Many Nigerians will stop at nothing to win the love of good old America. The scramble for the visa lottery is example enough, but Nigerians have somewhat upped the ante with the hoopla following the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to the United States. Some commentators cannot crow enough over the gist that Buhari is the first Nigerian leader to be housed in the coveted Blair House. Counterpoint came from some others who informed that the then Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa had been hosted in the selfsame Blair House back in July 1961.
There have been noises about the red carpet put out by the Americans for President Buhari. Some cynics even said that it is halfred- carpet, whatever that means. The tragic-comic aspects of the Buhari visit to America remind me of the play The Playboy Of The Western World written by the Irish playwright John Millington (JM) Synge. It is as though we are dead ready to kill our fathers in the hard romance with the land of the Yankees. In JM Synge’s The Playboy Of The Western World, one never-do-well called Christy Mahon staggers into the beer parlour of Flaherty, claiming that he had killed his own father! The pub owner Flaherty applauds Christy for his courage.
Promptly the barmaid, to wit, Flaherty’s daughter Pegeen dumps her betrothed, Shawn Keogh, and falls in love with Christy. This way, Christy becomes the local champion, the hero of the land. All the women are dying to have him especially the Widow Quin who vainly struggles to seduce Christy. While Christy rides on the crest of his popularity, his father who had only been wounded suddenly appears in the pub.
Christy instantly loses his popularity and his beloved Pegeen as he is now seen as a coward and a liar. In the bid to win back the love of Pegeen and the respect of the town, Christy batters his father, leaving the old man for dead for a second time. The latest action does not win any praises for Christy as Pegeen and the people of the town tie him up for hanging to avoid being implicated as accessories to his crime. He is only saved when his battered father crawls back into the pub, not having died.
Eventually father and son leave the pub to wander the world, with Pegeen lamenting thus: “I’ve lost the only playboy of the western world.” Nigeria is the playboy of the western world, and the United States cannot have enough of promoting our larger-than-life antics in the manner of Christy Mahon of The Playboy Of The Western World. Even as we are killing our fathers back home in the heat wave of unrelenting Boko Haram attacks, President Barack Obama is praising us to high heavens, declaring that he wants to make Nigeria a role model for other developing countries in the world. Our very own President Buhari lapped up the accolades as Obama lauded Nigeria’s track record in tackling Ebola and polio.
President Obama also promised that the United States looked forward to engaging Nigeria in improving the protracted electricity challenges. The vexed matter of gay marriage was somewhat shrouded in secrecy amid the encomiums. It was a sight to behold as Presidents Obama and Buhari reveled at the Oval Office, signposting Nigeria’s final arrival at acceptance within the ambit of the Washington consensus. Obama continued apace by lauding Buhari for coming into office with a reputation of integrity and a clear agenda and preparedness to bringing peace to Nigeria, curtailing Boko Haram insurgency and rooting out corruption. According to Obama, “On both issues of tackling insurgency and corruption in Nigeria, we look forward to how the United States can partner Nigeria to become an outstanding role model for developing countries.”
President Obama did not mince words in describing Nigeria as a one of the most important countries in the world, commending for good measure the peaceful election and transition that brought President Buhari to power. Almost all African political wannabes celebrate every endorsement from abroad. When it of course comes from mighty America, the giddiness of the joy can indeed be inebriating. It’s incumbent on President Buhari to play the good apostle of America, stressing that the continued pressure on the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan by the United States and some European countries made the general elections in Nigeria that brought him to power to be free and fair. In the words of Buhari, “without the external pressure, we would not be where we are today.”
He recalled that the pressure started from the visit of the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, to the past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, when the elections were initially postponed. “Nigeria will be ever grateful to President Obama and the United States for making Nigeria consolidate its gains on democracy,” President Buhari asserted. Let me leave the last word to my dear friend, Tony Onyima, who bore witness to Nigeria’s presence, or lack thereof, in the United States: “I am really worried about the arrogance of the western media. As a journalist and Nigerian presently vacationing here in United States, I had earnestly looked forward to the visit of PMB.
Since I was not privileged to be on Mr. President’s entourage I had hoped to follow the details of the visit through the U.S. media. Now my hopes have been dashed and am really worried and frustrated. Most of the local and national broadcast networks; from ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC to CNN have not considered it news worthy the visit of the president of the most populous black nation. Rather all the channels have been awash with theatrics of Donald Trump, the maverick Republican Party hopeful, the daring escape of Chapo from Mexican maximum prison and lots of crime stories. No serious mention and treatment of the visit. I know if it were in Nigeria the visit will be broadcast live by NTA and other channels. So what’s going on here?” The playboy of the western world can always wander the world, and nobody cares.
–UZOR MAXIM UZOATU e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org