As a Nigerian, I am thoroughly unhappy at the insulting way you are treating our great ruler, Muhammadu Buhari.
This eminent son of Africa loves your elegant city, to which he sojourns again and again. He likes that chill in the air, the crisp accent off your tongues, the predominance of white faces. In the 52 months in which he has been an elected ruler of Nigeria, it is to your arms he has fled again and again to seek comfort and inspiration.
To you has he come for conferences. Speaking engagements. Medical leave. Medical visit. Medical review. Infection. Affection.
To you has he come, sometimes under cover of night, such as that time he vanished on his way to Nigeria from the United Nations in New York. He was eventually found in your bosom, conveniently servicing the presidential jet.
And now, he is with you again for another two weeks, the presidential jets buzzing to and from between Abuja and London to bring him warm suya or Nigerian toothpick.
Before you go joking about the presidential jets and how our ruler leaves them parked, remember that your Boris Johnson possesses none. Buhari has about 10 of them. Six years ago, he swore he would sell them all and travel commercially to demonstrate that a Nigerian leader is no different from other Nigerians.
And he will. By God he will; he is just waiting to declare, with immediate effect, the enabling exchange rate of $1:N1 he promised to achieve.
Either that, or Buhari will—we know because he promised—convert the entire fleet to a national airline to replace Nigeria Airways. And NO, that national airline is different from the “Air Nigeria” joke his government made at an airshow in your city last year. But still, his is a very powerful government, one capable of launching two national airlines in London and 36 international airports in Nigeria all in one day!
Meanwhile, please pay close attention to how he puts those expensive panes to good use, demonstrating his greatness by travelling around the world. He and his family spend good money on your soil to keep your economy humming. The Wife of the President—sorry, First Lady Aisha Buhari—was herself in your city recently for months. And don’t be ridiculous, she was not spending the naira!
Clearly, Nigeria’s First Family loves you. Two of their children graduated from one of the University of Surrey in 2016. The Daily Mail pointed out that Buhari had spent £150,000 on educating daughter Zahra there, quoting TheBreakingTimes. She graduated the same day as her brother, Yusuf, education costs unknown.
And No, they were not spending Nigeria’s money. The First Family is quite comfortable, thank you, as the Daily Mail loudly observed in that story. In addition to the five homes Buhari admitted to owning in his 2015 declaration of assets, TheBreakingTimes had reported just days after Buhari assumed office that he also owned a N2.1bn mansion in Asokoro, Abuja.
That the president never denied the story is not the issue, but that the First Family is…very comfortable. As though to buttress this point, First Lady Aisha also disclosed upon her return from London last month a family tradition whereby they spend their annual vacations of about six weeks abroad. Very comfortable.
But I detour. The point is that Buhari is no ordinary African. He is a two-time ruler of Nigeria, and currently on a second term as an elected official. He is also Africa’s anti-corruption “champion.”
Yes, I know: one of your own recent leaders characterised Nigeria three years ago as “fantastically corrupt.”
That was David Cameron. Hopefully, you noticed how cleverly Buhari, who is personally incorruptible, rebuffed the temptation to exchange invectives with the prime minister. Otherwise he would have forced Mr Cameron to eat his words.
Remember that at the time, Buhari said Cameron’s words did not matter as long as Nigeria’s loot in the UK was returned to Nigeria. That probably means the UK has been returning that loot by the Central Bank-load since an agreement to that effect in 2016.
I mean, everyone knows that the streets of London are lined with Nigerian loot. Perhaps that is why Buhari, like an intrepid secret agent, is on his current “private visit.” Perhaps he has secretly been taking the Kleptocracy Initiative Tour everyday!
Having once said that his friend Sani Abacha never looted the Nigerian treasury, perhaps he is working the London Underground to bring to justice those who really did. ‘The Champion’ is going to show everyone!
Are you too blind to see, London? It is true that there are no tourists in Abuja, let alone Daura, Buhari’s hometown. But that is the point! Buhari wants to teach a lesson: he wants to show off London. By repeatedly coming to you and spending what is reported to be millions of dollars, he is demonstrating to the world what is possible: that they can come to Nigeria and similarly spend millions.
And what if Nigeria is said to have the worst and most dangerous roads in the world? Those are just rumours, and tourists can travel by train from Abuja to Kaduna, and in a few years, even from Lagos to Ibadan or from Port Harcourt to Kano!
The point is that for an entire week, London, this champion of all of Africa has been on your soil without one word of acknowledgement!
How embarrassing that a man who loves you so much he flees from his own people at every excuse to be in your arms would arrive at your busiest airport and not be met with the respectful tumult of colourful dancing groups, children hurled out of school or horseback riders? How terrible that a man for whom women in labour halt delivery and Abuja stands still when he is returning from a trip would enter the City of London with no traffic held up?
And yes, you cynics: it is true that in 2016 he said he would discourage government officials seeking medical care abroad rather than at home. He has not violated the rule. He is the government, and not an official of himself!
And yes, it is important for the ruler to go to London to take care of himself because without him there is no country, obviously. He needs the best white doctors and nurses, and in London! Yes, they can treat in Abuja—money being inconsequential—but a man heals faster when he goes to white witchdoctors.
And yes, it is true that the Nigerian medical system is currently in distress, with medical doctors leaving in droves. But Buhari is planning to import doctors! They will come from the UK, the US, China, Singapore, everywhere. We will have security and power generators and new roads and white nurses.
As you can see, London, Buhari is turning the world around. The question is why you are not acknowledging a titan of this magnitude. No interviews. No fireworks. No visits by high-level clergy or MPs. No features on BBC.
What are you London, PDP?