Pulse Opinion: Is Buhari really a "lifeless" president?

Pulse Opinion: Is Buhari really a "lifeless" president?

If Trump really referred to President Buhari as "lifeless", did he say anything new? Anything we really should be shocked and outraged about?

It’s been 72 hours since the Financial Times reported that United States President Donald Trump referred to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari as “lifeless”.

Trump’s alleged pejorative remarks about Buhari happened after both leaders met at the White House in April.

The White House has been silent since the story broke. It shouldn’t be. I expected White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders--who can look anyone straight in the eye and regale them with alternative facts--to label the report a work of fiction, at a hurriedly called press conference.

I expected the White House to have issued a statement to say Trump’s "innocuous remarks" have once again been twisted out of context by the fake news media.

 

I expected the White House to have called Aso Rock to say the entire report was a fabrication, before going on to ask Financial Times to retract the story or contend with some libel suit.

Instead, the White House and Trump’s office have treated this whole saga as a non-issue. But it is not. Buhari is not just president of the most populous, powerful black nation on earth, Nigeria is also Africa’s number one economy and power house. To call her president lifeless is to pour scorn on over 190 million people for choosing the most lifeless among them to run their affairs.

 

To be lifeless is to die. Lifeless is moribund. Lifeless is derogatory. To be lifeless is to inspire no one. To be lifeless is to show up at cabinet meetings with a blank mind and with a face so bland, Mona Lisa would go green with envy. Lifeless is an insult.

And President Trump is an insult churner; an insult machine. The words attributed to him in that story sounded very much like him. Trump churns out insults and disparaging remarks the way a water dispenser issues water. His acerbic tongue should be studied in tertiary institutions if only as a means of avoiding another world war.

There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that Trump called Nigeria shithole back when he was accused of calling Nigeria shithole. Because of his personality, I always consider Trump guilty until proven otherwise. Whatever they say Trump said, he most certainly said.

 

But is it really an insult to describe Buhari as lifeless? The Nigerian leader hardly inspires in speech or body language. He looks to be brooding or crestfallen most of the time. He is not one for showing up at policy debates because he would rather have aides issue banal press statements in his name. He hasn’t spoken directly to the local press since 2015, his television appearances are a bore and you would be lucky not to fall asleep when he gets hold of the microphone.

That, my friends, is the dictionary definition of “lifeless”. Trump’s remarks may have been insulting, disparaging and derogatory, but they also hit close to home. An inconvenient truth, if you would. A president who has been lifeless all through his public appearances back home won’t magically become full of life when he travels abroad. And Nigeria has been electing lifeless presidents and political leaders since independence. It’s a national malaise the world should get used to by now—as should Trump.

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