Are the authorities and our president therefore helpless in the face of the clonists threatening to crowd us out? Not at all. If they admit it is a metaphorical referendum on their work in office for nearly four years, it may sober them up and rouse them from complacency.
Out there in faraway Poland the other day, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari put out a disclaimer that he isn’t what Mazi Nnamdi Kanu of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) says he is. Kanu asserts the man we refer to as our beloved president is really his double. The one we voted for died in London last year during his medical tour, he says. His loyalists then packaged a lookalike from Sudan called Jubril Aminu Al-Sudani to impersonate him, the Biafran agitator concludes. Kanu hasn’t thrown the tale to us as a joke. He believes in it and has captured a credulous followership, among them many of the high and low in society.
Even the yarn has gotten sections of the global media salivating. On American television programme, The Daily Show hosted by South African, Trevor Noah, a correspondent ridiculed the Nigerian leader’s denial. He imitated a fraudster composing a scam email thus: “I’m a real president who’s trapped in my country because they think I’m a clone. Please send me $10000.”
The late night Jimmy Kimmel Live show in the U.S. added a mordant wit. After referring to Buhari’s statement that he isn’t counterfeit, Kimmel told his viewers that the president’s denial was “exactly what a clone would say.” Quite unkind!
But Buhari and his handlers are responsible for making this clone story gain a foothold in international newsrooms. Why go to Poland to pinch the balloon flying the news? They had plenty of time in Nigeria to bring down the ladder many have been climbing to join the swelling ranks of believers in Kanu’s wildly salacious theory. The world community hardly took interest in it until the December 2 Poland remarks that made the headlines worldwide.
Our leaders are tardy in their response to urgent national matters, consigning their resolution to fate. Most times, they wait in expectation that the challenges that come at them would die naturally to give them a respite. No such thing happens. Then, as Buhari and other politicians have often done, we run abroad to offer a wraith of answers to domestic problems through speeches that lock us into a more mindless mire of controversy. Finally, we all are consumed by this myopic and centrifugal approach to leadership and governance.
Just last week, Kanu gave Nigerians half a dozen more reasons to believe his story. They haven’t moved him a flea-hop close to reality. But they have fuelled more curiosity, pushing some citizens to call for an ‘investigation’ into Kanu’s claims! He started as a lone ranger; now he seems to be commanding fanatical troops…
That’s been the trajectory (and tragedy) of the current clone contention. Of course, it’s a clownish account, which should be listed among Aesop’s fables. But Aesop wrote his great fiction in ancient Greece nearly 3000 years ago, fully conscious that he was turning out fabulous tales about animals who spoke and acted like human beings. He also had a moral lesson he passed on to those who read him. They were simple and short witty anecdotes, in which he taught that if you had a good conduct in your relationship with others, you’d be rewarded with good. And if you did evil, evil awaited you. The good were crowned, as it were, while the wicked were dishonoured. Aesop’s animal kingdom was orderly, even when the powerful and carnivorous ones cohabited with the weak and herbivorous ones.
What, however, do we make of the fable of our day? There’s a tale which ought not to be accepted because it is incredibly outlandish. Nevertheless, it is gaining ground. Why? Nigerians would believe the devil and follow him to his home in hell if all he’s giving them is a chance to replace the leaders they are fed up with for performance deficit. Nigerians sometimes get to the point an unhappy, frustrated and serially battered wife reaches: Eager to leave her home for another. You’d need supernatural effort to stop her.
Just last week, Kanu gave Nigerians half a dozen more reasons to believe his story. They haven’t moved him a flea-hop close to reality. But they have fuelled more curiosity, pushing some citizens to call for an ‘investigation’ into Kanu’s claims! He started as a lone ranger; now he seems to be commanding fanatical troops, going the way of IPOB. Government can’t proscribe them as it did the Biafran outfit.
Are the authorities and our president therefore helpless in the face of the clonists threatening to crowd us out? Not at all. If they admit it is a metaphorical referendum on their work in office for nearly four years, it may sober them up and rouse them from complacency. Many are wondering how a government that received tumultuous welcome at its advent and enjoyed phenomenal goodwill and popularity is, in the twilight of its tenure, getting a bashing sending it to the nadir of the public space and disallowing them a crown.
What’s responsible? What is missing? Where did we go wrong? Cassius, a Roman nobleman in William Shakespeare’s historical play, Julius Caesar, provides this food for thought: “The fault…is not in our stars, But in ourselves…”
Banji Ojewale writes from Ota, Ogun State.