By Eric Elezuo
The week that has just ended was full of activities at the Nigerian seat of power which has sadly relocated to the Abuja House in London, albeit temporarily. This has been where Nigeria’s President, Mohammadu Buhari has been in the last 86 days, excluding the 50 days he spent in the same location between March and May. Official reports suggest that the President has been battling an undisclosed ailment which has both kept him away from public view and from performing his presidential and official duties.
The tension the President’s absence has generated came to a head when not very long ago, the Acting President paid him a brief visit; a visit that further compounded the tension as no pictures or videos of the visit were made. The only evidence of Osinbajo’s visit was the fact that he said he visited, and that the President was ‘recovering’ fast. Nigerians, justifiably, were not satisfied. The facts were obvious; President Buhari has hardly spent one or two consecutive months in the country to propagate governance since his inauguration. He is either on one tour or another or he is visiting a London hospital for medication on veritably undisclosed illness.
Supposedly so, Nigerians had ‘had it up to here’ in frustration, even as neighbouring countries have turned it into a situation of mockery to the extent a Ghanaian on facebook taunted his Nigerian friends, saying ‘we may not have anything, but we have a president’. Recently, the Cable Network News (CNN) threw a mockery pie on international television, asking ‘The Head of State from which country has not set foot on his homeland in over two months’.
Consequently, the handlers of the President has to hurriedly allowed the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which the President belong to, and some governors as well as a minister from the same party to see him in London. The delegates included the Honourable Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, Chairman of the APC, Chief John Oyegun, Governor of Nasarawa State, Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-Makura among others.
The positive public relations which the visit was supposed to project was not to be. Nigerians saw behind the wall, read in between lines, and rejected the visit as ‘another fraud’. Their grudge was how such a visit could be undertaken without a cameraman and adequate pictures to tell the story. Yes, a cameraman!
The rejection of the hype was immediately followed with the assemblage of another set of governors by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Abubakar Malami; this time cutting across party divides, only there was no representative of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), which controls one state in the Federation. There were five APC governors, and two Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors.
However, this time, there was a striking inclusion, a photographer! He is the photographer attached to President Buhari himself – 30 years old Bayo Omoboriowo.
The Pure and Applied Chemistry graduate from the University of Lagos, who loves documentary photography, was supposed to bring to Nigerians the behind scenes documentation of the visit, or there was no need for him to go there.
The meeting has come, the meeting has gone, and echoes were awaited to reverberate. Then it started: The governors from both sides eulogised Buhari’s recovery, without pointing out if he ever spoke to them or not, without pinpointing what they meant by ‘recovery’.
Many Nigerians have though insinuated that the pictures Omoboriowo released spoke volumes of the President’s incapacitation, suggesting that if those were the good enough pictures to present to the Nigerian public, then a lot is still amiss.
Consequently, as the governors have spoken, and their assessment is still being contested in the public domain, it is therefore about time we hear our dear Bayo Omoboriowo, to say a few things he saw. This is because a photographer has the singular privilege of experiencing things the regular person cannot in terms of sight and sound.
Yes, many will argue that he has done his part by bringing the sights to the living rooms of Nigerians, and so he’s done. But the fact remains that in case of a tie or disagreement, options are weighed, and in this case, the Mushin brought up, our dear Bayo, is the knot to tie the loose end surrounding the actual health status of the President based on the logistics at his disposal.
This is as President Buhari will soon clock 90 days of absenteeism