When will the Palace Parrots start telling us about what’s really happening with Buhari?

by Alexander O. Onukwue

At the last count, President Muhammadu Buhari had at least five aides on matters of media and communications, but not a single one has made any definite statement on the health of their boss.

With the conundrum around the Animal Farm, Bashir Ahmad was one of the first to tweet the First Lady’s bullish comment about flushing the palace off of its predators. It would seem the youngest assistant has been among the weaker animals in the grand scheme of things, despite supposedly being the means by which communications should flow between the people and the Presidency.

Senior Assistants Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina have been more reactive in their own statements on the President, having to do more of defensive work when some unfavourable opinion comes out and providing clarification where there may be conflicting statements from the camp of the Presidency. It has not been in their schedule to provide definite words on the President’s recuperation or lack of in London; are we to presume these senior journalists are also in the camp of the weaker animals too?

There is Lauretta Onochie, the respondent-in-chief who is not opposed to going, with poisonous fangs, after anyone who dares to say anything contrary to presenting a good image of her boss. Her latest attack was to the co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls Movement, Aisha Yesufu, using words not befitting of her status to reject Mrs Yesufu’s call that President Buhari should resign. But has Ms Onochie told Nigerians anything about the President’s health?

Then there is, perhaps the most social media savvy part of the Aso Rock communications team, Tolu Ogunlesi. As Head of Digital Communications, Ogunlesi has been on duty to relate the Buhari Government’s activities to the public, using periodic newsletters, videos and posts on medium, as well as regular tweets from Official handles. Ogunlesi has focused much on defending policy matters such as collection of loans, explaining VAIDS, and the like, and has himself not spoken much about the President’s health. He has probably tweeted more about Nnamdi Kanu than President Buhari.

Of course, there is the official ombudsman, Lai Mohammed, but we know well to take everything he says with the right pinch of salt.

It leads to the question: if these official channels for learning the health of the President will not talk about him, how do the people know about the President’s health? Should Nigerians continue to rely on parables from Senators, and rumours from SaharaReporters? Why should there not be regular updates given to the Nigerian public on the continued absence of the President in London? Will he be indefinitely absent forever?

If they are all part of the weaker animals, it may mean something positive; at least it means they are supposedly waiting for the King to still return. But how does it then make them any different from the rest of Nigerians who are also ‘weaker animals’ but not on their strong salaries?

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