They wrote fiction, but they failed to provide its sweet ingredient: credibility. It’s one thing to write a lie. You fail if your readers believe it is a lie. The irony is that a good lie must throw up a decoy, must con us, must take us to the left when it is going right, must capsize facts while we believe facts to ride on an even keel. Facts are suspended, and we are glad to float and soar away in its cloud of reconstructed realities.
That’s what literary critic Biodun Jeyifo called Truthful Lie in his seminal work on Nigerian literature. Telling a lie implies a binary world, two interlocking realities that force us to wonder which is the truth.
But what trended in the social media in the past week made a mockery of the masters of fictionalising. They wrote as amateurs, as third-rate liars. Just as the presidential campaign season was on the verge of a bloom, the story went about that President Buhari is not really President Buhari. They say that the fellow Nigerians voted into power in 2015 has somehow dissolved into eternity, and a surrogate, who laughs, talks, and looks like him, has been foisted on us by “the cabal.”
They gave him a name: Jubril Al-Sudani. A remarkably un-Nigerian name. The story is concocted by Nigeria’s ethnic entrepreneur Nnamdi Kanu who fled and has found dubious comfort in the arms of the Israeli mentors. It should have been ignored if the matter did not find traction in the gullible minds of some Nigerians eager to see the president dead.
They have swarmed the social media with tales. The tales flatter their secret hopes. It emboldens their necromantic impulses. It fires their partisan furies. It is a good example of how not to lie. These people wished Buhari dead when he was in London for medical treatment. They believe he passed away. Or they want to believe so.
The implication is that he was not cured in London. The federal government covered his corpse in a meretricious lie about his death. So, they formed a double from the dust of a conspiracy and breathed into his nostrils the mandate of 2015. And he has become a living president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
They claim his wife knows, but she has apparently refused to mourn. Rather she decided to have two husbands in her lifetime, one in a former life, and the other after Buhari’s life. One in dust for the other now endorsed. One bearing his name, and the other faking that name. She is married to half-ghost, half flesh, one in glory and the other gone to glory.
No known funeral rites. The same cabal that does not like the woman, the same people who mocked her, they have suddenly warmed up to her and cajoled her into rejecting widowhood to continue as her excellency.
These are the faithful of trashy fiction. They are in the league of the slipshod stories written by third-rate writers. Kanu, the ethnic entrepreneur, in a manic search for relevance, has provoked some callow minds in the land.
Kanu and others who hold on to this shallow tale want us to swallow this nonsense as part of a scheme to generate stories against Buhari. If they have genuine reasons to disavow the president, they should advance them rather than turn the campaign season into a season of tales by moonlight.
They also want us to believe that a prominent president of a prominent African nation dies in a United Kingdom hospital and the story has been covered up for over a year? The hospital has not issued a press release and has decided to involve itself in an illegality of concealment?
Now who is this man called Al-Sudani? Some call him El-Sudani. What is his provenance? When was he born? Did he attend any schools? When he was young what did he look like? Who took the pictures with him? Who were his classmates? Who were or are his parents? Didn’t he have any teachers? Does he have a home, neighbours or close friends? Does he have siblings? Where were they born? If they came from Katsina or anywhere else, even outside the country as the name suggests, shall we have evidence please?
Are we expected to believe that this man has been such a dexterous conman that no one has been able to detect him except the man who did not even see him? Who is his wife and who are his children or relatives?
What was he doing when the so-called death chapter of the president was born? The claim was made even more ridiculous by saying Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was in on this, and that the cabal made Professor Osinbajo to kowtow to the same footloose morality they foisted on Aisha. According to them, Prof Osinbajo knows Buhari has passed on and he has agreed to be the vice president of an impostor. It means he has ceded his constitutional rights to succeed the president be denying the so-called dead man his last rites.
It shows that some Nigerians ought to be careful in this election season not to float on fake news, or float them. It calls for vigilance not only in the traditional media and their online counterparts. It is the duty of the traditional media to checkmate the excesses of what Soyinka called the millipedes of the internet. Kanu and his friends are grappling for new relevance after their last episode of cowardice. He cannot be a hero like Okonkwo who yielded with an ultimate sacrifice. Instead he wants yields for himself while alive.
History has recorded doppelgangers. One of them was in the United States where one prominent citizen Robert Casey turned down a call to run for office. But another man bearing his name ran and he won because the voters thought he changed his mind.
The President Muhammadu Buhari might have heard this but he has not felt impelled to personally address it. He shouldn’t because it will fodder the story. The apostle Didymus who saw Jesus did not believe even when he appeared in flesh because his doubts preceded him. Those who don’t believe will find new excuses to not believe. That is the nature of malicious fiction. It is the case when one is overwhelmed with death wish.
In his play Twelfth Night, Shakespeare makes a story of mistaken identity end in the realisation of the truth. So let it be with Buhari.
A wage or wager?
Sometimes a writer comes across as a seer. I am not but barely a week after
In Touch Column looked at the minimum wage agreement, the powers-that-be revealed what I predicted. That is, the deal was a clever move to avert a strike even though they know that nobody, especially state governors, wants to pay.
What happened to Bukola “Eleyinmi” Saraki in Kwara, where he has been called oga na master. In the first real test in his enclave, his former house is now better than the latter. An APC candidate, Raheem Olawuyi, felled his PDP man in the bye-election into the federal constituency held at the weekend across four local councils of the state. Shall we say “Whither Saraki in Kwara, or wither Saraki?” Is it just a wakeup call or it is a wake keeping for his electoral fortunes in the state. Time beckons.