illness. Nothing. Just like Yar’Adua’s case. Again like Yar’Adua, hordes of dignitaries reportedly visited him and returned with pictures to say the president was doing well. But from what was he doing well? Nothing. It was easier to open a crocodile’s jaw clamp-up than get answers on Buhari’s illness.

 

Although, unlike Yar’Adua, President Buhari handed over the reins of power to his deputy, and not a few scoffed as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was perceived an outsider of Buhari’s inner circle. The Aso Rock cabal were in charge. As proof, fingers pointed at the multi-billion dollar NNPC project approval taken all the way to a prostrate, ailing president to sign in London. Recall the fathom signature of Yar’Adua on the appropriation bill? A president who had handed over power to his vice president signing a billion dollar oil deal. The intrigues were building up.

 

Worse, like in the case of the late President Yar’Adua, the elephant in the room was deliberately stymied information management. The secrecy around the nature of Buhari’s illness. It still remains the most tightly kept secret of this administration. His media handlers and inner circle dons have held an omertà like silence over this simple matter.

 

Once again, I declare that doppelgänger Jubrin does not exist. It is hay-headed propaganda. But I have this niggling feeling that something is not right in Aso Rock. Something is being hidden. That is what all the secrecy is about. The womb of time will reveal the cankerworms.

 

 

The produce? Wild rumours. In this modern age when daily or weekly media briefings are given on the progress of a hospitalised president, why is that of Nigeria different? What is Buhari and the power mongers around him in Aso Rock hiding? Is Buhari’s illness an embarrassing disease, that may bring to question his personal morality, like an acute stage of a sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea or syphilis? If not, why hide the illness?

 

Many surmise that he is suffering from cancer (probably prostate) and probably undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Which likely explains why he looked so deathly wizened after his second and third visits to London. But as with successful chemo treatments, the patient can regain vitality and even look better with good diet and medication. But if a man like Buhari in his 70s suffers from cancer, why keep it a secret?

 

All badly managed communications cause rumours to mushroom and become a perfect platform for mischief makers or deliberate damage propaganda by political opponents. It is my view that the Jubrin narrative is a carefully orchestrated conspiracy theory. But then it sprouted and spread on the lifeblood of government’s inexcusable communication failings on Buhari’s illness. Aso Rock is the first culprit. It created the fertile environment in which the rumour seeds were planted and germinated. Then the other culprit, the vectors are exploiting the provided environment for the rapid dispersal of the Jubrin fruits.

 

Although I hope government information managers, presidential handlers and Aso Rock power brokers will learn a lesson or two from this Jubrin saga. I know it is hope wasted. The Yar’Adua situation was only a few years ago. We repeat history. We learn nothing.

 

The communication management of government and Aso Rock is frozen in inactivity and silence, even with the Jubrin propaganda flaring like harmattan wild fire across the country. Using silence as a strategy option is to expect rumours of a dead Buhari and the Jubrin doppelgänger would die out.

 

It however cannot be an effective option because it relies on the wrong approach that hides information from the public. To counter the rumours, government has to exploit the much touted Buhari integrity. The president should be open and frank about his illness. He could address a press conference where he talks frankly about his illness, his recovery and with a sense of humour declare jokingly: “I am Muhammadu Buhari, your president. Ignore the mischievous Jubrin rumours” or something to that effect.

 

It is the virtues of integrity, honesty and openness in information management that prevents rumour and its damage on persons and institutions, even countries. The irony is President Buhari is reputedly endowed with these virtues. But is he? If he is why the secrecy about his illness? What is it in Aso Rock that makes presidents hide their illness from citizens who foot the thousands of dollars spent on their treatment? Some say his illness is personal. I say boo. Who can be more public that the president? He spends public money for treatment but his illness is private? Arrant bull. What is our number one public personality hiding?

 

Once again, I declare that doppelgänger Jubrin does not exist. It is hay-headed propaganda. But I have this niggling feeling that something is not right in Aso Rock. Something is being hidden. That is what all the secrecy is about. The womb of time will reveal the cankerworms.

 

Ken Tadaferua is a media and marketing communications consultant. Twitter: @ktadaferua

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