By Ken Ugbechie
Senator Shehu Sani is not your typical Nigerian politician who is tossed to and fro by the dictates of his or her stomach. The senator representing Kaduna Central in the upper chamber is famed for his bluntness, human rights activism and raw audacity to speak truth to power. In his home state of Kaduna, he has had brushes with his Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, on matters verging on the latter’s alleged highhandedness.
He is a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, but he has never spared his party in his usual frank jibes. He once accused the Buhari Presidency of fighting corruption with ‘insecticide’ and ‘deodorant’ depending on who is involved. Never one shy of stirring the grime.
Last week, he was in the news again. President Muhammadu Buhari has been away in London on medical vacation. It has been over 60 days since he jetted out on May 7th. Since his departure, expectedly too, things have not been the same inside Aso Rock. Plots, schemes, shenanigans have come to define governance. And the nation dithers. Inside Aso Rock, there is a silent war of attrition. None will voice it, nay even admit it; but the silent battle for the soul of the nation drags interminably. It took a Shehu Sani to cut the ice. And he did it, as usual, with a tinge of virtuoso. He chose the most predictable and accessible of platforms: social media.
Here is Sani’s post on his Facebook wall: “Prayer for the absent Lion King has waned. Until he’s back, then they will fall over each other to be on the front row of the palace temple.
“Now, the hyenas and the jackals are scheming and talking to each other in whispers; still doubting whether the Lion King will be back or not.
“Now, the Lion King is asleep and no other dares to confirm if he will wake up or not. It is the wish of the hyenas that the Lion King never wake up or come back so that they can be kings.
“It is the prayers of the weaker animals that the Lion King comes back to save the kingdom from the hyenas, the wolves and other predators.”
Now, that is brilliant poetry in racy prose. And Senator Sani is full of it, on and off the political soapbox.
Hours after Sani logged off, First Lady Aisha Buhari, a woman who has consistently demonstrated that her duty post extends beyond the ‘kitchen’ and ‘the other room’ retorted in her Facebook page: “God has answered the prayers of the weaker animals.
“The hyenas and the jackals will soon be sent out of the kingdom. We strongly believe in the prayers and support of the weaker animals.
“Long live the weaker animals, long live Nigeria.”
Passersby would think the senator and the First Lady are at war here. Not at all! In fact, the First Lady should thank Senator Sani for voicing what Acting President Yemi Osinbajo could not as much as whisper. If anything, both of them are on the same page at least by referring to Aso Rock as a zoo and by inference the rest of the country as an animal kingdom. Four animals were listed in the two posts: Lion, wolves, hyenas and jackals. None of them is a friendly animal. They are all endowed with powerful canines and incisors. Their dental formula is structured to effectively tear their poor prey to bits and pieces of slimy morsels ready to be swallowed. But of all the animals, the lion is the king. The kingship of the lion in the wild and rough jungle is never in doubt. Even the Bible acknowledges that the lion never turns from any animal yet it is not the biggest of animals.
Whether it was intended or not, Sani’s use of the expression, The Lion King, takes us to the 1994 animated musical epic movie from the fecund fountain of Disney World. The plot takes the form of betrayal. Young lion Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) is the heir of his father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones); but Simba’s wicked uncle, Scar (Jeremy Irons) plots to usurp Mufasa’s throne by sleight of hand. Simba’s father, Mufasa, dies in the plot but Simba escapes only to return as an adult (Matthew Broderick) to take back his throne from cunning Scar with of course very strong support from his friends Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella). The Lion King movie is a musical nirvana, a pleasure to watch for both kids and adults but it exposes the wicked underbelly of man complete with treachery, disloyalty and duplicity.
Unfortunately, this movie is now playing in Nigeria’s seat of power. Buhari, the Lion King, is away. His son, Osinbajo (Oh yes, he says the President treats him as his son) is on the throne but some wicked uncles, a desperate clan of Scars, are tugging at him to pull him down and take over the lever of power. But will they succeed? It seems unlikely. Unlike in the animated movie where the Lion King died, in the Nigerian variant the Lion King is not dead. Every evidence points to his soonest return. And when he returns, he is more likely to kick the swarming army of wicked Scars whom the First Lady refers to as jackals and hyenas, out of the four walls of the potentate called Aso Rock including their cheap recruits in near and far-flung places.
But there are worries. Those who were very vocal in defending Buhari’s absence during his first medical trip early this year have gone quiet; their voices muted; their zeal to rush to the President’s defence has ebbed. This is worrisome. Beyond this layer of lethargic apostles of Buhari is another layer of quiet operators, fawning all over the Presidential corridor just for their personal gain and wishing that the prayers of the ‘weaker animals’ are not answered. These are the wolves Senator Sani was referring to. They, too, deserve to get the kick.
True, the Lion King has been away and wicked Scar has been up and about, plotting and scheming to usurp authority. When the King returns will he find the courage to deal with the many Scars that have been dancing in his wickedly conjured grave? Will he as his wife suggested be willing to kick the bum of the hyenas and jackals?
My advice to the Lion King: take charge when you return. Remember that the hyenas and jackals are opportunistic animals. In the animal kingdom, there is Laughing Hyena and Laughing Jackal but never take their laughter as an act of endearment. They may laugh with you at day but at night they prey on you. They are usually more difficult to deal with than the wolves because of their cunning ability to feign friendship unlike the wolf which comes as a vicious predator without dissimulation. The hyena, for instance, has the reputation of laughing gutturally in front of her meal. The First Lady may not have the opportunistic tendencies of these animals in mind when she referred to the enemies of her husband as hyenas and jackals; but she chose the most appropriate mammals to illustrate the “infantile desperation” of some goons to possess the staff of authority in Nigeria in the same crooked manner wicked Scar upstaged the throne to his advantage in the evergreen epic from Disneyland. But the First Lady and all genuine Buhari apostles have Senator Sani to thank for voicing out their fears. Blowing the whistle on the predatory animals inside Aso Rock and environs is a worthy cause. It is a different kind of whistleblowing for which there may be no bounty, no pecuniary reward. It is something worth doing and somebody has got to do it. Take a bow, Senator Sani