In his no-holds-barred interview on Arise Tv, broadcast on 10th June 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also the commander in chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a position that he ascended since May 29, 2015, basically responded to the most critical questions that have been boggling the mind of most Nigerians. The anxiety is owed to the fact that President Buhari’s disinterest in holding media interviews as evidenced by the fact that the past six years or so of his leadership represents an unusually extended period of time that Nigerians have been unable to hear directly from their president.
And that is the origin or justification for the insinuations and presumptions that president Buhari has not effectively been at the helm of affairs in Aso Rock Villa which, perhaps gave a fillip to the conspiracy theory that our collective destiny as a nation is in the hands of a cabal.
Before their unfortunate and sad demise arising from complications from Coronavirus disease in 2020, then chief of staff to the president, Mallam Abba Kyari was alleged to have been the driver of the sinister cabal just as Mallam Isa Funtua, a close confidant of President Buhari who is also his In-law (his son is married to Buhari’s daughter) was also claimed to be a member.
Evidently, it was not enough that Mr. President had been speaking through his coterie of spokespersons, ranging from the minister of information, Lai Mohammed, media adviser, Femi Adeshina, special assistants on media, Garba Shehu and Laureta Onochie as well as a battery of other defenders of the Buhari doctrine in the social media.
The change of tact, which has seen President Buhari engaging in a tete-a-tete with the fourth realm of the estate via the Arise TV interview, can be likened to a successful coup d’etat by AriseTv. And it is actually a scoop by the trend-setting Thisday/Arise media group led by Nduka Obaigbena whose intention was perhaps aimed at helping the misunderstood president get better understood by those that he is leading via a candid conversation.
Although, the interview was more of a monologue rather than a dialogue since the masses did not get to ask the existential questions for which they have been dying to receive answers (as a typical media chat with the president should be), the one way communication was nevertheless an improvement on the silent treatment that President Buhari had hitherto applied in the management of his relationship with the masses before Arise TV broke the jinx.
And Arise TV‘s quest for getting President Buhari to engage with the apparently neglected masses of the electorate is justified or underscored by the fact that when he first campaigned for their votes in 2003, and particularly since 2015 when he first got elected president and subsequently in 2019 when he got re-elected, then-presidential candidate and later President Buhari visited Nigerians and interacted with them in their locations or natural habitats nationwide.
But since his assumption of office, definitely not by omission, but by commission (bearing in mind that his spokesmen have been celebrating his taciturnity), Mr. President seems to have become content with being cocooned in Aso Rock Villa, while only resorting to third party communication with the hoi polloi who obviously are not enamored, but are abhorrent of such attitude of offhandedness.
The cold shoulder treatment that president Buhari has dished out to Nigerians in terms of little or no direct communication with them in the past six years of presiding over their affairs has largely contributed to the apparent disconnection between President Buhari as a leader and the critical masses that he is supposed to be shepherding.
That is what has created an atmosphere that became rife for the fertilization of negatively imaginative minds that took undue advantage of the void to invent the death of Mr. President (following his long hospitalization in the UK in 2017) and the cloning narrative about a certain Jibrin Al Sudani that is allegedly Buhari’s body double. Such an absurd claim festered due to the silence from the man at the center of the rather absurd and burlesque allegation-President Buhari.
Given the robust response by the masses to the 10th June rare, but the candid interview that has now debunked the conspiracy theory that President Buhari had ceded the leadership of our country to the so-called cabal allegedly featuring elder statesman, Mallam Maman Daura, and Abba Kyari as well Isa Funtua (two of whom are now deceased ), it has been a sort of coup de gras for the culture of silence between President Buhari and the long-suffering Nigerian citizens who in their difficult moments have been craving words of encouragement directly from their president.
As for Nduka Obaigbena’s Arise TV, it is now undisputedly the new leader in broadcast news and Nigeria’s equivalent of CNN International. Although Nigerians would have loved to see the panel of interviewers asks President Buhari hard questions, which did not happen perhaps based on Arise TV’s prior agreement with the presidency, it was nonetheless a commendable effort in cracking open the window into the mind of President Buhari who had hitherto been an enigma of sorts, if not a hermit in the light of his attitude or policy of little or no two ways interactions with Nigerian masses media chat.
The assertion above is underscored by the fact that the Arise TV interview now considered a peep into President Buhari’s mind, afforded him the platform to exhibit some presence of mind as he demonstrated a reasonable grasp of the issues bedeviling Nigeria and justified the solutions that he had proffered, thus proving that contrary to allegations of the high level of senility and dementia leveled against him, apart from the usual memory lapse associated with old age, he is to a large extent in control of the affairs of the country. The assertion above is reflected by some of President Buhari’s views previously conveyed by his media husbandmen and which he candidly re-emphasized while justifying the actions and inactions of his government.