Muhammadu Buhari, a presidential candidate in the forthcoming 2015 General Elections, is reported to be terminally ill with cancer and complications of organ failure. The details of his medical condition/records are available from the private hospital in London, where he has been receiving intensive treatment for a while now. The man has only six months to live.
Buhari’s reaction to his unfortunate situation is that all he wants is the historical record that he was elected a democratic president of Nigeria in 2015 before his death. If he wins next week’s elections, he will hand over Professor Oluyemi Osibajo, his running mate, in July 2015. Governor M R Kwankwanso of Kano State has been lined-up to be Osibajo’s vice when the ‘time’ comes.
The insider providing this particular news to my sources is a current senator from Lagos State said to be well-informed about the inner workings of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and purported to be confirmed by a female relative of Buhari. The latter accompanied him to the UK for treatment.
The immediate sources of the breaking news were two visitors who came to see me together yesterday evening; one who I have regularly met with for over 20 years and the other an old friend visiting from Nigeria, a ranking public servant.
The news as I heard it and am retelling it is juicy and sensational. It will work like a ‘grand tool of discredit’ against Buhari in the hands of the supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and President Goodluck Jonathan, on the grounds of unfitness. It will also be used as a ‘grand tool of discredit’ by supporters of Buhari and APC against PDP and Jonathan, on the grounds of desperation and propaganda.
The news is a typical “living room” rumour no different from the often persuasive and logical but baseless “beer parlour” or “mai chai corner” rumours prevalent in Nigeria. The rumour is probably widespread now but not based on verifiable fact at all nor any truth for that matter. It’s a Hoax! However, it will feed the storms of emotions of political supporters on all sides of the political arena like petrol to fire.
Freedom of information laws in the UK will not allow any hospital or its staff to reveal the medical records of patients to individuals and organisations. If it were to happen, rigorous procedures, including the signed consent of the patient, would be required. Any bribed hospital staff that attempted to offer patient information to unauthorised persons would be easily detected (due to trackable procedures and technology) and severely disciplined, including a jail sentence.
Even patients are not allowed to read their own medical notes in the UK even when holding them, say in a hospital while waiting for an appointment with a clinic. If the management of any hospital revealed patients information, the client could sue them if found out, and many staff would lose their job.
The conspiracy about Buhari-Osibajo pact is as credible and believable to any sane or rational mind as the conspiracy that President Jonathan has made a pact with those he is planning to hand over to in the guise of an Interim Government rather than lose elections to APC and Buhari.
“Rumour, rumour, everywhere but no epinny of truth” or “Them thief Nigeria e no dry finish, na lie lie them want take scatter country” might have been a line in a Fela song about this election campaign if he were still alive. Unfounded conspiracies work well on a hungry stomach, and perhaps politicians are counting on this as a political strategy.
Name-dropping is not verifiable fact. The senator, the insider who provided the breaking news was perhaps an instance of “name-dropping” roll-of-the-dice style which is always employed to give credibility to an unlikely or unfounded story. It might also have been a case of an ‘opinion leader(s)’ spreading sensational falsehoods by word of mouth to discredit political opponents.
What is most interesting is the passion and conviction with which my visitors told me the story; they truly even desperately believed it and willing to fight to defend it. The story appeared watertight in their narration. They were both impervious to any other fact, logic, or reason, i.e. other than their own. For my visitors, their conspiracy story about Buhari was more accurate than 6 + 6 = 12.
Some would say why to worry about a yarn you know is a hoax from two casual sources, but I wonder how many millions of Nigeria would have the same passion and conviction for or against the story if they hear it. And this is just one of many such hoaxes.