President Muhammadu Buhari is fond of holding a blue diary, especially when receiving guests in his office. He may be using it to take note of suggestions made to him by his high profile guests and other national issues. I guess that the diary will contain a lot of information that civil servants will readily classify as “top secret.”
This piece is however not about that diary that I do not have access to its content. It is about my own record of activities since Buhari returned from his 49-day medical sojourn in London, United Kingdom on Friday. The President and a few aides who accompanied him on the trip had landed at the helipad located within the premises of one of the guest houses inside the Villa popularly known as House Seven in the early hours of the day. He proceeded to the First Lady Conference Hall where he met with some government officials before retiring into his official residence.
The President’s wife, Aisha, received him at the entrance first with a handshake. In what appeared to be a second thought, she gave Buhari a hug. For somebody that is recuperating from a serious ailment as confirmed by himself that he had never been that sick, I suspect that they did not enter “the other room” thereafter. Throughout the weekend, the President remained indoors with his family members.
On Monday, we arrived early enough to monitor Buhari’s resumption at his office. His handlers knew we and indeed all Nigerians were on the lookout for that. So they decided to make a big issue out of it. Some presidential aides joined him at home to trek the short distance between his residence and his office. His personal photographer and a cameraman recorded the movement from residence to the office.
On getting to the office, Buhari signed a letter addressed to the National Assembly to intimate the lawmakers of his resumption of duty. Not long after, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo arrived to brief him of developments in the polity while he was away. He thereafter retired to his residence.
On Tuesday, the President’s activities were also light. He granted audience to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, who came to brief him on the activities of the apex bank. He thereafter signed the instrument of ratification of the treaty on the establishment of the Abidjan-Lagos corridor. He also met with the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The President again returned to his residence early.
On Wednesday, the President presided over a meeting of the Federal Executive Council. He threw a banter when he said loudly for all in attendance to hear that he had not seen the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who answered sharply that he was present. Those who understood the joke laughed. The joke was that Mohammed was wearing a pair of suit that day and the President must have subtly said he was finding it difficult to recognise him in suit. The President again did not stay in his office longer than necessary before he returned to his residence.
On Thursday, Osinbajo presided over a meeting of the National Executive Council which he chairs. The council has state governors as members. Since Buhari had announced on his return that those who wanted to come and welcome him should stay back in their bases and continue to pray for the country, the governors felt they could use the opportunity of the meeting in the Villa to pay respect to the President.
While the meeting was underway, Buhari arrived at about 12.30pm to the admiration of the governors. He exchanged handshakes with them. The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, welcomed him on behalf of his colleagues and thereafter presented a get-well-quick card to the President. Not long after he left the venue of the meeting, Buhari again returned to his residence.
On Friday, the President received briefings from both Osinbajo and the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, before joining some top government officials for the Jumat prayers inside the mosque near his office. The governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, and some ministers also joined him. The embattled Acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, was also there alongside the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura, whose agency authored the security report that made Senate to reject Magu’s nomination. Buhari returned to his office briefly before going back to his residence.
Meanwhile, activities at the Vice-President’s Wing of the Villa reduced drastically since Monday when compared with when Osinbajo was the Acting President while the President was away. Apart from a meeting of the Economic Management Team chaired by the Vice-President, there was no big media event at that side of the seat of power during the week.
Maybe Osinbajo was only adhering strictly to one of the laws of power that forbids outshining one’s master. Maybe not.
VIPs’ new found love for female photographers
It is normal for top government officials to have, among other aides, personal photographers whose responsibility is to document their activities pictorially. Most times, men are saddled with this responsibility probably because of the stress involved.
In what seems like part of the change agenda however, I have observed an increase in the use of female photographers as personal photographers to top government officials. This trend does not have anything to do with the gender of the top government officials. Even men now parade female photographers.
The first example is the Vice-President. Shortly after his inauguration, he had a male photographer. But not long after, there was a change. A young lady was saddled with the task. The gap-toothed lady with unique hairstyles is always seen competing with men to get good shots of Osinbajo at events. She appears to be enjoying the job and she is doing well.
Another case in point is the female photographer attached to the Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi. Unlike Osinbajo’s photographer that has a slim stature, Ajimobi’s photographer is huge. She also has a baritone voice that will make people meeting her for the first time to first argue over her gender status. The situation is also complicated because she is always in trousers suits with cowboy-like bowler hat to match. She is a regular face in the Villa anytime Ajimobi visits. Penultimate Wednesday, I discovered that Ogun State Governor, Ibikunke Amosun, has also joined the fray. He came to the Villa for the first time with a slim female photographer that had her cameras strapped around her two shoulders with belts that are common among drummers in the musical bands of the Boys’ Brigade or Boy Scouts. She was bent on getting the governor’s shots from all angles including when he was granting press interview.
Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari; and wife of the Vice-President, Dolapo, also have pretty young ladies as their personal photographers and they are all doing well. If the trend continues, male photographers may need to begin to carry placards with the inscriptions “Bring Back Our Jobs.”