Quintessential Columnist, Louis Odion Writes For You On Cameo Appearance

Presidential infirmity: The futility of cameo 

By Louis Odion, FNGE 

In case they don't yet know, budding spin doctors who conspired behind Aso Rock high walls to package ailing President Buhari to, against all wild expectations and cold permutations, make a dramatic office appearance on Tuesday should by now be patting themselves on the back for a distinction they, in all probability, never anticipated: letting the world of political strategy into a new tactic called "presidential cameo appearance".

The new phrase undoubtedly lengthens the list of others elite words and terms that have cropped up lately as the nation grapples with recession amid the unearthing of cash in unspeakable quantity in the most unlikely locations.

So, today, consistent with our tradition on this space, we shall, in exercise of our poetic license, press the still button on otherwise nagging matters and proceed to define and contextualize the most notable of such emerging vocabularies, if only for the sake of the uninitiated.

Cameo  appearance: In Nollywood, they call it "waka pass". It refers to a brief role in a movie usually reserved for a known thespian. 
Its political equivalent starring no less a mega-star than PMB himself would materialize in Abuja on Tuesday in what is turning a riveting national circus. Just as the three fabled three musketeers
 (OBJ, IBB and Abdulsalami) were regrouping in Minna with the conspiratorial stealth of old housewives to - what else - ponder and possibly strategize in view of growing uncertainty over Buhari's health, the old wily infantry general from Daura opted to apply what, in martial parlance, is termed "preemptory strike."

Against doctor's reported frantic advice, he suddenly surfaced in the office.

In case the usually blunt Ota chicken farmer had prepared a communique to read to the swarm of pesky news-hounds waiting outside the Minna Hilltop mansion and, typically, voice what many would rather whisper furtively behind closed doors these days, native discretion must have led him into quickly perishing the thought following news that PMB was back in the office and, in fact, absorbed in a flurry of meetings.

Military generals are thought to be experts in the arcane art and science of violence. But the wise one knows when to halt the offensive and retreat. Lest he is misconstrued to be coveting another man's harem while the man is still alive and kicking.

But how a glass-fragile fakir, earlier wildly speculated by busybodies to be vegetating at the point of incapacitation - if not death, suddenly summoned the extraordinary athleticism to pull off such a feat in physiological vitality is still a mystery, even at this writing. The stuff only expected in the realm of magic realism writing.

Note, PMB was said to have just appeared in the office. But none of the ubiquitous State House reporters could say with clarity - much less confidence - that they sighted him physically. Not even the omni-present NTA could boast textual or electronic evidence of the said august appearance. Was he wearing his trademark tight-fitting kaftan or austere Agbada or the loose house-robe he donned in London with Arabian skull cap to match?

Then, it became the duty of the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister and the NNPC sheik to announce to an unbelieving nation that, even while in obvious distress, Baba still had the diligence and presence of mind to agonize whether NNPC was meeting OPEC quota and shudder at the continued insolence of the National Assembly in delaying the passage of the tons of anti-graft bills trucked to their chamber in the last two years.

Even, the First Lady also momentarily abandoned her assigned territory of "kitchen, living room and the other room" to broadcast live via tweet as her husband's crucial meetings progressed. By the way, she added, tales being peddled about her beloved husband's ailment are grossly exaggerated.

Curiously, PMB's accredited spokesmen and super-efficient Info Minister were suddenly missing in action.

But hopes that the president was finally approaching the last bend on the road to full recovery were again dashed barely 24 hours later as he failed to turn up at the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting - the fourth time in a roll.

Doubtless, the intention of the Tuesday's cameo appearance by PMB was to reassure the nation. But shouldn't the energy have been conserved for the more crucial Wednesday FEC meeting to make a greater impression?


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