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The Importance Of Buhari Becoming An Editor

There are too many faultfinders in good old Nigeria, and these troublemakers cannot stop complaining. These unrepentant captains of criticism are full of voice that President Muhammadu Buhari has done absolutely no governance except to keep chirruping repeatedly about corruption like a parrot.

Let these critics know that Buhari has to do a lot of work as an editor before beginning governance. For now, Buhari is simply an editor heavily involved in editing the book on Nigerian corruption. This is indeed a very large book, and our Spartan president needs all the time on earth to do a thorough edit.

As every unpaid journalist who has been in any underpaying newsroom knows, the editor’s decision is final. Even more conspicuously, the editor’s indecision is equally final. Now that military dictatorship is out of fashion, the next best port of call is the editor’s desk. There is no democracy in the newsroom, even as journalism bears the glorified epaulette of the so-called Fourth Estate of the Realm. The editor’s toga affords the needed cover to inject a dose of the dictatorial in the name of the democratic.

The free speech afforded by democracy thus allows, for instance, Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomohole to scream to the high heavens that whilst accompanying Buhari to America a Yankee spook had revealed how a Nigerian minister in the Goodluck Jonathan regime siphoned all of 6 billion dollars into the American system without the Americans raising any alarm whatsoever until the advent of Buhari! The Permanent Secretary in   the Ministry of Transport revealed to the selfsame Buhari that Jonathan’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, diverted the humongous sum of 600 million dollars out of the one billion dollars Chinese loan for the Lagos-Kano rail project. Okonjo- Iweala has since swept forward to stress that it is all fiction, as the money in question was domiciled with the Chinese and had nothing whatsoever to do with her ministry.

Buhari is definitely saddled with a lot of work to do as an editor. The caterwauling character called Alhaji Lie Manufacturer has manufactured trillions of lies that would task the acumen of the greatest fiction editor, let alone Buhari whose editing wits are being deployed now in the field of journalism where facts are sacred.

Even as Buhari the Editor is yet to start working in the stream of governance, Alhaji Lie Manufacturer wants the world to believe that Buhari achieved in three weeks what Jonathan was unable to do in six years of what he calls spine-chilling and mindboggling looting. One would have expected that as a master editor, Buhari would have taken into his eminent span the entire 16-year rule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since government is a continuum.

The military-industrial complex that insisted on General Olusegun Obasanjo becoming the major beneficiary of democratic rule in Nigeria from 1999 can be seen as the sacred cows, if not divine bulls, beyond the editing powers of President Buhari. Sorry, what I meant to write is that it’s incumbent on Buhari to edit out the shenanigans of the big godfathers.

It’s akin to what Ayi Kwei Armah wrote in his novel The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born that the net of corruption in Ghana was made in the special Ghanaian way that caught only the small fishes of corruption while allowing the bigger ones to float away fast and free. Former President Jonathan, shoeless as he was from the very beginning, remains a cheap shot to hit at.

One would have wanted to see any editor worth his weight in newsprint to wade into the very open Halliburton scandal that is in the public domain all over the world. The Halliburton report is there, ready, yearning for action. But then, who am I to argue when I had earlier written that the editor’s indecision is final? There is enormous work for Buhari in editing his campaign promises. The promise of making a public declaration of assets has already been edited out.

After all, every editor knows the dictum: when in doubt, leave out. The All Progressives Congress (APC) change manifesto may equally undergo a thorough editing to avert disaster. Our dear comrade, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the State of Osun, for instance, led the charge of “one meal for a schoolchild” only to end up in the bad ditch of unpaid salaries, shut schools and a collapsed state. Editor Buhari needs to know that such a state failure ought not to be promoted to the national level.

It is not in the federal character to edit confusion. To give him his due, Buhari has thus far proven to be a sharp editor by sharply editing the erstwhile Office of the First Lady into oblivion while inventing the Office of Wife of the President. Yes, Office of the First Lady is very unconstitutional while the Office of the Wife of the President is very editorial! I understand that new quangos are entering into the editorial suite such as Office of the First Daughter… In editing the book of Nigerian corruption, Buhari may run into a culde- sac on the section dealing with his campaign funders.

There is already heavy infighting with talk making the rounds of somebody getting dirty in the fight with happy pigs. I fear there may be a beheading – in the manner of Milan Kundera’s avant-garde novel The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, thus: “In February 1948, the Communist leader Klement Gottwald stepped out on the balcony of a Baroque palace in Prague to harangue hundreds of thousands of citizens massed in Old Town Square…Gottwald was flanked by his comrades, with Clementis standing close to him.

It was snowing and cold, and Gottwald was bareheaded. Bursting with solicitude, Clementis took off his fur hat and set it on Gottwald’s head. The propaganda section made hundreds of thousands of copies of the photograph…every child knew that photograph from seeing it on posters and in schoolbooks and museums. Four years later, Clementis was charged with treason and hanged. The propaganda section immediately made him vanish from history and, of course, from all photographs.

Ever since, Gottwald has been alone on the balcony. Where Clementis stood, there is only the bare palace wall. Nothing remains of Clementis but the fur hat on Gottwald’s head.” By all means, let Buhari worship continue while he continues with his job as editor. As the poet in the field of journalism it is incumbent on me to give the editor a very patriotic teaser. I can swear on Fela’s shrine that his media aides have collected more brown envelopes than the Post Office!

-UZOR MAXIM UZOATU e-mail: maxim.uzoatu@theunion.com.ng

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