800 metres to 2019: Dear Buhari, why should I care? by Buchi Obichie (Opinion)

800 metres to 2019: Dear Buhari, why should I care? by Buchi Obichie (Opinion)

Editor’s note: The writer, Buchi Obichie, takes the APC to task over the recent release of pictures showing the president walking from a prayer ground in Daura, to his residence. She opines that the ruling party should be focused on delivering dividends of democracy to Nigerians; rather than churning out what she refers to as ‘grand displays of common achievements’.

Are you a fitness buff? I am. I was a chubby baby; and growing up, everyone told me that I would be fat. Their assessment was based, not just on my physical appearance at the time, but also on the fact that my relatives on my father’s side tend to be thick. In any case, I set out to prove them wrong. From my early teens, I started exercising - light walks, jogs, stretches and sit ups. I also watched what I ate.

End result: I have managed to maintain a slim frame so far. God be praised!

But my exercise routine was not exactly meant to solely prove people wrong; because truth be told, I don’t live my life based on other people’s opinions (and perceptions) about me. For me, it was really just a lifestyle choice. I wanted to be healthy, and also to be trim.

So, my decision was – and still is - not for public consumption, but for personal gratification. However, i realise that for some other people, public perceptions matter; especially as regards their physical health - or more accurately, the 'optics' of their physical health!

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Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari trended online for having ‘mustered’ the stamina to walk a distance of 800 metres from the Daura Mosque to his residence, during the Eid-el-Kabir celebration.

The president was reportedly overwhelmed with the show of love from well-wishers who lined the streets to wave at him, that he decided to proceed on foot, so as to soak in the experience and show the people that their gesture was appreciated.

No sooner had he made this decision, the APC spin machine went into full work mode; churning out images of the president, with the very clear message that if a man in his 70’s could undertake such ‘rigorous’ exercise, then he was healthy enough to stand for reelection in 2019.

The message was actually targeted at opponents and critics of the president – mainly those in the PDP – who have argued that the president may not be healthy enough, considering his somewhat frequent travels to the UK for ‘medical vacations’.

However, if the intention was to prove that walking 800 metres somehow translates into efficacy as the nation’s number 1 citizen, then I dare say that they did not succeed in making believers out of many people – myself included.

What does a normal day’s walk have to do with leading a nation optimally and effectively? How does an 800 metre walk achieve any positive optical result, when the standard of living for majority of Nigerians is still very low?

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What does an 800 metre walk achieve when people in many parts of the country cannot sleep well at night because they are scared that they might be killed before day break?

What good is an 800 metre walk when health care delivery is still so poor, that people die from common illnesses?

Why am I supposed to care about an 800 metre walk when a graduate leaves school with no hope of securing a decent job; or even capital to kick-start his business?

Or will the president’s 800 metre walk make FOREX more accessible or somehow reduce the high price of dollar?

See, to be truthful, Nigerians won’t care if the president is even in a wheel chair, as long as he can deliver. Afterall, one of America’s greatest presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was confined to a wheel chair as a result of Polio. However, FDR managed to steer the country through the great depression into a period of economic stability, even as he guided the allies to victory in WW2 – though he did not live long enough to actually see the war’s end.

I am tired of all these nonsensical optical displays which have no bearing on the actual day-to-day existence of Nigerians. In my opinion, it is an insult to our intelligence!

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Instead of releasing pictures of grand displays of common achievements – which an 800 metre walk is, in my opinion – the ruling party ought to be focused more on delivering the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.

Then – and only then – will I be bothered enough to care about the fact that the president can walk 800 metres from the Mosque to his house! Biko, let me continue with my sit-up’s over here joor!

This opinion piece was written by Buchi Obichie.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of NAIJ.com.

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